Time to give it back
In times of calamity we all look to hold onto straws being blown away by fate. Sometimes it is these straws that help us rebound. A whisper, a smell, a pat on the back or even a taunt can help pull things back. Mickey Arthur, Australia's coach, has provided one for India.
Arthur recently said that Australia would "hammer India down" in the upcoming ODI tri-series once a fit Shane Watson returns to the team. For the record, Arthur used to be the coach of the South African team. Under him, South Africa failed to win a major tournament. Not a World Cup, Champions Trophy or World Twenty20. They didn't reach the top of the ICC's Test rankings either. Worse, under Arthur South Africa couldn't shake off the unofficial sobriquet of 'chokers'. Look no further than the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Cup, when they panicked while chasing an easily achievable target against New Zealand. Comparatively, India beat four-time winners Australia in the quarter-finals. Both Arthur and the Indian team would do well to recall that now.
When the Indians open their suitcases for the ODI series beginning in February, their blue uniforms should bring back a flood of memories. The way the team fought all the top teams one by one en route to lifting the World Cup in Mumbai should spur them into action. They shrugged off competition from Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the knock-outs and came up with a tremendous team effort match after match.
On the other hand, chasing New Zealand's modest 221, Arthur's South Africa were cruising at 107 for 2. Yet again, they choked in an all too familiar fashion to crash to 172 all-out and exit. Since Arthur - who was sitting in the pavilion - seems to have forgotten that, it's time MS Dhoni and his men make him remember that by getting back to their winning ways.
South Africa have always been a team brimming with talent, but Arthur couldn't do much to instill confidence in a team that seems to crack at the slightest hint of pressure. For India, the blue outfits should bring in a flood of thoughts as to what they had achieved, as a group, just a few months back. They must carry those memories to Adelaide and stand up to anything that is thrown at them.
Singer and songwriter Taylor Swift says, "Fearless is getting back up and fighting for what you want over and over again... even though every time you've tried before and you've lost." India must dearly want to win in Adelaide and in the ODI series too.
This Australian team is not as great as it is being made out to be. They were dethroned from a position they held for 17 years. They were a struggling side in early December. India held onto the No. 1 spot in the ICC's Test rankings until a few months back and they are the reigning World Cup winners. The difference between the sides has been blown out of proportion from the immediate past events.
In Perth, both Umesh Yadav and Virat Kohli shone amidst the ruins. They showed they could deliver even when the chips were down. India has to string in such performances which will count in Adelaide and beyond.
It is India's batting that has let them down in this series. For one last time they must remember that it was their batting which was feared for over a decade. If they can summon the extraordinary talent they possess and bring their experience in to play, there is no reason why India cannot put it across the home team in Adelaide.
Dhoni's absence gives an excellent opportunity to Virender Sehwag to use his analytical skills in the fourth Test. Last month's ODI against West Indies when he scored 219 in Indore as captain should give him the confidence to lead in Adelaide.
Years back, Henry Bloefeld wrote, on the eve of the World Cup final at Lords, that he would eat his hat if India beat West Indies. The underdogs went on to beat the defending champions and, true to his word, Bloefeld cut his newspaper article to pieces and ate it, with a dash of salt and pepper. The sport that he was, Bloefeld even published the picture of him 'eating my own words'. It is time for an encore.
No one can go back and make a brand new start, but anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. This is what India should do, now.
More about E R RamachandranE.R. Ramachandran, a corporate manager-turned-columnist has contributed to Hindustan times and Deccan Herald. He is a regular contributor to the Churumuri blog and writes a weekly column for Mysore Mail, a local Newspaper. Satire being his forte, he combines cricket and other sports with politics, in 'tongue in cheek' articles. He firmly believes that another 22-ball century can never happen again in any format of cricket like the one Don Bradman did in November 1931. And feels it is time for BCCI to do something to improve India's fielding and running between the wickets.
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