Sir — Though India are the current world champions in one day international cricket, their dismal series loss to Pakistan made the nation hang its head in shame (“Flop show at Eden”, Jan 4). Television promos before the series featured the captain of the Indian team, M.S. Dhoni, confidently saying, “Aane do (let them come)”, as though beating Pakistan would be a cakewalk for India. But Pakistan proved to be a better ODI side than India. Their victory at the Eden Gardens in Calcutta was the result of a superb team effort. The Pakistani opener, Nasir Jamshed, and the young spinner, Junaid Khan, made a huge difference to their team’s fortunes. No Indian batsman played Khan with confidence. Dhoni’s batting in both the ODI matches against Pakistan was praiseworthy, but his captaincy raised eyebrows.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India really needs to think about how India’s performances can be improved. The Indian openers and the team’s middle order — including Virat Kohli, who seems to be more interested in appearing in advertisements than in playing cricket — need to be revamped. The team also needs a better coach than Duncan Fletcher. The truth is that the players will perform better if their privileges and their participation in the Indian Premier League are curtailed.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad
Sir — Yet again, the Indian cricket team surrendered meekly against Pakistan in the recent ODI series. These defeats come in a long line of losses that include the loss of the Test series against England. A serious restructuring is required in the composition of the Indian team in all three formats of the game. The BCCI also needs to introspect whether, in its greed to fill its coffers, it is making the players play too much cricket. There was actually no need for Pakistan to tour India at this time. The Indian team needed as much rest as the English players wanted before the upcoming India-England ODI series. This rest would have given India time to think about its game and perhaps put up a better show against England. But now, it will not be surprising if India suffers a whitewash in the upcoming ODI matches. The BCCI needs to realize that it is doing nothing to help India’s rankings in the game.
Instead of the India-Pakistan matches, serious lovers of the game would perhaps have preferred to watch the ongoing Australia-Sri Lanka or the South Africa-New Zealand Test series on television since these would have offered better cricket viewing with less excuses being offered for bad performances.
However, critics of M.S. Dhoni’s captaincy ought to note that he has performed better than anyone else in his side against Pakistan. As far as encouraging sporting ties with Pakistan is concerned, this series should not have been played because Pakistan has done nothing to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice.
S. Kamat, Bardez, Goa
Sir — The Indian cricket team has lost dismally to both England and Pakistan. With the pitches appearing more sinister than ever for Indian players, even the advantage of playing at home seems to be turning into a handicap. Visiting teams are excelling on pitches ‘tailor-made’ for the hosts; the Indian players are finding it difficult to negotiate the spin and pace generated from these pitches. India proved that it is the only team that does not do well even at home. Is it possible that in a country of over a billion people, genuine all-rounders and world-class bowlers cannot be found? India has a penchant for blaming the captain — in this case, M.S. Dhoni — for the team’s failures. But this time, it was Dhoni alone who performed well against Pakistan. The national selectors have a lot to answer for. The team was burdened with ageing players. In order to keep cricket flourishing in India, the team needs options. It cannot have the same players appearing in every format of the game. There should also be different captains for the three formats.
Pachu Menon, Margao, Goa
Sir — M.S. Dhoni’s half-century against Pakistan in Calcutta was a selfish innings. He did not move himself up the batting order when the team needed it. Even when the ninth wicket fell, he should have tried to hit a few sixes, thus throwing the bowler off-balance. Instead he played the game as though it were a Test match.
India may have lost anyway, but they should have gone down fighting. Dhoni wasn’t trying to win. He just wanted to score his 50, so that he could cement his place in the team.
Soumyadeep Bhattacharjee, Guwahati