Two days after the end of the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League, India's young stars -- its second rung -- made the trip to West Indies to take on the 'A' team of the Caribbean nation.
It was a team filled with talent -- as most Indian teams are -- and it failed in such an alarming manner that the Board of Control for Cricket in India should really be worried. Last night, the Cheteshwar Pujara-led team lost the third 'Test' against their West Indian counterparts by 10 wickets to lose the series 2-1.
The scoreline could have easily been 3-0 but for an exceptional 96 not out by Pujara in the first 'Test' which led the team to narrow two-wicket win. In the other two matches though West India 'A' thoroughly dominated India -- winning the second match by 125 runs before clinching the third with a 10-wicket margin.
So what causes a team filled with talents such as Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwary, Abhinav Mukund, Shikhar Dhawan and more to go down so meekly?
A look at the numbers reveals that among the established batsmen only Pujara managed to do his talent justice. The Saurashtra batsman averaged 50.40 during the three matches. No other player in the team managed to average more than 32 during the series.
Tiwary scored 182 runs at an average of 30.33, Wriddhiman Saha managed 158 runs at 26.33, Rohit Sharma scored 145 runs at just 24.16 but of these 145 runs, the Mumbai batsman made 94 in his first innings on the tour. And even in the innings of 94, Rohit had three lives.
The biggest surprise or shock was the manner in which Rahane failed to get on board. He made just 62 runs in 6 innings at an average of 10.33. The performances here would have severely dented his hopes of getting into the Indian Test team anytime soon. He did get a few good bouncers which were virtually unplayable but surely he can expect a lot more of that in international cricket.
Many would argue that they just didn't have any time to adjust their games. It was so soon after the IPL that the batsmen were still in a trigger-happy mode. But that still doesn't explain how they managed to win the first Test and lose the third. Shouldn't it have been the other way round?
Shouldn't their performance have started to improve as the team really got into the tour?
The particularly sad bit is that these young players should have known that a good performance could have landed them a spot in the Indian team. The reverses that the senior team suffered in England and Australia can no longer be classified as aberrations and the BCCI reintroduced 'A' team tours to help prepare the youngsters for international cricket. However, the performances on this tour showed that perhaps they were only preparing to lose.
The bowlers didn't do very well either. The best bowler was the unheralded Akshay Darekar who claimed 8 wickets at an average of 24.62 in two matches which included a six-wicket haul in the second Test. As good as Parwinder Awana was during the IPL, he didn't quite shine during the series. He played just one match and claimed just 3 wickets. Shami Ahmed, a medium-pacer from Bengal, managed a team high of 13 wickets and his accuracy was impressive.
On the other hand, it was surprising to see Pujara give Rohit Sharma as many as 76 overs during the series. After Shami, it was the second highest number of overs bowled by a single Indian player during the series. Now, Rohit's not a bad bowler but to give him so many overs, robbed the other bowlers of a chance to prove themselves and isn't that what an 'A' tour is supposed to do?
But more than anything this tour showed that the India's overseas malaise is not just limited to the senior team, it extends to the juniors as well. And that is scary.
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Updated Date: Jun 20, 2012 13:50:16 IST