It’s starting to become a curse, I’m afraid! And, it’s infectious. It is now threatening or has already spread into the T20 set-up. Yep! That No.4 spot. It is clear no one knows who will bat at this position? Not Virat Kohli. Neither the team management and certainly not the candidates who are to be tested for the said position. Indian cricket is in a weird place right now. And, its problem is not the paucity of upcoming talent; in fact, the case is quite the opposite.
It is brimming with talent so precocious and extraordinary that it doesn’t know what to do with it. It is almost the case for the embarrassment of riches. They do not know how to harness their talent; they don’t know what role to assign them; they certainly don’t know how to get best out of them. Sometimes, it has led to confusion. But nothing beats what happened during the third T20I at the Chinnaswamy. It was almost like the microcosm of almost everything I’ve said above and the larger problems facing Indian cricket today. MISCOMMUNICTAION.
Firstly, let’s talk about what happened. Virat Kohli, in an attempt to test his side and embrace tough situations leading into next years T20 World Cup, decided to bat first on a ground which is historically a venue that favors the chasing side. It was all going according to the plan. India had got off to a brisk start courtesy a 25-ball-36 by Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan was once again looking in superb touch but one shot proved too many for the southpaw as he miscued a lofted stroke off Shamsi in the 8th over. This is where it all starts.
But, firstly Shamshi’s celebration. The left-arm spinner is famous for his unique celebrations but the one he did on Sunday ironically summed up what all is wrong with Indian cricket team’s leadership group as far as planning goes. It was almost like Shamsi calling Coach Ravi Shastri and saying, “Hello, is this the Indian dug-out? There are two No.4s walking out to bat. One at a time, please!”
And, I’m not making it up. It seemed that way. Because as soon as Dhawan was dismissed, both Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer strode down from either side of the sightscreen, much to the befuddlement of everyone, including Virat Kohli. Kohli, himself admitted in the pre-match press-conference there was a “communication” problem between the team management and both batsmen.
“I think there was a miscommunication there. I understood it afterward,” Kohli said after the match. “The batting coach (Vikram Rathour) had a word with both of them and there was a misunderstanding about who had to go [out] at what stage of the game. It was a little funny as well because they both wanted to walk in.” Virat Kohli in the post-match presser.
Wherein lies the problem. Oh, by the way, this is not the first time it has happened. Remember that heartbreaking World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand? Amidst all the hue and cry of the defeat, one of the biggest talking points from that ordeal was the miscommunication between the team-management as to who would stride out and bat at No.4 and off-course where Dhoni would bat. Dhoni eventually strolled out to bat at No.7, raising eyebrows of fans and pundits alike.
This was, off-course after the team-management could not decide on who should bat at No.4 leading into the 2019 World Cup. They ditched the person [Read: Ambati Rayudu] that they thought would be an ideal choice after a few failures and placed their punt on those who had never been tested at the slot before. The results were for everyone to see. Sunday’s event was another rude reminder to that ordeal and was also a clear microcosm of what plagues Indian cricket these days, despite its admirable consistency across formats.
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