Dhoni's team clueless and unworthy of sympathy

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 06, 2012 08:59 hrs
Australia crush India to take 2-0 series lead

Half-a-dozen consecutive defeats on foreign soil and there is no end in sight, unless Dhoni's Indians produce a miracle performance at Perth next week. The thrashing in Sydney should serve as a reminder to those blindly worship a bunch of cricketers who strut around like emperors when playing on home grounds that it is one thing to perform on flat pitches and quite another to replicate it abroad.

Clearly, Dhoni's team is clueless at the moment and is unworthy of sympathy. It has been a collective failure so far, heightened by Sachin's inability to get his 100th international century out of the way, though he alone among all Indian batsmen looked the part with three half-centuries in four innings.

India's biggest Test crisis ever

The bowling, despite Zaheer's inspired spells, has been cruelly exposed if only for the lack of pace and a mindset that makes our bowlers unwilling to learn from mistakes. Feeding half-volleys on the pads or keeping it short only helped the likes of Ponting to prolong his career while Clarke gorged on a triple century and Hussey made up for the blob in Melbourne with a big hundred.

At the WACA next week, be sure that Clarke's Australians will anything but take the foot off the pedal, but would be aiming to hit India as hard as only they can. So, I suppose the Indian team is in for another mauling unless Dhoni, for a change, introspects rather than brush away the two big defeats as being ''part of the game''.

The innings win notwithstanding, the point is that this Australian team is anything but invincible. They, like Indians, have some serious batting issues to resolve with the top order in disarray and a wicket-keeper who is having a nightmare behind the stumps.

Yet, Clarke has been able to marshal his troops taking 40 wickets in two Tests with a supposedly second string bowling attack, something that Dhoni, when in similar situation, failed miserably in England where Indian team believed that without Zaheer, it was incapable of taking 20 wickets.

Images: Australia crush India to take 2-0 series lead

It takes more courage to admit weakness and it is about time that the skipper looks hard and long at some of the batsmen, notably Sehwag, Gambhir (never mind the 80 at Sydney), Kohli and even Laxman whose ''as-if-on-cue'' half-century in Sydney should be disregarded. For far too long some players have been thriving on reputation, and living in the past has not helped matters.

Far from pressing the panic button, I feel the time is right for the riot act to be read to our rotund batsmen whose waistlines are looking as prosperous as their paychecks. Perhaps, they are eager to match coach Fletcher in this department!  

Quite the big problem confronting the Indian team now is that apart from Rohit Sharma and to a lesser extent Rahane, the bench is without suitable batting replacements. Under the circumstances, the only change I can visualize at this moment is Rohit replacing Kohli for the Perth Test. Four of the other reserves are bowlers (Vinay, Ojha, Aaron and Mithun) with wicketkeeper Saha completing the squad.

Of course, all this can wait. For now, it is best to reflect on the Sydney fiasco the likes of which only an Indian team can script. India lost the plot on the first day itself with some spineless batting that bordered on indiscretion and reflected a total lack of commitment. Dhoni's half-century was inconsequential though his innings would have given him some satisfaction at a personal level.

India vs Australia

As well as the Aussies bowled, it was not as if the pitch had a demon in it. The point was that the conditions yet again exposed the technical shortcomings of our batsmen, something that has been written about from the time India first went on an overseas trip in 1932. So, nothing much has changed since then despite the odd win abroad. The roots of the ailment lie in India and the Board is a major culprit, but that is another story.

As for Dhoni, he would do well to take a leaf out of Clarke's book of captaincy by being a bit more pro-active and show some faith in advance planning rather than flying the plane by the seat of his pants. By his own admission, he is not much of a believer in team meetings and stuff, but if there is no flow of communication up and down the ranks, then it does not speak well of his leadership style that is more suited for ODI and T20 formats that demand spur of the moment decisions.

Whatever, I doubt if anything will change at all with Indian cricket. The next two Tests at Perth and Adelaide would not make life any easier for Dhoni's men who need to play out of their skins to salvage something out of the series.

A final word. Clarke's declaration when he in sight of Lara's World record of 400 to put team's interests above personal milestones deserves a standing ovation all over again. Few other captains, if at all any, would have given up on the opportunity. For sure, the Pup has grown into a thoroughbred.


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