The Indian cricket team team has a ranking of 5, behind South Africa, Australia, England and their arch rivals Pakistan. This is the same team which about 2 years back was sitting pretty at the top and looked almost invincible. Today, the team appears to be in a state of flux and surely there are several things that need to be fixed. A lot of things have happened over last 24 months and they have happened too quickly for anyone’s comfort.
Void in the batting line up
The retirement of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman has left a great void in the middle order. Only time will tell if Virat Kohli and Cheteshwatar Pujara can fill this void. The runs from the bats of India’s most successful opening pair – Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, have dried up significantly. Their success with the bat at the top was instrumental in India’s rise to the top spot. The discussions about Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement are also heating up and there is no one in the horizon promising enough to fit into his huge boots.
Fragile bowling attack
In the bowling department, Zaheer Khan – our bowling spearhead, has not been in great form and there are concerns about his fitness. Beyond Zaheer, several other pace bolwers like Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Praveen Kumar etc have been coming in and going out owing to reasons around form and (or) fitness. Harbhajan Singh is struggling to find his way back into the India squad. While Ravichandran Ashwin looks settled as the lead spinner there is uncertainty about his partners as selectors have tried wide range of other bowlers.
Not yet successful coach
On the support front, life after Gary Kirsten has not been too great. Duncan Fletcher, despite his tactical and technical brilliance, has had really testing times with the team having greater number of losses to its credit than the wins. In addition to the test, the team has dropped a few places in the ODI and T20 rankings as well.
New selection panel
On the administration front, the selection job is now entrusted to a completely new bunch of individuals under the leadership of Sandip Patil. Not much is known about their vision for the team across the three formats yet. Nonetheless, they have a huge challenge which starts with calling out the team for the England series. They would need to take some bold and rational decisions rather than resorting to short term quick fixes.
To summarize this, these are testing times for Team India across all fronts. On the flip side, this mini crisis also presents an excellent opportunity to each of the constituents. Several young and talented (and not so young!) batsmen and bowlers will be eager to mark a permanent spot in the squad. Our coach will be eager to prove his worth before patience of the nation wears out. The new selection panel has an excellent opportunity to think and make bigger changes towards course correction and set eyes on the long terms goals for the team. The fact that we will play the next few series on home soil will also help in this cause.