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India and the definition of insanity

Stan Boone new author
Roar Rookie
8th August, 2018
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Virat Kohli of India bats during the second day of the 1st Specsavers Test Match between England and India at Edgbaston on August 2, 2018 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)
Stan Boone new author
Roar Rookie
8th August, 2018
6

Losing in sport is no crime.

No, I am not a hardcore believer in participation being the key, not the result but there’s bound to be a winner and there’s bound to be a loser – unless of course we are looking at matches that can end in draws.

Let’s keep those aside for the moment.

The bigger issue for most fans is the repetition of the same mistakes their team makes that end up in their losses. Take the Indian Test defeat at the hands of England in the opener at Edgbaston.

It was a 31-run defeat in a game that could have gone both ways until the very end. On another note, a great pitch made for a brilliant Test, kudos to the curators there.

India were in it until the very end. In fact, until the time batting maestro Virat Kohli was at the crease, they were heavy favourites to win it – some bookmakers had them at 1/3 on the final day of the game until their captain was batting. And then Kohli got out, at the end of two of the most brilliant knocks you would see in conditions like those, and India hurtled to an expected loss.

Virat Kohli batting at Birmingam.

We live in times where overseas teams have found it tough to win Test matches, let alone series. An odd away Test win here and there – like India’s win in Johannesburg earlier this year, Pakistan’s first Test win over England and Australia’s victory in that ill-fated series in South Africa – but teams are no longer having to bell cats overseas, the task is getting tougher than taming lions.

In that respect, India did well to stall the English win until the very end. At 87/7 in the second innings, England looked like they were up against it too and with some more luck, India might have even won it. No, that’s not the issue. Losing never is.

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The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is making the same mistakes over and over again.

India’s 2-1 series defeat in South Africa was down to poor captaincy and selection and by the looks of things, Kohli and co. haven’t learnt too much from there.

In South Africa, India went into the first Test with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in their XI. Bad move. Dhawan’s record outside Asia has always been poor while Rohit has struggled against the moving ball irrespective of the conditions.

Dhawan was discarded after just one Test and it took the management two games to realise Rohit isn’t the right choice either. What made it worse was the fact that by the time they realised Dhawan’s selection was a poor call, they made another bad decision – dropped their best seamer, Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the second Test in favour of Ishant Sharma.

By the time they got their best XI out on the park – one that didn’t have Dhawan and Rohit and had Bhuvneshwar in the XI – it was the final Test and lo and behold, they actually managed a win. Surely a coincidence.

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What the fans would have hoped for is those lessons might have been learnt, and India wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes they had made on that South Africa tour.

No, sir. Dhawan, on the basis of a century against Test debutants Afghanistan in home conditions, got the nod yet again and this time, it was Cheteshwar Pujara who got the sack. Dhawan failed again, dropped a few catches in the slips and the match was lost again.

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As they say, you cannot expect different results doing the same thing over and over again.