Nidahas Trophy 2018: Ideal platform for India to test their new wares
Cricket teams don't so much 'pursue' success as much as the effort they invest in the processes to make them the team that 'attracts' success. Success, after all, is that which 'ensues'. Sporting excellence is the healthy by-product as a result of this endless endeavour to improve and sustain, given all activities are anything but 'Work in Progress'.
Lately, the Indian team may well be embracing and investing in the time-tested processes, which indeed is a huge paradigm shift in mental attitudes, for such is the rat race under Indian skies, with the winner, the international player, takes it all and the loser, the domestic one, might have been standing small.
The public acclaim is bestowed and showered upon winners, as success has, after all, many fathers, even as the 'nearly, but not quite' category are left to lick their wounds, lonely and small! The evidence of this investment by the Indian Board can be gauged by the earnest development of a steady stream of young cricketers, like the 'A' sides and the victorious Under-19 lot, who can't, I bet, wait to fill the benches.
It is the bounden duty of the management to harness, direct, and prepare these eager lot to grab the opportunities that come their way.
An aggrieved player of an earlier era may well have packed it in, throwing in the towel, for it can be excruciatingly painful and exasperatingly irksome to warm the benches, and not win the nod. Such annoyed lot eventually retire with bitter rancour, for the system did not nurture or nourish them.
Manish Pandey recently admitted similar such feelings in an interview after a couple of good digs in SA. Such is the cruel nature of this beastly sport that a player does not ever know when bad form strikes and cripples him. It is in this ironic context that a player in red-hot form warms and rots in the bench like a festering scab, for victorious teams have to grapple with these problems of plenty.
Talking from a team's perspective, it indeed is a happy problem to have for virtually every player in the playing eleven: India is able to muster a near enough replacement with a shadow eleven like a shadow cabinet in the assembly!
It is in this context, the Indians approach the Nidahas tournament in Sri Lanka, who themselves are on the mend after their giants vacated the scene a tad ago. The tourney may well bring to the fore the likes of Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Vijay Shankar, Mohammed Siraj and a few other relative seniors like Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina and Manish Pandey, all of them chomping at the bit to establish and cement their spots in this frenetic helter-skelter format, where teams can crash and burn in an over!
The team that quickly adapts and fills up the void caused by the absence of its stars may well emerge triumphant in this triangular, where the Asian sides, barring Pakistan play each other twice before the top two vie for the finals. Both India and Srilanka miss a few of its stars, and if anything, the Indians' applecart can be toppled in this condensed format by both Srilanka and Bangladesh, as it is in the nature of T20 beast, where unpredictability reigns supreme and a David can slay and lay low a Goliath.
Should they pull it off despite their depleted personnel, it will be a corner that Team India would have turned. That it would take great heart is a foregone conclusion as their T20 forays, barring their triumph a good decade ago in SA in the inaugural WC T20, have been anything but spectacularly sporadic.
Notwithstanding the absence of its seasoned stars that there is huge competition for a few spots will cockle the hearts of the Indian team management. MS Dhoni's rest has ensured that the keeper's slot has Dinesh Karthik vying with Rishabh Pan, and KL Rahul too is in the mix.
Not too many sides can boast of such an array of all-round cricketers.
Rahul may well be ready to keep wickets for his continuity as a player despite huge success may well depend on his all-round skills and contribution. Talk of a three-way race, with Dhoni not even in the picture! The tussle for the all-rounders spot between Sundar and Hooda tells a tale about the emerging young crop, after having cut their teeth in the feisty environs of IPL and the hard-nosed domestic circuit.
In the absence of Pandya, Vijay Shankar must be itching to leave a mark as a backup all-rounder. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina & Manish Pandey complete the engine room of India's batting line up. Skipper Rohit Sharma, whose willow rained runs versus Lanka in a blistering fashion just recently in India, must be itching to get back on track, after an indifferent tour of SA. Barring the ton in a lone ODI, Rohit has baffled the pundits and the commoners with his yo-yo batting form in the recent past.
Given he has led Mumbai Indians to title triumphs in the IPL, India are seemingly well placed on the captaincy front too, with Virat Kohli's absence not overtly felt on the face as Rohit's success as a skipper suggests. Unadkat, Thakur, Chahal, Sundar, Shankar and Siraj complete the bowling line-up, which may appear a tad weak on paper on these slow and low pitches of Premadasa at Colombo where all games are slated to be held.
All in all, it promises to be an ideal platform for the Indian team to test its wares and newbies, not to mention the ever salivating zealous fan, before the advent of the T20 season with the eleventh edition of the glitzy razzmatazz and the sporting cynosure that IPL is, is merely a month away!
Fasten the seatbelts! Can't wait!