in deep existential crisis..

A Journal by Sara

Leading up to THE DOWN UNDER!

I was curious to write a journal on India’s tour of Australia, earlier in December. Unfortunately, due to lack of planning I couldn’t’ find time to sit for one. Thought, would write a note at the end of the tour. But, time had a last laugh, pushing me to blog in the middle of the tour.

Before the debacle of ICC World Cup 2007, Team India complained that they have a Bangladesh tour coming up tailing the finals of the world cup (optimism in eternity) and as everyone know they weren’t given that raw deal to face the tour in quick succession, as they had more than a month to cool their heels off after succumbing to Bangladesh and SriLanka in the preliminary rounds. Team India dawdled back home with spirits shattered.

The debacle proceeded way to another fiasco in Indian Cricket, with Greg Chappell stepping down as Coach of Team India.  Indians toured Bangladesh, the team which put an end to their most coveted world cup dream. BCCI appointed Ravi Shastri as an interim manager to the tour. Indians were out there to prove a point or two of which would have been a formal tour otherwise. India thrashed them 1-0 in the 2-Test Series, couldn’t complete a white wash largely owing to bad weather in the first test match. Outplaying them convincingly in both formats of the game, India had some respite at the end of the tour.

India played a one off ODI with Scotland serving no purpose, than accrue few millions more in BCCIs stockpile. They headed to Belfast; to play a 3-ODI series with South Africa, surprisingly also won it 2-1 with the help of two beautiful nineties crafted by Sachin Tendulkar, who set tone for the rest of the calendar year.

In a quick succession, India toured England for a 3-Test & 7 ODI series with the interim manager Chandu Borde. India could not afford a professional coach for the tour, thanks to the inane approach of BCCI failing to get one. As expected, India started the first test of the tour scratchily and clung on to a draw, largely due to bad weather, umpiring blunder to give Dhoni not-out on the final day and also the nerve displayed by Dhoni to hang on till the end. India headed to Trent Bridge for the second test match with hopes to sustain credibility, if left any, and at least save yet another defeat. But to everyone’s surprise, India turned it around in the second test match with a spectacular team effort in bowling and batting to pull up a win. They continued the momentum to the last test match and with wonderful batting efforts managed to a draw, thus sealing the series 1-0.

Continuing the ODI series, India saw horrible decisions thrown at them in the last series-deciding ODI match, only to see the in-form batsman Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid wrongly judged out, in turn losing the series.

End of the English tour, Rahul Dravid, deciding enough is enough, fighting with administration for cricket in India, stepped down the captaincy from both formats of the game. India got a new young captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, to fight for glory in the future assignments.

Not wasting a minute, a new-look young brigade under the fresh legs of Dhoni’s captaincy traveled to South Africa with yet another dream of pursuing a world title, this time for the shortest format of the game, Twenty20. Odds of success being low against them, to everyone’s surprise India clicked as an unit, on its way defeating Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and delivering a knock-out punch beating Pakistan again in a high-voltage thrilling finals of the Twenty20 lifting a world title for the second time ever in the history.

Rejuvenated India, a world Twenty20 champs, returned home to take on Aussies, the world ODI champs in a 7 ODI series, setting up a cracker of a contest for the fans across the world. Except for few individual heroics from Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa, it was mostly a one-sided contest which was won by Australia. To everyone’s reminder, India still did not have a coach, while in process of selection; badly hurt its reputation by appointing Graham Ford who later turned down the offer, rubbing more salt on wounds. Never mind, the hard working BCCI declared itself, India don’t need a coach and players at international level does not require a coach to help them bat; The affair of the selection of coach is altogether a ridiculous story from which we digress now.

India took on Pakistan at home, thrashing them in the ODI series and in the process, making Pakistan captain look clueless for most part of the tour. Moving to the Test arena, except for the first test at Delhi, the teams competed on sub-standard pitches where most of the batsman capitalized with a huge knock or two.

India, since touring Bangladesh after the forgettable world cup 2007, ran all over the world continuously without a considerable time off, playing each and every match irrespective of its importance. Not having a plan or two to rest some of the spearheads of the Indian bowling, who kept running on and on, bowling ball after ball on every flat-track pitches across India without a break. The result was for everyone to see, every major bowlers breaking down, one after other leading up to the most challenging assignment in the game of cricket, a tour to Australia.

Depleted of major fast bowlers, India traveled down under to challenge Australia in its own den, not to forget again, without a coach. It was learnt that, Rahul Dravid, the then captain of India kept requesting the BCCI to plan for at least two tour matches to be played in Australia before taking them on in first test. What he got in reply is sheepish; BCCI asking him aren’t we playing non-stop cricket and do we still need a couple or more matches to get a practice. You cannot really blame BCCI here, as you cannot expect an agricultural minister and a set of business honchos to really understand the importance of captain’s request to play more practice matches.

In spite all these blunders by BCCI, and a tiring schedule for most part of the year, India still optimistically left to Australia under a determined leader Anil Kumble, looking for a hope or two to beat the champs in their den. India cursed to see even the only tour match getting washed out due to rain, headed to Melbourne for the first test match. With failure of batting order, India was suffocated to death in the first match thrashed by Aussies by the margin of 337 runs, their second worst defeat in terms of runs. Within a couple of days, India was yet again on a ground facing the Australians looking to square up the series 1-1 in a track that would assist spin. End of 5 days of that test – an infamous history recorded.

Disaster to follow.


January 10, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, Sports | Leave a comment