Indian cricket in disarray on and off the pitch

Troubling signs for team and cricket board in World Cup year

India captain Hardik Pandya is bowled by West Indies' Alzarri Joseph during their second T20 in Guyana. AP
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For the second match in a row, India fell short in a low-scoring game on a difficult pitch against the West Indies.

Some might not want to read too much into India’s two-wicket defeat in the second T20 in Guyana, or the four-run loss in the opening game of the five-match series. There is, after all, little immediate context to the series as all teams are preparing for the ODI Cup World in India in October-November.

However, what is happening in Indian cricket in this period is a perfect reflection of the state of affairs, on and off the pitch.

On the field, India are being outplayed by the Caribbean side. They were blown away in the second match in the preceding ODI leg by the Windies – a team that had failed to even qualify for the upcoming World Cup. India bounced back to win the 50-over series 2-1 but the cracks in the team had been exposed.

In the T20 series, a disjointed batting line-up, average bowling attack and long tail created a perfect recipe for disaster. The Indians would have lost both T20s even more convincingly, had it not been for some promising batting by debutant Tilak Varma (39 and 51).

Hardik Pandya is the captain of the team and his decision to play four bowlers who can only put bat to ball in a T20 game is a glaring error, especially since he is the de facto captain of India’s future white-ball teams.

Also, not bowling leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to tailenders after he had picked up two proper batsmen in one over during the West Indies’ chase on Sunday is one of the most inexplicable decisions you will see this year. India lost the second T20 with one over to spare – that of Chahal.

And it’s not like India can just brush the results aside as it is a ODI World Cup year. The T20 World Cup takes place in the Caribbean in June next year, which means they have far less time to sort out the mess they find themselves in than they might think.

Off the field, the Indian cricket board is also not covering itself in glory. The World Cup is just two months away and tickets for it have still not been made available. Pakistan’s matches in Ahmedabad against India and against England in Kolkata could still be rescheduled as authorities are worried about adequate security measures owing to local festivals on match day.

The local festivals in question – navaratri in Ahmedabad kali puja in Kolkata – are some of the biggest in India. That the BCCI did not factor them in while finalising the World Cup schedule is inexcusable.

Add it to the fact that the Indian board left scheduling and ticketing issues to linger on for this long, and you get a whiff of indifference mixed with arrogance.

And to top it all, the BCCI decided to resurface major host centres just months before the World Cup – during the monsoon season.

A few years back, you could guarantee a competitive Indian team on the field in any format, with talent and aggression to match the seemingly endless financial power of its board. You could also blindly trust the Indian board to host a big cricket event under any circumstance and that too without a glitch.

Now the team can’t even get the best bowler of the day to complete his overs, while board can't be trusted to even provide tickets in time.

Updated: August 07, 2023, 1:01 PM