Ever since they won the 2011 World Cup, things haven’t quite worked for the Indian team. They lost their No.1 ranking to England who defeated them 4-0. The Aussies further fanned the flames of criticism for the Indian team as they too pummeled the clueless Dhoni-led side. After the humiliation suffered abroad a lot of changes were expected but nothing much has changed since then. Only the two gentlemen, Dravid and Laxman, hung their boots and the rest of the players continue to disappoint. I wonder what is going through the minds of the selectors and the non-performing players who neither rest nor perform.
From what we have seen so far, the selectors wouldn’t drop the big names. Dhoni has been a big failure in Test matches with the bat as well as a skipper. The selectors played safe by retaining him as the captain after the Australian series as India were to play next 11 Test matches at home. It worked well against New Zealand. But England once again exposed them, this time, on their home turf. Many would have expected some changes in the squad following the defeat in the second Test but that did not happen.
‘Rest’ should not be a bad word for the non-performing Indian cricketers. It wouldn’t be the end of their careers. When India became the No. 1 Test team, Gambhir and Sehwag were at their peak. It was the platform laid by them which instilled a new confidence. The middle-order also echoed with a similar kind of determination. But with their decline, the entire squad has been struggling to gain some momentum. The selectors have shown enough confidence in the veterans but, for some reason or the other, the duo has failed to live up to the expectations.
Gambhir retaliated to the media pressure by reminding everybody, "We still average 53 as an opening pair, which I think is one of the best when it comes to opening the batting in world cricket." I wonder if stats were enough to keep a player playing till eternity, Tendulkar could shut the world forever by saying, “Stop talking about my retirement. I have 100 centuries.” But things don’t work in that fashion, and with the amount of cricket being played these days, the players shouldn’t mind resting for a particular period.
Not only in Test matches, but even in ODIs, a few players could have easily been rested for a while. For example, Rohit Sharma could have been asked to ‘rest’ for a while and Manoj Tiwary, who did nothing wrong to warm the benches, could have been given an opportunity to perform at the big stage. In Test Matches players like Tamil Nadu’s S Badrinath could have replaced the veterans for a while. This would not only give the ‘resting players’ some time to gain momentum but the selectors would also come to know how strong is their bench strength. We are hardly giving the talented youngsters some exposure to international cricket.
By being ‘stubborn’ at the crease the veterans are sending a negative message for the youngsters who are all set to make an impact at the international arena. We can take the example of Ajinkya Rahane. The man, who impressed all of us in IPL 2012, is known to play long innings. He is a Test match material and he took everyone by surprise with back-to-back impressive knocks in the cash rich league. But he has hardly been shown any faith by the selectors and, like Pujara, he too will have to wait for some time to play Tests.
But one can’t deny that there is tremendous pressure on several Indian cricketers. Ponting’s retirement has already increased it. Both the players and the selectors can introspect after his decision to quit. No matter what is the result of the remaining two Tests, it is a perfect time to rest some Indian cricketers.