x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Naive Indian cricketers have to be honest about Australia debacle

It's hard to tell who they were trying to fool. It's been well over a decade since India dominated a home series against a top side from start to finish.

Virender Sehwag's comments showed he missed the bigger picture.
Virender Sehwag's comments showed he missed the bigger picture.

Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, once said: "It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept."

Virender Sehwag, India's stand-in captain in Adelaide, appeared to buy into that sentiment when asked about being thrashed in back-to-back overseas tours.

"We also won 2-0 in India [against Australia in 2010]," he said after the 298-run defeat that completed another 4-0 series drubbing.

As ripostes go, it was up there with trying to pull someone's hair after they've broken your jaw with a haymaker.

It also missed the bigger picture. Millions of supporters are not upset because India lost. They are angry and disappointed because they have seen precious little defiance from a team that was ranked No 1 less than a year ago.

The same players who have been aggressive and at times indignant in front of the microphone have been supine and helpless while being schooled by first England and now Australia.

Sehwag's comments were in tune with the popular refrain once it became apparent that a reconstituted and vibrant Australian side had far too much in reserve for an Indian team whose regression since the World Cup win ought to be the subject of a psychological study.

"Wait till you come to India" was what both Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma told the Australians, while Gautam Gambhir, another whose walk never matched his talk, spoke of Australian techniques on spin-friendly surfaces.

It's hard to tell who they were trying to fool. It's been well over a decade since India dominated a home series against a top side from start to finish.

They certainly have not blanked anyone since beating England (1993) and Sri Lanka (1994) 3-0. The 2-0 win that Sehwag referred to came in an abbreviated series that could so easily have finished all square.

Had Steven Smith connected with a shy at the stumps during the final stages in Mohali, VVS Laxman's epic unbeaten 73 would have been in vain. Comparing that to a contest in which Australia won twice by an innings is both disingenuous and naive.

Gambhir's quip about techniques also needs to be taken with a small shaker of salt.

Sachin Tendulkar top-scored in that series with 403 runs, but the next highest run scorers were Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting and Tim Paine. And it certainly wasn't Indian spin that triggered Australian defeats. The standout bowler, by a distance, was Zaheer Khan, who took 12 wickets at 21.83.

Over the past decade, India have lost fewer home Tests (six) than Australia (nine) and England (10). But they've also won only 23 of those 47 games. Australia can boast of 44 wins in 60, while England were triumphant in 42 of 69 matches.

Sehwag also suggested that India's media needed to get behind the team, like they apparently do in England and Australia. A cursory look at the tabloid reaction to England's defeat in the Middle East, and at some of the things written about Ponting before the India series will tell you how far off the mark that is.

Most of all, though, he and his colleagues need to be honest with themselves.

"I don't think technically there is a fault," he said. "Nobody was working on their technical thing because they think they have played enough cricket and they have experience and they can handle [it]."

After watching batsman after batsman get dismissed in similar fashion over eight innings, one can only hope that he wasn't repeating what the coaching staff believe.

Instead of Watterson, it's a dose of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that India need right now. "Time's not standing still, So stop looking through those tinted glasses ..."

sports@thenational.ae