Saturday, November 25, 2006

Young Indian batsmen should look for inspiration left, right and centre

Imagine this young batsman in his teens, woefully out of form and confidence at the present and with reflexes attuned to a completely different set of logic statements, attempt a desperate editing job with the operating system of his game. He aims to add the following subroutines in it ahead of the Capetown ODI between India and South Africa:

"I am not going to start playing any shots in the coming few days that I have never played / not preferred playing in the past 19 years. "

"I will not try to change the essence of my batting. "

"I am prepared to let my batting strike rate go down a bit till I start putting few runs on the board."

"I am going to get behind and try to score singles off balls that do not offer driving length or width. "

"If I cannot get behind such balls then I'll leave them."

So simple to jot them down, and yet so darned complicated to put them all together inside the head, ready for recall every single time the hostile paceman at the other end of 22 yards lets go of the leather at you.

It is not easy stepping into the shoes of 19 year old Suresh Raina after the Durban drubbing. Even if this hastily edited program gets compiled in his brainware, chances are Suresh will get to test it straight at commissioning stage i.e., playing another international match for India at Capetown.

Of course there are other Indian batsmen like Kaif, Jaffer and Mongia that share his plight. All of them are going through only a slightly lesser hell than Raina's abject one. Not blessed with the abilities of a Dravid or a Tendulkar, they are the ones worst hit by an inexplicable lack of practice matches ahead of the internationals. [I did not miss one name there; Dhoni should come out of the hole pretty soon.]

Even more than them though, Suresh Raina needs a few days off live matches on these foreign conditions. Raina has just not looked the part during his brief stay against the South African quickies at Durban. He needs time and practice to regain his fearlessness and assurance, and to work out a plan. Of immense help could be a good on-field show by his mates at the gloriously inspirational setting that is Newlands.

Among other things Greg Chappell would do well to arrange a video replay of the double century Test partnership between two Indians at Newlands on 4th January 1997. The developments of that day will always get a mention whenever people will talk of the greatest entertainment seen on a South African cricket field - a couple of crazy Indian batsmen with backs to the wall coming up with a sensational counter attack against the best fast bowling attack of the time in their backyard. Those twin efforts still ended up on the wrong side of the result - just like Azhar's century and Kapil's quadruple follow-on saving sixes at Lord's 1990 - but what the hell...

When inspiration is at a premium it needs to be acquired from all possible sources. There is no harm in adopting the motto of their rival keeper Mark Boucher who, as per a factoid aired by the broadcasters during the last match, believes in walking on to a cricket field 'as if you own the ground.'

Update: To comprehend the extent of influence that the foreign nature of a playing surface can have on unaccustomed Indian batsmen one only needs to take a look at the dismal scorecard of the ongoing Punjab-vs-Bengal Ranji trophy encounter. The venue is Mohali, the liveliest track in India when Daljit Singh so desires it to be. The medium pace bowlers are the very same Ranji cricketers and yet on this surface batsmen of either side have failed to put together even a single 200+ effort in all of four innings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I see what you see. It is really tough on the young Raina when even the Dravids and Tendulkars and finding it difficult to cope.
But hell, he better do something or God save Indian cricket.