An year has passed but the story-line remains the same. India tasted yet another loss from the Sri Lankans, which finally forced them out of the T20 WC. The players who were supermen at home became mere ducks when it came to playing at bouncy Barbados wicket. India’s loss in the Caribbean’s is not new as in 2007 Cricket WC, India crashed out in the first stage. At that time, a lot of introspection was done and many changes were made and players were superseded. The result of these changes was that India eventually won the T20 WC and became the king of the shortest form of cricket.
Come 2010 and India repeated the same story as that of 2009 T20 WC. India crashed out from the super 8 without winning a single match and at both times our players went abroad after playing IPL, so we believe that they were well prepared and ready to roar but the story line had something else in stock. We failed at both the occasions and that too quite badly. So this calls for an assessment, which will in due course lead to the removal of many star cricketers.
But the bigger question is why did a billion people strong country, that practices cricket as a religion, fail twice in winning a single match in the super 8 stage? Who is responsible for this debacle? and what are the steps needed to prevent such a debacle from happening again?
Many senior cricketers are putting the blame on Dhoni and his boys but what about the BCCI and selectors. BCCI, the richest cricket board has said that it will investigate India’s loss in the WC but they should investigate their own policies which are to be blamed for this kind of loss. Why was the IPL organized just before an important ICC event? Why can’t we properly schedule our tournaments keeping in mind the fatigue factor? Why the needless ODI series involving Lanka and Bangladesh are scheduled when it is not in the FTP commitments?
At Kingston Oval our players seemed like local lads who were reluctant while playing short pitch balls. This problem is not new, it was prevalent when Azhar was the captain, Ganguly lost his place due to the rising balls and the present team is also feeling the sweet chin music, and today itself the probe has begun on Dhoni. Many say that the players need to build technique while playing those balls but how could one do so when in India we have dead and flat wickets? Why is the BCCI not spending money on making bouncy wickets so that budding cricketers can benefit from it. Unless it is not done we will see our team losing at major tournaments.
Talking about selectors, they picked a team which was good at paper but when it came to tough situation they became minnows. The selection was made on reputation rather than on form. Player’s fitness was ignored and the reputed players were selected. Selectors gave a statement that IPL was the basis of selection but if it was then why did the likes of Yuvraj, Gambhir, Karthick, Piyush Chawla & Sehwag get a place in the final 15? And why were the ones in form, like Uthappa, Mishra and Ojha, left out?
Talking about fitness, injured players like Sehwag, Zaheer, Praveen were selected for the important tie. Selectors chose a bowling attack which lacked in precision and pace.
What is more baffling is that even though the same players showed a sense of discomfort against the rising balls in England last year, the selectors selected them for playing in the bouncy pitches of the Indies.
As Dhoni pointed out, the IPL and the parties took a toll on the players’ body. He rightly said this as the 45 day long money carnival took everything from the players as it demanded contribution from them, on and off the field ( Demanding schedule, late night parties, travelling, media work) .
IPL projected itself as equivalent to the world cricket tournaments so as to create a false sense of confidence, so that nobody thinks about the bigger task at hand. The flat wickets at IPL gave the spectators a reason to cheer as they saw their hero’s hitting DLF maximums. But they forgot that in an IPL team, there can be only 4 foreign players and the rest of the players are local lads who have plenty to learn.
Now coming to the WC players, they lacked self-confidence, adaptation, fitness, energy and match practice at bouncy tracks. The team strength was batting but many of them were not in their prime form and were injured. Yuvraj, Gambhir were out of touch, where as Sehwag got injured just before the tournament and as a result we never got the right opening combination. The inform batsmen felt a tough time when it came to facing the music. In the bowling department, except Harbhajan, none of them were too good or even average.
Bowling, frankly speking, was horrendous. Moreover the all-rounder’s failed miserably. The likes of Jadeja, Pathan failed in both the departments. The captain’s decision to choose bowling after winning the toss is also under the scanner. His selection of team which was a heavy spin was also a reason combined with his selection of batting order. The running between the wickets was pathetic and the fielding was of IPL standard.
India’s next big assignment is to play and reach at least the semifinal of the 2011 WC which is incidentally being organized in the sub-continent. So, for Dhoni and his boys it can be said that failure here will be hard to stomach but failure there will lead to repercussions.
So it’s time they should find their forms and show the world that they are not toothless tigers and for doing this BCCI and selectors should help the men in blue by taking wiser decision and giving them proper rest and practice, while selectors should choose a team which has a blend of youth and experience and on basis of form and not reputation.
The writer is the Sports Editor of Youth Ki Awaaz.