Indian team will rebound, says Shivlal Yadav while others believe the loss is result of too much cricket

Abhijit Sen Gupta
Abhijit Sen Gupta

India’s devastating loss to Pakistan in the much awaited ICC T20 World Cup clash on Sunday has left many fans dejected. When winning and losing are a part of any sport, and one has to be always ready to accept the fact that one’s favourite team may lose, the way India lost – by ten wickets – deeply anguished cricket lovers all over the country. They felt that the Indian bowling and fielding had not been up to the mark.

Much had been expected from the Indian players since they are among the highest paid and highest ranked players in the world and have a huge reputation to defend. Yet they lost their wickets early and then failed to check the rampaging Pakistan openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

But perhaps the main cause is that the Indian team is playing too much cricket. They are involved in cricket almost 24×7. Test match series, IPL, and the T20 World Cup, all have followed within a short time span giving the players no opportunity to rest and recover.

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Even on the days when they are not playing, they have to practice, think of strategy and do their work outs. Plus nowadays there is the added factor or COVID-19 prevention measures. So burn out, physical and mental fatigue is bound to be the end result of so much cricket. After all, how much stress and pressure can a human being withstand?

The common fans and also cricket experts agree that the players are under constant tension of having to perform well. Sports and commerce go hand in hand. The compulsions of modern day professional sport mean that players are treated like commodities. If they fail one day, they will be immediately thrown out like damaged goods which are unsalable in the market.

Dubai: Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, left, hugs Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan after Pakistan won the the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan in Dubai, UAE, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021.AP/PTI Photo

So, while there may have been several reasons for the team’s loss, was excess cricket the biggest factor?  To get an overall view, spoke to a few people within the cricket fraternity.

Noel David who represented India in ODI cricket and who was once called India’s Jonty Rhodes by Sunil Gavaskar, said that ideally a three weeks gap between the IPL and the T20 World Cup should have been scheduled. “There was no opportunity for the players to take a break and refresh themselves,” he said. “I was sure that India was heading for a big loss. There is so much hype and pressure around any India vs. Pakistan match. Players must get a chance to recover before being thrust into a situation like this. Also Afridi bowled very well for Pakistan. As soon as Rohit and Rahul were dismissed cheaply, I knew what was going to happen. Also full marks to Babar Azam and Rizwan for their solid batting,” Noel added.

Former Ranji trophy player Vijay Mohan Raj who represented Mumbai as well as Hyderabad agreed that there was too much cricket these days. “Our bowling looked ordinary. The body language showed that our boys were stretched to the limit. Pakistan on the other hand looked fresh. There is a big question about why Hardik Pandya was in the team when he was clearly not fit. We should not go by the past reputation of a player when selecting the team. There were quite a few new players who did well in the IPL and could have been given a chance to  play. Like, Ruturaj Gaikwad for example. The IPL was a good concept when it was started. It was all about giving local players their big opportunity. But now it has become all about money,” he lamented.

The only person who differed from the majority viewpoint was Shivlal Yadav, former Test cricketer who was also captain of Hyderabad and a national selector. “Too much cricket cannot be a factor. They are professionals and they know how to take these things in their stride. This team is a very talented team so the loss to Pakistan was just a temporary setback. They will rebound. The first six overs are crucial in any match. When we lost quick wickets early, we were in trouble right away.  Perhaps our batsmen did not expect that the ball would swing so much. But there is no reason to panic. I am sure we will see better performances soon,” he said.

India’s next match is against New Zealand on October 31st. New Zealand has a very good fast bowling attack and they have always been excellent fielders. So India will have its task cut out. However the match will provide one more indication where India is headed in this tournament.

Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.

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