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Tough Times for India!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Nov 18, 2006
Sachin Tendulkar is not exaggerating when he says these are bad times for Indian cricket.

The quote was in the context of the passing away of one of the giants of Indian cricket, Polly Umrigar who served the game so nobly in many capacities both on and off the field.

There is still a pall of gloom hanging over the cricket scene here following the team's abysmal performance in the Champions Trophy. And frankly it is hard to be optimistic with the tour to South Africa starting on Sunday with the first of the five ODIs, followed by three Test matches.

The sad fact of the matter is that India have yet to win a Test match on South African soil after three tours there, in 1992, 1997 and 2001. And there have been only three wins in 16 ODIs against the hosts. Considering the poor form of our batsmen and bowlers over the last six months and the pacy nature of the wickets that the South African authorities will surely have in store for our team, no wonder optimism is sadly lacking among even the most die-hard Indian fans.

Of course India did make it to the final of the World Cup when it was held in South Africa three years ago. But the pitches were deliberately doctored to ensure that batting was easy and that the bowlers’ sting was drawn.

It would not have suited the sponsors and TV channels (almost all India-based) of the World Cup to have the matches ending early and the ball dominating the bat as occurred most unusually during the Champions Trophy in India.

It's a different matter altogether when a bilateral series is held and here it is the host's prerogative to prepare tracks to suit their own bowling attack. And with bowlers of the nature of Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Dale Steyn, Shaun Pollock and others of that like, there can be no doubt that the Indian batsmen are in for a torrid time.

Makes me wonder though why the foreign media and visiting cricketers are so harsh on India when our wickets are prepared to suit our traditional strength --at least at home-- of spin bowling.

Steve Waugh went as far in his book as to condemn preparation of such tracks in India, comparing it to match-fixing. In that case the Australian board could be labeled masters of the dark deed considering the way the ball flies around at Brisbane and Perth!

Be that as it may, Indian batsmen have traditionally struggled for runs when opposing fast bowlers have conditions tailor-made for them and there is no doubt they will be sorely tested this time around.

The one silver lining perhaps is the debacle India suffered in New Zealand just months before the 2003 World Cup. Maybe it requires a dose of strong medicine to turn things around again!
 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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