Whenever someone is quizzed about dismal performance of India in overseas test matches, obvious reply would be “ IPL is killing Test Matches “. IPL is blamed for all ills, technical flaws of Batsmen, Hard hands, stroke making blah blah.. If IPL was killing Indian cricket, why didn’t it kill South African & Australian Test cricket whose players are important part of IPL. De Villers, Faf, Warner, Steve Smith, Johnson, Morkel, and Steyn are star performers at IPL but they are Test match winners for their national team too. There has to be something wrong more than IPL, which is killing our Test Cricket.
India plays ODIs round the year and mostly on flat tracks. If opposition scores 350 they would score 351, if opposition scores 400, they would score 401. They are King of flat tracks. But when balls starts to Swing then even Double Hundred makers of Indian team find it hard to even open their score. So it was not surprising that our team packed its bag in two, two and a half days in England in test matches. In era of Fav 5- Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Sehwag, Indian batting was invincible in swinging, seaming, spinning, fast, slow every kind of pitch. Indian batting superiority faded away with fading away of these Giants of Indian cricket. What’s appalling is Indian Batsmen now a days doesn’t even know how to negotiate spinners. Spinners like Moeen Ali, Lyon whom Siddhu can go out in his wedding suit and still hit them for six sixes have become tormentors for present generation of Indian batsmen. We now don’t see a dancing down Ganguly or paddling Sachin nor we see wristy flicks of Laxman or classic leaning cover drive of Dravid. Now we only see apprehensive shuffle across the crease by Indian batsmen against spinners. There is definitely something wrong with mindset of these batsmen as ability of Indian players to hit spinners out of the park at will cant go away in a jiffy.
But a question may arise that Sachin started playing in 1989, Dravid, Ganguly & Laxman in 1996 still India didn’t win overseas matches at that time. So what was it that made India win overseas Test matches? Fav Five taught India how to draw a test match. It was belief in the team & bowlers who could take 20 wickets that made India win overseas Test Matches. If you listen to any interview of Ganguly, he would tell you in each of his interview that team put winning overseas test as their number one priority. They made plan and worked accordingly. They took pride in every overseas win. So how come such a successful captain like Dhoni doesn’t have same plan or same intensity? In my opinion no captain plays to lose and definitely not when he goes by name Dhoni, one of the most successful captain of India. What Dhoni doesn’t have is pack of bowlers who can take 20 wickets. Look at the bowling line up of Team India; you would know there is a big problem when a Karn Sharma or a Jadeja is your lead spinner in Test Matches. They are not even a pale shadow of Kumble or Harbhajan. A high-class spinner in India is many times more endangered than Indian Lions are. Ishant Sharma, who wakes up once in blue moon and performs for India, leads Indian bowling attack; he averages 37 and has a strike rate of over 65. This is nowhere near to record of any lead bowler of any other team. Our bowlers are seldom in wicket taking rhythm. They are always in run giving mode, most often at rate of four and above. No team in world could win test matches with such bowling attack. Whenever India took 20 wickets, it either won test match or came close to winning it. Our Batsmen can step up their game and make India draw test matches but to win we need Steyns and Johnsons of world or another kumble or Harbhajan. Till that time we have to be content with flukes like Lords Test or may be this Boxing Day would be different as it was in 2010 when Zaheer, Sreesanth, Harbhajan stepped up their game and won Test Match for India against South Africa. This boxing day I, with millions of other Indians, would wake up again in early morning with hope that Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Ashwin would step up their game and win this boxing round for India. But again if it happens it would be a fluke.