The knives are out as India have to failed to progress past the Super Eights of the T20 World Cup for the second year in a row. However, the question that needs to be asked is was the result really that unexpected? We saw a precursor last year when India struggled against the short ball in England. What was different this time? Nothing. And that is precisely the reason why India failed to deliver the goods yet again.
One shouldn’t be too critical of the IPL factor, since most players from the other participating countries also featured in the cricketainment package. However, the fact of the matter is that playing in the IPL wasn’t the best possible preparation for India, prior to heading for the Caribbean. And, this was evident as soon as the first Super Eight fixture against Australia.
The 360 degree shift from the low bouncy tracks of India to the pace and bounce of Barbados caught India unawares. And, this was the most disappointing factor. It’s one thing to try and fail as opposed to not trying at all. Everyone saw what happened in England last year.
Yet, they were not an inch better prepared this time around. With such an attitude the team can hardly go places, at least when they play on bouncy tracks.
No doubt there is a wealth of talent in this Indian squad. But to beat world beaters consistently, they need to adapt to all kinds of conditions rather than chickening out and waiting for the surface that is to their liking to succeed. The case of Suresh Raina is a perfect illustration.
On the slow, low bounce tracks, he batted like the IPL was still very much on. However, when he got his turn to prove his mettle at Barbados, he preferred to back out of the challenge. Instead to trying to bide his time by, the left-hander was content trying to pull the short ball without ever getting to the pitch of it and was totally rattled.
The most worrying aspect of India’s loss wasn’t the fact that they were beaten, but the manner in which they went down. When even a quality batsman like Gautam Gambhir is caught behind, embarrassingly fending off a little-known West Indies quickie, you know you are in real trouble.
The Windies bowlers fed off the confidence they attained by just watching the Aussie pacemen unsettle the Indian top order. And despite knowing what to expect, the Indians had not prepared their answers for the ‘short’ test.
In hindsight, all and sundry are questioning why someone like a Robin Uthappa, who had an unbelievable run in the IPL, wasn’t on the flight to West Indies. But, selection isn’t the moot point here. For that matter, even Murali Vijay was equally devastating in the IPL, only to come a cropper in the World Cup.
The problem goes beyond individuals. Their batting shortcomings apart, India need to do something drastic to improve their shoddy batting and fielding. All above though, what ails Indian cricket is a champion-like attitude, to be the best in any given situation.