We live in an era when computer simulation,
personality mapping, psycho-analysis and several
other drills to break and rationalise every single
twitch or move have become the order of the day. It
is therefore surprising that the otherwise
technically savvy Indian team spin doctors are
talking about jinxes.
Alternately this could be the madness of their
method. After all they have already flirted with
numerology. The skipper, for one, tried a couple of
different numbers on the back of his shirt but
ended up with the same result -defeat. Who knows
the spin doctors may yield to witch doctors and
vaastu or jadoo or some other mumbo-jumbo.
The bottom line, however is that there is a serious
flaw in the big-match temperament of our big boys -
and it shows in their and the team's performance in
Just consider the facts, in the last 10 finals that
India have appeared in, they have won just one -
the Nat West Series final against England at Lord's
in 2002. The rest have been a disaster with India
losing seven and two matches declared no result. In
terms of probability, this means that India will
lose in the finals 70 per cent of the time and have
a mere ten per cent chance of winning!
Of course this is shocking, but then statistics
often have a tale to tell. And the tales they tell
of India playing in finals are not very pretty or
The problem with the Indian team is its so called
strength -the batting. Nobody disputes the terrific
abilities of its main batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar,
Virendra Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly.
But when it comes to playing in a final their
record, collectively and individually, is dismal.
Tendulkar has such an aura that he is veritably the
holy cow of Indian cricket. Nobody criticises him.
Not the selectors, not the board, not the media.
But look at his abysmal run of scores in the last
10 finals: 74, 27, 8, 45, 4, 7, 14, 17, 0, 5. He
has just one score of above 50 in 10 innings. And
even that 74 against Sri Lanka in the recent Asia
Cup finals came in a very unlike Tendulkar fashion
- off 100 balls.
Dravid, the pillar of Indian batting, has done
marginally better than the others. But his showing
too is disappointing in finals. His string of
scores in finals is 16, 0, 12, 49, 47, 5, 77, 21,
30, and 22. Sehwag, on whom the team depends for
explosive starts, has seldom come good in finals.
His last 10 scores read 5, 12, 3, 5, 8, 82, 25, 13,
45, and 34.
The skipper Ganguly fares the worst among these top
four batsmen of Indian cricket. His aggregate is a
mere 149 runs from the last 10 finals. His scores
read 4, 3, 6, 11, 24, 60, 9, 1, 28, and 3.
The aggregate of Tendulkar, Dravid and Sehwag in
the last 10 finals reads 201, 279 and 232
respectively. If those totals are divided by 10
(the number of innings they played), the average
score in the last 10 finals would make pathetic
reading against their overall career average.
Obviously there is too vast a chasm between the
performances of these four batsmen in finals and in
their career record. There is not a shred of doubt
about their batting ability or talent. But
certainly their temperament in finals comes into
question. Perhaps the sheer pressure from
expectations of the millions of Indians, or the
magnitude of the finals itself seem to be defeating
these four again and again. Their inability to
raise the level of their game for the finals is the
most worrying aspect of the Indian team. And unless
they do whatever it takes to get some sort of huge
scores in finals victories for the Indian team will
continue to be rarer than a hen's teeth.
It would be interesting to note that all the four
batsmen have just one score of above 50 in the last
10 finals. A random comparison with three other top
batsmen in international cricket puts in proper
perspective the failures of the Indian quartet and
the inability of the team to win finals.
World champions Australia's skipper Ricky Ponting
has a tremendous record in finals: 4, 88, 36, 140,
1, 29, 35, 63, 33, and 78. That is one huge century
and three other scores of over 50 and an aggregate
of 444 runs. Is it any wonder that Australia have
won the last 9 finals, with the other one being
Master blaster Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka has a
stupendous record: 15, 0, 74, 71, 19, 64, 34, 99,
70, and 189. He has one huge century and five
scores of above 50! His aggregate is a whopping
635. Sri Lanka, thus have won six of their last
finals, lost just two and have had two no-results.
Even Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq has a good record:
0, 12, 28, 23, 3, 72, 39, 4, 66, and 53. That is
three scores of above 50 and an aggregate of 301.
Pakistan themselves have won six finals, lost three
with one no-result.
It is obvious from the statistics that India's top
four batsmen, Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag and Ganguly
need to fire in the finals too if the forthcoming
season of one-dayers is to bring any joy to the
multitudes of enthusiastic Indian supporters. To
that end the coach, psychologist, motivator or
skipper needs to pull the right levers. Otherwise
even at the end of the year there will be more talk
of jinxes, bad luck, numerology ..