Monday, November 07, 2011

Open letter to the Indian team

To: Indian Cricket team - Test edition
Date:  Day 2, Test 1 - India-West Indies, November 2011

Dear friends,

After watching most of the first two days of the first Test match against West Indies, here's what I have to say to each of you:

Gautam Gambhir:  Get out of ODI mode.  Stop dabbing at the ball, trying to run it down to third man with 3 slips and 2 gullies waiting for the ball.  You are lucky you got to 41.  You not unlucky you got run-out.  You should have been out much sooner and, also, you were holding the bat in the wrong hand.  You got what you were courting.

Virender Sehwag:  We all see very clearly that you do not believe a spinner exists who is worth your time.  But still, you are a little too casual for your own good.  Having said that, I MUST say this - you rock!  Very few batsmen make a game's situation and the bowling seem as superfluous as you do.  When you were batting, 304 seemed a matter of time.  You got out and the pitch reverted to being a mental minefield.  Now, go and bat in the second dig with your foot inside the crease at all times.

Rahul Dravid:  Respect.  While you may be regretting the pull shot, I think it is a godsend.  The team needed a wake up call.  If you had brought the score close to the Windies total, it would have papered over the cracks.

Sachin Tendulkar: I have never seen any batsman look as guilty as you do when you are hit on the pads in front of the stumps.  My goodness, your body language takes away any semblance of doubt the umpire may have.  By the way, smart of you to have failed in the first inning.  Now the stage is set for you to hit a heroic century in the second inning while leading India to a win, a la Chennai a couple of years ago.  As your financial adviser no doubt told you - very strategically smart move.  (Of course, I jest when I say that...maybe).

(By the way, Sachin's aura is undiminished.  As soon as Sehwag got out, the server crashed!  It was almost as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.)

VVS Laxman:  Are you close enough to that wall that you seem to always have your back against?  Now turn around and look closely.  There's some thing written on it - your future.  You play in just one of three teams for India.  And you land up after a long gap looking like you had a dozen too many extra sweets?  Really?  You can no longer afford to slide by with an inning here or there.  Like Dravid, you need to realize that what you have ahead of you are your last flashes of brilliance before the sun sets.  Lose that paunch, get into a little better shape.  Then maybe you wont look so leaden-footed when playing spinners.  When you inside-edged your 4th ball and it barely missed the leg-stump, in the process getting you off the mark, I though that (maybe) luck was in your favor.  Well, guess what?  You got out off the next ball you faced to a routine ball outside the off-stump from a leg-spinner in the first over of his spell.  Gah!!  Virant Kohli cannot be denied much longer and I don't think he is looking at Yuvraj's spot anymore.

Yuvraj Singh:  Right attitude, right way of playing.  Don't fret.  You were doing the right thing, the execution was slightly awry.  Just retain that attitude, and you'll be fine.

MS Dhoni:  Just pretend you are playing an ODI, for crying out loud.  You got out to Darren Sammy.  Think about that.  You played Finn, Bresnan, Anderson, Broad, Swann and didn't get out and then you get out to Sammy.  Darren Sammy.  Has it sunk in yet?

R. Ashwin:  The second inning was made for you.  You bowled well in the first inning, but I'd like you to pitch the ball up a little closer to the batsmen, giving them less of a chance to play you off the pitch.  Now that you are bowling with the new ball, go forth and prosper.

Ishant Sharma:  You remind me of Jason Gillespie.  And in my book that is a good thing.  Keep your chin up, the rewards will follow.

Umesh Yadav:  Not much to say to you.  The pitch isn't really tailor-made for you.  But you can learn something from the way Fidel Edwards persevered, in spite of being hammered around the ground.

Pragyan Ojha:  You are the Wizard of Ozha.  Give Sunil Gavaskar a few more days and he will come up with that nickname.  Your bowling is just what was needed on this pitch.  Relentless probing on a stump-to-stump line with just a little bit of spin in either direction.  You grabbed your chance with both hands and the sound we hear is of the door swooshing as it starts to slam on Amit Mishra and, if Ashwin can continue to do well, Harbhajan Singh (who went wicketless in his recent Ranji game).


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