It is difficult to remember an Indian side that played with so much authority overseas as this young Indian squad did at the Champions Trophy in England.
It was a result that did not come out of nowhere, the nucleus was always in place but some strong decisions taken by the selection team spurred the team to greater heights. It is important now to conserve the talent we have, build upon the margins of the squad so that we have a larger group of players to depend upon as we move further on the grand road to the World Cup of 2015.
The tour of the West Indies for the triangular series has come a little too early for India’s liking. It was hardly a week since India lifted the trophy and the players did not even get a chance to savour the flavor of such a rare victory. It is a shame that such a packed calendar destroys the very purpose of playing cricket as the players can’t even enjoy the success they have worked so hard for.
The body language of the Indian team in the first two matches has indicated that their bodies and minds are fatigued.
Moreover, India are travelling with an unchanged squad which means the same set of players will try to build upon the Champions Trophy result. That decision is not an outrageous one as India used the same eleven for the most part of the competition which means that players like Amit Mishra, Irfan Pathan, Vinay Kumar, Murali Vijay did not get a chance to showcase their skills at the tournament.
Irfan Pathan, who sustained an injury, was replaced with Shami Ahmed. However, India could have made more changes to the side considering the fact that a lot of these players have been playing at the Indian Premier League prior to this tournament.
One of the players who could have been rested was MS Dhoni, but he’s now down with an injury that will keep him out of the tri-series. Ravichandran Ashwin is a proven commodity, and with the presence of Amit Mishra in the squad, he could have been given a well deserved rest. There is no doubt about the fact that a lot of these youngsters need the experience of playing in alien conditions of the Caribbean, but there was some scope for breeding new talent that was not exploited.
Some key members of the side that performed well at the Champions Trophy needed the tour to cement their place in the side. India were trying to find the right balance ahead of the Champions Trophy in the warm-up games where Murali Vijay had a number of failures whereas Dinesh Karthik played two exquisite innings, and that forced some of the changes that were made going into the first fixture.
The pairing of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, that worked so well and was at the centre of India’s triumph, was thus hastily put and largely has turned out to be a masterstroke. It remained to seen if they could do it consistently and for a long time. Virat Kohli, on the other hand, could have been the leader to begin with and that would have allowed him the time and space to be mentally prepared for the job.
These players would benefit from such a tour and a side could have been built around them while allowing some established players much required rest.
One feels the most sympathy for India’s fast bowling department that is continuously hindered by the overkill when it is beginning to make progress. We have seen talented players like Irfan Pathan, RP Singh fade away due to the pressure that was piled upon them. India’s pace attack was tremendous at the Champions Trophy and they deserved a bit of rest.
Players like Umesh Yadav who rely on pace and effort can’t be played with such regularity. India must look towards England and Australia to notice the kind of care and protection they provide to their assets. The young fast bowler was at the end of a hiding against Sri Lanka, and that will not help his confidence.
BCCI is not going to empty up spaces on the calendar as they have their financial greed to cater to, but they can at least ensure that the current bunch of players does not suffer a burnout. Building a larger group of players will only help the team going into the future.
There is an upcoming tour of Zimbabwe once India finish with the series in the Caribbean, and we can hope that this mistake will be addressed, but it might be too late by then. Consecutive defeats would have already hampered the morale of the Indian team, and it remains to be seen how they can lift the campaign from hereon.
It will be a miserable situation if we lose more players to injuries in this campaign.