Eden Gardens, Kolkata
2013 is here. But for a befuddled Indian cricket team, it is still 1995. The turn of the year may have been a mental barrier many needed to overcome in this country, but Team India hasn’t shown signs of moving on. Their first bilateral series ODI loss in 5 years, and only their second such loss in the last decade- what hurt more is the fact that it has come to arch-rivals Pakistan, who, not too long ago, were in shambles.
The Incredible Hulk
The second India v/s Pakistan ODI at Eden Gardens held much hope for most fans who believed that 365 days of pain is all that a human sports fan can take. But it was Kolkata, where Pakistan had won 4 of their 5 ODIs, a home away from home (Abu Dhabi) for them. Right from the beginning, irrespective of this being a home deciding game, India’s fortunes were doomed.
Hair raising mediocrity
Another opening partnership for Pakistan, another quick start, another mini-collapse, another implosion, those things never change with the Men in Green. But the Men in Blue decided that what their opponents could do, they could do worse (or better). For the nth time in the last year, this time in ODIs, their famed batting lineup showed as much fight as Butt did in court. It was all over in less than 15 overs once again, and this time, there was no escaping the fact that the worst year in the history of Indian cricket is still far from over. It has lasted more than 500 days now, and shows no signs of ending anytime soon. ODIs, that once offered Dhoni the solace (read escapism) of a mother’s warm bosom, are not his team’s strength anymore either. Why, even Virat Kohli looks clueless. One wonders if MSD, for all his expertise in the limited overs format, still feels like crashing out of the 2007 World Cup was Indian cricket’s lowest point. Of course, coincidentally, he wasn’t captain back then.
Comeback # 10 needed
2-0 in a 3-match India-Pakistan series, that was previously considered meaningless, is still an embarrassment for a team that held its home record so proudly to its beaten-blue chest. Suddenly, the series seems to have acquired important, if not for Pakistan- then for the Indian management, that has no place to hide anymore ahead of the England ODI series, which could yet bring further humiliation, if that’s possible.
When Ravindra Jadeja makes his test debut for India, and Rohit Sharma’s previous 10 ODI scores resemble a phone number, things can’t be hunky dory in the chambered doors of the BCCI castle.
IPL 2013. There, it’s all okay now. Sorted.