1. Face it guys, we were outmaneuvered
Opposition teams have always been trying to find chinks in our armour and this time they succeeded with the short ball.
a. Their bowlers (West Indies and England) bounced our batsmen out of the tournament.
b. Our bowlers couldn’t do the same.
We couldn’t adjust to the English conditions despite the fact that there were four games played before the Super 8s. In the batting in the two crucial matches of the Super 8s, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja were the biggest failures and they also happen to be the most inexperienced. We have to give credit to West Indies and England bowlers. They did a good job, with these three in particular.
On this count, Kirstein and Dhoni take the blame.
2. The captain is going through a bad patch
Dhoni will always be remembered as the man who won the inaugural T20 World Cup. He has played against and won one-day series with 5 of the Top 8 countries (South Africa aur Windies baaki hain). Cut him some slack. He got it wrong this time.
a. His poor batting form affected the team.
b. He made strategic errors vis a vis team selection and batting orders. But he had the grace to admit his mistakes in public. It takes a lot of courage to do that. It also means you’re willing to change.
Great captains Ganguly, Dravid and Kumble could not get out of their slumps and had to let go of the captaincy. Lovers of Indian cricket should pray that Dhoni gets his devastating form back fast, or else we’re in real trouble.
3. IPL fatigued our top players
Dhoni, Sehwag and Zaheer looked totally jaded after IPL2. And this showed in the World Cup. IPL2 was too close to WC for comfort. A stopover in South Africa on the way to England doesn’t exactly freshen matters. For this the BCCI and Modi should take the blame. If you try to kill the Golden Goose to get all the Golden Eggs in one day, then you’ll be left with absolutely nothing. As it is, the international schedule is getting more and more grueling and now this IPL comes along (no matter how great it is).
4. The relentless media badgering affected team morale
Sehwag was injured and couldn’t participate in the whole tournament. It should have ended there. Non-stop harping of a captain-vice captain rift will never help matters. Think over it. No international team could rock Captain Cool, but the Indian media finally succeeded angering the Indian captain and that too in the middle of a World Cup!
Team morale was down, there’s no doubt about that. We lost to England by 3 runs. With South Africa, we crashed from 55-1 to 118-8. That’s the sign of a team extremely low on confidence.
5. Periodic crashes are a way of life in Indian cricket
From 1968-71 we won on the foreign soils of World Champions West Indies, tough New Zealand and (at that time world beaters) England. But we had to wait 15 years for a repeat.
From 1983-85 we won all the major ODI tournaments with ease: the World Cup, mini World Cup, inaugural Sharjah Cup and the Asia Cup. But we totally lost steam after that for no rhyme or reason.
In the nineties, we were invincible in home Tests. We won the Hero Cup, kicked the Aussies in Sharjah in 1998 and chased 300 plus in a final with Pakistan. Then along came the match fixing scandal.
Ganguly proved to be the best captain ever, but he still went down in a quagmire. Dravid won foreign series in West Indies and England, did some record chasing and thrashed opponents. Even he couldn’t last.
Dhoni was going through too much of a dream run and like a crash in the booming economy, the Indian cricket team also came down to earth.
Now is the phase of rebuilding again. What do you do? Give the captaincy to Yuvraj or Sehwag? Somehow I don’t think that’s going to work. Dhoni is still the best man for the job. He has handled pressure well for two years (this tournament was definitely a blip) and he’s still innovative and captain courageous.
By the 2007 ODI World Cup, international teams had figured out Dhoni the six-hitting batsman and he fell. Coincidentally the team also crashed out. But he reinvented himself and became the world’s number one batsmen.
In the 2009 T20 World Cup, international teams figured out Dhoni the Mr Cool captain and he fell. Coincidentally the team crashed again. Now he has to reinvent himself again and become the world’s number one captain.
In the last 3-4 years, the centre of gravity of the team has shifted from Tendulkar to Dhoni. Our fortunes depend on him now. He needs all the support to reinvent Team India. Knowing the fighter that Dhoni is, he’ll definitely do it, if left alone and given the freedom. 2011 will be a big year for India. Forget 2007 T20 WC. It’s dead.
© Sunil Rajguru