It certainly looked the part, after India lost the plot both times, after 20 odd overs. There were a good number of things they did right: got early wickets and fielded fairly well without having dropped any catches, although they might have missed a few very-close run out chances.
But what happened to the batting? Sorry to be sarcastic, but it was classic India, although with minor variations; this was not the Dhoni’s India that won the T20 World Cup, not the energized youth in Blue, but a mix of hurried boys and pressurized seniors. Perhaps the recklessness on the part of Gambhir and Yuvraj was hangover from the T20, but what has happened to Sachin? Not much fault can be found with Dravid, for he fell to a spectacular catch, which spelt the death knell for India that day. After all that, there is some hope to be mustered from Dhoni’s resilient, dejected, almost angry knock of 58. It was also refreshing to see Sreeshant, a tail ender hang-in there: perhaps picking a leaf from his captain’s book.
While we are on the topic of Sreeshant, what is with this aggro-cricket? Don’t get me wrong; nothing is more fulfilling than watching Sreeshant deliriously hit the pitch after claiming the mighty Hayden, but it is equally disheartening to see him or any other subcontinent player penalized for stepping over the so called line. No, I’m not talking about no-balls. I’m talking about the line that separates a celebration from disrespect, the line that is laid at different places for different people. If Andre Nel exults, it is Ok; if McGrath has some nasty things to say, its all in the game, the excuse being he is a world class bowler; if Sreeshant celebrates enthusiastically, he is branded as “over-the-top” or as one needing psychiatric help (check this out). The Indian media – the number one enemy of Indian cricket – is equally to blame for this. So, Sreeshant, dear Sreeshant, please take heed and remember that the line is nearer that you think it is.
Returning to the topic of the Future cup series, I think it does really hold something for the future. There is genuine hope for India, at least to prove a point, if not to thrash the Aussies, for they are definitely more beatable than they were before. For one, McGrath is no longer part of their line up, and I think, he made 40% of the difference between India and Australia over the past decade; it was he who claimed most of the top and middle order batsmen. You can’t win matches with tail-enders alone! Secondly, this Indian side is one with positive youngsters who believe in their ability and seniors who can help them with their shortcomings. It is not for nothing that they are called the “Big Three”; they might be past their prime; they might not be match winner, but they can still make positive contributions to the team, and demonstrate to the young Uthappas and Gambhirs that good old fashioned patience is still a virtue.