India in South Africa

Pollock disappointed by India’s approach to Test series in South Africa

The pace bowling great felt that the team’s lack of preparation ahead of Test series stood out despite a historic ODI triumph.

South African pace bowling great Shaun Pollock on Wednesday criticised India’s misplaced priorities and approach to the Test series against the Proteas, saying the team’s lack of preparation stood out despite a historic ODI triumph.

“I was a little bit surprised by their batting. When they came on this tour I thought it was going to be their strength. I was a bit disappointed by the way they went (in the Test series),” Pollock said.

He asked if India would be satisfied with winning the ODI series when they should have prioritised winning the Test series instead.

“Looking back, I think they have identified that preparation wise they needed to be here for more time. I suppose it goes down to what are the actual goals you want to achieve. If you want to win Test series away from home, then you have to give them more priority. And priority means more preparation.

“I think going out to England, we have heard some guys are going to play county cricket. So preparation wise I think they will be better equipped when they go there or to Australia, said the former all-rounder.”

India lost the three-match Test series 2-1, after being walloped in the first two games, but have secured a first ODI series win in Port Elizabeth last night.

Pollock said, “We have seen they are now settled in ODIs. Probably they could have structured the tour better and had ODIs before Tests, and that could have been better preparation for India.

“I think practice matters. You need to have two practice matches and have a guarantee that you are genuinely good opposition than just developing players. You have to set your goals.”

South Africa’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker added, “Is it a great thing to win the ODI series or is it a great achievement to come and win a Test series in South Africa, which you haven’t done? Maybe that’s where the priorities haven’t met the same preparation.”

‘Kohli wasn’t fearful of conditions’

Virat Kohli’s form in the ODI series has been one of the highlights for India in the ODI series, and a reason for their triumph. The skipper has 429 runs in five matches, while he was also the only batsman on both sides to score a hundred in the Test series.

“I saw an interview at the start of the tour and he was talking about backing himself in these conditions. That positivity and approach paid off.

“He wasn’t fearful of the conditions and he wanted to grind out performances. He obviously came here with the right mind set. I thought the rest of the batting group would have been similar, but there wasn’t anyone else who supported him particularly in the Tests, said Pollock.

Pollock said, as captain, Kohli is trying to instill new confidence in the team.

“Kohli has had some guys support him in the ODIs and that’s why India have been so good. It is a slightly depleted (South African) team but in saying that the wins India managed especially in the first three were very comprehensive.”

When asked about Kohli’s on-field aggressive brand of leadership, the former Proteas skipper said, “I am not saying aggression is what he is offering, but its more the attitude that I can back myself, win the battle and come out on top.”

“Malcolm Marshall taught me to have a great respect for the opposition but also to have a great self-belief that wherever you come up against them, you respect them but you win the battle.”

On Kohli’s aggressive approach, he further added, “I think that’s what he wants to install (in the Indian team), and the confidence.”

“The key is to strike a balance.”

“I suppose its always edgy, or can be. Confidence might go into over aggression and over confidence and that’s the balance that they need to find. But you can always curb that aggression and attitude.

“In international sport you have to have emotion, but it matters how you channel that emotion towards being calm and towards performance rather than peripheral issues,” he added.

‘Impressed by India’s bowling stock’

Pollock was all praise for the Indian bowling attack that managed to take all 60 wickets in the Test series and continued to impress in the ODIs as well.

“That’s fantastic. But you have to look at surfaces that they have played on. The hardest one to get wickets was Centurion, but on the other two, there was plenty of assistance.

“But yes, I am impressed with India’s stock,” said Pollock.

The former captain felt India now have plenty of options in bowling, unlike in the past.

“It’s the first time that India have had 5-6 guys that can be picked and do a good job. In the past India have relied only on Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan, or somebody like that.

“Even the spinners did a good job. So the bowling was good. If you can keep those bowlers together as a group there is no reason why India cannot be successful in England and Australia where the fast bowlers will have to do a job.”

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.