‘poor visitors’!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Jan 2018 10:40:56

TWO consecutive defeats of the Indian cricket team in South Africa seem to prove a charge levelled generally at the team that the Indians are “poor visitors” who cannot win games in foreign conditions. Though the Indians seemed to be evenly placed in both the Tests matches, they lost because they did not seem to put in sincere efforts. That is why Captain Virat Kohli has insisted that mistakes are unacceptable.

Obviously, the Captain is unhappy that the team-mates did not perform to the plan and allowed the games to slip from their grip in both the encounters one after another. The very fact that the Captain felt like questioning the team’s commitment to excelling, suggests some serious issues intervening in the smooth functioning of the squad that has proved itself to be the world’s best in home conditions. The Captain has also admitted to batting failure in consecutive innings. He himself did make a great score in difficult conditions, but that did not suffice. That must be hurting him all the more, leading to the comment about batting failure. This is a very unfortunate situation for the Indians.

Of course, it must be admitted that much before the South African tour began, there were doubts about the India team’s collective capabilities to put up a show equal and opposite to the South African dominance in Test cricket. Despite this, nobody ever felt that the Indians would lose the first two Test matches in such a manner. Everybody expected the Indians to put up a stiff resistance and win the matches. That did not happen, much to everybody's confusion.

The proceedings of both the matches showed that the Indians had good chances to standing up to the their fancied rivals. Indian bowlers did extremely well by keeping the South African batsmen in check all the time. So good was their performance that there came moments when an Indian win seemed almost easily possible. And then came the batting debacle, nullifying whatever the bowlers had won. The bowlers bowled to a good line and length and exercised variations expertly, flummoxing the South Africans in their home conditions. Yet, when things came to batting, the Indians faltered. Had a couple of batsmen stood their ground grittily, both the matches could be won by India. But then, most batsmen played in limited overs style and almost threw away their wickets for no reason. They were either in too much of a hurry to score runs, or not in a hurry at all to seal a victory authentically.

This collective failure will always remain inexplicable. That the team that had beaten almost everybody on earth just a few weeks ago stood in such a pathetic display of absence of commitment to winning, was somethings beyond reason. There is no doubt that the South Africans are a great team. But during the first two Tests, their various vulnerabilities, too, came to fore. The Indians could not exploit those most unfortunately.

Long months of foreign tour confront the Indian team now. It will have to seal all its fault-lines and emerge as a strong squad that is capable of rebuilding itself from the ashes of a few losses. This is one quality that the team must display now, failing which they will prove the charge that they are “poor visitors”.

This is a daunting prospect which the Indians will always want to avoid. This can be achieved only by altering their method of thinking and manner of application of their skill and talent in the tours ahead. They will have to act as one man and not as 11 men. They will have to think consciously about what went wrong and seal those fault-lines. This is not a difficult exercise. If the Indian cricketers succeed in this, they will return to their winning ways very soon. They have the talent!