The Australian series marked an end to a really long season for the Indian boys across formats. Started way back with ODI’s against Zimbabwe in early June’2016 to West Indies & United States to the Grand Home Season.
A Snapshot of the Results of the complete season
17 Test’s – Win 12 (70.6%), Loss 1, Draw 4
11 ODI’s – Win 8 (72.7%), Loss 3
8 T20’s – Win 4 (50%), Loss 3, No Result 1
This season, unlike in the past, was dominated by TEST Matches and the much-improved win percentage depicting the display of the result oriented mentality of the team and the pitches.
India’s accomplishment was indeed a Team (or rather) a Squad Performance and not any one individual’s. Virat, Ashwin carried the team with some major performances with support right through in the form of Vijay, Rahul, Pujara, Rahane, Rohit, Saha, Parthiv, Nair, Jadeja, Jayant, Shami, Umesh, Ishant, Bhuvi, Kuldeep at various junctures..Ohhh wait, did I name the entire squad? Well, almost… That proves the epitome of this successful season..
50’s and 100’s or 5 wicket hauls are not the only cornerstone, but in many cases, even a crucial 35-40 runs down the order or a path breaking tight spell, intimidating the opposition batsmen by not giving any runs are equally crucial. Virat, rightly pointed out in one of his interviews after the Australia match, the virtue of not giving away sessions easily like India often did in the past was one of the important improvement. The match situation and response shown by every individual shows the character and maturity ingrained in this team.
The team has been doing astoundingly well and the lion’s share of credit must be given to the support staff, be it the Coaches, Physios, Technical Analysts, Masseuse who are the backbone of every team, be it in success or failure. Kudos to them.
Everyone acknowledges the fact that India needs to Tour Well and return with decent performances. And to do well Abroad, India always needs to have an eye on improving the performances and someone in the squad, be it the Manager or Captain or Vice-Captain or other Senior players, need to be in self critical mode.
We shall look into few critical points/ junctures, where Team India must learn quickly to be an invincible force like the West Indies of the 80’s and Australian’s of the late 90’s to early 00’s
- Groom the Test Specialists
- Likes of Pujara, Vijay, Ishant and Saha are exclusively playing in the Tests.
- Preparing them by facilitating them with opportunities to play in the English County/ Australian Sheffield Shield Tournament etc..
2. Opening Batsmen
- The most crucial party in laying the foundation of the team’s batting.
- There have been many instances, when one of the openers often lost their respective wicket early or after putting the hard yards in the first hour, which needs to be controlled.
- The utmostsignificantfacet. It is easier said than done.
- But, keeping the concentration for long periods is the real meaning of Test Cricket, be it for batsman or bowlers.
4. Battling against Spin
- Indians tend to lose out against opposition spinners like Moeen Ali & Nathan Lyon, when they use their body to pivot and bowl faster and turn at bounce.
- Instead of going into a shell, the batsmen need to learn new techniques to encounter such challenges.
5. Rotation of strike
- This would ease pressure on themselves and the next batsmen in the pavilion.
- It can unsettle the bowlers’ and opposition’s plans.
6. Minimize bowling loose deliveries
- The bowlers, would not always be successful in taking wickets, but, what they can always do is, control the game by not bowling down the leg or short and wide delivers, which would in turn be easy for the opposition.
- If you curtail the run scoring, the opposition will definitely come under pressure.
7. Catches and fielding
- We have dropped a lot of catches, more so, in the slips.
- Slip catching technique needs to be improved
- Be judicial in using the DRS
- India has not used DRS before this season, so they can be excused but they need to learn whom to trust and all the close in fielders need to participate and help their captain
9. Playing for Draw whilst escaping a Loss
- The team needs to play more tactically and sometimes see the bigger picture.
- Tighten their defensive techniques and if Win is not the possible result, try to earn the next best result, a hard-fought Draw
10. Lower Order Batting
- Emphasis must be laid on putting a price on thy wicket.
- Everyone including the No.11 must try and ensure they frustrate the opposition by resisting throwing away their wicket easily
- Injury Management of the players especially the fast bowlers
- Part and parcel of the game, but need to focus on having the right kind of fringe players, who can readily come and replace the injured personnel and at the same time not affect the balance of the team
Summarizing the season, Team India is doing well, in safe hands, with an excellent bench strength and in right direction but the biggest test starts while Touring Abroad, which is NEXT…