“Kids look great playing against kids, but against men…”: Sunil Gavaskar’s Furious Take On Indian Team

The Indian cricket team’s recent tour of the West Indies was a roller-coaster ride of successes and setbacks, leaving fans and analysts alike with much to ponder. The tour encompassed Test, One Day International (ODI), and Twenty20 International (T20I) series, showcasing a distinct facet of the team’s performance and potential.

In the Test series, India managed to secure a 1-0 victory, a testament to their prowess in the game’s longer format. However, the story took a different turn in the ODI series, where the Indian team secured a narrow 2-1 win over the hosts.

It was in the T20I series that the team faced its true test. After a turbulent start, losing the first two matches, India rallied to even the score 2-2. However, the final T20I ended in an embarrassing defeat, prompting discussions about the team’s preparedness and overall state.

A noteworthy aspect of the West Indies tour was the infusion of young and relatively inexperienced players. Promising talents like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, and Mukesh Kumar were given opportunities to showcase their skills. While some exhibited individual brilliance, the overall team performance often left much to be desired.

In light of the tour’s outcomes, Sunil Gavaskar, a respected figure in Indian cricket, presented a thought-provoking analogy. He likened the transition from playing at the under-19 level to the senior level to a steep step up, often proving challenging for even the best performers. Gavaskar highlighted the contrast between excelling against one’s peers versus facing the pressures and expectations of representing the national team.

“A player could do well at the franchise level, but when it comes to playing for the country, it’s a different ball game of pressures and expectations. It is one step up, which can be too steep for even some of the best performers at the franchise level. How often have we seen this when the Under-19 performers just aren’t able to take that one step up from a boys’ tournament to a men’s competition?” he wrote in a column on Sportstar.

Gavaskar’s insight echoed the reality that adapting to international cricket demands skill, temperament, and resilience. While some young players shine in domestic and franchise cricket, transitioning to the international arena can be a formidable challenge. This assertion rings particularly true in the frenetic world of T20 cricket, where split-second decisions and high-pressure situations require a unique mental fortitude.

“Yes, the kids look great playing against kids, but when they come up against the men, they suddenly find that what looks like a piece of cake at the under-19 level is more like mud at the senior level. That’s why so many who looked good at the boys’ level have been found wanting at the senior level. It’s not just the temperament; even the skill set is way below the standard required at the franchise level. Then, having been bought for crores, some of these youngsters lose the fire in the belly and are happy to cruise along in later years and get their contracts extended, even if it is for a lesser amount,” he further penned.

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Despite the T20I series defeat against a formidable West Indies team with a rich history in the format, Gavaskar stressed that this outcome should serve as a wake-up call rather than a dampener. He acknowledged the Caribbean team’s success in the ICC T20 World Cup and prominence in the Indian Premier League (IPL). This perspective underscores the calibre of the opposition and the learning opportunities embedded within the losses.

“The loss to West Indies should not be a dampener. Don’t forget that they have won the ICC T20 World Cup twice, and their players are matchwinners for the different franchises they play for in the IPL. So, they are a top-class T20 team, and there’s no shame in losing to them. It should be a wake-up call to see the areas where India needs to improve to strengthen its side. Some of those who were rested for this series may not be around for too long, so their replacements must be found quickly, too, as the next ICC T20 World Cup is just a year away,” he explained.

Gavaskar’s observation also highlighted the need for India to continually assess and strengthen its squad. As players in the twilight of their careers may soon depart, identifying suitable replacements becomes imperative, especially with the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup just a year away.

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