Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mantra of Winning

It was a spirited moment when the Team India clinched the tri-series in Australia in early March, beating the powerful Aussies hands down, in their own den. It's undoubtedly a great moment for the Cricket India, as they have beaten more than once to both unrelenting Australia and Sri Lanka in the just held series. The question now arises from many quarters whether India continues to hold the position that it has acquired? Some pundits say, India has broken the spine of Australia, and invariably remains numero-uno in the field of cricket under the leadership of M.S Dhoni. And some cricketing experts have mentioned that the new breed of cricketers are better fighter, not bogged down under pressure, and have the potential to play better at the highest level.

Does it sound realistic? No, perhaps. When Kapil's devils had brought the World Cup in 1983, didn’t we anticipate that Indian cricket would be different thenceforth? But what happened thereon? The same West Indies team whom we won over in the final, left the Indian team in the lurch immediately at our own courtyard. The Indian team looked as ordinary as before.

However, if we blink at the merits of Australia, the look of their canvas is inimitable from any angle viz. test series or one dayers. They became champion for the first time in 1987. It took them twelve years to win again in 1999. But thereafter, they didn't look back. They beat everyone, and won every series played anywhere. This is called consistency. We take another example. Sri Lanka bagged the Cup in 1996, and thereafter India played a couple of series against them. But we lost most of the matches, and thereby series. Sri Lanka was an unbeatable team during that period, until 1999 world cup began. That was also consistency, even if for a shorter period. And who can forget the glorious period of West Indies cricket? Can we reminisce any moment when we claim that the consistency was part of our cricket? No, we would not find any, honestly. Time to time, we had nurtured a lot of expectations from Kapil Dev, and then we followed the charisma of Saurav Ganguly for bringing glory to our nation for a period. The time went by, but the cherish period deludes us time and again. So, how long will Dhoni sustain the treasured moment of winning matches consistently? The scathing heart of the kangaroos and the effervescent Pakistanis will maneuver to dent the canvas made articulately by Dhoni, sooner or later.

If we recollect one match that was played in 1997-98 against Sri Lanka, we might find out the mantra of winning matches consistently. Before that, Sri Lanka was winning all the matches against us with clear conviction. Azhar was our captain, and the Indian team had players of the calibre of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble, Jadeja, Sreenath, and Robin Singh amongst others. That was considered to be a pretty good team. Still we were trounced at the hands of the Sri Lankan in every match. At the fag end of the series, suddenly most of our seasoned players fell sick or down with injury. The panic alarm unsettled the bellies of the selectors. "What will happen now, and who will face the dynamism of the prodigious opponent?' Somehow replacements were made with unknown players only to replenish the formality of the game. The forthcoming match was a foregone conclusion. Few over-enthusiastic spectators went to fill the empty stadium. It was a miracle to be seen. India beat Sri Lanka in that match.

Prior to twenty-20 world cup, we had no expectations from our team in that tournament, as we only knew Dhoni, Yuvraj, Sehwag and Harbhajan by face value. Even amongst them, Sehwag and Harbhajan were discarded from the then just concluded series in England. The rest of the players were inconsequential, and so there was no hope. But the miracle seemed to take the driver's seat, and India beat all the best sides including Australia, S.A., and Pakistan. Another miracle was in the offing within a few months i.e. the outcome of the series played in Australia. Only Tendulkar was seen in the team as the only veteran player.

So, what is the mantra? It is simple. Remember, some of our senior players are the best in the world, and so are they always under the scanner of the other teams. The opposition bowlers look through the lenses the techniques of Sachin, Saurav and Rahul, with the determination to upset them. Same strategy is applied in the case of our eminent bowlers like Kumble, Harbhajan and Zaheer. The opposition coaches study them, and their players hammer when our boys falter a bit. All our citadel collapses and the nation burst into fury.

We are a nation with a billion people, and we have a million cricketers. If we want to win tournaments, send new talents with one or two veterans each time. Give them enough when they come back winning, like given now. They would continue to play until any big tournament arrives. In the big one, send a new team, and so on, so forth. This way, we could avoid being scanned. Really, we do not need versatile players now, rather put forward vivacious players in tandem.

This way, our raw talents would tear asunder the mightiest, without any fear of their reputation. Let more poor fellows come to the fold, and fill up their kitty. Let the BCCI do not depend more on the white elephants.

Where cricket is followed like a religion, let it be flourished in our country. If our youth cannot perform well in football or hockey, do not curse them. Let the crowd join in where they can nourish themselves well and the country can boast its mettle in one aspect of the games, at least.


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