Indian cricket January 22, 2012

India never cultivated aggression, even when they were No.1

Nothing has surprised me more than the defences mounted of Dhoni's tactics in Wellington and Dominica
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India's recent run of seven away Test defeats, despite sometimes involving spells of competitive play (and arguably, at the MCG, a real chance to win), have been marked by a lack of competitiveness: four by an innings, one by over 300 runs, another by almost 200 runs, one by over 100 runs. Out of those seven Tests only two have gone the distance, while the game in Perth ended in two-and-a-half days.

The analysis of India's defeats has been copious and plentiful. One aspect of this analysis has centred on the seeming lack of fight, of aggression and resolve: India's Test team rose to the No. 1 ranking because it had shown the ability to fight back from adversity; what happened to those reserves that enable champion teams to claw their way out of the bear-trap of a grim sporting circumstance?

I have five reasons to offer: The Oval 2007, Bangalore 2007-08, Mohali 2008-09, Wellington 2008-09 and Dominica 2011.

In each of those games India had a chance to drive home a decisive advantage to increase the margin of victory in a series. In each case, Indian - it did not matter who the captain was, for in these games they were led by Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and MS Dhoni - declined to pick up the gauntlet. In each case, they missed a chance to cultivate a quality that is as valuable as the ability to fight back from adversity: to stay on top of an opponent who is down, to manoeuvre yourself into a winning position through aggressive play.

India lost out on valuable opportunities to cultivate and nurture reserves of aggression that would have stood them in good stead when adversity again presented itself. Sometimes (Oval 2007) it involved a failure to enforce a follow-on and, failing that, to aggressively fight back from temporary misfortune to again assert themselves in a situation where they had the sporting and psychological upperhand; sometimes it involved a failure to score quickly and declare in time (Bangalore 2007-08) or even consider that opportunity (Mohali 2008-09); sometimes it involved ludicrous delays in a declaration (Wellington 2008-09); and lastly, and most bizarrely, declining a chase for a victory target (Dominica 2011).

Though I have been a fan of the Indian cricket team for many years now, and thus have grown used to the idiosyncratic reactions of my fellow travellers, nothing has surprised me more than the defences mounted of Dhoni's tactics in Wellington and Dominica. Reacting angrily to a defeat is understandable; apologia for a lack of imagination and cricketing backbone is considerably less so.

The Indian cricket team will return to India soon; heads will roll; and a new season of cricketing encounters will kick off. But personnel and venue changes will do little to change Indian cricketing fortunes unless something is done to change a mindset that is comfortable with 1-0 leads, that fears possible defeat when pursuing victory. The edge that is sharpened in rejecting sitting on leads, in finding ways, to not just save a game, but to win a game that looks only half-winnable, is an invaluable weapon; it enables the summoning up of reserves in hopeless situations, like the ones that India have all too often, in the last year, found themselves in.

Talk of grassroots change and the new generation in Indian cricket is indeed appropriate at this stage. I would ask that some attention be paid to these five recurrences of one of Indian cricket's oldest maladies, present even when the team is winning and returns home with trophies and laurels. If defeat is to be subjected to forensic examination, then let us do the same even in times of seeming triumph. Valuable lessons lurk there as well.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kapil on April 18, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    It very easy to comment here but remember Multan test of 2004, when Dravid decl. Indian inngs for an outright win whole India d media slammed Dravid for his BRAVE nd COURAGEOUS INTESIFYING decision.... also abt Oval 2007 test remember y Dravid didnt force follow on was India's premiers bowlers Kumble & Zaheer got injured nd RP was de lonely bowler left. so Indians went for safety rather then glory...

  • MaruthuDelft on March 13, 2012, 18:41 GMT

    Indians wanted peace. That is why they settled with agriculture and vegetarian. West yielded to its instinct and wanted fun. So they hunted to have tasty food. They needed aggression. But now India knows even in agriculture you have to win against competition. So now India has to learn aggression. Unless India profoundly accepts they were wrong and West was right they won't be resolute in becoming aggressive. So they will never win.

  • Hafiz on March 10, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    Don't blame the media; they gave them the best slogan "Dekh lega India"; "Thunder down Under". Par lot key budhu ghar ko aye.

  • KennyK on January 26, 2012, 22:50 GMT

    Totally agree with so many good comments!

  • Bingo Haley on January 26, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    Excellent comment derrida derider! Very incisive thinking!

  • kshah on January 26, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    The AUS -IND series is a major setback for Indian Cricket....The Indian team was perhaps on a high and the results reflect the rest..But lets be fair, in recent years, the Indians alone have competed in Australia...2003 & 2007 seasons are examples..they deserve to be praised in that regard. More so, when one observes the performances of the other two Asian greats in recent times down-under..i.e. Pakistan & Srilanka, they've never progressed.

    Having said that...the Indians appear to positively justify the number one tag,,,, but in their own back yard only.. Elsewhere, there's lots to be desired.

    For me, the Aussies may well be on their way back to the top. England have the potential to back their rankings and the South Africans are not too far behind as well...But the three Asian greats unfortunately, have some work to do...Their own conditions will not afford them the opportunity to become world beaters in alien territory.

  • GK on January 26, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    Problems 1> Indian openers were major flop, BCCI should have back up option especially for openers, Should have two pairs of openers, which whome BCCI can relay on. 2> Fitness level should be made mandetory from the junior level, and at senior level failed to maintain should be send back to NCA. 3> Indian players should be taught how to be aggressive from the day one, I am not talking about aggression with other players, but with cricketting attitude. Hats-off to Gaguly on this,he brought in aggression. 4> England,Australia, SA, other countries jelous of India, and making lively pitches. which India should learn to play going forward. England even went on to choose a more swinging ball against Indians. 5> BCCI should concentrate on providing lively pitches starting from domestic level. 6> Indian players should play cricket on IPL way. In my View IPL is killing test matches, Dravid and VVS are best examples. 7> Indian cricketers should learn how to be humble and aggressive.

  • somit biswas on January 26, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Well done mate!!!

  • Farooq Tahir on January 26, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    @Faisal You should have kept your mouth shut instead of giving such a stupid statement.

    Surely, Indian teams lack aggression. Whenever, we see any sort of aggression in Indian teams, whether it is Sehwag, Youvraj or even Tendulkar of 90s, they got wins and people's support. They need aggressive bowlers, this is why Australia of 2000 and Windies of 80s and to some extent Pakistan in 90s won a lot of matches.

  • Venkat on January 26, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    Indian team's approach is wrong. They are never aggressive in any tour. None of the players have shown their aggressive approach to the game. Most of this entire debacle is a result of selectors indecisiveness. Better, experienced and players who have proved themselves earlier on australian pitches are ignored and other's have been picked. Ishant should have been ignored before the series. Umesh was given a chance, that's okay but where is Rohit Sharma. Why is he not played at all? This is utter foolishness that players are taken with a reputation of future of Indian cricfket but are never given a chance to prove their abilities. Wake up CHIKA, i think time is coming when you would be dropped as selector. I think it's time that likes of Lazman, Dravid & Sachin should think of retirement. I have never seen Laxman fail so miserably, especially in australia. And Dravid, he was never bowled out so many times, probably best defence currently in world. Sachin should come of his 100th hundred

  • kapil on April 18, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    It very easy to comment here but remember Multan test of 2004, when Dravid decl. Indian inngs for an outright win whole India d media slammed Dravid for his BRAVE nd COURAGEOUS INTESIFYING decision.... also abt Oval 2007 test remember y Dravid didnt force follow on was India's premiers bowlers Kumble & Zaheer got injured nd RP was de lonely bowler left. so Indians went for safety rather then glory...

  • MaruthuDelft on March 13, 2012, 18:41 GMT

    Indians wanted peace. That is why they settled with agriculture and vegetarian. West yielded to its instinct and wanted fun. So they hunted to have tasty food. They needed aggression. But now India knows even in agriculture you have to win against competition. So now India has to learn aggression. Unless India profoundly accepts they were wrong and West was right they won't be resolute in becoming aggressive. So they will never win.

  • Hafiz on March 10, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    Don't blame the media; they gave them the best slogan "Dekh lega India"; "Thunder down Under". Par lot key budhu ghar ko aye.

  • KennyK on January 26, 2012, 22:50 GMT

    Totally agree with so many good comments!

  • Bingo Haley on January 26, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    Excellent comment derrida derider! Very incisive thinking!

  • kshah on January 26, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    The AUS -IND series is a major setback for Indian Cricket....The Indian team was perhaps on a high and the results reflect the rest..But lets be fair, in recent years, the Indians alone have competed in Australia...2003 & 2007 seasons are examples..they deserve to be praised in that regard. More so, when one observes the performances of the other two Asian greats in recent times down-under..i.e. Pakistan & Srilanka, they've never progressed.

    Having said that...the Indians appear to positively justify the number one tag,,,, but in their own back yard only.. Elsewhere, there's lots to be desired.

    For me, the Aussies may well be on their way back to the top. England have the potential to back their rankings and the South Africans are not too far behind as well...But the three Asian greats unfortunately, have some work to do...Their own conditions will not afford them the opportunity to become world beaters in alien territory.

  • GK on January 26, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    Problems 1> Indian openers were major flop, BCCI should have back up option especially for openers, Should have two pairs of openers, which whome BCCI can relay on. 2> Fitness level should be made mandetory from the junior level, and at senior level failed to maintain should be send back to NCA. 3> Indian players should be taught how to be aggressive from the day one, I am not talking about aggression with other players, but with cricketting attitude. Hats-off to Gaguly on this,he brought in aggression. 4> England,Australia, SA, other countries jelous of India, and making lively pitches. which India should learn to play going forward. England even went on to choose a more swinging ball against Indians. 5> BCCI should concentrate on providing lively pitches starting from domestic level. 6> Indian players should play cricket on IPL way. In my View IPL is killing test matches, Dravid and VVS are best examples. 7> Indian cricketers should learn how to be humble and aggressive.

  • somit biswas on January 26, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Well done mate!!!

  • Farooq Tahir on January 26, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    @Faisal You should have kept your mouth shut instead of giving such a stupid statement.

    Surely, Indian teams lack aggression. Whenever, we see any sort of aggression in Indian teams, whether it is Sehwag, Youvraj or even Tendulkar of 90s, they got wins and people's support. They need aggressive bowlers, this is why Australia of 2000 and Windies of 80s and to some extent Pakistan in 90s won a lot of matches.

  • Venkat on January 26, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    Indian team's approach is wrong. They are never aggressive in any tour. None of the players have shown their aggressive approach to the game. Most of this entire debacle is a result of selectors indecisiveness. Better, experienced and players who have proved themselves earlier on australian pitches are ignored and other's have been picked. Ishant should have been ignored before the series. Umesh was given a chance, that's okay but where is Rohit Sharma. Why is he not played at all? This is utter foolishness that players are taken with a reputation of future of Indian cricfket but are never given a chance to prove their abilities. Wake up CHIKA, i think time is coming when you would be dropped as selector. I think it's time that likes of Lazman, Dravid & Sachin should think of retirement. I have never seen Laxman fail so miserably, especially in australia. And Dravid, he was never bowled out so many times, probably best defence currently in world. Sachin should come of his 100th hundred

  • Karthik_CA on January 25, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    The comments made by Mr.Faisal is highly ridiculous, trying to snuck in something which hasn't happened amidst some other things; "actually Pakistan had won the cup11 not India"; What is he trying to say in this, Pak made a meak surrender to the Indian juggernaut in the Semis of 2011, nor have they won a single world cup match (0-5 record) against India.

  • narasimha on January 25, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    It's mainly because of pressure that is on the team that the captain thinks winning a series 1-0 is good than losing the match by going for the kill.

  • Jagdeo on January 25, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Is it a game - for entertainment and social relations - or is it a war that must be won at all costs? There was a time when cricket was dubbed a getleman's game.

  • Premnauth Ojha on January 25, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    Why is Rohit Sharma and Ojha not playing?

  • sitaram on January 25, 2012, 14:39 GMT

    Hi All, I don't know why u guys r discussion abt indian cricket teams performance. They went there for timepass with their dears. They don't care's the feelings of indian fans nor about the nation pride. They plays only for money. All players, BCCI and selectors are supid and rascals. Stop watching matches do ur work and study's, this will help the nation to generate productivity. Neither Sachin nor Dhoni are nations hero, they earns for theirselves by wasting others time and giving more tension. So please stop watching matches which r i think already fixed. All r culprits including players, organizer and audiance. Now everbody knows about indian crickets truth. So... Please don't waste time and money for buying tension.

  • Iftikhar Ud Din Khattak on January 25, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    One friend has said about Veru but i think it v shameful performance by team India, It s never when you are scoring in India on Flat wickets 200 runs in ODI but one has to concentrate on real cricket called as test cricket. The Indian bowlers has done nothin on those fast wickets resulting such defeats. I think it really now time to bring young blood to the international level cricket no doubt India has always produced ever best batsmen but more often then not always they are fail to perform on green or fast wickets then i think records are only written on paper. Now forget about past and bring some more talented young players so that they will be playin with passion and aggression, Team India is only aggressive on sub continent wickets which i can even play strokes of my choice with ease. It is not only matter of India but we whole Asian teams are down with such performance which India has showed in Australia. Wish Team India best of luck , but i think in cricket there in no luck.

  • abs1234 on January 25, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    it is the IPL that has corrupted these boys. Do something about it pl

  • Nair USA on January 25, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    Good assessment. However, any blame piled on the Indian team will stick now as they are down and out. This discussion has become more of a cultural commentary rather than a sports related one. The idea is to find a good way to bring back the Indian Cricket team through sharp coaching, professional mental preparation and hard work on fitness. This is not rocket science.

  • Ram on January 25, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    I did not use Gandhi as an example for timidity. Gandhi was one of the boldest men ever.

    Basically, Gandhi's approach was one of non violence and satyagraha. In cricket, for example, this would be something like this. When the opponent is busy piling up runs, the captain orders his team to start a satyagraha ( i.e ordering bowlers to refuse to bowl) until the opposing captain makes a declaration. There are some qualities like compassion and kindness in the real world out there, that makes Gandhian approach feasible. Even the colonial rulers, even in their stony hearts, there was a trace of humanity that enabled Gandhi to use his methods effectively.

    But in sport, it is survival of the fittest. Here, no one cares a bit for whether the opponent is injured, starving, depressed or timid. If you do not display the same aggressive traits of your opponent, you will be swept clean in sport. Gandhian methods would have failed in a real war against Hitler.

  • Ramachandra on January 25, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    I have different point. In olympics hockey final 1936 India defeated Germany 8-1 after trailing by 1 goal. They didn't settle for 2-1 lead or 3-1 lead. That is called champion team. Can we ever have that attitue again. Can we get another Dhyan Chand?

  • Meety on January 25, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    It all comes back to pitches. To generalize, Indian pitches suit attritional cricket. Pile up the runs, try & bowl the other side out cheaply, if that fails, bat out the match, start again next match. I don't like using the term Flat Track Bully, as I genuinely believe it is a respected skill to be able to play on turning pitches, however, I do believe the best cricket occurs when the bowler is (or should be) in the ascendancy. The captain must direct his attention to taking wickets, even it means leaking a few runs when you don't have many on the scoreboard (Dhoni take note Sydney & WACA). Take a look at the last test against the WIndies, that match meandered for the first 4 days, then on the last plunged toward a result almost in spite of India.

  • Lala lajpat on January 24, 2012, 23:23 GMT

    India simply sucks

  • Siva on January 24, 2012, 22:16 GMT

    @Luke: Very well said!! I just hope we get an Indian cricket captain with the venerated Gandhi's chutzpah. I don't understand how my fellow Indians fail to realize that that Gandhi was one hell of a tough nut.

    Samir, your analysis is spot on. I just hope that the new generation of Indian cricket is more competitive.

  • vyseerx2 on January 24, 2012, 21:56 GMT

    Aggression does not go well with Indian crowds(read Indian pysche). Virender Sehwag is an aggressive batsman, who smashed may records and has better test average than many batsman, and better strike rate than any test batsman. But every time he fails, he is ridiculed as "Hero or Zero". Vivian Richards has failed and Adam Gilchrist has failed, we as Indians do not ridicule them. Even west Indians and Aussies do not ridicule their aggressors when they fail. Manoj Prabhakar, Sreesanth regardless of their ability show aggression and intenisty on the field are hardly crowd favourites... Extremely successful but very modest ones like Tendulkar and Dravid are always crowd favourites...What does it tell? Aggression is NOT in Indian pysche..Any Indian wants to be sauve, shrewed, intelligent, and skilful, but aggression..Hmm..I do not think so.. After all, our Cricketers are Indians first and then cricketers next , right?

  • hassan on January 24, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    india is great team . they will bounce back.they won the world cup.it was great achievement.

  • Harsh on January 24, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    A picture is worth a thousand words. That pic says a lot !

  • Abhishek on January 24, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    @Starvoyager- Your take is correct but only partially. Indians can take defeats- but it is the spineless shows that hurts the fans the most. With Pakistan, another dimension is added due to the match fixing allegations. But still I'd think that the irrational is only reserved for the Indo-Pak matches themselves!

    @Luke- thanks for saying what I was about to write myself! It only shows how badly many Indians understand Gandhi

  • Abhilash on January 24, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    i don't think the pressure of media and fans is the real reason for this. India hav always been a defensive team. So many times i hav seen them becoming casual in their approach after getting a bit of success. the ranji trophy final is the best example of it, teams playing just for the first innings lead and not outright victories...individual records r given more importance than winning(for ex. rajsthn not enforcing follow-on so that robin bist cud get 1000 runs)...the only thing that matters to indians fans is whether sachin scored a century....who cares if he gets his 100th hundred or not it won't change the fact that we hav performed poorly...and how many matches hav we won when he scored century? i am saying this even though i am indian......

  • M. ZUBAIR KHAN on January 24, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    I dont agree with Mr.Faisal who baselessly tried to belittle Indian win at the world cup. Crises like these have happened to Pakistan team as well but they were not so lengthy. the reason is that Pakistani captains trust thier bowlers whereas Indian captains rely on their batsmen to diliver which is not happening. I think Indian team should get rid of the star batsmen but the change should be in 2 phases. the first batch immeditely and the second in next season.

  • Luke on January 24, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    Funny how people keep bringing up Gandhi as an example of Indian timidity. Have any of you seriously thought about what you are saying? One man, alone, standing up to the entirety of the British Empire and refusing to back down no matter what? That isn't timidity, it is the power of a person who has chosen what they wish to achieve and how they wish to do so and set about doing just that, ignoring every distraction, overcoming every obstacle and never giving up the win no matter how hopeless. And look what he achieved. As an Australian I think Gandhi is one of the most admirable people to have ever lived and a perfect example of Noble Agression, I dare say that if he were captaining this Indian team they would be winning a lot more matches.

  • starvoyager on January 24, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    You only have to look at the savage and irrational reactions to defeat by so-called 'cricket fans' in India to understand where this mindset of safety first comes from. No other team (except Pakistan) has to deal with such a torrent of abuse and witchhunting when the team loses. After the Perth test, a major Indian newspaper's sports page headline read 'Series lost, time for headhunting'. Pakistan under Misbah has started to play in a similar manner because they face a similar problem.If aggression is to be encouraged and cultivated, failures need to be better received by the Indian public and media.

  • Santhosh V on January 24, 2012, 9:11 GMT

    There is a need to infuse aggression, killer instinct and a thirst to win every match on the field. But this has to thrive within self and not by any coaching. Players have to understand the importance of their role in the competitions at International level. Every match has to be taken as "Do or Die" level type. Aggression alone won't complete the cycle. Coz' the performance of silent killers like Dravid, Kumble, Misbah, Hussey and many others would definitely impact on the final outcome. So there should be a perfect blend of young blood - old blood, aggression -calmness and to be executed as per the situation. Over all, the Entire system (including selection and selectors) has to be transparent, assure Die-hard cricet fans betetr entertainment in the future. But.. WHO WILL TIE THE BELL TO THIS SYSTEM CAT?

  • Naeem on January 24, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    Faisal, as a Pakistani You embarass me and our country with a stupid statement!!! Just shut up please and stick to the topic. Pakistan played a stupid world cup game and lost. Pakistan was defencive and uncertain. Period!!!

  • Sujan on January 24, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    Sameer you have to add the 3rd test against South Africa in south Africa in that list. Where India has the test in their hand until mark boucher and ashwel prince save the test for south Africa after tea. That is the worst bowling performance for me by zahir khan in last 3 years and it will be better if I don’t say anything about dhoni’s pathetic captaincy. In my view when you are doing a business, u must think n take care of your business when it is doing well rather than being worried when its going wrong or worst. This is happening to our Indian team, when team is winning no one see any problem or issues with the team but there is still a lot to do when you win everything. Now about the killer instinct and aggression, I think all the teams all over the world lake those when they visit overseas. The West Indies team of 70’s and 80’s with the Australian team from last decade is the exceptional. India thrashed England 5-0, and West Indies 4-1 just before going to Australia, n in test they white washed the Australian 2-0 when they visited to India last time. But all these in India, so in my view it’s not the case for only the Indian team. And to make my argument realistic I would like to give the example of current world number 1 test team who are having a torrid time at UAE after showing all the aggression n killer instinct against India by washing them 4-0 at home.

  • harry singh on January 23, 2012, 21:02 GMT

    Selection has to be performance based not based on popularity or who you know. Unfortunately we Indians dont learn from our mistakes and look for excuses ,Out of over a billion people we cant find 15 excellent cricketers. I dont believe it. Get rid of the Uneducated gawars who run BCCI .

  • Shakti.J on January 23, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    The Indians,for some reason prefer to play it safe.India have had plenty of that & it is now time for aggression & whitewashes.I think a man like Cheteshwar Pujara might be an aggressive captain,he certainly looks like a leader.

  • Malik on January 23, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    Time to inject young blood, old age lions cant be aggressive like young ones. its realy shame to see that talented player like rohit is sitting as a spectator and could make his place in the team only beacause of seniority.

    Faysal Malik (Pakistan)

  • praxis on January 23, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    @Gizza, don't know if you are Indian or from this subcontinent but you can't say this culture is passive. Its too huge & varied to make such generalized comment like that. Same goes with Gandhi, this subcontinent or India didn't get independence through only him. Probably his ideology & political view was so alien to other worlds that it made him this famous around the world, but the history has so much more things for you to learn. This passiveness has to do a lot more with what has been the cricketing culture in India since so many decades & the majority of cricketers in national team coming mostly from certain regions.

  • John Smith on January 23, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Mr Srinivasan seems to show plenty of aggression with respect to resisting DRS and dismissing the relevance of his conflict of interest between the BCCI and CSK. Maybe he should take over as coach from Duncan?

  • Ken on January 23, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    India needs to REMOVE the COACH. Believe it or not...he may be the one Responsible - directly or indirectly.

  • Gizza on January 23, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    Out of all of the countries in the world, India is probably most famous for its lack of aggression. Being passive and defensive is a key part of Indian culture. It is why India became independent through Gandhi instead of a fighter or warrior and vegetarianism is so high in the country (this is not a bad thing but just shows how India is different).

    Unfortunately all sports are physical and violent even cricket. Samir, not just captaincy and strategy which you mention, but even the batting, fast bowling and fielding lacks aggression. Pakistanis and Sri Lankans are also used to flat surfaces but they don't nearly get as scared of bouncers as the Indians do. India should feel lucky that cricket is less violent and physical than most sports in the world which is why India still competes somewhat.

    @raghav, India don't even try to whitewash teams at home! India has never won 3-0 or better at home against Aus, Eng, WI or anyone despite their powerful batting at home and spinners.

  • Enigma on January 23, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    Who cares for these test series. World Cup is the pinnacle of cricket and INDIA ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS.

  • Gurunarayanan on January 23, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    Onr reason for this mentality could be our domestic system, where a first innings lead is as good as a victory. Once a team gets first innings lead, it just tries not to lose the match.. that has to be changed.

  • rachit on January 23, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    @faisal - shut up. Read the column and then comment. Irrelevant comments and brining India Pakistan in the discussion shows that you are nothing but a narrow minded loser.

  • rachit on January 23, 2012, 11:02 GMT

    While i completely agree with the article and this has been a matter of utter frustration for me and millions of fans, I would put this weakness as a Cultural trait. Indians in general has been defensive. Its in our blood, and changing captains or anything would not make much of a difference as far as this weakness is concerned. Just like we generally do not perform well under pressure (in cricket and otherwise). Under Ganguly, supposedly the strongest leader we have had, we failed to win ODI finals. Dhoni changed that but then he cannot close out test matches. It is difficult to find captains and players who are good at cricket, and are culturally different from the place they were born in. The best example being Sachin, even he cannot run away from the inability to perform under pressure weakness.

  • praxis on January 23, 2012, 10:09 GMT

    India never had a bowling attack that could dominate in every conditions or win many matches without much help from the batsmen. But its no excuse for this defensive approach. With this kind of lineup currently filled with stroke players such as Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dhoni....they rarely took the challenge when it was near the end. Its one thing your batsmen keep hitting bowlers for boundaries but showing real intent & foresight to win & making the most of chances at key moments is what the writer's been saying.

  • BallBoy on January 23, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    Ganguly showed the right aggression in the field but people around the world did not like it and start saying he has an attitude! Other day (2 weeks back) S. Waugh said “you need Ganguly’s aggression to win in OZ”! It seems post Ganguly, India team has lost that completive aggression and left with an attitude – some people may not like it but this is true. Yes we have own world cup, we went up to 1st position in test for couple of days! We need to new blood and hunger for success – it is surly missing.

  • MFY on January 23, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    I think what india needs is a board that adapts a mindset of cricket first & all other commercial concerns secondary. Somebody who has enough respect to sustain short term failures in the quest of achieving long term objectives - what india needs to turn themselves into an aggressive team is a strong bowling & fielding team - surely their current batting lineup even though filled with superstars has been very low in intensity & has shown very little resolve to fight in tough conditions - but I think fundamentally the batting talent in India is good enough - they need a good bowling & fielding unit - & its not just they lack decent fast bowlers - they havent historically had any - what they should focus on is to get good quality aggressive spin bowlers - there is absolutely no justification of not having quality spinners - an agressive quality bowler be it a spinner or pacemen can lift the side & increase the intensity - imo this is what india lacks!!

  • Vijai on January 23, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    Its easy to blame the team for a safety first approach. If an Indian Captain had made a sporting declaration to force a result and lost, he'd have been roasted by the media, the public and there would have been silent rumours of match fixing.

    In all this, we also need to consider TV broadcasters' interest who dont want a match to end in 3 or 4 days. So the team is instructed (by BCCI??) to play longer than required.

    Who'll want to go through all this? Let us not point fingers at the team. A change in attitude will come only if the players are offerred a higher incentive to force a result than to play a draw in each matchof the series.

  • Saket on January 23, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    Its time for India's cricketers to stop making silly comments and take a serious look at themselves...More and more, they remind me of Michael Chang who would make BIG statements before crunch matches...and would end up with egg on his face.....we never had a good bowling attack even when we were No.1. We must be the only No. 1 with a bad fielding side. If things are to get better, changes have to be made in the team, but more importantly, the administration and the Ranji set up. As things stand, we are setting ourselves up for bigger disasters than we can think of, with a rotting first class structure and money corrupting the morals of our so-called greats. Considering how little attention is paid to past history and ethics in our culture, it is no wonder that any gains are only short-lived. THAT is our greatest problem, not just as a team, but also as a society.

  • Ram on January 23, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Gandhianism in sport? Sorry, won't work.

  • Abhishek on January 23, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    This is something of a national character. We on the whole are risk averse, conservative people, not willing to rock the boat and lacking in innate confidence (NOT superfluous cockiness, as shown by the likes of Singhs, Kohlis and Gambhirs). Our team is really representative of us! You are spot on when you talk about that edge that gets sharpened when you plunge into the unknown territories. Nothing builds character like that- no coaching and mentoring can do that. And it is precisely this edge that endures when you are staring down the barrel in front of world class competitors.

  • sarath on January 23, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    I think it starts with Ranji where teams pile on runs and refuse to go for a win. Killer instinct goes missing there. Look at Rajasthan vs Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan batted for 2.5 days, had more than 300 runs first innings lead and yet, chose to bat on 4th day. They should do away with points for draws in FC. That's how you change the outlook.

  • Azhar Mahmmod on January 23, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    It's just not about cricket, but true for any sport played in India. Actually it's part of this country's culture and reluctance to change this culture.

  • Vas Venkatramani on January 23, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    Faisal, if you look at recent history, three Pakistani cricketers have been jailed for cheating. The Indian ones won that World Cup fairly and squarely, as much as it pains me to say it (as an Australian).

    I always viewed India as a tentative world number one that didn't need much to go wrong for the wheels to fall off. Despite Australia's last two series in India going 2-0 both times to the home side, there were times that Australia could have either taken a lead or drawn that series thanks to some ultraconservative tactics from Dhoni. Regretabbly, our post Warne/McGrath malaise was starting to kick in, and India got a deserved victory, despite their conservatism.

    The worrying thing for India now is that Australia, England and South Africa are all stronger, and due to the regular proximity to slow Indian pitches from regular ODI tournaments and the IPL, these nations will no longer be flustered at touring the subcontinent.

  • Shavi on January 23, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    India have never cultivated aggression, period.

  • Narayanan S on January 23, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    The sad thing is that even the new generation players are taking that defensive mindset in the big occasions.Take for instance, For all his very good performance against WI at home, I think Ashwin wasted a great opportunity to win the last test match in Mumbai. In the penultimate delivery with 3 needing to 2 needing to win and 2 wickets left, he played a straight bat defense not looking for a single. The argument was that if he had got out that would have exposed the no.11 for that last ball and a possible defeat was on the cards. But why on earth do they complicate this game by over-analyzing all these possible outcomes. If he was good enough to score runs until that point then he could easily have sneaked in a single that ball,at-least he could have tried to do that. By that a 3-0 clean sweep could have achieved after a long time. Sure, India doesn't have a firepower bowling line up to be aggressive all the time, but they must show the courage to grab the opportunities like these.

  • Faisal on January 23, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    there is only one way that india will perform well in any test series or other series... the way is to take away a champions title from them...because they illegally won the cup 2011 and that will suffer them a lot till next worldCup15.............okey let take a example when u earn black money tell me it affects goods to ur body or mind or bad? when u earn illegal money this money will become poison for u and makes a adverse affect on you .....guess what?... actually Pakistan had won the cup11 not India...that is why u indian facing adversities..and will face InshAllah "if u earn bad u will face bad" quotes

  • Deep on January 23, 2012, 4:47 GMT

    Samir, look at the Indians in society. We are a nation of docile wimps. That is, unless we have to fight within ourselves. Then the aggression is unleashed! I only have to look at my relatives and friends to see where Dhoni of Wellington 2009 came from.

  • derrida derider on January 23, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    The lack of a killer instinct in Indian teams is a product of subcontinental pitches. Dustbowls reward an ultraconservative approach with accurate, unvarying, offspin and defensive fields instead of gambling on something different. Sharp reversals of fortune are rarer on such pitches ones so captains are less prone to try for them.

    That's why I think Indian threats to retaliate for the green pitches they've faced in England and Australia recently are wrong (I'm Australian). It's not that they don't have a right to - it's just that it is really bad for INDIAN cricket. This team needs to show opponents that they are a threat on any surface. If they don't they can expect that they will live out their careers on pitches that have all been doctored in one direction or another. That robs the fans.

  • naresh28 on January 23, 2012, 0:23 GMT

    1-0 wins have certainly made us look less like champions when we were no1. India needs a new captain like 'Kholi' Time to change and build a new team around Kholi, Rohit and Yadav. One sad point we sometimes fail to mention is that we do not have good solid openers. We need one fast bowler like Atul Sharma.

  • Abhimanyu on January 22, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    Good article! The way India have been playing its cricket have been questioned many times. We the fans of Indian cricket are not blind, we can clearly see that India lacks intensity even when they are on top of an opponent. I would like to ask, any of you guys see this same problem in any of the IPL teams? I would like see our national team play with the same intensity they play with in the IPL.

  • Nish on January 22, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    Very good observations & totally frustrating for the millions of die-hard Indian fans! Generally our teams errs on the side of caution & that is why our position as the No 1 Test team was short-lived! Perhaps only Sehwag of the current team has the guts & belief to pick the gauntlet in willing to chase difficult targets to win!

  • Arny on January 22, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    Examples of meekness and pusilamanity abounds in Indian cricket history. Right from days of Sunny Gavaskar defensiveness has characterised Indian cricket. Ganguly's initial years hinted at change but that dissipated along with his form. However, Dhoni has taken defensivenn n n ess to a new level. Abondoning a game with 80 odd runs required was shocking, reverting to one day fields as soon as a batsman hits a ball in anger has characterised M S Dhoni' captaincy. Nottingham game last year was lost when instead of going for jugular with England at 120 odd for 8 , fields were spread when Broad hit couple of balls crisply. Bold changes and innovations either in team selections, bating order and field placements have been sorely missing. Team needs a radical overhaul starting with the captain. However, given BCCI's ostrich like attitude and absence of any long term from selectors, Indian fans should get ready for an extended period of mediocrity

    cement have

  • adam bayzer on January 22, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    indian players are only play well on their dead pitches. and indian media are too much appreciates their player.the actual player can play every pitches and perform well.it is very shameful for indian team that is the world cup champion and play this kind of game.

  • Sajil on January 22, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    Look at the Ranji final played today, Rajastan despite in an impregnable position from which they cannot lose, refused to go for an outright win when an innings victory is certain, instead they choose to bat second time and accumulate runs in obnoxious manner so that a few of their players can improve their first class batting average against already tired attack. These Ranji plyers when they got selected to team India carry the same mentality. For them individual achievement matters most, you can see this mentality from Gavaskar to Tendulkar. You would often see Tendulkar blocking ball after when reached in 90's while playing against team like Kenya, or Bangladesh on docile tracks. A real champion team does not stop after taking a one nil lead against weak team (Ag NZL). Also team India needs aggressive leaders like Border, Waugh, Imran, not timid Dhoni or Dravid.

  • longmemory on January 22, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    This article, along with Sambit Bal's comment in his, viz., "It isn't unusual for teams to look a bit ragged when the opposition piles up huge runs, but very few top teams can manage the look of utter desolation India acquire after a barren session" sums up the existential reality for Indian fans. As you point out, cerebral captains like Dravid and Kumble are equally guilty of running scared from both winning and losing. I think the reasons are pretty complex, but at least 2 stand out: first, the humongous expectations and hysterical reactions of Indian fans puts these guys under an unbelievable amount of pressure. We have no other sport to diffuse our energies. And second, our cricketers play cricket for a living. Tbey are mostly urban middle-class kids who have had safety-first drilled into them from day one. The tendency to sit on a lead and not push for more is part of that make up. I realize this is shoddy pop psychology but there is a germ of truth in it.

  • blessing... on January 22, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    Indian sides have always shown a lack of intensity,when the opposition is down they do not have the killer instinct to finish off the opposition.especially so under captain dhoni when under pressure he gets very defensive with his field placements

  • anil on January 22, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    This has been a civilizational reality; whether, it can be reversed in cricket is debatable. Cricket players are part and parcel of society and its adulation, which can border on worship. In this context, the only way to toughen the players is through the close finishes of limited overs cricket and T20 (read IPL). Test cricket may lose out, and it should not matter, as long as there is a niche area and the public is willing to go along with it.

  • Sri N on January 22, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Good analysis. They first blew their opportunity of becoming World number 1 in 2004 by not pushing hard enough in Sydney. Had India won in Sydney after scoring 700 runs, it would have been a rare case of an Indian team winning against the World #1 team of that time. India lost an opportunity to win a test series in Australia then as they did in 1986 when Australia was much weaker. The refusal of Indian skippers to take the match to the opposition, especially in the last tests of a series has been a very consistent feature over the years.

  • Bob on January 22, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Samir, there are very fair observations. I almost frustrating to be an Indian supporter. If this was club cricket rather than your national team, I am sure half the Indian supporters will jump ship.

    Ever since I am watching cricket, I have noticed this distinct lack of intensity in Indian criket from all levels. We have people in charge of BCCI's who have no real idea about cricket, you have coaches and former players who are defensive and shallow, and you have players and captains who lack intensity to make a tough sports team. You want to support teams which are tough and go head to head against other tough teams, even if they get beaten. You dont want teams that falls like a pack of cards and show no intensity.

  • raghav on January 22, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    its more evident when you see all the so called overseas series wins have been 1-0.. its been eons since we have won two tests in an overseas series.. we have never been aggressive enough to make a series win 2-0 3-0 etc once we get a lead we always try the safety first approach..

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  • raghav on January 22, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    its more evident when you see all the so called overseas series wins have been 1-0.. its been eons since we have won two tests in an overseas series.. we have never been aggressive enough to make a series win 2-0 3-0 etc once we get a lead we always try the safety first approach..

  • Bob on January 22, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Samir, there are very fair observations. I almost frustrating to be an Indian supporter. If this was club cricket rather than your national team, I am sure half the Indian supporters will jump ship.

    Ever since I am watching cricket, I have noticed this distinct lack of intensity in Indian criket from all levels. We have people in charge of BCCI's who have no real idea about cricket, you have coaches and former players who are defensive and shallow, and you have players and captains who lack intensity to make a tough sports team. You want to support teams which are tough and go head to head against other tough teams, even if they get beaten. You dont want teams that falls like a pack of cards and show no intensity.

  • Sri N on January 22, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Good analysis. They first blew their opportunity of becoming World number 1 in 2004 by not pushing hard enough in Sydney. Had India won in Sydney after scoring 700 runs, it would have been a rare case of an Indian team winning against the World #1 team of that time. India lost an opportunity to win a test series in Australia then as they did in 1986 when Australia was much weaker. The refusal of Indian skippers to take the match to the opposition, especially in the last tests of a series has been a very consistent feature over the years.

  • anil on January 22, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    This has been a civilizational reality; whether, it can be reversed in cricket is debatable. Cricket players are part and parcel of society and its adulation, which can border on worship. In this context, the only way to toughen the players is through the close finishes of limited overs cricket and T20 (read IPL). Test cricket may lose out, and it should not matter, as long as there is a niche area and the public is willing to go along with it.

  • blessing... on January 22, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    Indian sides have always shown a lack of intensity,when the opposition is down they do not have the killer instinct to finish off the opposition.especially so under captain dhoni when under pressure he gets very defensive with his field placements

  • longmemory on January 22, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    This article, along with Sambit Bal's comment in his, viz., "It isn't unusual for teams to look a bit ragged when the opposition piles up huge runs, but very few top teams can manage the look of utter desolation India acquire after a barren session" sums up the existential reality for Indian fans. As you point out, cerebral captains like Dravid and Kumble are equally guilty of running scared from both winning and losing. I think the reasons are pretty complex, but at least 2 stand out: first, the humongous expectations and hysterical reactions of Indian fans puts these guys under an unbelievable amount of pressure. We have no other sport to diffuse our energies. And second, our cricketers play cricket for a living. Tbey are mostly urban middle-class kids who have had safety-first drilled into them from day one. The tendency to sit on a lead and not push for more is part of that make up. I realize this is shoddy pop psychology but there is a germ of truth in it.

  • Sajil on January 22, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    Look at the Ranji final played today, Rajastan despite in an impregnable position from which they cannot lose, refused to go for an outright win when an innings victory is certain, instead they choose to bat second time and accumulate runs in obnoxious manner so that a few of their players can improve their first class batting average against already tired attack. These Ranji plyers when they got selected to team India carry the same mentality. For them individual achievement matters most, you can see this mentality from Gavaskar to Tendulkar. You would often see Tendulkar blocking ball after when reached in 90's while playing against team like Kenya, or Bangladesh on docile tracks. A real champion team does not stop after taking a one nil lead against weak team (Ag NZL). Also team India needs aggressive leaders like Border, Waugh, Imran, not timid Dhoni or Dravid.

  • adam bayzer on January 22, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    indian players are only play well on their dead pitches. and indian media are too much appreciates their player.the actual player can play every pitches and perform well.it is very shameful for indian team that is the world cup champion and play this kind of game.

  • Arny on January 22, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    Examples of meekness and pusilamanity abounds in Indian cricket history. Right from days of Sunny Gavaskar defensiveness has characterised Indian cricket. Ganguly's initial years hinted at change but that dissipated along with his form. However, Dhoni has taken defensivenn n n ess to a new level. Abondoning a game with 80 odd runs required was shocking, reverting to one day fields as soon as a batsman hits a ball in anger has characterised M S Dhoni' captaincy. Nottingham game last year was lost when instead of going for jugular with England at 120 odd for 8 , fields were spread when Broad hit couple of balls crisply. Bold changes and innovations either in team selections, bating order and field placements have been sorely missing. Team needs a radical overhaul starting with the captain. However, given BCCI's ostrich like attitude and absence of any long term from selectors, Indian fans should get ready for an extended period of mediocrity

    cement have

  • Nish on January 22, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    Very good observations & totally frustrating for the millions of die-hard Indian fans! Generally our teams errs on the side of caution & that is why our position as the No 1 Test team was short-lived! Perhaps only Sehwag of the current team has the guts & belief to pick the gauntlet in willing to chase difficult targets to win!