Team India the new chokers of world cricket

LONDON: “It was written in the stars,” said Pep Guardiola on seeing his team Manchester City complete a historic soccer treble in Istanbul. The Australian cricketers could say that they had created their own destiny in beating Team India to pulp and winning the World Test championship to complete the task of winning all of the ICC titles, including the T20 World Cup they won in Dubai a couple of years ago and the five ODI World Cups they had won earlier as well as the Champions Trophy. They richly deserve to hold the ‘Sengol’ of Test cricket now.

Indian fans who were searching for signs on a historic day when they imagined a miraculous Indian victory was possible even though such a target had never been chased down in Test history since 1877, were even pointing to the fact that the timing of sunrise in England on Sunday was 4.44 am. The numbers were the same for the runs Team India needed. But it was an abject collapse that they witnessed at The oval, leaving the target an unconquerable peak.

In a spineless batting display that saw seven wickets fail in a session after promising much in the start on Saturday, the Indians had played true to form. They are the ultra modern chokers of world cricket, a tag they have snatched from the South Africans given their record of defeats in big games of the ICC kind for over 10 years now.

The moment Virat Kohli fell to repeat for the nth time the same old story of reaching out outside the off stump to a sucker ball from the uber-accurate seam bowler Scott Boland, it was downhill all the way. The difference in application that the Australians demonstrated lay in the athletic catch Steve Smith, centurion of the first innings, took to sniffle Kohli, once again revealing what importance they had laid to getting him out quickly on the final morning. Smith had similarly taken him in the slips in the first innings too.

Jadeja followed nicking one and Boland’s metronomic accuracy with a bit of seam movement in and out had stifled all thoughts of the impossible dream of making 444 to win a Test becoming a reality. In fact, the Indians had barely passed the halfway mark. The batting conditions may have improved but not Indian batting in big finals, whether they are played with red or white balls.

The one man who stood up once again to the Aussie pace quartet was Ajinkya Rahane, the one player without a central contract in this Team India of millionaire cricketers. Maybe is it time he is brought in to lead in Tests, towards building a new team for the next WTC cycle; The form of the seniors should be put under the microscope too, including that of the skipper Rohit Sharma.

The team may analyse every detail to death, even resorting to extensive data study to make a case for Player X or Y. But that they got everything wrong, from Team combination after dropping their best bowler Ravi Ashwin, to studying the pitch conditions and keeping eternal faith in a charmed inner circle of batsmen, was quite clear from the result of the final.

Dig up home pitches to suit the spinners and the ‘paper tigers’ will roar again while batsmen pile up a record aggregate. Ask them to make runs when they are needed and they will stand exposed. That is the story of IPL-obsessed Indian cricket and cricketers.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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