Not for a moment, while analysing India’s unprecedented one-day series defeat to Bangladesh, would it be right for cricket pundits to undermine the fine performance by the hosts and sprightly attitude they displayed throughout the two games against India.
Sure, they looked under-cooked in Test match cricket, but they were a completely different outfit when they stepped on limited overs turf, continuing their dangerous ways against India, the No 2 team on the ODI charts as against Bangladesh’s seventh position.
But inevitably, the focus will be on India, a team that recently won seven games in a row at the World Cup only to lose in the semi-finals to eventual champions Australia.
What’s wrong with MS Dhoni’s men for whom one-day cricket has been a strength? They are known to collapse similarly in Test cricket abroad. However, losing two games in a row to a low-ranked team and that too in convincing fashion, leads to worrying levels. That only two batsmen (Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan) managed to get past 50 is enough indication that batting was at the heart of India’s woes. And that off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin appeared to be the only bowler capable of stressing out the trigger-happy Bangladeshis, creates a big cloud of worry for India’s future one-day engagements in the year.
A question must be asked whether the squad in Bangladesh is in the best of sporting health. They appear jaded and badly in need of rest. It will be surprising if the players are not feeling the strain of the long-drawn IPL.
While losing two matches in a row should not lead to alarmist views for example, replacing captain Dhoni the high and mighty of Indian cricket must introspect whether the selectors should be encouraged to rule which players need a rest. In this age, very rarely will players opt for a break because there is too much at stake and losing a place in the team is not the only loss for them.
The loss in Bangladesh is not a catastrophe. It’s not something to brush aside either.