All hail Bangladesh – the new Asian tigers on the block. They whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 in the recently concluded ODI series and are now just one win away from doing the same to Team India. This was labelled as a revenge series based on what happened in the quarter-finals of World Cup 2015. And revenge is what they got. If I had given you scorecards of the first two ODIs after masking the team and player names and asked you to guess the teams, 9/10 people would have opted for India on the winning side. And why wouldn’t they? Team India is a top team in Cricketing circles. This is how big the result has been for Bangladeshis. Now they know, after defeating Pakistan and India convincingly, they are truly on the World map! Asia cup tournament, which happens once every two years, will no longer be a 3-horse race.
Team India, on their part, have only themselves to blame. Notwithstanding the level of performance brought to the table by Bangladeshis, Team India couldn’t cope with the pressure and succumbed, despite having a cool captain in MS Dhoni, top ODI batsmen and decent bowling attack. This is perhaps an apt scenario to apply the “falling like a pack of cards” adage.
What’s going wrong for Team India? – It’s a collective failure. Captain failed tactically, players failed to deliver. The batsmen are finding it difficult to play on familiar Asian pitches. And mind you, this is not a second-string team. This is the present and future of Indian Cricket. And both the losses have been nothing short of convincing. Maybe, this Indian team took their opponents a little less seriously. Who knows? One look at the scorecard and you know that their batting has been much better than ours and their bowlers picked up wicket every time the situation demanded.
So, what’s next? – At this stage, lets not jump to conclusions and say we need dramatic changes in the team setup, like a change in captain, sacking some players simply because the series is lost. I also don’t see any problems with Ravi Shastri continuing his role or even being made the team coach. Tactically, I felt MS Dhoni missed a trick by dropping Ajinkya Rahane for 2nd ODI. Rahane is the closest among the current lot to replace Rahul “The Wall” Dravid. Rahane has been the main stay of an IPL team mentored by Dravid. Rahane (like Dravid) provides that stability when the chips are down. Rahane must be included in the batting order at number 3/4, even if he’s had an off day. Players like Rohit Sharma, Dhawan, Kohli, Raina will help accelerate the run rate while Rahane will play the anchoring role. Meanwhile, our bowling unit is a developing one. We don’t have someone who’s experienced enough in the bowling line-up whom the captain can fall back on for quick wickets. The current lot are great in patches, but they seldom hunt in pairs (remember Srinath-Prasad / Kumble-Bhajji?). Till the time we find and develop bowlers of such class, we will have to make-do with the current group. Fielding is definitely not a problem, in my opinion. We are at par with the best in the business in the fielding department.
Lets not take anything away from the successful Bangladeshis. They deserve every bit of success after coming out of the shadows of their Asian neighbors. Bangladesh has now become what Sri Lanka became after World Cup 1996. And believe me, it’s great news for World Cricket.