It is time for post-mortems and analyses after India lost all three matches in the Super-8 stage of the ICC World T-20 2010, to be sent packing from the prestigious event for the second time in succession.
The 2007 champions did not look like, or play like, the world-beaters they can definitely be when they are on song, and lost badly to Australia and the West Indies at Barbados, before losing to the Lankans off the last ball in a do-or-die match at St. Lucia.
What then are the reasons for this premature end to their campaign? Here are eleven of the most apparent ones-
1. The IPL effect- M.S. Dhoni had the guts and the plain-speaking-ability to state the facts as they stood at the post match conference after the loss to Sri Lanka. He blamed the IPL, not for the amount of cricket played, but for the post-match parties and the excessive travelling involved in the 45 day extravaganza, that left the players jaded and stale. All other teams played practice matches, while India rushed into their campaign with none.
2. Selection errors- Those who saw Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli and S. Badrinath bat during the IPL, would wonder why they were not picked for Team India. Uthappa in particular has the ability to take on pacy short pitched bowling and score at a rapid pace while doing so. With Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag not in the team, India needed Uthappa to bat up the order in the West Indies. Pragyan Ojha was the highest wicket taker in the IPL but was not on the flight with Team India either.
3. Waning form- Unfortunately for the team, two of its main batsmen, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh were woefully out of form. Yuvraj was unlucky to see one or two good hits go straight to the fielders on the boundary, but Gambhir looked totally out-of-sorts. Coupled with the disastrous performances of Murali Vijay and Yusuf Pathan, this meant that India’s batting firepower was greatly diminished.
4. Strategic issues- Team India faltered on strategy too. By not
practising together as a team between matches since ‘the players were tired’ and by not sending an advance party of the coach and players who were free from the last stage of the IPL they had little time to acclimatise.
5. Missed Tricks- The Indians missed several tricks during the tournament. They stuck with Vijay or Karthik as opening partners for Gambhir whereas Karthik is a great finisher and perhaps Rohit
Sharma should have opened. Sharma is also a canny T 20 bowler but was never used. Piyush Chawla should have played against the West Indies who are awful against genuine leg spinners!
6. The J factor– Ravinder Jadeja may be one of the most talented all-rounders in the country but he has been found wanting in the last two World Cups. Sent in at number three at Lords last year, he lost his team precious time by scoring at less than a run a ball. In the
Caribbean he was woefully short on confidence and was hit for several sixes. He dropped crucial catches and once again scratched around with the bat.
7. Zaheer below par– India’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan bowled well below his penetrative best and cost India extra runs. He went for over 40 runs in most matches. Ashish Nehra was more effective in the death overs but ploughed a lone furrow.
8. Praveen’s injury– Praveen Kumar bowled impressively in the only two matches that India won. His injury left the team without a genuine swing bowler who could make crucial early breakthroughs. He was really missed against Australia and the West Indies.
9. Pitch related problems– The Indians played a predominantly spin oriented attack even at Barbados whereas the West Indian pitches seem to have regained their pace and bounce. Other teams like Australia and England banked heavily on their pace attacks and succeeded.
10. More Chin Music- India capitulated against fast bouncy deliveries and lost key wickets. They did not realise that with only two bouncers per over permitted they should have waited for length balls to hit. Australiaand the Windies had our main batsmen on the hop with 150 kmph deliveries.
11. No fire in the belly– The team looked deflated as a whole. The huddles and the high-fives were missing! They were playing without any passion, it seemed. They needed to raise their game at crucial junctures in the tournament, but failed to do so, whereas opponents like Sri Lanka did, and sent India home early.