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India’s work ethic has been abysmal: Sunny

- ‘Business of optional practice has to be thrown out of the window’
Virat Kohli

Calcutta: For many, the two back-to-back defeats that India suffered in the ongoing Asia Cup, in Bangladesh, were close contests which could have gone either way. Not much to criticise then, many would say.

But Sunil Gavaskar has different views. The former India captain has analysed the larger picture and has come down heavily on the Indian team, criticising their poor work ethic.

Both the matches, against Sri Lanka and Pakistan respectively, were decided in the last overs.

While Lanka beat India by two wickets and four balls to spare, Pakistan stole a one-wicket victory with just two balls to spare. India’s only win so far has come against Bangladesh and chances of the Virat Kohli-led team qualifying for the final are remote. This comes after India’s poor outings in South Africa and New Zealand.

Gavaskar, while speaking to a news channel, tore into the Indian players’ work ethic. “India’s work ethic has been absolutely abysmal… On the eve of one of the biggest matches, that is India versus Pakistan, only two players turned up for practice,” he said.

Gavaskar was referring to India’s match-eve optional practice session on Saturday when only Cheteshwar Pujara and Varun Aaron sweated it out at the nets while the others remained in their hotel rooms.

Hitting out at the practice of having optional practice sessions, Gavaskar said: “This business of ‘optional practice’ has to be thrown out of the window. What is optional practice? Everyone was looking forward to this match…

“I do understand that there was a game the day before (against Sri Lanka) and that some of the players could have got tired limbs.

“I can excuse Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli for they had done well in the last match, but there was no real excuse for the others to miss practice.”

While Dhawan made 94 against Lanka, Kohli contributed with a 48-run innings. Kohli also has a century from India’s first match, against Bangladesh.

Gavaskar feels that such poor work ethic has let the Indian team down. “Once this business of optional practice is there, everybody will want to skip practice.

“Young Stuart Binny and (yet-to-debut) Ishwar Pandey could have gone to practice. This has been the problem for the last two-three years… This has let Indian cricket down,” he said.

Slamming the Indian cricketers further, he added: “You have to practice… You may not practice for four hours, but what about going to the ground in the evening and practising batting under the lights? It can be a two or two-and-a-half-hour session.

“You are here (in Bangladesh) not to be in your hotel rooms or in shops, you are here to represent India — this is something that the team management has not been saying for the last two-three years. It has been a disappointing aspect and it explains why the Indian cricket team has not won anything big in the last couple of years apart from the Champions Trophy.”

Gavaskar, however, had words of encouragement for stand-in captain Kohli. According to him, considering this is the first major tournament where Kohli is captaining the Indian team, he hasn’t done a bad job.

“For somebody who is captaining in a major tournament for the first time, I would say Kohli has done well. He has shown promise and hasn’t been afraid to think out-of-the-box. So I don’t think Kohli has done badly as a captain.”

He also criticised the team management for not playing Amit Mishra in the first two games of the tournament. “Only the team management can answer why they didn’t play Mishra in the first two matches… Mishra hasn’t got chances despite others not performing too well…

“A leggie needs long spells, he needs his captain to have confidence in him… Only then will he not be afraid to give the ball a little bit of air. The team management has a lot to answer for,” Gavaskar said.