June 15, 2009

Right. The knifes are out. The blame game is on. What exactly went wrong in the campaign of the world champions resulting in them getting knocked out of the tournament with a game to spare? Bad bowling? Bad batting? Bad captaincy? Injured players? IPL fatigue? What?

I guess it is a combination of a lot of things. To start with, they never got tested in the group stage against Ireland and Bangladesh and hence waltzed into the super eights with their confidence high as the world backed them to defend their title. Until, they had a rude awakening.

The short ball became the nemesis of our ‘match breakers’ in the match against the Windies and it was quite sad to see them hop against the short ball and the world,especially England was watching that match keenly. India needed a rescue act from Yuvraj to take them to a respectable total but the bowling let us down. Since the beginning of the tournament, I have been skeptical about India’s bowling and it really got found out in the end against Windies with Bravo playing a blinder and Ishant Sharma going for plenty. I don’t quite seem to get the faith Dhoni has in him in this format despite him going for plenty. He is one of the few who bowls his full quota – for plenty – while the others just watch.

With India staring at an early exit – requiring to win both their matches against England and South Africa – one expected them to come out all guns blazing as you would expect the world champions to do but what transpired yesterday left many ardent fans feeling really sad at half past one in the night.

India managed to control the English innings with some good bowling but having said that, they were guilty on a few occasions. Someone explain why Ishant Sharma bowled 4 overs for 36 runs when R P Singh bowled only 3 for 13 while Zaheer also bowled only 3. Someone explain why Praveen Kumar did not play when Ishant has been leaking runs throughout. And, to top it all, someone please explain the 10 (yes ten!) wides bowled by Harbhajan Singh in a 20 over match. These matches are won and lost by a couple of runs and here our best spin bowler bowled 2 shockers down the leg side that went for fours! Unbelievable!

As if this was not enough, guess what, India had learnt nothing from their experience against Windies and it was deja-vu time. Raina looked like he was worse than a kid from the neighbourhood when it came to the short ball while Rohit perished trying to pull again. And then guess who walks in? Jadeja! I won’t blame the kid for playing the way he did because I am sure he tried his level best and probably he was just technically deficient in playing the short ball but can someone explain why Dhoni did not come out instead of him? Dhoni said he wanted Jadeja to stabilize the innings before Yuvi, he and Yusuf could take over the big hitting. The question is, in present times, how many times would you back Dhoni to smash his way to victory? I vote for 1 out of 10. He is a nudger now! Period! Even when he tries to take off, he finds it very difficult to do so and it was evident yesterday too when he just kept handing the strike over to Yusuf. So, he could have walked out, played his nudge innings better than the kid’s laborious 25 off 35 balls which totally swung the momentum England’s way!

I think the Jadeja innings was the turning point in the chase and Yuvi and India was left too much to do!

Dhoni said at the press conference that they wanted to go steady before Yuvi and Co. could launch and even 9 – 10 runs per over would have been manageable but for the loss of the wickets! Can someone explain the logic of this plan which has no contingencies? You push the run rate to an almost impossible level, then back your big hitters to do the trick. But what if they fail? If one is batting, one could get out trying to hit the ball over the rope, right? And ,what is the contingency plan then? Unfortunately, none! None? Oh yeah, because one has already let the run rate spiral out of control so the perfect plan better come off or lets just pack up and go home.

Well go home alright! Because that is exactly what you are going to be doing, Team India!

Yuvi rescued them last time around; unfortunately it was too much to ask for him this time too. So, head home, practice the short ball because you sure will face it next year too in the carribean!

One might get up and say that it is a natural backlash when Dhoni and boys have failed because he was god when we won but honestly, can you expect to win if you play like they did??


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