Imagined Reactions of Past Indian Captains on being Forced to Lead Depleted Bowling Attacks

Four tests as the skipper so far, thrice victorious, still unbeaten. Surely those three wins were delivered by bowling predators. It becomes a habit, captaining the side boasting of a vicious attack. Today morning, at Woolloongabba, Ajinkya Rahane found himself leading a pack of fit herbivores in cricketing terms, bowlers without much bounce, swing, speed, spin, sting and spite. None of them is experienced enough in the game of hunting, played in white flannels;  in fact two out of the five warriors are debutants, and killing kangaroos is a dangerous sport, requiring a lot of skill, patience and guile. Beaten, bruised, shamed Kangaroos at that! Lots of hooting and screeching had occurred during the last outing at Sydney, and after. Now suddenly, the visiting hunters find themselves devoid of men and firepower, while the wallaroos and wallabies are well-rested, fit and regrouped. Yet, not a frown grazed Rahane’s face as he marshalled his bowlers on the opening day of the decider. Takes a special man to do that, someone who is capable of absorbing the pressure, and is willing to play with whatever cards have been dealt.

I know what MSD would have done with this attack- placed one slip, sent the rest on boundaries, set as defensive field as was possible and waited for batsmen to commit mistakes, wait for the eventual declaration and faced with a deluge, asked bowlers to bowl defensive/ negative line. In short, allowed the game to drift. But he would not have forgotten to put on the Captain Cool mask. Even if he had, his fan brigade would have found him Cool.

Dada would have found the situation too tough to negotiate, and declared himself unfit on the morning of the toss. One can always find Nagpur in Brisbane. Grass is green, blue moods remain blue and chickens cluck before being culled in every continent. “What? No Zak, Anil, Bhajji in the side? My tummy is having a bad day, sorry. Jammy, your baby, please! Best of luck.”

Jammy, being Jammy, would have led with a lot of fortitude and insight, but would have made a heavy work of leading business. It would have taken a toll on his demeanour,  which have turned more intense, if it were possible, and eventually would have affected his batting in the test. The match would have been lost, no one would have expected a win or a draw anyways and Jammy would have gained further points in the eyes of his fans and historians for fighting a losing battle with a depleted side. These points have now assumed menacing edges so much so that even the simple acts of batting, keeping, leading have been accorded the status of performing national service.  “Sachin batted for himself, Jammy for a cause. Dada led for glory, Jammy led out of duty. Dhoni kept to remain in the side, Jammy kept for the nation.” Fans remain fans, worshippers transmogrify into a mob of bigots!

Kohli would have been utterly excitable, sprinkling liberal doses of mc-bc-bk-mc-bc-bk even before a couple of overs were bowled, and kept berating every bowler, fielder, batsmen, their mothers and sisters in the process. But he would never have abused their wives, because Virat Mayur Kohli loves and respects wives. He has already inspired a generation of youth on how to love, respect and adore spouses. Goes without saying that he would have batted out of his skin to make something of the test, but would have put so much pressure on the other batsmen to dominate bowlers that they would have faltered.

Sachin would have held the bowl, gave long lectures to bowlers before every over, and in the middle of them, made super elaborate brilliant plans only which only he could visualize, would have been failed by the bowlers first, then by fielders spilling catches, and eventually would have taken the ball in his own hands again, this time for himself to bowl. He would have taken a wicket or two on this Gabba Day One wicket, but the side would have been out of the test already.

Azhar would have shrugged his shoulders and said come on boys, come on, Let us do it. “Oy Siraj, line pe rakh. Dekh square khelega, dekh ke. Oy Chepu, ab kisko den.” Gill might have stepped forward and asked to bowl an over against the run of play. Since no one else would have been interested in bowling or venturing any opinion, he would have bowled too. A star might have been born.

Anil Kumble would have opened the bowling, bowled nearly half the overs, injured his finger, or his shoulder, or his jaw, bowled further on despite the pain, with blood oozing out of his wounds, inspired his team-mates, put up a fight and made a fight of of it without making any excuse. But the batting superstars would have let him down. His professorial advice on safe batting and running, pitch and most importantly, weather, would have irked them and  led them to rebel against the greatest of match-winners, and possible sanest of test captains.

Back to Rahane, who is doing a brave job leading an attack of Siraj (3rd test), Shardul (2nd), Saini (2nd), Washington Sundar and Natrajan ( both 1st). At the end of Day One, we are still in the game with Oz getting 274 runs for the loss of five wickets, despite dropping regulation catches. Let us not forget that Rahane has already led depleted bowling attacks twice in consecutive matches-after Umesh Yadav had hobbled out in Melbourne, and Jadu could not bowl in the second innings at Sydney. Here is hoping that Rahane turns out to be luckier than Anil, calmer than Kohli, braver than Dada, more eager than MSD, more practical than Tendulkar, more involved than Azhar and lesser of a tragic figure than Jammy, and keep his zero-loss record intact.

#rahane #kumble #kohli #msd #sachin #ganguly #azhar #dravid

#gabba #indiaaustralia #Siraj #washingtonsundar

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