Two matches into the short tour of South Africa, and question marks are already being raised as to whether India are actually the best ODI team in the world, as the rakings suggest. After all, defeats by 141 and 134 runs cannot be accepted from the number one ranked one-day team in the world. MS Dhoni had different reasons for India’s defeat in both the matches. After the first match he said, the bowlers did not find the right length to bowl. Following the Durban defeat, he expressed disappointment at the batsmen’s shot selection. The actual cause of India’s defeat however was something different.
Lack of practice under the given conditions hurt them in a big way. India are always known to be poor starters especially when they travel away from home. And in case of the current series, they did not get any much- needed practice games before the actually series kicked off. If anything, they have to look at the ongoing one-day games as a preparation for the Tests. Ironic, but that is the case somewhat. India do have a practice match before the Test series kicks off, but unfortunately they have already lost the one-day series.
The arrangement of South Africa series leaves much to be desired. First and foremost, the BCCI chopped a full series featuring seven one- dayers and three Tests into just three ODIs and two Tests. Also, in the interim, they arranged a haphazard contest at home against a weak West Indies outfit to give Sachin Tendulkar a planned farewell. The short-term goal worked well as India clinched the Test series against the Windies comprehensively, with a 2-0 margin. Tendulkar also signed off on a high with a great knock in his final Test.
The series against West Indies at home however wasn’t the best preparation for the extremely tough of South Africa. If anything it gave them a false sense of security as the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli piled on the runs in batsmen-friendly conditions against a mediocre bowling attack. The same trio has struggled on the hard, bouncy pitches in South Africa. They however cannot be blamed for their poor showing for they never got a chance to adjust to the conditions. The Indian team arrived in South Africa just days after the West Indies series.
Although teams are expected to adapt themselves better to different conditions, they do need some time to adjust to different conditions. Thus, the BCCI must take a fair share of the blame for India’s ODI debacle. They reset the series in such a manner that India flew straight from one series into another. Now, Dhawan, Kohli and Rohit played similar shots to the one they played in India, but the major difference was this time they hit the balls straight to the fielders. The run-scoring trio just did not get any chance to gauge the conditions since they were chasing big scores in both matches.
In a nutshell, the series ended for India even before it began. Considering the manner in which it was arranged, it was fated to be a disaster.
--By A Cricket Analyst