Indian cricketers are paper tigers when playing on foreign soil, especially on the fast-tracks in Australia and South Africa. Of course, they have won on umpteen occasions earlier but there is a terrible absence of consistency. Riding the crest of an unprecedented win-spree, notwithstanding, Team India has several chinks in its ‘famed’ armour.
These inadequacies in almost every department of the game stood grossly exposed when Virat Kohli and his boys tried to do the unthinkable – taking the game into the South African camp in Cape Town. That they were beaten black and blue inside of four days in what was their first Test of the year should serve as a rude wake-up call and hopefully make them realise that they can still make a match of it by making suitable amends. There is no denying that they were dealt a huge psychological blow that added to the badly-blended playing eleven.
It is time the team management sat down and did an honest post-mortem on the whys and wherefores, and change gears in the second Test so that there could be an orderly and workable approach to the game-plan.
One fails to see any logic in playing both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma and omitting Ajinkya Rahane. In spite of Kohli justifying this faux pas, it is somewhat of a suicidal move because although Sharma is in the form of his life, Rahane has proven his credentials in almost every overseas tour he has been part of.
One wonders what sort of arithmetic, the think-tank will work up for the second Test, particularly on the batting front. Given their ability to hang in there in the middle, it would be a sensible move, if Rahane and KL Rahul are both brought in to lend solidity to the batting order on the seam and fast tracks. For a change, the prospects are getting bolstered by the pacers, who, once again, did a splendid job in containing the batsmen.
That the Indian batting order failed to set a reasonable target to defend or go for the kill contributed to the humiliation that they were subjected to by a ruthlessly aggressive professional outfit that gave a damn to rankings.
It is perhaps in the back of every player’s mind that they would be the top ranked Test team even if they fail to win the series. This mindset, added to the notorious over-confidence, is where one ought to ring in qualitative changes. It will be least surprising if the players start blaming the inadequate time to get acclimatised to the climatic conditions.
Would it not be a case of sour-grapes if Indians, by an unfortunate quirk of fate, keep losing the later matches of the series by which time they should get used to the atmosphere? By and large, Indian sportspersons are bad losers. They point an accusing finger at every other thing for their dreadful showings but never display the combative spirit to fight back. Every bad beginning has a good ending, goes the saying. One hopes so for Team India!