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Playing Rohan was not a great idea

September 20, 2004 17:56 IST

It's always hard to accept defeat, and losing against Pakistan makes it even harder to digest.

In our democratic set-up, where one is free to air opinion and views, all one can expect at the moment is stern advice and unconfined criticism from various quarters.

The team should shift its focus from those alarmists and critics and listen more to those silent but solution-oriented people involved with the game.

No doubt, the recent performance of the Indian team remains far below the level of expectations, but that is because they were always trying to win the finals of many tournaments.

The team has not really found its proper footing after coming back from a well-deserved break in the month of June. I could understand if the team was performing well and suffered a slump all of a sudden. But the start of the season itself was inauspicious. Injuries to players, the subsequent recurrences and some players being out of form have created lot of problems for the team. Just consider the number of changes that have been made in the Indian team.

Irfan Pathan has bowled with quite a few partners. It has been musical chairs right from the Asia Cup with the new ball. Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar and Laxmaipathy Balaji, who are taking turns to play every now and then, could only bring in high instability.

The first and foremost requirement for a cricketer at the international level is to be a permanent member of the playing eleven. As it is, fast bowling is such an arduous task that it can even otherwise be a problematic area for the team.

Today we see Pathan being the lone performer, his consistency is only because of his continuous presence in the playing eleven. I would have had immense faith in Ashish or Ajit to strike early and supplement Irfan's heroics, only if they were regular members of the team.

It is never easy for the batsmen to come back to form in the one-day format. Unlike a Test match where the batsmen can grind and occupy the crease for hours to come back to form, batting in one-day cricket is exposed to maximum risks.

Sehwag has to come back to form by playing his shots and not by playing a sedate innings to last longer at the crease.

For the passionate followers of the game, Sehwag's dismissal would appear reckless or rather an irresponsible attitude. But it is far from true. Even a full-bladed flick saw the waiting hands of Malik at square leg on Sunday.

Ganguly, wanting to dominate the Pakistani attack, paid a heavy price. Laxman and Sehwag's freaky dismissal added woes to the already struggling Indian batting. A batsman can do little when his full-bladed pull and flick shots go straight into waiting hands.

I do not like the idea of people being too critical about the players, especially for a new entrant, as it can play havoc in the mind of the player in believing his own ability.

Rohan Gavaskar getting the nod ahead Anil Kumble in the eleven was surprising. In my opinion, for someone like Rohan, who has hardly played any games in the last two tournaments, drafting him into the final eleven in a do-or-die situation was not a great idea.

Usually, when the team is not doing well, some true characters among the youngsters emerge to bail the team out.

Some might argue that players are not given enough opportunities, but the other side of the story is that great players emerge out of any given opportunity. This was a perfect stage for the newcomers to make an impression when the seasoned campaigners were struggling.

Yousuf Youhana, Pakistan's answer to India's Rahul Dravid, played a real innings of character. The way he steered the Pakistanis out of woods was remarkable. It takes a lot to believe in winning when the team has lost three wickets.

Shahid Afridi's dynamism somehow clicked. Pathan's idea of bowling him a bouncer was good, but it didn't have the adequate pace to trouble Afridi.

The Indians will have to forget the last few tournaments and start preparing for the Test matches. It's a long season ahead.

Javagal Srinath
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