What went wrong with the Indian Team at the ICC World Twenty20 Super8?

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After the early exit of Indian team from the tournament, commentators, media and critics got busy with finding out the “exact” cause of the poor performance of the team. Rightly so, when there are no more matches to be played by the Indian team, that is the only thing they can talk about.

If there was an award for a team for best coverage around the world (whether or not winning matches) India would have won it by now already.

I tried to restrain myself at pointing out the problem areas but could not stop myself to collate the popular theories taking rounds. Here is a small collection of few of the reasons that are being talked about. Not sure about the ranking of these but there surely seems like more than one reason for India’s poor performance with each contributing to varying magnitude.

Lack of innovation

Dhoni, who is known for his smart thinking on the ground, missed the edge somewhere.

Absence of the right aggression

The fearless boys playing with sheer aggression, who won the 2007 title, were missing.

Complacency

It was very visible during the middle overs when they were batting at ease and were so confident that they would be able to hit around in the last five overs.

Fatigue

Too much cricket since October, 2008! This has been pointed as the number one reason for India’s poor performance. And, there is still not enough breathing time as the team leaves for West Indies straight from England.

Media trouble

For the first time, Dhoni faced stiffness from the media over Sehwag’s issue. Drift between the Captain and Vice Captain was making news all around. There was a definite loss of crucial time for the management, which they could have utilized in strategizing for the matches to come.

Dhoni ran out of big shots

No question about his work behind the stumps but his batting was a bit let down. For last one year Dhoni has been playing an anchor’s role in the Indian batting line up and has intentionally changes hi style to suit the requirement. When it was must required for him to hit big shots, he could not really get them going. We could not witness the explosiveness that he was known for.

Short-pitched bowling

West Indian and English fast bowlers devastated the Indian top order with short pitch bowling. Everyone started pointing out the shortcoming of the Indian batsmen. But, then what happened in the match against South Africa? It were the spinners who forced the Indian batting at the back foot. Clearly, the Indian batsmen looked jaded through out and just could not hit the balls out of the stadium.

Sending Jadeja up the order

When, the Indian batsmen were struggling against the English pace attack, inexperienced Jadeja was sent in, while in-form Yuvraj and Dhoni stayed in the dug-out. I still could not understand what was the message given to him when walked-in? Was he given the license to just hit around and let it be a gamble or was he told to stick around to consolidate the inning? What ever it was, both ways it was not a good decision. At least, does not look like a good one, after India lost the match to England by 3 runs while Jadeja scored only 22 off 30 balls. Shall we call it a match-losing effort or a match-losing decision?

Fielding mishaps

Indians were not consistent in the field. Though there were instances of exceptional fielding performances but were limited to only few individuals. Poor show by others brought the overall performance to just “average”. Boundaries were scored by opponents sending the ball between the legs of the fielders. Can a team afford to do that when the margin of errors and victories is so thin in T20 matches? Somehow the field placement too was a bit shabby, not so agile fielders in the team kept on finding the ball coming towards them more than the better fielders.

Team selection

Few selection related decisions than are under the scanner of the critics:

  • Playing an extra bowler in the batsmen oriented format of the game.
  • Giving priority to pick up extra spinner (Ojah or Jadeja) while Dinesh Karthik could not get a chance. Yusuf Pathan, Raina and Rohit Sharma could have bowled more along with Yuvraj Singh to fill in the gap.
  • Ishant Sharma was in the team all through while Praveen Kumar was not given any chance.
  • RP Singh, the in-form bowler and the highest wicket taker in the IPL, should have been included in all the matches. And at least must have been given to bowl full quota of his overs against England.

Missing Sehwag

Whether Sehwag hits a 50 or not, even if he is at crease for three overs, all the strategies and tactics of the opposition goes for a toss. Though on papers the Indian line-up looked so bright, no one could actually replace Sehwag. He is the one who actually scares the bowlers even before the match begins. Only Yuvraj Singh could add some sensation to the Indian batting, while others could not do much to actually trouble the bowlers.

Let us have a quick look at what everyone is saying…

Gary Kirsten (Coach, Indian team)

He blames players fatigue levels and minor injuries that they carried from IPL to WT20 for the poor performance.

“Fatigue was definitely a factor, as were many other things… I don’t want to use that as an excuse but it was a factor. We weren’t an energetic team…”

Kirsten had pointed out mental fatigue to be a big challenge even before the start of the tournament.

MS Dhoni (Captain, Indian Team)

MS Dhoni accepts the fact that the team’s performance was not up to 100% of their potential and missed to at par with the international standards.

“There never was a time when the majority of the guys performed in one match, it was usually two bowlers in one game or three in another, with an off-day for a couple of them, or one man scored and the rest didn’t so we never performed as a unit.”

Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar has backed the Indian Skipper- MS Dhoni and has refused to blame him for his team’s exit from the world cup.

“Dhoni will bear the brunt of the attack… but is there anybody better to lead India than him? “Dhoni is a young captain and is still learning the trade.”

Sandip Patil

He does not subscribe to the theory of blaming IPL for India’s poor performance and questions the experimentation with the batting order in the crunch matches.

“Tell me how come players of England, South Africa and West Indies (who participated in IPL) are praising it (IPL) to prepare themselves for the World T20?… How did he (Kirsten) allowed Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan to sit padded up while sending someone else (Ravindra Jadeja) up the order?”

LalChand Rajput

He gives credit to the others who, according to him, had better strategies that worked against India.

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