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Sports

June 30, 2006

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Chappell under pressure as India stutter in West Indies

Chappell under pressure as India stutter in West Indies
NEW DELHI: India’s cricket chiefs are losing patience with coach Greg Chappell over his team’s failure to clinch a Test win on what is proving a forgettable West Indies tour.

With the fourth and final Test starting in Jamaica on Friday, Chappell will be under close scrutiny as he attempts to conjure an Indian victory to break the 0-0 deadlock in the series.

India have had little to celebrate on what was touted as an easy tour against Brian Lara’s home team which is only above wooden-spooners Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the official rankings.

Rahul Dravid’s men not only slumped to an embarrassing 1-4 defeat in the one-dayers, but also were unable to secure victory in the first three Tests despite pinning the hosts against the ropes each time.

“This tour promised a lot but has delivered little,” a senior cricket official said on Thursday. “It needs to be assessed how much we have progressed in the last one year.”

India failed to win the first Test by one wicket and were deprived of a certain victory in the second Test when the fourth day’s play was washed out. They had a chance to win the third, but chose to play it safe and settle for a draw after needing 149 at a run-a-ball with six wickets in hand.

Chappell, the former Australian captain who this month completed the first year of his two-year stint as coach, will be aware that only a win in the final Test will satisfy fans and critics.

India has won just one of its last six Tests and three of its last 13, all of them at home.

“It offers irrefutable evidence that Team India does not have what it takes to win Test matches,” wrote veteran cricket writer Ramaswamy Mohan in the Asian Age newspaper. “The point is it takes more than an Aussie coach to inculcate the winning habit. We don’t have the fire in the belly to be very good at Test cricket.”

A 1-0 loss to Pakistan in February and a 1-1 draw against second-string England at home in March left fans frustrated. And India has not won a major Test series outside the Sub-continent since 1986.

Former great Kapil Dev slammed Chappell for suggesting that young seamer Irfan Pathan was dropped for two Test matches because he was low on confidence. “It is the job of the team management to help the player regain his confidence and not destroy it by harping on his low points,” Kapil told reporters here. “The success of any team is based on how confident the players are. But if that confidence is broken the team is bound to fail and I think that is what has happened to India in the West Indies.”

The outspoken Chappell, who forced former captain Sourav Ganguly out of the squad at the start of his term, prefers to gloss over the crisis. “I have said many times before that winning and losing is not the most important thing,” media reports quoted him as saying in Jamaica. “It’s something that keeps the wolves at bay but the important thing is that we keep improving with each game. And I think we have.”

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