Knives are out for India Test team

Former players and media join growing criticism of national team after humiliating Test losses in Australia.

    India have come under intense criticism from former teammates after losing three Tests in ten days in Australia [AFP]

    Former India captains have called for tough measures to arrest the national team's alarming losing streak, which now extends to seven straight losses in Tests away from home.

    Former captain Sunil Gavaskar on Monday called for "a lot of soul-searching'', while another ex-skipper Sourav Ganguly said selectors must "change their policies'' and inject fresh talent into the team.

    On Sunday, India lost the third Test against Australia inside two and a half days, going down to a 3-0 series deficit.

    The lauded batting line-up, including the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS. Laxman, has struggled against Australia's pace attack.

    Poor form

    A loss in the upcoming fourth Test would make it consecutive 4-0 whitewashes in away Test series, having been dominated by England on a tour last year.

    "We have many thinkers of the game, who need to be brought together to ensure that India does not face the same situation it has in the past few Test matches,'' Gavaskar said.

    "The players too need to take a long, hard look at themselves. As batsmen, they need to look at the shots they played, as bowlers they need to see the length they bowled.''

    Ganguly, credited with several successes in away tours after taking over as skipper in 2000, called for an overhaul of the team.

    "It's important that a steady influx of fresh talent is maintained and, here, the selectors will have to change their policies,'' he wrote in his column in Hindustan Times.

    "They will have to take a tough stand on a lot of issues.''

    "The selection committee ... will be the focus of attention, and if it doesn't stand up to expectations, people in India and elsewhere will start losing faith and that will be very harmful for the sport in the country. "

    - Sourav Ganguly

    "The selection committee, headed by Kris Srikkanth, will be the focus of attention, and if doesn't stand up to expectations, people in India and elsewhere will start losing faith and that will be very harmful for the sport in the country.''

    The brickbats also flowed in for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, especially for his failure with the bat, after scoring only 106 runs in six innings in Australia.

    He is suspended for the final Test in Adelaide due to repeated instances of slow over rates.

    "With his technique, I don't see Dhoni can score runs overseas. He has a strong bottom hand and is good on the subcontinent, where the ball does not bounce much. Of course, he will still get the odd scores because of his great eye and bat speed,'' Gavaskar said.

    Former middle-order batsman Sanjay Manjrekar felt Dhoni was only struggling along with others.

    "Dhoni looking really down on confidence as a batsman...pity for India is that he has a few others for company,'' Manjrekar wrote on his twitter page.

    Profit warning

    Even as newspapers and television channels continued to dissect India's poor performances abroad, The Times of India warned in article that declining television ratings and three-day Tests could hit profits for stake holders like television channels and sponsors.

    "If eyeballs move away from cricket over a period of time, the value of the game will depreciate. Every stakeholder will lose and it will pull the game down the value chain,'' it quoted ESPN-Star Sports' head of sales Sanjay Kailash as saying.

    The Indian board is looking for a new domestic telecast partner after cancelling its contract with Nimbus Sports over payment issues.

    But the Board of Control for Cricket in India president Narainswamy Srinivasan brushed aside the team's recent struggles, boldly declaring that Australia was only winning because of home advantage, and would lose in India.

    "England won 4-0 in England (in a Test series against India). They came here within a month or two and they lost 5-0 (in one-dayers). After our loss to England, I had said that we will beat them when they visit India,'' Srinivasan said.

    "Next New Zealand is coming to India and it will be followed by England and Australia. We will beat these three teams on our own soil. They cannot beat us here, and we will feel very happy.''

    The final Test of the ongoing series will be held in Adelaide from January 24.



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