The last ball of the match, India vs England. 8 runs were required of it, a glimmer of hope that an extra can be gained, a no-ball from the bowler, wide, anything. But then none of that happened, and Dhoni smashed it for a 4. Then celebrations erupted, from the home side (who though are knocked out of the world cup anyway), and their opposition in despair.
The team touted as the King of T20 are knocked out in the Super 8 stage, and that too quite humiliatingly. Why do I say so? The margin by which they lost against the Windies and the English were small, but that doesn’t tell you the whole story. The story includes how the Indian players fumbled far too often, how they bowled poorly, and the worst of all, their batting. I’ve never seen matches involving India in the T20 World Cup (cuz I doze off early 🙂 ), but what I can infer from these mathes is how poorly they have played. I really don’t think the team misses Sehwag a lot, there are many young talents ready to replace him. No, the question is the team morale. They have never gelled as a team, and if you notice the warm-up matches, it has been like a few sparkling performances which lead to victory. But the Windies and the English and also New Zealand have shown the chinks in India’s armour. They have played to their potential, but not the Team India. They have under-performed, and in this format of the world-cup, there is very little margin of error. Indians have paid dearly for the complacency, which happens usually to Team India more than any other cricketing nation.
Now, is complacency this time due to IPLv2? Partly yes, I say. IPL has made players over-confident, it has made them think that they had all the practice they need, and unnecessary to waste time on team practice. This was evidently shown by Indian coach Gary Kirsten. Why would he, who usually is shy of the media, have an outburst like that saying IPL was the root cause of India’s defeats? It must have been due to the players unwillingness to practise, for they might have felt like a lazy lion, not the ever-hungry tiger they were past 2 years. They have been fed with so much wealth, comfort and support from the Indian people and their stomach has blown out of proportion that they were reluctant to play anymore, wanting to sit back and relax. That is what I think of Dhoni as.
For the 2 years since he has become a Captain, Dhoni’s batting prowess has declined steadily. Though the batting average maybe healthy, his strike rate declined considerably. It may be acceptable in the Test and the one-dayers, but definetly not in the T20 format. Notice in the last few T20 games India have played, Dhoni has been short of run a ball, and it was his innings that slowed down India’s run-rate dramatically and lead to India’s demise on many occasions. If he had continued like Sehwag right now, India would surely have been in a much better position. Some of you might argue that he tried to stabilize the Indian innings, but I can show you several instances where he made more problems than help, especially when he comes one down when the going is good for India, when the openers gave a blistering start and he comes to spoil it. Also I noticed that he comes late in the line-up when the openers fail to get a start, pushing all the youngsters, like the one he did against England. I still don’t agree with his tactic even if India had won that match, how can you send a guy like Ravindra Jadeja who is known for hitting in the death overs, hit out from the start, and that too in his first match. He is a good talent I agree, but Dhoni has wasted him by sending him up the order in his 1st match. I feel he should have come one-down that time, or even better send someone else there. When wickets were falling, the captain must go there and stabilise the ship, not bite the nails watching other players struggle. He is definetly a good team player and a batsman-wicketkeeper, but something is blocking him in becoming one true Captain.
About others, I feel they are a great talent, one of the best in the world. And more are in-line to take place in the Indian team. Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Yuvraj Singh, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, R P Singh and others are one of the best players in the world. And they are indeed playing up to their potential, being very hungry for success. And most of them are really passionate about India, the one I remember being so passionate for India is Dinesh Karthik. I’ve never seen such a team player all my life, giving 200% every match, trying to contribute in whatsoever ways he can find. And with likes of veterans like Sehwag, Zaheer and Bhajji, India is still a very strong team. But no team can be victorious if the team don’t gel together. That is what, I guess, happened in the world cup. But this, I hope, will be a learning step for many youngsters in the team, and that they will take this in their stride only to become even better in the game of cricket.
India should leave this behind and look ahead. The up-coming series against the Windies will hopefully be a confidence booster and take revenge on the Windies. Also, I feel it is pointless to burn the effigies of the Indian players just because they played badly. It’s a game of cricket yaar, and things like this is bound to happen. Why should one waste time and money on burning look-alikes on the streets and show our anger at them? Better than that is to give more support to the team, tell them that what ever happened in the world cup is over, and now they must work hard in future to show how good is this team. I’m a die-hard cricket fan, and I too am sad about India not defending the trophy, but I believe that this team will achieve more than what any other team have ever achieved. We will grow to be the strongest team in the history of cricket. I support team India all throughout, and I wish them best for the future.