The Cricket Conflict: Four Factors to Cure Team India’s Woes

Yuvraj Singh reacts as India wins the 2011 ICC World Cup. (Photo: CricInfo)

Yuvraj Singh reacts as India wins the 2011 ICC World Cup. (Photo: CricInfo)

It was all but a year ago that India triumphed in the 2011 ICC World Cup after nearly two decades of trying. But ever since, the team has been so listless that it almost seems as if–to borrow from Nelly– it was only just a dream.The latest case in point: The Men in Blue look a figment of last year’s World Champions, struggling to hold on in the ongoing tri-series with heavyweights Australia and Sri Lanka. And so warrants the discussion–what can Team India do? We offer up some areas of contention over which skipper MS Dhoni, coach Duncan Fletcher and the ever-befuddled BCCI should ponder.

1. Curious Selection: We believe in second chances. Maybe even third when it comes to sports, if you weigh in the role of injuries and wavering form. But please, BCCI, stop trying to make Gautam Gambhir and Parthiv Patel happen. At a time when the team should invest in young talent, the roster reads more like a “who’s who” of Team India 2004. We get the presence of stalwarts who have contributed to many a series win, but Gambhir and Patel have hardly had more than fleeting moments. Key word: Fleeting.

2. Sehwag’s Sustainability: Virender Sehwag is that player who is oh-so-great when he’s on, and oh-so-wrong when he’s off. But at this leg of Veeru’s career, India needs the batsman to step up to the plate and assume the role he was seemingly brought on to play. Because since the Holy Trinity of yore–Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly–Sehwag hasn’t quite taken the reigns of resident (and, more importantly, dependable) senior in the batting order. In other words, go big or go home, Sehwag.

3. Perennial Politics: The media loves to add fuel to the fire, but rumor has it there’s a fair amount of miscommunication behind closed doors. Captain MS Dhoni is already being slammed by former leaders and cricket pundits alike for mishandling the team in its ODI format. The latest headlines had to do with Dhoni calling the senior batsmen “slow”, and an allegedly irked Sehwag responding in oblivion to his captain’s remarks. We hope there isn’t a genuine rift among the team, because we all know how that’s gone in the past. Need we remind you of certain periods during the Ganguly and Dravid captaincy years?

4. His Sainthood Sachin: We don’t want to say it. The mere thought of it brings a tear to our eyes. But all good things must come to an end, and now that Sachin Tendulkar has held that coveted World Cup trophy, it just might be time to bow out on top. That the Little Master is a legend and currently the greatest batsman to have played the game is hardly contestable. And so while cricket won’t be the same without his magic touch, Tendulkar has averaged just 18 runs from five games in the current series. Given nothing will tarnish his career at this point–and we don’t think the BCCI would ever dare drop him from the squad–Tendulkar should determine (or realize, in this case) that it might be time to bid adieu to the shorter format of the game and make way for the talent his indescribably illustrious career has inspired.

Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of