While a lot of blame is being copped by Indian captain MS Dhoni and the players for the series loss against South Africa, one can’t help but wonder that support staff and the team think tank, that is, the Team Management are also to be blamed. We bring 5 decisions/tactics by the Indian Team Management which have nothing but baffling to say the least.
1. Dropping Bhajji from the test squad
Harbhajan Singh was overlooked for the Test squad when the team for the final two ODIs and the first Test was announced. That he was India’s leading spinner in the format and had ages of experience was ignored. Also the fact that he had performed admirably in the two ODIs before that was blatantly ignored in favour of Ravindra Jadeja. In yesterday’s match amidst the run fest that was going on and Indian bowlers were being smacked across the park, he looked like the only bowler who could take a wicket. He was given the final over to bowl which shows how well he had bowled and the Captain’s faith in him. Unfortunately he won’t be featuring in the test matches which could cost India dearly especially when Ashwin has already been ruled out due to a side strain.
2. Ignoring Mishra for the second ODI
Amit Mishra has been in peak form ever since the Test series in Sri Lanka. He did well in the first ODI where he got two crucial wickets and also kept the run flow in check. India went on to concede the match but it had nothing to do with his performance. He had fulfilled his role and did what the captain had asked him to. Still he was dropped for the next ODI in favour of Axar Patel. Statistics will show you that he also got two wickets but what they won’t tell you is that both of those wickets were due to the fielder’s brilliance; the bowling had nothing to do with it. Throughout the T20 series Axar kept bowling half trackers yet he was persisted with and a deserving performer in the form of Mishra was overlooked. What that does to a player’s morale only they know but it does breed a culture of favouritism in the ranks.
3. Bowling round the wicket with the new ball
The new ball is supposed to swing. It’s supposed to take the outside edge and fly into the hands of the wicket keeper or one of the slips or gully or whatever there is! But how do you expect that to happen when you keep bowling round the wickets at the batsmen’s pads or legs. Nine out of ten batsmen will whoop such balls to the boundary. That is an absolute waste of the new ball if you are a fielding team skipper. You have to allow the new ball to swing and that is only possible when you bowl outside the off stump, particularly the fourth stump region. That is the reason why it is called the corridor of uncertainty. Even I know that! Lengths could be varied and batsman could be forced into two minds, whether to play or not to play. Sadly all this gets null and void when you bowl round the wicket. Something the team think-tank should give a thought to.
4. Tinkering with the batting order
Virat Kohli is India’s premier batsman. We know that, the opposition knows that, one would imagine even the team management knows that. But that does not seem to be the case as throughout the series we saw Kohli being shuffled across the batting lineup by the team management. I’m not one to suggest whether he should come in at number 3 or 4. If you ask me I’d say Ajinkya Rahane is a better batsman at number 3 and Kohli is equally good at 4. But constant chopping and changing in the lineup makes it difficult for any batsman. Give them a number and play them at it for the entire series. In this series, no one was ever sure who would come in when one of the openers fell. While it is an admirable move to keep the opposition guessing it seemed like the two batsman concerned were in doubts too and that affected the batting. Kohli completely failed to get going in the first half of the series. He even failed to complete a simple chase which is very very un-Kohli who revels in the art of chasing down totals. That tells you how much was going wrong. You premier batsman should feel settled in the lineup, he deserves atleast that. You shouldn’t be chasing his batting position every other match.
5. Not giving fresh faces a chance
A fresh face like Gurkeerat Singh was given no opportunity during the entire series. What is the point of picking them if you are not going to play them? Similar experience they could have gained through the A-team matches as well. Gurkeerat was picked on the back of some pretty solid all-round performances for the A-side. He could’ve been the finisher Dhoni was looking for or the explosive middle order batsman in the Yuvraj mould. Now we will have to wait to find out because this series is done now. Dhoni has always been very choosy when it came to giving new faces a chance. In 2009, he carried around Abhishek Nayar for three tours giving him only one game which eventually became his only game. It was later understood that Dhoni had conveyed to the selectors that he had no faith in Nayar’s abilities which then led to the poor fellow being dropped without being given ample opportunities. Similar instances happened to Saurabh Tiwari and countless others. Here’s hoping Gurkeerat’s name doesn’t make that list in the time to come.