A wake­up call for In­dia

Sportstar - - PHOTOLINE ENGLAND­INDIA ODIS - SU­NIL GAVASKAR

The loss in the One­day se­ries should gal­vanise the In­dian team to lift its game for the Test matches against Eng­land.

In­dia’s play­ers now know ex­actly why Eng­land is the No.1 team in the One­day rank­ings of the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil. The man­ner in which Eng­land won the fi­nal two games af­ter hav­ing got a drub­bing in the first was truly re­mark­able. The bats­men who were blown away by Kuldeep Ya­dav’s wrist spin in the first match came back strongly to counter not just him but also the other wrist spin­ner, the right­handed Yuzven­dra Cha­hal. Both th­ese spin­ners have choked up the runs and taken wick­ets in the mid­dle overs in re­cent games and so made it easy for In­dia to de­fend even small to­tals. How­ever Eng­land — Joe Root in par­tic­u­lar — bat­ted ex­ceed­ingly well to win both games com­fort­ably and give In­dia a rude awak­en­ing. Root seemed to have a point to prove to those who were ques­tion­ing his place in the lim­ited overs team and hav­ing been dropped from the last Twenty20 in­ter­na­tional must have stung him, too.

It’s not just the fail­ure of the spin­ners but also that of its seam­ers that will have the In­dian think tank wor­ried. Sure, the weather was more In­dian than English, so there wasn’t much help for the seam­ers. If the next sum­mer is also like this, then In­dia will have its task cut out in the ICC World Cup. There is also the is­sue with the open­ers and the No.4 and 5 po­si­tions, though it’s not as wor­ri­some as the bowl­ing is­sues, but it’s still got to be sorted out be­fore next year.

Then there was Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni’s bat­ting in the One­day games that In­dia lost. When he came in to bat, the sit­u­a­tion was tough but not im­pos­si­ble es­pe­cially with his famed pow­ers of big hit­ting. How­ever, af­ter Vi­rat Kohli got out, the load fell squarely on Dhoni, and he just wasn’t able to make any head­way. The hard shots he played went straight to the field­ers, and with some good bowl­ing by both the English spin­ners in par­tic­u­lar, he was sim­ply tap­ping the ball away. The mind can some­times play on an in­di­vid­ual and a feel­ing of hope­less­ness starts to creep in and that pre­vents log­i­cal and com­mon sense think­ing. Much as the flesh is will­ing, the spirit is weak. See­ing him bat at Lord’s took my mind back to my most in­fa­mous in­nings at the same venue. This is not an at­tempt to com­pare the two in­nings, but just to give an idea and un­der­stand­ing of how the mind can im­mo­bilise clear think­ing. Dhoni has more shot op­tions than I ever did and also the strength to hit the ball deep into the stands, but watch­ing him bat gave the feel­ing that as much as he wanted to ac­cel­er­ate, his mind wasn’t help­ing him to do so.

That is the rea­son to say tem­per­a­ment sep­a­rates the men from the boys. Hope­fully, the iconic Dhoni won’t be asked to ex­plain his bat­ting as much as I had been asked to, for ev­ery player can have a hor­ri­ble day men­tally and play in a man­ner that is hard to

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