India conceded the first ODI against Australia by 66 runs on Friday and it was a complacent performance by all means.
They lacked intensity and it appeared as if they were playing a friendly game where winning or losing was not important at all.
Many Indian players were seen trying to pal up with their Australian counterparts as if the Indian Premier League was still going on and that they were not opponents; rather they were team-mates playing for the common cause.
That’s not how international cricket is played, sorry to say.
Only a lack of intensity can account for the dropped catches and so many instances of misfielding.
Even while chasing Australia’s 374, they were casual in approach. A bad performance in the field should have woken them up but sadly they continued with the same approach. Some may argue that India after all managed to make 308, and that how a team can lack intensity with that kind of reply!
Well to begin with, it’s not the nineties when chasing 300 runs meant a certain defeat. Cricket has changed so much in last 15 years that today even a score like 374 is not safe. However, India showed no real intention of going over the line.
Virat Kohli’s batting was particularly disheartening. After being dropped off Pat Cummins, he played three brilliant shorts. One pull and an aerial drive through covers in the same over i.e. 7th, and then an imperious six off the same bowler in his next over.
Instead of making the most of the dropped catch, which international cricketers need no reminding of, Kohli threw this wicket away shortly after in the 10th over, trying to pull Josh Hazlewood to the boundary but instead found his Royal Challengers Bangalore team-mate Aaron Finch at mid-wicket. One doesn’t expect that kind of shot from a player like Kohli. It appeared playing a couple of beautiful shots was all he was looking for.
Shikhar Dhawan may have some got runs against his name (74 off 86) but if truth be told he played without looking at the scoreboard, without realising he was required to up the ante, not remembering that being one of the main batsmen he needed to take the lead instead of playing second fiddle.
Ravindra Jadeja displayed a similar approach and made things worse for India. Of all Indian batsmen, only Hardik Pandya (90 off 76 balls) played with purpose but cricket is a team game and the success and brilliance of one player doesn’t guarantee anything. First Dhawan let him down by not being able to rotate the strike and then Jadeja followed suit after Dhawan got out. And their batting did affect Hardik at the other end and eventually played a role in his dismissal.
Indian batsmen quickly need to change their attitude if they are to come back in the three-game rubber. In defence of the Indian bowlers, match conditions and regulations do favour the batsmen the world over, not the bowlers, so the latter should not be blamed in the same manner.
The trio of Steven Smith (105 off 66 balls), Finch (114 off 124 balls) and Glenn Maxwell (45 off 19 balls) had a terrible IPL in the UAE by their high standards but on Friday they played like men possessed in Australia colours.
The Indian batsmen particularly need to come out of their IPL stupor and face reality that representing India is no child’s game.