SRINAGAR: There is something very magnetic that binds fans strongly to their favourite sport and sportspersons. It gives them of an uncanny sense of their team or a player for that matter, can overcome any adversity or opposition. It is hope that gives even a lifeless life a meaning and same holds true for sport and its fans.
But, law of averages does overpower hope at certain point of time as well. Jammu and Kashmir cricket fans got to realize that thanks to their side’s insipid show in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy 2014. Not a single game was won and familiar frailties came back to haunt J&K yet again, returning home nothing to show off after having done so very well in four-day cricket.
A historic last eight stages’ berth that saw Parvez Rasool led side play some consistently good cricket had fans delirious and a much needed revival, it appeared, in J&K cricket-that has nothing noteworthy to write home about- was round the corner.
For, J&K had made it to the Ranji quarters after fashioning some terrific rearguards and won a couple of games from tricky situations. Fighting spirit to go with players-young and experienced- gelling together to perform as a unit had everyone in awe of J&K cricket team.
Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association-the custodians of the sport in the state-market the Ranji Trophy success as a landmark achievement and didn’t stop praising the team and the management. And, players, on their part (deservedly so), did appear a happy bunch with their biggest performance on the field yet.
For cricket followers, J&K cricket resurgence had started. But, it wasn’t to be. J&K failed to replicate their four-day cricket form in the 50-over format, losing all their fixtures to take wooden spoon in the north zone leg of Vijay Hazare Trophy.
The team looked a shadow of the side that was on a roll in Ranji Trophy. Batters failed big time, bowlers lacked the required penetration and decade’s old saga of “biased” selection surfaced.
Majority of batsmen that were on the show in Vijay Hazare Trophy turned out to be passengers, averaging under 20 with uninspiring strike rates. Hardeep Singh and Bandeep Singh were the only ones amongst runs contributing 120 and 158 respectively. The batting unit failed to get going against the bowling attacks that were having more venom and quality that they faced in Ranji Trophy.
The game against Delhi was a case of bowling doing well against a Gautam Gambhir led formidable batting lineup before batsmen squandered the advantage. Punjab literally rolled over J&K with an eight wicket victory and even against lesser teams, the side failed to find a winning mojo.
Save for skipper Parvez Rasool who pocketed ten wickets at a decent economy of 4.64 per over, bowling unit which was so terrific in Ranji Trophy couldn’t make an impression. All the frontline bowlers (barring Parvez and Ram Dayal) conceded more than five runs an over and had nothing substantial to show in the wicket’ column.
Over the seasons, J&K have hardly won a 50-over cricket game and it was their third season running where they failed to win a single game. And, the trend didn’t alter this time around as well.
Off the field controversies returned to hit team badly. At the time of squad announcement, many players accused the selection committee of choosing players of their respective clubs than having merit. And, during the course of the campaign at Delhi one of the players who didn’t get a game on the tour had a scuffle with head coach Qayoom Bagaw, indicating all the good work done during Ranji Trophy was undone by the familiar selection dramas. So, J&K cricket was back to what it is used to : occupying the bottom place in their group and raising a set of questions that have left been unanswered with each party passing the buck.
Success in the Ranji Trophy was owned by one and all and failure in Vijay Hazare Trophy seems to have gone unnoticed. Players and team management need to answer the sorry show that has pegged J&K cricket back to where it was.
Didn’t perform well at crucial moment: Parvez Rasool
For J&K skipper Parvez Rasool, terrible show in the Vijay Hazare Trophy was due of his side’s lack of performing at the crucial junctures.
“I think we didn’t play all that badly as result show. We fought well in every game, but were hurt badly when we couldn’t play better in pressure situations. If we see scorecards, we had some crucial run outs at important stages of the game that resulted in the losses. Yes we could have performed well, but now we need to concentrate on T20s and make sure we are fully prepared for the event,” said Parvez.
‘Didn’t have enough match practice’
Jammu and Kashmir head coach Abdul Qayoom Bagow attributes the losses to lack of “enough match practice” in buildup to the tournament.
“We had a couple of trial matches, but that wasn’t enough preparation. We had a tour to Pune before the start of Ranji Trophy that kept boys in good shape, but for Vijay Hazare we clearly lacked match practice that showed in the performance,” said Qayoom.
We won’t tolerate indiscipline: JKCA
Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association has made it clear players who disrupt the environment of the dressing room will be dealt strictly. It also said it would do a post mortem of team’s poor show in one-day format.
“Coach and team management have filed their versions about the scuffle (between a player and coach) and we are looking into the matter. We are in no mood to tolerate indiscipline,” said JKCA treasurer Manzoor Wazoor, “We are obviously disappointed with the way team performed after doing so well in Ranji Trophy. We will have be reviewing the team performance and try to find out what went wrong.”