Virat Kohli’s young team has showed potential, it deserves a long rope.
Like all losses, the one on Sunday, to Pakistan, rankled. Probably more so this time. For, Shahid Afridi’s heist-pulling assault at Mirpur not only brought back dark memories of Javed Miandad’s six-hitting Houdini act in Sharjah almost 30 years earlier. It also meant India had been knocked out of the Asia Cup.
On the face of it, the early departure will seem catastrophic, especially considering the Indian team’s poor run of late. Many will write them off, call for wholesale changes. But those running Indian cricket would be better off acknowledging that this is a team in transition, and one that should be persisted with. Reversals of this nature should be expected.
The selectors must opt for continuity over knee-jerk reactions, however tempting. India did lose to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But they came close in both encounters, dragging the matches to the last over, despite not having their inspirational skipper M.S. Dhoni around. When they won the World Cup in 2011, the Indian team regularly stepped out with playing XI’s that possessed a collective experience of nearly 1000 ODIs. The squad in Bangladesh only had three players with more than 100 matches to their credit, with captain Virat Kohli the senior-most. The average age of the team was 27.
Ajinkya Rahane scored crucial runs in Bangladesh while Ambati Rayudu displayed his big-match temperament in scoring a half-century against Pakistan. Ravindra Jadeja seems to be improving with every outing. The bowling may have come under heavy fire but Mohammed Shami showed the knack of taking wickets in all conditions.
As the tournament progressed, even R. Ashwin improved. Despite their prodigious talent, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid weren’t overnight sensations. They didn’t score their maiden ODI tons till their 79th and 35th matches respectively. They came of age because they were given a long rope. Kohli’s young team deserves the same.