A second string side…Bring it on!
A lot of hue and cry was raised on the sports desks of many a media houses upon the declaration of a ‘second strung Indian side’ to be sent to Zimbabwe for a Tri-series clash that had islanders Sri Lanka too. A team going overseas sans the mighty Sachin, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Sehwag, Gambhir, Zaheer, Harbhajan and that too after the ignominy of the T20 World Cup ouster simply meant more humiliation for us.
It’s no secret that we are more than wanting when it comes to facing short stuff and fast turfs. The sad situation has been nurtured by the BCCI for ages now, in fact, we can safely say that the apex body has indeed taken concrete measures for our failure overseas with tailor-made batting heavens. Many might argue that every country does provide a unique pitch to its cricketers so that they can have a home advantage.
However my friends, I must tell you to wake up and see our current and upcoming crop of spinners if not go to the painful lengths of looking for a thoroughbred fast bowler (not the kind of medium-pace lollies that our guys usually churn out). It would become agonisingly clear that the kind of turfs we promote for our monetary benefits in IPL and otherwise are simply robbing us of the class and mastery of the game. Instead, we have a few brutal hulks in the squad that will always bank on their might to see the team through single-handedly through a match or simply lose to the weakest of opponents.
In the wake of such a bleak scenario where our guys are going to be involved on similar pitches and strategies in the coming year with the ODI World Cup and IPL 4, it is a good thing that the selectors sent a team to Zimbabwe that will gain immensely from the exposure to foreign conditions. And a series with Zimbabwe is the right platform for such kind of experimentation. It would be disastrous if a similar move was made for a series with Australia, South Africa or England but sending a young crop that will take notes for the future of the game is good sign (can’t blame the BCCI for every breath they take).
If a Pragyan Ojha or Umesh Yadav can come out with a solid performance or even if they improve their arsenal of skills, it was a risk worth taking, even if we lose the series to the minnows. At least we’d have a better platform to work on to avoid the humiliation in big events.
The importance of line and length becomes clearer in overseas conditions where scoring runs is a job rather than a glory quest for the batsmen and bowlers toil to stop every run off the blade, winning the battle at times. Over here in India, our cricketers seem content with giving away a million runs in an over just so that the batsman gets tired or gives away his wicket due to lapse of concentration.
If things are to improve for us, then opportunities like the one given to the youngsters in the current series are indeed something to look forward to. And who knows, a history has often witnessed, it’s usually the written-off outfit that lays its hands on the glory.