The Curse of Dominica: Indian Test team’s unwanted baggage outside Asia
New captain, new coach, new faces in the squad, but the same old fears. Can India overcome the Curse of Dominica?
The curse of Dominica – I knew of the place, definitely knew the meaning of the word ‘curse’, but wasn’t aware of the context in which everyone was using this phrase around me. It took some good research to finally decipher that it referred to the drawn Test match against the West Indies in Dominica in 2011, so what, you’d ask? Big deal?
Indeed, it is called the curse of Dominica because ever since Mahendra Singh Dhoni – the then Indian Test captain – shook hands for a draw in that game, India went on to lose every Test series they played outside Asia, only winning a solitary game at Lord’s in 2014.
A lot has changed since then, India have a new (and discernible) leader in Virat Kohli who approaches the game differently, so you can be sure, India aren’t shaking hands for a draw anytime soon. India have more youngsters in the side, it is an unrecognisable unit if you compare it with the one that played in the West Indies in 2011. But, are the fears unrecognisable?
Let’s go back to Dominica 2011, Day 5, India are set a target of 180 runs from almost 50 overs. Abhinav Mukund – who we didn’t hear a lot about after 2011 – is out LBW, Murali Vijay and Rahul Dravid steady the ship a tad, and then Vijay perishes. India’s Test No.4 during the series VVS Laxman is asked to step down and Suresh Raina is promoted.
Like on so many occasions earlier, Raina plays like he usually does – ebullient, but flickery, and only lasts for 8 runs. At 86-3, needing 94 to win off 22 odd overs, Laxman steps in to bat. Voila, before you know it, and before the start of the mandatory 15 overs at the end of the day, the two captains Dhoni and Darren Sammy shake hands and it’s a draw!
For a lot of you who went to sleep midway in India, assured of a front page victory news, it would’ve been a task to wake up to a surprise, for you’d have had to flip through a number of pages to the sports page to find out that India drew the game. How? How can you draw a game without giving the target a go? With Kohli, Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh (for all his batting prowess) yet to bat, the decision of shaking hands was indeed baffling. But, little did we know of what was to follow, oh you curse!
The curse of Dominica, India seems to have lost it's spirit to win tests post that match #engvind— Sameer Phal (@HereticGoan) July 31, 2011
India would tour 4 countries (England and Australia, twice), over a period of the next 4 years, play 21 Test matches, drawing 5, losing a whopping 15 Test matches and winning just one (at Lord’s, Stuart Broad’s nasal tissues might hurt at every mention of this).
Everytime the Indian Test team turned up to deliver pretty ordinary performances outside Asia, Twitter went straight back to 2011 and the curse of Dominica. First England 4-0, then Australia 4-0 again, followed by 1-0 losses in South Africa and New Zealand, followed by a 3-1 loss against England in 2014 and a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Australia again in 2014-15.
The Curse of Dominica is still alive & kicking.— MV (@srinivyasan) February 9, 2014
Not pretty numbers to look at if you are an Indian fan, if you’re an Dhoni fan, look away! But, what about the Virat Kohli fan? The Virat Kohli who never lets go (remember the Adelaide Test chase in December 2014), the Virat Kohli who loves a chase?
5 years after that drawn Test match in Dominica, India are in the West Indies again. Changed captain, changed coach, a number of new faces. This might be India’s and Kohli’s best chance at settling the scores once and for all with the Curse of Dominica, and if they’re able to do that, they must at least be allowed selfies with beer cans in their hands, no, okay, tissue draped cans maybe?