Friday, June 14, 2024

Ruthless India to look for whitewash


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By Sunil Gavaskar

 India have shown a very welcome ruthless streak as they won the fourth one day game in front of a sparse crowd at the Wankhede stadium. There have been many reasons advocated as to why the crowds have stayed away and while some of them are cricketing ones like too much cricket, and the absence of stars like Tendulkar, Sehwag, Yuvraj and Zaheer, there is also the practical one of sitting in uncovered stands in the October heat.

Yes, if the matches had been well contested then the fans would have braved the heat, but when there is coverage on TV and the match can be enjoyed in the air conditioned comfort of the drawing room why would one want to go to the ground and get roasted.

After all the Indian has a natural tan and doesn’t need one by sitting in the harsh sun.

While most if not all stadia in India have undergone refurbishing and there are no longer wooden or concrete benches where people were once crammed shoulder to shoulder and thigh to thigh, the new bucket seats are still not the most comfortable ones to sit on if the spectators are to be believed.

Most importantly though, the absence of a roof is the main reason spectators prefer to stay away and watch the match at home or in a sports cafe.

Not that they missed much at the Wankhede stadium as England stumbled again and looked clueless as soon as the ball started turning.

Nobody will make a big deal about the young England batsmen groping for deliveries as they spun away or into their pads, and put it down as ‘ oh it’s those darned sub continent pitches’ however the moment a subcontinent batsman jumps up to defend a short ball then he is tarred as if that is the only criteria to judge a batsman.

If anything tackling spin bowling requires more skill than facing quick bowling since there is infinitely more footwork and thinking needed than playing fast bowling where it is either on the front-foot or occasionally on the back-foot when the bowler bowls the two short deliveries allowed in the over. Still a batsman who struggles against pace is quickly written off while those who search for deliveries that turn are forgiven.

It is this attitude of being seen to be macho which is also the reason why there has been so much acrimony in this series. England came to India expecting to walk all over the Indian team, and as soon as they found out that this team was not going to lie down for them they started to get verbally aggressive.

Fast bowlers or shall we in the current instance say those who come from a long run up have been bullies ever since the game began.

They believe that when they release the ball it must be treated with not just respect but deference by the batsman preferably being as close to the square leg umpire as possible.

Woe betide the batsman who actually hits the ball quicker than it is delivered and that is when the bully tries to intimidate by either glaring or using the limited vocabulary that most quick bowlers have.

With all the protective gear that batsmen have nowadays there is no apprehension about physical injury anymore, so the fear factor is simply non-existent.

So the verbal attack begins and that’s where the umpires look the other way. So a player can say anything to a player and get away with it but if he says the same thing to the umpires then he gets pulled up. How weird is that?

India will look to have a whitewash to erase the memories of what happened in England and there is no better place to do so than at the Eden gardens.


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