After what’s been a nightmare of a Test series for an Indian cricket fan, the only silver lining is that it can continue for just 3 more days. I hope the change from white to blue will change the fortunes as well!
Talking of white to blue, I was just thinking about the Indian ODI squad for the 5-match series later. And obviously, the biggest surprise in that list was a certain Rahul Dravid.
Dravid has been one of the face-savers of India’s batting in this Test series. With 2 hundreds against his name, he does seem to have gotten his touch back after a not-so-good run over the past 2 years. It was nice to see him bat the way he did, and the best aspect of his batting on this tour for me was that he did not get bogged down even when India was in a backs-to-the-wall situation (which was often). He still played his shots when the bad balls came (which was rare)! Over the last 2 years, I think he used to get bogged down quite easily but it didn’t affect India much because the men around him were having golden runs.
Coming back to the ODI squad, as good a form as Dravid may be in, it was a surprise still to see him named in the ODI squad. I know that the Test team has been hammered by the English bowlers and English conditions. Yet, I somehow feel that asking Dravid to strengthen the ODI squad’s Middle Order is a bit of a regressive step.
The last ODI that India played under MS Dhoni, it defeated Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in a match that was the finals of a World Cup! If you do not retain faith in a World Cup winning squad, it is quite a disappointment.
For the sake of argument, people would say that India was the No. 1 Test team too going into this Test series. Yet is floundered in a big way! But the point is, are we going to use this Test series then as a judgement scale for all our future selections in all formats of the game? Yes, it was a nightmare of a series, as I have already stated. But the ODI squad is different – even if it has to fail, it should be allowed its own chance to fail! The fact that the selectors have decided beforehand that the ODI squad is likely to fail and thus it requires services of Rahul Dravid, even without giving it a chance to fail, has disappointed me immensely.
The selectors have often been criticised for making Test selections on the basis of ODI performances, and Suresh Raina is still used as a case in point. Now they are making an ODI selection on the basis of Test cricket. How is the latter justified if the former is considered wrong?
I remember the time when the Vengsarkar-led selection panel decided to field a very young and inexperienced ODI squad against Australia in Australia. Back then, Australia were the reigning World Champions and also the World No. 1 team in ODIs (as they still are). Yet, we were bold enough to test our younger lot in the harshest way possible.
A certain Gautam Gambhir was the highest run-scorer for India in that tri-series. That same Gautam Gambhir went on to have a brilliant run in Test cricket over the next 2 years, and a little over 3 years after that tri-series, that same Gautam Gambhir fell 3 runs short of a World Cup final winning century while chasing a stiff target!
As a fan of the Fab Four batting lineup, I do feel happy to see Dravid back in the ODI squad. But as an Indian cricket fan, I do not think it is a move in the right direction. Rahul Dravid was persisted with despite a prolonged slump in his batting performances for over 2 years. I think the selectors should have shown similar faith in India’s ODI batting unit!
Published with permission from CRIC - SIS.