Team India lacking team spirit
India has consistently been a powerhouse in cricket in all formats of the game for several decades now.
The cricket-crazy public of the nation, who reflect more from the heart rather than from the mind, are a hard bunch to please since a loss is unacceptable and is deemed a catastrophe.
Being the captain of the Indian team is probably even more demanding than the job of a Prime Minister since every decision he makes comes under close introspection from the clued-up public who, if given an opportunity, would have made a mad dash to occupy the seat to become a selector!
Cricket has a soothing influence on the nation with scores of people either calling in sick at work or taking the day off or even shutting shop in time to catch every bit of action right from the first ball.
Moreover, people are in good spirits and this is probably the only time when the nation comes together as one.
However, Indian cricket has garnered a reputation of being heavily inclined towards individual success rather than accomplishments of the team as a unit.
India has never been able to establish the team ethics or work rates of say, Australia, in the late nineties to mid noughties, or South Africa (keeping aside their perennial ‘choker’ tag).
One recent illustration was the merriment surrounding the great Sachin Tendulkar’s personal milestone of hundred 100s notched up in the Asia Cup competition in 2012. Yes, Tendulkar deserved every ounce of adulation imaginable, this being a record that may never be cracked.
More importantly, this momentous occasion gave the nation a reason to celebrate with the team’s exit from the competition happily overlooked since all that mattered was Tendulkar achieving the outstanding milestone.
You can ask any Indian cricket fanatic about watching cricket in the nineties when it was all about one man – Tendulkar. When he made a big score, the nation would celebrate but if he failed, half the country would mourn, turn the TV sets and radios off and get on with life anticipating a loss.
Every game, every result hinged on the performances of the little master and not just the nation but rival teams were aware of this conspiracy as well – get Tendulkar out early and relax, victory is ours!
One needn’t delve into record books to discover how many competitions India has won on the basis of a genuine team effort.
For the sake of argument, I would list the World Cup wins in 1983 and 2011 as two of the most memorable periods when India combined well as a team. Of course, there were victories to boot in ODIs and Tests (on home soil and the sub-continent) over the years but always short-lived.
Having said that, with the emergence of youngsters such as Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli, to name a few, in the last decade, Indian cricket has moved on from personal landmarks to a certain extent, at least in ODIs.
If you look at India’s famous wins in Tests, there’s always just a couple of stand-out innings around which each of these victories were achieved. A few examples from the last decade would have to be:
VVS Laxman (281*) and Rahul Dravid (180) vs. Australia at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, 2001
Rahul Dravid (233 and 72) & VVS Laxman (148) vs. Australia at Adelaide, 2003
Rahul Dravid (270) vs. Pakistan at Rawalpindi, 2004
As you can see, again, it took a few magnificent individual performances from VVS and Dravid to record these famous victories. Moreover, with their retirements, the team is expected to struggle in this most challenging format at least when playing overseas.
India might have great talent and potential in cricket but with the exploits and heroics of the legends, they might never be considered one of the greatest ‘teams’ to have graced the sport.
What do you reckon?