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Reputations don’t matter. Performances do. How often have we come across this phenomenon – in the world of sport as indeed in the world of business. A case in point is the performance ( or should we say non-performance) of the Indians in the first cricket Test in Colombo recently. The much vaunted Indian batting crumbled to lose the Test to Sri Lanka in the fourth day itself. The margin of defeat ? A staggering innings and 239 runs. The scorecard makes sad reading.

There is much to reflect upon. The bowlers got hammered to start with. Kumble and Harbhajan are spinners of the highest reputation yet they could not prevent the Lankans from scoring 600/6 declared so easily. There were 4 centuries in that innings. Bhajji and Kumble gave away 270 runs for the 2 wickets that Bhajji got.

The batsmen were no better. Each of them has a reputation bigger than the other. Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly are big names in the world of cricket. Yet our team couldn’t match the Lankans in their concentrated effort to score runs. We managed only 223 in the first innings with a worse score of 138 in the second. The innings lasting just 45 overs. 19 wickets fell to the Lankan spinners, Murali and Mendis to give Sri Lanka a thumping victory which would have done a great deal for their morale.

Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Sri Lanka captain rightly pointed out that the Indians played as if it were a Twenty20 Match. Anil Kumble, the Indian captain was not far off the mark when he said his players didn’t show attitude and character. He said this was the worst defeat of his career.

This underscores the fact that there can be no place for complacency. As the Indians found out, reputations don’t matter, performances do.

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This is Post No: 238 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.