With the 4-0 loss to New Zealand in the One-Day International (ODI) series, Indian cricket’s downward spiral outside the sub-continent continues. The defeat – which also took away the number one – has once again brought to fore the perennial question: are Indian ‘tigers’ lambs abroad?
Apart from winning the ICC Champions Trophy in England in 2013, the team’s performances, in both ODI and Tests abroad has been fairly dismal. Even their home series win against Australia last year was by the skin of their teeth after beating the visitors in the last of seven ODIs.
Having watched the five matches in New Zealand, one can safely conclude that the wickets offered were of the type that would make any curator proud. They were tailormade (not made for Taylor) for high-scoring games.
If one looks back at the last eight ODIs the Indians have played in South Africa and New Zealand, one will see that the only wicket that helped the quicker bowlers was the one for the first match in Johannesburg.
It was baffling to hear skipper MS Dhoni’s explanations for his team’s miserable show. After the first two losses, he blamed the top order for not rising to expectations. He then castigated the bowlers for losing the next two games while giving kudos to the Kiwi opening bowlers. Dhoni ended by saying that eventually it was the positive way the Kiwis batted in the middle overs that made the difference.
It was further confusing to hear the captain say that more often than not, they were chasing big scores and that one can’t rely on only a couple of batsmen as in the last 25 overs, they were always chasing eight to nine runs per over.
This coming from the man who decided to field in every match bar the fourth ODI in Hamilton is difficult to digest.
One does hope the Indian team shows some steel in the two Tests to follow in Auckland and Wellington. That they will be greeted by green tracks is a given knowing New Zealand’s track record against India.
Though we beat the hosts in a Test in 2009, the Sourav Ganguly-led team in 2002 played on tracks where they couldn’t distinguish between the outfield and the pitch thanks to the green grass on it.
In the Tests, India will be hoping that Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane continue the good form they showed in South Africa and the greener tracks help Indian bowlers, led by Zaheer Khan, get the 20 wickets needed to win a Test.
Meanwhile, fans will continue to question the credentials of our ODI squad floundering abroad and experts will keep finding flaws in the players till the IPL begins.
The pyjama party, played nationally, will have the same critics gushing over these very players whose attitude and technique is being questioned now.
The Indian spirit of ‘forgive and forget’ will prevail. Ground realities facing Indian cricket will once again come to the fore when India tours England this summer. The cycle will thus continue!
(The writer is a former Cricket Club of India captain and Bombay University cricketer) [CYCSPL]
ALSO SEE: Images from the 5th ODI in Wellington