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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

T20 World Cup - India crash out

Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide OvalImage via Wikipedia
So, it had to happen. The Indian team, after its clean slate in the Group stage (just like the previous edition), went blank in the Super Eights. Not a game won, even against the so-called minnows (West Indies) in international cricket. How did the Indians win the inaugural version of T20 World Cup then? Million-dollar question. Probably the low expectations helped the Indians then, as the regulars at that time (SRT, Dravid, Ganguly) were rested. Maybe, it is time to do a similar exercise now.

A player like Joginder Sharma (who is nowhere on the horizon) who is nowhere on the horizon bowled the last over of the tournament without nerves and had the presence of mind to capture the wicket of Misbah-ul-Haq. Compare this with the last over bowled by an experienced bowler like Ashish Nehra to the Lankans. The burden of expectations are surely playing on the minds of the cricketers. Add to it, the loss of form of players like Yuvraj and Gambhir; the absence of stars like Sehwag and Sachin; the inabilities of Jadeja and Pathan - you have the complete picture.

Of course, the immediate pointers from everyone involved will be the IPL and its related schedule, late nights, travel, etc. Even though, it is partially true, that alone was probably not the critical reason of failure. Everyone will conveniently forget the technique challenge that all the batsmen (with the exception of MS Dhoni) faced throughout the Super 8s. The fact that the next T20 World Cup is in Sri Lanka and ODI World Cup is also in the sub-continent means that this issue will not haunt the Indian think-tank for the next 1-2 years.

MSD and Gary Kirsten have faced this setback after the highs of the Test team performances. They are experienced enough to plan on the next steps required. The Board is planning on a two-test series (yet again) against the Aussies in India - that might be the next international cricket that the full-strength team will play. If the Indians can get some serious practice against the short-balls, it will do a whole world of good. The players can still try for short stints at the English county circuit - whether the Board will approve it is another concern.

Very interesting to read today that the BCCI will do a review on the performance of the T20 squad. There was similar one done after the previous version - what were the action-items at the end of the review is anyone's guess. Similarly, the fact that the 'Seniors' have been rested for the forthcoming tri-series clearly shows the priorities of the BCCI. None of these players (barring Ravindra Jadeja who tried to play with Don Modi) were rested in any of the IPL matches but come international engagements, there is a break imposed on the players. Maybe the BCCI did not get their usual 'cut' from the organisers of this tournament.

Where does India go from here? The team has not played to its potential in the last 3 ICC tournaments (2 T20 World Cups and ICC Champions Trophy) and the next tournament sees a second-string team under a stand-by captain against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. The major worry will be the next set of batsmen who will replace the Fab Four in test matches. Their technique needs to be tested in various conditions and the best way to do it is to test them on the 'A' tours. While it is a good sign to see the re-initiation of the 'A' tour concept, the squad selected is mostly a third-string team. It would have been good if the team selected for the tri-series had gone on the England tour but BCCI does not care for the long-term growth for the Indian team anyway, does it.

The focus now is on how to catch hold of the golden egg-laying IPL, out of the hold of Lalit Modi. Everything else can wait.
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