India in West Indies 2006 May 30, 2006

Defeat is part of the learning curve - Holding

Michael Holding



Poor shot selection led to india's downfall says Holding © Getty Images

It's been a long time coming, so I guess being a West Indian, I share the joy of people of my region. It's a series triumph which nobody had foreseen, certainly not by a 4-1 margin.

It adds to the zing if you remember that in the last nine or 10 matches West Indies have won, Brian Lara has contributed only one half-century. For long, people have held that this team cannot do without Lara's hand. Now others too are beginning to make a difference.

I would not rush to say this team is a world-beater yet, but certainly they have men who can perform more than just one role. There are a growing number of allrounders in the side and senior batsmen are putting up their hands more often. The string of wins is beginning to bring the best out of these guys.

I have watched this Indian team from close quarters in the last few months and I can sense the disappointment of millions of their fans. There is now a pointed concern if they have gone about preparing for the World Cup in not the most ideal way.

I personally feel that looking at the World Cup at this stage could complicate things. India needs to worry about the forthcoming Tests and not lose sleep over a tournament which is still nine months away.

India needs to look at the balance of its Test side. I worry if they have the right blend of youth and experience and whether they could pull it off. It would be a major cause to cherish if Rahul Dravid's men emerge victorious in Tests. It still is the booty which is closest to cricketers' hearts.

The win in Tests could also restore the sense of well-being in this side. This is the one-day side which has been the toast of the nation in the past few months and there is no reason why they cannot still be the darling of the masses. But they need to do a few things differently than they have been doing at home.

It is not a major ask. If you are a good cricketer, you should be able to make that sort of adjustment. Otherwise, perhaps you were not good enough in the first place.

I can understand if the bowlers' find themselves at their wits' end in these games because you cannot overnight find an alternative to seam and swing which these conditions do not support. But there is no excuse for the batsmen. These are still slow wickets and they ought to find a way of manoeuvring the ball rather than attack it all the time.

This, I think, has been the most disappointing aspect of the Indian team on this tour. It might be unfair to pick on somebody like Suresh Raina who is young and undeniably talented but, for the second game running, he perished trying to play that stupid shot. He came in in a situation when, just by pushing the singles in the gaps, India could have come closer to victory.

In that sense, even Harbhajan Singh cannot escape the blame. He had brought India into a situation where, if the eighth-wicket pair had continued to pick its singles and brought the matter to a head in the final two overs, India would have been deemed favourites. Instead, he tried a mighty loft when a long off fielder was perfectly positioned for such indiscretion.

Still, I would say that India has missed the experience of someone like VVS Laxman on this trip. India needed men who could play long innings and experience is the key in such issues. Laxman is the kind of batsman who can work the ball around and consolidate the score without having to take recourse to big, indiscreet hitting. He is like Rahul Dravid in this regard.

If India wants to be positive in this defeat, they can look at it as part of the learning curve. Defeats are only terminal if you do not have the mettle and I do not think that is the case with these young Indian boys.

Men with less talent and weak minds can be shattered by setbacks but in the Dhonis and Rainas, the Sreesanths and Pathans, hopefully, that is not a worry.

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