The title of this article could be a bit misleading, but now that you- dear reader- are here, let us ponder over the cruel irony that is Indian Cricket.
Part Deux, not at all. The game, series and entire history favours the visitors after an England tour that no Indian player, fan, commentator or citizen wants to remember. There is no part two, after such a brutal part one- where India couldn’t do what West Indies did within their second game of the England tour- win an international game.
Nevertheless, England will be here for an almost meaningless One-Day series that starts from October 14th. We, the Lions at home, will try and continue to do what we have always done best- preserve our status in familiar conditions.
Before we go over a small preview of this impeding international series in between the orgy of T20 tournaments, let us read through a few simple facts:
Give me that, my own light is blinding me
Over the last few years, when India reached the number One ranking in Tests and number Two in ODIs, here are the Test series they played: Australia 2-0 at home, New Zealand 0-1 Away, Sri Lanka 1-1 Away, South Africa 1-1 Away, Sri Lanka 2-0 at Home, Bangladesh 0-2 Away, West Indies 0-1 Away, South Africa 1-1 at Home and finally 0-4 England AWAY. What do you see here? Competent performances that illustrate the grittiness of a tough team that refuses to lose. But how much have they really won? Have they truly been ruthless enough or have they just about managing to hold onto their rankings?
Meanwhile, England have climbed up to a ranking that seemed inevitable after they won the previous Ashes series with a depleted squad: 2-1 Ashes at Home, 1-1 South Africa Away, 2-1 South Africa at Home, 3-1 Pakistan at Home, 1-3 Ashes Away, 2-0 Sri Lanka at Home, 4-0 India at Home.
I rest my case.
India: (Rank 5)
Going into the series, India have more players unfit than ever before. And we thought it couldn’t get worse after the tour ‘up under’. A bright spot: Harbhajan Singh has finally been dropped, after playing on reputation for two years. India have a virtually unrecognizable squad here, from the team that won the World Cup (which seems light years away now). I can almost sense Indian fans and loyalists breathing a sigh of relief for the fact that Dravid has officially retired from ODIs- because considering the look of the current team, he’d have been first pick to ‘guide the team through difficult times’. Enough, he said. Enough, we say.
Just another day in the Indian Office
IN a few surprise picks that are not so surprising anymore, Rahul Sharma- the Leg Spinner that made a mark in IPL 2011 for Pune- has been given preference over Amit Mishra, atleast for the first two ODIs. S Aravind, more of a domestic find (lesser of the two evils), finds himself in a tussle with Varun Aron for first-team ‘tearaway’ pacers.
The expected exclusions out of injury, heartbreak, fatigue, money or choice are those of Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Rohit Sharma and Munaf Patel. No, I wasn’t naming our main team. Those are the guys who WON’T PLAY.
Meanwhile, the man everyone loves to hate (except Dhoni) Ravindra Jadeja is back on the strength of one crucial performance in England that saw India ‘not lose’ the only game on that tour. Good for him, we say. He won’t last too long again. Hopefully.
Inexplicably, Ashish Nehra has been left out again. This, after we have NONE of the bowlers that won us the World Cup. Not even one. He surely can’t do worse than RP Singh.
(As this goes to press, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Kohli are still playing in CL 2011. And they are yet to be injured. Or tested. Just saying)
England: (Rank 4)
Led by newly-born limited overs specialist Alistair Cook, the squad has only added to their forepower after winning the ODI series 3-0. After they are done dismantling an inexperienced (does it matter?) West Indian side back home, they will arrive here with Kevin Peiterson. That should be enough, as far as their batting line-up is concerned. Eoin Morgan will be missed, but Bopara seems to be filling in that place well.
Their bowling is of major concern. Not to us, for once. Stuart Broad is out of the series and so is James Anderson, who has been rested respectfully. Around 55% of the Indian batsmen must be breathing easy by now. Though lately, England’s bench strength has begun to resemble that of their Ashes rivals, with a rebuilding process having started very slyly for their ODI future. It is a surprise that Strauss won’t be there, but they have the likes of Keiswetter, Bairstow and Trott to take care of the flat Indian wickets.
Anything but Meeker
Atleast THREE English names have never been heard prior to this (Borthwick, Meaker and Woakes), but that doesn’t mean a thing until the ‘young’ Indian squad get things right on the field for a change. Also, it could be the fact that these Englishmen are originally from Ireland, Scotland, Wales or South Africa- like the other 86% of their squad. Well, one way or the other, they have put their ‘conquering past’ to good use. Mother Land, indeed.
If the Indian youngsters fail to impress for the first two ODIs, I suggest pulling Sachin Tendulkar out of his temporary retirement and out of his new Bandra bungalow, snatching away Yuvraj’s drink in a new nightclub, and making Zaheer play with a prosthetic hamstring. Rohit Sharma? Cut off the faulty finger. Problem Solved.