Updated: Feb 3
This year didn't start well for the Indian cricket team. The firm favourites in the series against South Africa, India didn't live up to the expectations of the same one bit. Before this series, the same happened in the 2021 T20 world cup, when they were knocked out in the Super 12. When on one hand the senior team is not living up to the expectations, the juniors are creating new records. The U-19 team of India is on a roll since the Asia Cup victory and has won all the matches in the world cup till now qualifying themselves to the semi-finals.
The major difference in the performance of the senior and the junior team is the intent with which they are playing. The U-19 team are playing to win matches. Their body language, their efforts in the field suggest the same. This is why, despite 6 members of the junior team including the skipper Yash Dhull being tested positive, the team's performance hasn't gone down. The victory over Ireland and Uganda may not be so important for everyone, considering the other teams have less experienced, but the margin of victory of 174 and 326 runs show the sheer domination despite juniors.
On the other hand, the senior team looks like a bunch of guys who are bored by the regular office work they have to do. Barring the likes of Kohli, Thakur, Chahar, Dhawan, no one seems to play for victory. The extremely casual approach of the senior team has done them enough harm. The lethargic approach can be seen when one drops sitters often. With the way they performed, they never deserved to win.
Another major difference between the two teams in the squad balance. The U-19 team have a lot of players who are excellent all-rounders. They contribute to the team in every possible way. The stand-in skipper Nishant Sandhu, Raj Bawa, Tambe have contributed by both, their bat as well as the ball. The star all-rounder Rajvardhan Hangargekar has excellent six-hitting ability, which is a bonus for the team, plus he breathes fire when he bowls with consistent speeds of over 145+ mph. These players look like a perfect combination of specialist bowler and specialist batter in one player. Whereas, the senior team does have at the max one contributors like any of these.
And the last, but the most important difference is the contribution of the middle order. Losing 3 quick wickets didn't affect the scorecard much against the middle-orderU19 team's encounter against South Africa. The middle-order also did contribute greatly to the Asia Cup, helping the team reach a defendable total. Knowing the responsibility, they batted sensibly, something which was missing in the senior team. The juniors rotated strike when required, instead of going for a rash looking shot putting the team in trouble.
The sensible approach, which is the usual difference between the senior and junior teams, was exactly the opposite when it came to the Indian team. While the juniors play with extreme maturity, the seniors lack a sensible approach. The dedication of juniors was visible in the quarter-final clash against Bangladesh, where they outplayed the Bangla team in all three departments. Aggression on the other was good by the junior team. They played their heart on the sleeve to save every single run they could, by diving to every opportunity. Today against the Kangaroos, their aggression could yield them the result they want.
Undoubtedly, it is too early to compare, but the above mentioned has been the case with the teams for some time. It is unfair to compare both the teams because of the level at which they play, but whichever level it is, is the highest for the game they play. Currently, the Senior Men in Blue are not going through a good phase and would want to roar back with the coming West Indies series. While doing so they would want to learn from the approach of juniors, who are on the hunt to win the world cup title for 5th time.
You don't lose anything by learning good things from your juniors. Having said that, it's also worth the mention that India senior team is still one of the finest teams in the world at the moment. They just need to get in the groove to get back to their winning habit. In the days to follow, we wish to see juniors life the title, and seniors bounce back again. Let's hope it happens
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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