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India’s archaic approach to ODI cricket needs a big upgrade

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India will begin the T20I series against Australia on Friday

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India’s archaic approach to ODI cricket needs a big upgrade

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Deepak Yadav

12/02/2020

India have been performing underwhelmingly this year so far, but it is not a temporary thing and is a deep-rooted problem with their minds still in the archaic era of cricket. If India wants to get back to their dominant self, they will have to update themselves to the current scenario of cricket.

India’s terrible performances in ODI cricket have been for everyone to see but given that they have some of the best performers in the world in their team - this should be a temporary problem, right? No! This isn’t a temporary problem and it isn’t going to go away any time soon, with the main reason behind it being the archaic approach with which they have been playing their cricket, expecting the same results that they used to get few years but little do they know that the world cricket has already made lots of progress while they were snoozing, masquerading themselves as invincibles. 

1293, 1030, 1490; 1460, 1202, 1377 - these are the numbers piled on by Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the last 3 years in ODI cricket respectively. No wonder the Indian team performed well in the said year as both the batsmen had taken up the responsibility of scoring most of the runs for the men-in-blue. However, in 2020, Rohit has played only 3 ODI and Kohli has unusually failed to smash big scores, scoring just 5 fifties in 9 matches. And unless you have been living under a rock, India’s performances have followed a similar graph to the runs scored by both the batsmen, pretty below-par in the current year as opposed to quite good in the previous years. 

You ask where are the other batsmen? Very good question. They have enjoyed so much - babysitting by Rohit and Virat - that now they hate doing the hard work and digging in deep to help their win. They have been playing pretty ordinary cricket right throughout the year, a sample of which is the current series against Australia, where they have been playing like upcoming club cricketers, who have no idea about building the innings. Taking absolutely no responsibility, they have consistently found out the shots that they should not be playing, giving a good lesson to the upcoming young cricketers on what not to do in crunch situations. 

Blame should be given where the blame is due and in this case, the whole Indian team management and players are to be blamed for still believing in the fundamentals of the 80s and 90s, expecting one or two batsmen to do the bulk of the scoring while others chill out, forgetting that the cricket is developing at a rapid pace. While I agree that BCCI wouldn’t know about this development since they always believe in authoritarian administration stifling the development of the game, the Indian players should at least be aware of this fact since they play against players teams who have developed into dominant oppositions over the years.  

Take England for example, they are never dependent on any player to score the bulk of the runs and have clarity of roles for each of their batsmen. Contrasting to Indian batsmen, they score at a much better pace and go bonkers once they set, unlike Indian batsmen who play silly shots to get out when they have to get the team in a commanding position. Look at Steve Smith for instance, in both the first two ODI, he scored a century off 62 balls. Indian batsmen should take a leaf out of Smith’s book and look to make their team win rather than stat-padding to keep their place in the squad. When Kohli was batting in the second ODI, there was no doubt a ray of hope but after his dismissal, the difference between the asking rate and the run-rate showcased where India have struggled in Australia, which also showed their lacklustre approach.

The writing is on the wall, the Indian batsmen should up their game sense and the Indian team management must provide them with clarity on their role in the team because not everyone can be a consolidator just because the game goes on for 50 overs. The bowling department has not been too different, they have given a tough competition to the batsmen in the race being most archaic. 

They have been absolutely ineffective, especially in the ongoing series, where without using their brains, they have consistently bowled in the slot for the batsmen on flat-wickets, inviting them to hit the ball over the ropes. While this approach would have worked 5 years ago, it is no longer applicable in the current era of cricket, where batsmen are brutal to anything pitched up be it at the start of their innings or when they are set. 

Even Aaron Finch acknowledged the fact that they picked up from the bowling of Hardik Pandya to not give much pace to the batsmen, which Indian bowlers failed to realize. They didn’t even try many variations, such is their confidence in their length balls that they regularly bowled the full deliveries to Glenn Maxwell, who was struggling only a few weeks back, getting him back into form and helping Australia reach much higher totals. And where are the bouncers? It’s ridiculous that Indian bowlers didn't even have the bouncers up their sleeves. 

While playing a match, it is understandable when things don’t go according to the plan and then, the teams have to go their plan B or C. What’s important is teams trying out different things when things don’t go in their favour. However, Indian bowlers don’t believe in that, they stick to their plan A till the last ball of the match, even though nothing's working for them. That’s the kind of commitment they have to their plans. While some might appreciate them for being so courageous, it doesn’t take a genius to know that this much courageousness only leads to disasters, which have been the case so far. 

So, the Indian bowlers need to work out their plans and have some contingency plans for when things don’t go their way because anything can happen on the cricket field and the bowlers need to be dynamic enough to deal with that, or else the results will be similar to what they have been this year so far. For the Indian team in general, stop living in the ancient era, it is 2020 going on and so play cricket accordingly. 

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