After losing an ODI series for the first time in more than three years, that too against arch-rival Pakistan, a team they never want to lose to, India has come under scathing criticism from its press, with players, selectors and coach all bearing the brunt.
The Telegraph, a leading English daily published from Kolkata, went with this headline on its sport page: “Flop show at Eden,” referring to India’s 85-run drubbing against Pakistan in the second ODI in Kolkata. The defeat followed a six-wicket win by Pakistan in the first ODI and gave the visitors an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
“New year, new low: India lose ODI series to Pakistan at home,” wrote the widely read Times of India after Pakistan made it four wins out of four against India at the Eden Gardens and in the process registered their third bilateral ODI series win against India in India. The last series victory for Pakistan came in 2005 when they beat India 4-2 under Inzamam-ul-Haq’s leadership.
Pakistan latest triumph, however, left the celebrated Indian line up at the mercy of its vociferous press.
Private satellite television channel Times Now raised question marks over the selection of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, India’s famed opening pair.
“They are the highest paid cricketers in the world, but on Thursday [January 3] they took Indian cricket to it’s lowest point after archrival Pakistan defeated them by 85 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series at Eden Gardens,” it argued.
The debate on this channel’s programme “The Newshour” revolved around the theme: Team without shame? “Why can’t these superstars be thrown out of the team? We have developed a superstar culture, which is not doing any good to our team,” one of the guests argued.
India’s reputed national daily The Hindu wrote: Jamshed’s ton sets up Pakistan’s series win.
Indeed, it was Nasir Jamshed’s batting of top quality that sealed the match and zipped the lips of many detractors of Pakistan’s fragile batting, for the time being at least.
Pakistan, it seems, is heading in the right direction. The same can’t be said about India, though. India is struggling and going through a transition phase after the retirement of their Big Three in Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. After losing a Test series in England (0-4), Australia (0-4), at home against England (2-1) and now an ODI series against Pakistan, all is not well for them.
That is perhaps why the captain M S Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher are in the firing line. Former India skipper and now the chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar said in an interview that India’s foreign coach, should be fired immediately.
“Fletcher should be sacked immediately. I don’t know what his role is, I can’t understand why he doesn’t watch domestic cricket…He’s been there for over a year-and-a-half, but it’s time for him to go…,” Vengsarkar told The Telegraph.
Many Indian fans watching a one-sided contest at the Eden Gardens were of the view that India needs three teams and different captains for different formats.
Some wondered why India, a country of 1.2 billion people, fails to produce bowlers like Sarfaraz, Imran, Wasim, Waqar, Aqib, Shoaib, Gul, Asif, Amir, Junaid, Irfan, Wahab, etc?
“Our bowling attack is toothless. Pakistan has the penetration in their bowling to win matches from any given situation, which is not the case with India,” said a dejected Indian fan after the match.
“The problem with India and its media is they elevate players to godly status overnight. Some of the players care a damn about the match result; they know they will stay in the team irrespective of the match result. This is costing us badly,” remarked another.
India needs to find some quick answers and quick solutions to its batting and bowling woes. It is easier said than done but they will need to pull themselves up for the third ODI which starts in New Delhi on January 6.
The writer is a professional journalist. He has worked as editor at Deutsche Welle in Bonn, Germany. Previously, he has also contributed features to the BBC web. Feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org