While the Indian media & particularly the sports channels continue to paint a dreamy picture of the Indian cricket team, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni seems to have hit the panic button. He publically remarked on his bowlers asking them to “use their brains” pointing towards the fact that by now perhaps even he is frustrated with the mediocrity of the Indian bowling in South Africa & New Zealand so far. To put the blame squarely on Dhoni will be unfair. But he too has been lacking his usual flair & innovative skills & has been rather ‘thanda’ as a captain in the two overseas tours in the year so far.
Dhoni is also to blame for the poorly selected squads. The likes of Ishant Sharma, Vinay Kumar who is thankfully not on this tour have proved to be too blunt & one fails to understand why these players are even named in the squads. Critically though, the absence of good bowlers has brought pressure on Bhuvneshwar Kumar & Mohammad Shami. Kumar, who is usually a tidy bowler & has the knack of picking up wickets at the start of an innings, has seemed very ordinary so far. Shami, while amongst wickets, has been too expensive & unless he develops the art of running through an opposition, he isn’t the ideal bowler while defending any target.
Ashwin & Jadeja are both overworked & they are ought to have their bad days. It is important for Kumar, Ahemad & the others to show some maturity before India enters the World Cup next year. Already, the bowling, partly, has lost India it’s number one ranking, while the BCCI is plotting to take over the ICC work flow, on the basis of that very strength, apart from it’s monetary influence. India’s effort with the bat has been inconsistent & the charm they had going on in England during the Champions Trophy & at home against Australia, suddenly seems to have disappeared. The very fact that Shikhar Dhawan, who was one of the highest international run-getters in ODIs last year had to be dropped, proves that something is going critically wrong.
At this moment probably, Dhoni must be realising the mistake of side-lining Sehwag & Gambhir completely. While the captain did back Gambhir publically, Sehwag’s domestic failures may well be the result of his mental bloc after suggestions that he is history. Ofcourse that cannot be used as an excuse. The Indian management needs to figure out a way to utilise both Gambhir & Sehwag, atleast till next year’s World Cup campaign. Both batsmen are fearless against pace or swing & are more than just capable of launching a counter attack. Dare one say that either one of Sehwag or Gambhir had been in South Africa or New Zealand, the Indian batting scorecard could have looked different.
More importantly though, it’s the bowling that has got Dhoni clearly worried. Even the likes of Jaidev Unadkat, Varun Aaron & Umesh Yadav have not been able to pull up their socks & perform to the best of their abilities. Neither is the current bowling attack in any kind of rhythm. The very bench strength that Dhoni was counting on just a year ago has proved to be incapable. Options are few, or as Dhoni might see it, none, & time is fast running out. Whatever argument or defence one might want to put up, India certainly doesn’t deserve to be number one on current form & neither can this team make through the initial stages of the World Cup next year, unless radical & effective measures are underway soon enough.