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RK's Blog - Yet another game. Yet another defeat.
Oct 30, 2006
I was watching an interview of the Australian skipper Ricky Ponting recently in one of the television channels in which he made a pertinent point to an interesting question. The interviewer asked him how he manages a bunch of celebrity egos as a single unit. Ponting’s reply was as elegant as his pull shot. He said Australia is strictly a team and the guys in the side know what they need to do. Nobody can make it to the Australian national side if he were not a team player. Pertinent point that.

Let's take Punters point in the context of a do or die battle for India versus the mighty Australians in the Champions trophy. I think India lost the game in two overs – the forty third and the forty fifth, both played by Suresh Raina. Raina allowed Brett Lee to bowl a maiden and just concede a single in another.

There were commentators raising an eyebrow over why Pathan was not sent ahead of Raina… It’s easy to commentate after things have gone awry for a captain. Rahul Dravid was clearly playing to a plan. Pack the side with batsmen since that’s the only way to get a reasonable total on the board considering the abysmal form the Indian galacticos have been in. And Dravid being the captain he is believed in his batsman more than his all rounder.

That the batsman did not click is another issue. That’s because the batsmen were playing for their places – and that includes Kaif and Raina. None of these two showed any signs of seriously accelerating the run rate. That’s the basic difference between team India and Australia. You can bring in any number of foreign coaches and support staff to improve the fitness of the side, but the attitude still remains integral to the side. I think Chappell wants to make an Australia out of India, but to be honest that seems light years away.

Virender Sehwag played a decent knock of 65 and you could see the relief on his face after he scored the fifty. He was streaky but not as freaky as he is normally made out to be. The knock showed that Sehwag could apply better if he applies his mind better. But what bothers me is why do the Indian players start applying their mind only when they are in a run drought. I cannot think of one Indian player who will step up the gear when the pressure begins to mount. Dravid at best comes the closest and that’s because of his technique and temperament.

Yuvraj people might say was sorely missed. He might have been crucial but then again he is a kind of player who plays when the conditions are best suited for batting. Lets not even talk of Kaif – I think just two innings come to my mind when I think of Kaif – the Natwest final when India chased down an improbable 326 and a patient thirty odd to give Sachin Tendulkar some good company against Pakistan in the 2003 world cup in South Africa.

Compare this against the world champions – Ponting was supposedly in poor form till this game against India. A clear case of the skipper lifting himself up when it really mattered and this is not something new to Ponting. He is just one of the many match winners in that side. When the chips are down, you know one Australian or the other will come to the party. You had Andrew Symonds coming to the party against Pakistan in the world cup 2003 and hasn’t looked back since. Gilchrist is a captain's delight and Shane Watson is more than a utility player. Clocking faster than some of the quicks in the Indian side and opening the batting as well. What more can you ask? And we haven’t even talked bowling yet.

Its one thing to comment on the strategies, captaincy and its quite another to understand our limitations. So, let's chuck the batting order, let's chuck the team composition, chuck captaincy out of the window…let's get our minds right…Let's realize that it’s a team game – things will automatically fall in place…Let's not get drawn into how many centuries an individual has made for even a thirty is sometimes more valuable than a hundred…Wonder what Rahul would have answered to the same question posed to Ponting?

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