4 ways to compete better in foreign Tests…

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014 09:27 hrs

1. Don’t play more than 3-Test series.

If you look at Team India’s foreign Tests, then it has played a total of 14 Test matches which happened to be the 5th or 6th match of the series from 1947.Out of that, India won exactly 0 matches and lost 7 of them.

That’s how pathetic we are in a long series. We are totally drained out at the end and seem to have absolutely no chance of winning.

Adding to the above, India has played 24 Tests which were the 4th of the series.

Out of that, India won just 2 (in New Zealand in 1968 and in West Indies in 2006) and lost 13 of them. That’s pretty bad too.

So when we go beyond 3 Tests, our win-loss ratio is an abysmal 2-20! Might as well call those two extra Tests off and stick to 3-Test series to make things competitive!

Overall against all teams, India has won a good 38 matches on foreign soil. So the breakup of the first half of the series (first three Tests) and the next half (remaining 2-3) is a lopsided 36-2. When that’s how we have been faring for 67 years now, one hardly expects things to change.

Indians hate being away from home and it’s better to have short and sweet Test tours.

Looking at our performance since 2003, against the Top 8 teams in foreign Tests, our win-loss ratio for the first Test is still better at 4-7 and it is the most decent for the second Test at 5-6.

That same pattern was followed in the recently concluded tour of England. We managed to draw the first Test, won the second and collapsed from the third onwards. It’s a trend that begins at the very beginning.Had it been a 3-Test series, the final score would have been 1-1.

Practice matches are also of no use as they lengthen foreign tours.

2011 was a well-planned series in England. We played a 3-day match to warm up and then another 2-day one in the middle on the Test series. Then we had three practice matches (one1-dayer and 2 T20s) before the T20/ODI series.

What was the result? We lost all 10 international matches! 0-10 is unprecedented.

Contrast that with the 2009 New Zealand tour where we didn’t have a single practice match before the series started—a rarity! Virender Sehwag hit the first three balls he faced on foreign soil for three sixes.

We took an early lead 3-0 in the ODI series. We won the Test series 1-0 comfortably, almost winning the final Test and making it 2-0.

2. Make that the coach’s main KRA.

India won the ODI WC in 1983 and 2011, the mini WC in 1985, the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002 and 2013 and the T20 WC in 2007. Apart from that we have been winning tournaments like the Sharjah, Hero and Asia Cups.

We have been doing well in Tests on home soil too. We rarely miss a coach in all of this.

That’s not the case with foreign Tests however.

We were competitive from 1968-92. However a series of Indian coaches from 1992-2000 did no good. We didn’t win a single Test out of the sub-continent during that period! The next three foreign coaches brought us back and we won 20 foreign Tests under John Wright, Greg Chappell and Gary Kirsten.

Then under Duncan Fletcher we have won 2 in 3 years.

The coach severely affects India’s overseas Test performance.

The coach should have his highest KRA for foreign Tests and had we implemented this, then Fletcher would have definitely gone after 0-8.

3. Get more aggressive.

One must say that captain MS Dhoni has been extremely defensive in the last 3 years. Defensive tactics and defensive fields have been the bane of India.We don’t even attack the tail and that’s why they bat on and on.

In the Lord’s Test we attacked the English batsmen with the short ball and won the match. In New Zealand in 2009, we wasted time and ridiculous target of 617. Despite so much time waste we got 8 wickets. Had we even set an un-gettable target of 500, we still would have had enough time to get 2 more wickets.

If you are defensive and at least keep drawing Tests, then you can justify it. But when you are losing on such a scale, offence should become the best defence.

4. Don’t relax at 1-0.

We went up 1-0 in West Indies in 2002, Australia in 2003, Pakistan in 2004, South Africain 2006and England in 2014 only to lose the next match in all of these series! It’s not as if the opposition suddenly played better. One could clearly see India dropping their guard.

After we won our very first Test against the Proteas in 2006, the whole team went crazy in celebration dropping champagne everywhere and some South Africans even accused us of vandalism. The whole team lost focus and we were thrashed in the next two Tests.

The same thing happened in England recently. At Southampton, captain Alistair Cook was going through a rough patch and Ravindra Jadeja dropped him when he was on 15. That could be called the turning point of the innings as our fielders kept dropping catches and our batsmen kept getting out to silly shots.

Indian coach Duncan Fletcher looks to be on his way out. His replacement will have to do something drastic to improve India’s abysmal Test performance on foreign soil.

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/

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