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Indian Cricket's Freaky Friday
by Gulu Ezekiel
Sep 15, 2007
Indian cricket has seen some dramatic days in the past. But few can have come close to matching the events of Freaky Friday. In the morning Rahul Dravid’s stunning resignation from the captaincy shook it to its core.

Less than 24 hours later the amazing tie against Pakistan in the T/20 World Cup—and subsequent 3-0 victory via the bowl-out—went some way in restoring faith in Indian cricket.

The Indians bowled and fielded like tigers and MS Dhoni kept his head under extreme pressure. All positive signs in the rocky road ahead as the selectors get set to name a new captain on Tuesday.

Coming so soon after the lethargic display in the field in the ODI series in England, the freshness and verve shown by the young T/20 squad was just what Indian cricket needed in this hour of its latest crisis.

Dravid has always been known for his impeccable timing on the field. However, his shock announcement certainly came at the wrong time for Dhoni and his boys on the morning of the crucial tie.

It must have been difficult to concentrate on the task at hand what with the entire cricket world buzzing with speculation as to the causes for the captain’s decision.

Still, Dravid did well to announce his resignation so soon after leading India to their first Test series win in England for 21 years.

The ODI series was not an entirely lost cause either. The team showed commendable spirit in coming back from 1-3 down to take it down to the wire.

This was in stark contrast to the circumstances surrounding the end of his two predecessors’ reigns.

Tendulkar was removed by the selectors in 1998 after his first stint and then quit in disgust two years later after being briefly reinstated and then leading the side to a whitewash in Australia.

Sourav Ganguly saw his form with the bat slide and his relationship with coach Greg Chappell sour before being replaced two years ago by Dravid.

Dravid had often been forced into playing the caretaker role when Ganguly was in charge from 2000 to 2005. Injuries and suspensions saw Ganguly frequently on the sidelines and Dravid always coped with the job manfully, particularly when leading India to their first Test victory on Pakistan soil at Multan in 2004 when Ganguly was injured.

The real reasons behind Dravid stepping down at this time may never be known. But there can be little doubt the pressures of the job eventually wore him down.

That in itself is more an indictment of the circumstances under which the Indian cricket captain has to operate these days rather than a reflection of Dravid’s temperament.

The incessant focus from both the cricket-mad public and the cricket-obsessed media—particularly dozens of TV channels—has made life almost unbearable for the captain.

Indeed, the mantle, which every Indian cricketer should aspire for, has now become a crown of thorns. A sad state of affairs indeed.

 
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