For over two decades it has been hard to imagine an Indian team without Sachin in it. Even before the skipper’s name, it would perhaps be Sachin’s name that would be penciled in on the team sheet. He has been the greatest cricketer to walk this planet for nearly a century. But soon we have to come to terms with the reality that Sachin is, despite his God like status, a human and is ageing like one.
It could be year or two or perhaps three before he retires. But it seems destined to happen sooner than later. Despite being one of the better performers for India in the last two tours, he will himself admit that his performances have been far off the mark when compared to the high standards that he has achieved in his career.
But we can’t wait till he retires to figure out if we have someone who can, even in partially, fill the huge gap that will be created by his absence. But how do you drop the man who won you the World Cup less than a year back. You can’t even rest him against top quality opposition to test the replacements as you know you need him to win. At least that is a mental block that India has been living with. They don’t have the belief to win without Sachin.
The CB series has provided the team with a great chance to test the water of a life without Sachin. With plenty of matches against top opponents, this gives MSD the chance to rest Sachin and let the team experience life without him, without risking the chance of qualification for the finals.
That is exactly what has happened in the name of the newly invented rotation policy of Team India. For the match against Australia today, India rested Sachin and brought Sehwag back in. This rotation has also ensured that Sehwag and Gautam, both having produced indifferent performances so far, realize that they cannot take their spot in the side for granted.
It is too early to say that it made a difference but it did appear that they were playing with a bit more responsibility. No wonder India managed to put up a fifty stand. But then Sehwag fell to an innocuous delivery that did not deserve a wicket. But that is a part of his game, not a good part mind you, that the team and the country have come to accept.
Gambhir played a knock that was reminiscent of the one he played in the World Cup final and unfortunately just like it even here he couldn’t convert it in to a century as he fell for 92. No fault of his that BCCI barred usage of DRS, something that would have saved him here.
Kohli couldn’t repeat his heroic of the last match but Rohit failed to grasp the chance again. He is the reason India is opting to rotate seniors and he cannot afford to not make a mark. Raina didn’t get much to do but his little inning definitely kept India in the hunt before MSD trolled the entire nation with a bizarrely slow knock before pulling off the win in a pressure cooker situation.
So yes India can win without Sachin. But most importantly India can win irrespective of who replaces Sachin as India managed this win without a great contribution from Kohli or Rohit. This should give them the belief they are lacking and ease their worries as they prepare to enter an era where there is no God.