India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have not had the distinction of bagging the top slot in the One Day International (ODI) cricket now for the last 17 years with India last achieving the number one rank in August 1995.
However, the bigger worry going by current performance of cricketers from the sub-continent it is highly unlikely that the top slot is achievable in the near future. While strike bowlers from the region have turned increasingly wayward, star batsmen have chosen to embrace zero as the new elixir of life.
A Zee Research Group (ZRG) study of all ODI matches played during 2012 until 21 August 2012 unravels that out of 39 batsmen dismissed on golden duck, 25 were from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. So far in this year, maximum seven batsmen from Sri Lanka got out without troubling the scorers followed by two each from India and Pakistan. The previous year, out of 114 batsmen that got out without scoring, 58 were from the sub-continent; a dithering performance from the region that even seems to have failed the proverbial truth of cricket being a game of glorious uncertainties.
Cricket invokes national fervor but in this case cricketers get caught in the sub-continent pride as they seek to defend the falling performance. First defense: sub-continent cricket has entered the transformation era. Former India opening batsman Chetan Chauhan said, “It is never easy to fill the boots of players like Saurav Ganguly, Inzamam- ul- haq, Sanath Jayasuriya, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid.”
Former India wicketkeeper, Surinder Khanna endorses Chauhan’s point: “Obviously a team has to go through the struggle for few years when a legend retires.” His other argument: not many matches have been played during the year in the sub-continent leading to a rather poor performance (home grounds have traditionally been favorite slots for amassing runs).
While batting is an area of concern, the bowling capability from the region too is anything but accurate. During 2012 bowlers from the sub-continent conceded half of the extra runs in one day matches. Out of 957 extra runs conceded by all International bowlers during the year, 578 were from the bowlers of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh put together. Interestingly, out of total 502 wide- balls bowled this year, 292 came from the arms of bowlers of neighbouring countries. Moreover, in out of 59 no-balls bowled, 20 were delivered by sub-continental bowlers.
The 1996 world cup winning team Sri Lanka tops the chart with 339 runs conceded in extras following by India and Pakistan with 120 and 99 runs respectively. Bangladesh, however, conceded only 20 runs as extras. In 2011, extras conceded by sub- continent bowlers were 379 out of 1084 which is pretty low in comparison to this year.
Former India all-rounder and member of the 1983 world cup team, Madan Lal believes, all the Asian cricket teams are lacking consistency in all departments. “To win matches and to go on the top a team requires intimidating fast bowlers with backing of some good spinners. With the available resources, it would be difficult for any sub-continent team to aim for the top spot in near future.”
Chauhan, however hopes that any Asian team can reach to the top in next two years. “Cricket is like a cycle where one thing repeats after sometime. The best days for fast blowers were between 1975 and 1990 when all teams produced great pace bowlers. If they continue their hard work, any sub continent team can really reach on the top in next two years” he said.
Wicketkeeper Khanna recommends changing the way South Asian cricket boards treat their bowlers. He suggested, “If we need better results we need to respect cricket and for that we need to reduce the number of matches we play. We should also give proper rest to the bowlers so they can be fit for the big games.” (Zee)