Will a new season mark a turnaround in India’s cricketing fortunes?
When Sachin Tendulkar scored that elusive century in the Asia Cup tie against Bangladesh in March, amidst the celebrations for the milestone of 100 international tons, the big question was whether it was time for the master batsman to retire from limited overs cricket.
The argument was that, nearing the end of his magnificent career and with little to prove, Tendulkar should focus on the classical version of the game — Test cricket — and give some more enjoyment to the purists among his legion of fans until he calls it a day.
The India squad selected on Wednesday for the limited overs tour to Sri Lanka later this month appears to have provided the answer which Tendulkar did not give in March. In fact, the batsman was irked by questions on his part-retirement. Tendulkar opting out of the Sri Lanka trip only shows he would rather preserve himself for the longer version – India face New Zealand, England as well as Australia in home over the next many months.
Will it help the national selectors to plan ahead if they are not informed about the plans of their iconic player? Is it not important to groom young replacements as India gradually prepare a team for the 2015 World Cup?
The additions and deletions in the side also indicate the challenge that lies ahead. The Pathan brothers, Irfan and Yusuf, were dumped due to their poor run while all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja suggested he was a touch over-rated when Chennai Super Kings grabbed him at the Indian Premier League players’ auction ahead of the IPL V, paying $2 million plus an undisclosed sum to include him in the side. CSK did reach the final, but only after much huffing and puffing with Jadeja hardly consistent. This season will show who among the young talent will demonstrate they can be long-term prospects.
As the new season kicks off, India’s batsmen face huge challenges after the collapses in England and Australia over the last one year. That includes Virender Sehwag, who is back in the side, Ajinkya Rahane, who needs to keep proving he is much more than an IPL batsman, and Suresh Raina, who can’t really shake off questions being asked about his technique.
With Rahul Dravid having retired, there will be questions asked about the future of VVS Laxman and Tendulkar in the weeks and months to come, especially if India do not dominate at home. A smooth transition, and a recovery after the hammering in Australia, will be crucial to re-establish the credibility of Indian cricket.
- N. Ananthanarayanan