'Kids look great playing against kids' - Gavaskar critical of young Indian T20I side after West Indies loss
Sunil Gavaskar slammed India's in-transition T20I side that lost the series 3-2 to the full-strength West Indies on Sunday (August 13). The former skipper and batting legend gave a 'kid vs men' analogy to criticise the current set of players, stating they may have dominated the U-19 and domestic scene but international cricket is a different ball game.
An earnest and determined but also vulnerable and developing Indian T20I led by skipper Hardik Pandya played a highly promising brand of cricket, especially with the bat as they persisted with coach Rahul Dravid's wisely envisioned and overseen attacking strategy. But lack of batting depth meant India couldn't fetch as many in the bank to give to their understrength bowling unit.
On top of it, West Indies' in-form middle-order maverick Nicholas Pooran found two genuinely positive match-ups to dominate in the form of Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal while the Caribbean bowlers found just enough from the tricky surfaces in Trinidad, Guyana and Florida to keep the Indians in check.
Those were the two main reasons behind the scoreline. But Gavaskar wasn't willing to budge and took the young team, playing without Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, to the task and judged their abilities to stand the rigours of the highest level.
Gavaskar's 'kid vs men' analogy after India's 3-2 series loss
"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," Gavaskar wrote for Sportstar.
"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?"
Gavaskar even said the satisfaction derived from million-dollar contracts in the IPL can often diminish the hunger and the desire to perform at the top level for youngsters.
"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 added.