The two facets of any game are victory and defeat. This is something that all lovers of a game are well aware off. However the Indian defeat in England brings a sense of incredulity as the no 1 ranked test teams in the world hurtled to an ignoble defeat. The defeat per se does not rankle, but the abject surrender does. No cricket pundit or commenter could forecast this, what in real terms is a massacre. In case it was boxing match for the world title and the opponent had received such a mauling, the referee would have stepped in and stopped the battering, but in cricket it does not happen and the game is played to the finish. It is not that we lost under Dhoni, but the fact that man to man we were no match to this English team is the issue. The same is with Australia now.
The English Series in Perspective
In the almost 79 years of Indian test cricket, India has lost an entire series by a margin of 3 tests at least 14 times. The last was about a decade back when the Tendulkar led Indian team was battered by Steve Waugh team in Australia in 2000. The series was a white wash, but it was not shocking as nobody then expected the Indian team to give much of a fight down under. But this series was different as India was the no 1 test team and the mass of people fondly hoped that India would cement their place in world cricket and confirm that the test cricket crown was not a flash in the pan.
The series has however been an anti-climax and the stark fact has emerged that the men led by MS Dhoni don’t have stomach or a fire burning in their entails to make a match of this series. There is no doubt that England was the better side, but the result is not so simple and points to a complete disintegration of the Indian teams psyche. It was more like the lambs being led for a slaughter.
Retirement of the Veterans
The sad part is that the future appears darker still. Two good men in Ganguly and Kumble have retired and 3 more are touching 40 in a year or two namely Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. These stalwarts are not going to get younger and sooner than later will go away into the shadows of retirement. What will happen then? By playing these icons also against weak teams like Bangladesh, the selectors have not built any bench strength. The cupboard seems bare and the chaps on the horizon like Raina and company have been found wanting. How does India win an away series next? Even the bowling attack is pitiful with not a good pacer in sight and no spinner in the class of the great Bedi and Prasanna. Talking of seem bowling the less said the better as after the exit of Zaheer, there not a single pacer who can take wickets abroad is on the horizon. Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth look as mere trundlers.
Thus Dhoni has an unenviable task and the follies of the board will come home to roost in an away series in Australia and South Africa. Australia is just around the corner and could be a baptism by fire as the Aussie team will be hungry to win. There are a few youngsters in line like Manoj Tiwari, Rohit Sharma, Virat kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, but they will take time to mature. A batsman needs at least a few test series under his belt to realize his potential and the cricket selectors have faulted on this account by not blooding anybody to replace the trio.
The sad part is that men from much were expected like Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh have fallen by the way side. Perhaps their dedication was at fault, for despite umpteen chances these worthies have totally failed.
The future of Indian test cricket is thus bleak. The trio of Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid are at the end of the road and Zaheer as a pace bowler is also burnt out. Dhoni will thus have his cupboard bare. It looks like the beginning of a dark night.