Missing the larger picture

Missing the larger picture

India need to field first-choice players in the ODI series against New Zealand

Missing the larger picture

It’s still not clear as to how many and how early the Test regulars would be moving to South Africa for the three-Test series starting December 16, ostensibly to get acclimatised to the conditions there.

But it’s not difficult to guess as to who would be on the priority list. Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, as of now, will be the strong contenders to be on the plane to the Protean land after the three-Test series at home against New Zealand.

That India, the number one Test side in the world, are yet to win a Test series in South Africa is certainly a bitter pill to swallow and it’s good thinking on part of all those concerned who have thought of such a move. But amidst the renewed passion for Tests in the aftermath of their elevation to the top of the ICC rankings, India seem to be missing the wood for tree.

Test format is the pinnacle of cricket and of that there is no doubt, but in the year of the World Cup, the game’s most prized trophy, India could have done with some better planning as far as scheduling of one-dayers were concerned in the sub-continent; especially with the quadrennial event going to be hosted jointly by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

True, New Zealand were blanked 4-0 by Bangladesh in the recent series and that has drastically reduced the importance of one-dayers against the Kiwis. But isn’t a top team allowed to have one bad series? Daniel Vettori’s men are definitely better than what they were made to look like against the minnows.

India’s last five of the six remaining one-dayers ahead of the 2011 spectacle at home are scheduled against the Black Caps, so it would have made more sense to field the full-strength one-day side in the series.

The last time India had their all first-choice players in a one-dayer was during the series against South Africa in February early this year and as things stand now, it looks highly unlikely that we will see a full-bunch being fielded before the World Cup, what with six of the eight South Africa-bound stars going to be certainties for the ODIs.

The lack of practice matches is said to be the primary reason behind sending players well ahead of the scheduled start, but it’s not clear if they will be playing in any domestic first-class matches in South Africa like Rahul Dravid and company did ahead of last New Zealand tour. Just playing in ‘nets’ is hardly going to be of any benefit.

In a bid to maintain their number one status, the BCCI pulled its clout to insert Tests in what originally were suppose to be just one-day series. Instead of five one-dayers against South Africa we had two Tests and three ODIs early this year and now against Australia a seven-match ODI series was changed to two Tests and three one-dayers.

While their primary purpose of India extending their Test domination has been served, the World Cup preparations might have taken a bit of beating. It’s not to suggest that India won’t be going all the way in the mega event but with the tournament being held at home, a more professional approach in scheduling of limited-overs games would have helped them prepare better.

Who is to say no to BCCI diktat after all?


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