After their disappointing show in the T20 World Cup, young Indian players had the perfect opportunity to cement their places in the national squad when BCCI decided to rest the seniors for the Zimbabwe tri-series. It was, however, not to be and much to the disappointment of cricket worshipping Indian cricket fans, they again squandered the opportunity, thus casting some serious doubts over the future of Indian cricket.
With the mother of all cricket tourneys- the ODI World Cup -less than a year away, the performance of fringe Indian players in Zimbabwe was a tad bit more than pathetic, which shows that despite the fanaticism over cricket in India, our future is not at all rosy.
The force of any team is determined by its bench-strength. The youngsters are the future, the ones who compel the established stars to come out of their comfort zones and constantly fight for their place in the side, thereby adding that X factor in the team’s frequency of wins.
Apart from Rohit Sharma and to some extent Virat Kohli, no one in the current squad could show the spark and gluttony for runs and wickets. It’s natural then that India lost three out of four matches in the tri-series and failed to make it to the finals. The way they lost two consecutive matches against the minnows Zimbabwe does not auger well for the second generation of Indian cricketers.
Despite having a lot of talent, and getting ample opportunities, Dinesh Karthik has been a pathetic performer. He and his Tamil Nadu teammate M Vijay failed to fire in the top order even in a single game during the rather less-stressful series. The middle-order and the lower middle-order also performed badly, resulting in repeated debacles in batting. Indian selectors should now think beyond hard-hitter Yusuf Pathan, who struggles against shot-pitch balling. He should be sent to cool his heels along with his brother Irfan. He has been given enough opportunity to replicate his IPL exploits.
The Zimbabwe tri-series also proved that Suresh Raina is not captaincy material. He failed to lead his team by example. His own form with the bat was something to worry about. Moreover, he was unsure about bowling changes and setting of field positions during the series.
If batting let India down, bowling was not far behind. Indian bowlers failed to take a single wicket in the two matches against Zimbabwe before the opposition reached the three figure mark. Like most of the second generation batsmen, who had performed well in the IPL, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav and Amit Mishra were shadow of their real selves.
It seems that T20 cricket has started to make its presence felt on the mindset and techniques of young cricketers. Most of the current players lack the application while batting, require penetration while bowling and need the athleticisms and energy while fielding.
The batting and bowling may lose shine due to the shortcut nature of T20 cricket, but, what about the fielding? Doesn’t the shortest format require energy in the field? The same fielders, who were doing well for their IPL teams, can’t seem to replicate performances while playing for India. Observing their body-language during the entire tri-series, we can surely raise questions about the young generation’s mindset.
The Zimbabwe tri-series series is an eye opener for cricket administrators in India. At the end of the day, it’s their duty to make these players understand the responsibilities that come along with playing for the country.