There were clear indications of the shortcomings of India’s white ball | Locust

The World Cup is the last place you would want to see your worst nightmare come true. For India it hasn’t declined since peaking in 2011. Okay, 2013 if you want to believe that a five-game winning streak is a proper assessment of a team in an eight-team Champions Trophy. . This is still a huge gap that does not justify India’s growing reputation as a hub for T20 cricket.

A new approach to India’s white ball cricket aspirations was desirable somewhere down the line, if not a complete overhaul. But the concept of accountability in Indian cricket has evolved in recent times. It generally worked in four-year cycles until Mahendra Singh Dhoni got a no-questions-asked overtime with the 2007 T20 World Cup victory. But the lines were deliberately blurred when N Srinivasan vetoed the managers’ decision to find a new captain after India was shut out in England and Australia, just months after winning the 2011 World Cup. The reasoning was perfectly acceptable: how can you remove someone in as an ODI captain based on India’s performance in testing?

OK. What if you adapt then? Why not offload Dhoni from his testing duties (he had an impeccable record at home, just like his predecessors, but ended up winning just six of the 30 tests he led India abroad, losing 15 and drawing nine) and find a suitable replacement? It didn’t happen so well. The first to seize the opportunity to make money with cricket, the BCCI was slow to accept the concept of a divided captaincy. The injury may have escalated in the meantime as BCCI created an imaginary world comprising row-turners for the home playoffs and massive losses abroad under the rug with the IPL. India placed in the bottom four in the 2015 and 2019 50-over World Cups and the 2016 T20 World Cup, but their latest surrender requires this chronicle. India did not become a bad white balloon team overnight. The signs were still there but we chose to ignore it. Out of 32 T20Is, India has finished second since the 2016 World Cup, it has won 23. In the same time frame, however, India has only won 22 of the 41 matches by beating first. Add to that the incessant chopping and changing and the general feeling of indecision that still hangs over this post-Dhoni Indian team and it is no surprise that they are where they are.

Let’s understand how the India team has changed since the arrival of Virat Kohli. Not aligning the same eleven in successive Tests (38 rebounding games, finally) had already started to project Kohli in a different light a few months after taking office. More was coming though. Since Kohli became all-format captain in January 2017, India has debuted 25 cricketers in ODI and 26 in T20I. Only six of these 26 T20I debutants, including seven in the July series against Sri Lanka, joined the team (without the standbys), but not the wrist shooters Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal who in 2017 were hailed. as trumps in white ball cricket. Varun Chakaravarthy has been lined up against Pakistan and New Zealand with an overall international experience of just three games in Sri Lanka while Ravichandran Ashwin, who was selected ahead of Chahal, continues to be on the bench. The same is true of Axar Patel – now on hold after a change of mind on the last day that saw Shardul Thakur supplant him in the squad – because Ravindra Jadeja was supposed to add depth to the stick but didn’t. hasn’t done so far.

T20 is a ruthless format that demands clarity of thought. But India was far from it, demoting Rohit Sharma to No.3 after a failure against Pakistan, a game they played a short pitcher because Hardik Pandya receives the longest string possible to become a versatile again after. be just a # 7 now. . Kohli’s indecision about his place is also mind-boggling. Prior to the IPL, Kohli had announced he would open for the Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of the World Cup. Just before the start of the tournament, he said KL Rahul opening the stick was a “no brainer”. When a Pakistani journalist asked Kohli if he would open the next game with Ishan Kishan instead of Sharma, he gasped as he said the word “amazing” before doing just that against New Zealand. India’s nervousness at batting was visible to the world, whether in its reluctance to attack or in its resilience to graft something into dire straits.

Most of this mess can be blamed on India’s chaotic build-up. Living in a bio-bubble for four months at a trot and Kohli announcing that he would relinquish the captain of the T20I – perhaps to Sharma – but retaining command of the ODI had to have a ripple effect. Dhoni joining the team as a mentor, as it turns out, conjures no magic. Fresh out of an IPL victory, Dhoni’s wish should be interpreted as a command, further complicating the power dynamics within the team. The result was nothing less than a stark realization of the truth that India is far from the drummers of the world they were perceived to be. But it’s not all the team’s fault. Losses are inevitable if you don’t play together for long. And this Indian team T20I does not know how to play together. Between January 1 and October 15, the day of the IPL final, India had only played eight T20Is, including three without nearly 90% of the current T20 World Cup squad against the Sri Lanka in July. During the same period, South Africa played 18 T20I games, Pakistan and the West Indies 17 each, Bangladesh 16, Australia 15, New Zealand 13, Sri Lanka 12 and England 11 games.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way though. India, if you remember, had to call off an ODI home series against South Africa in March as the coronavirus was on the verge of becoming a pandemic. The Proteas were due to return in September for a full set of White Balls including these three ODIs and three T20Is, but the second leg of the IPL occupied that window. And since it was to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates, the IPL was quietly seen as adequate preparation for the World Cup. This is not the case. Jasprit Bumrah is also not under the pump in Mumbai Indians where Trent Boult opens the bowling alley and everyone has role-defined with backup and emergency plans prepared. Chakaravarthy was effective at KKR in part because Sunil Narine was already blocking the tracks on the other side. Kohli was keen to exploit his mystery delivery, but an India-Pakistan match is not the match to attempt a new bowling attack for the first time. It hurt India, but at least they got a good score then. Sunday, however, was a whole new low for which India was not at all prepared.

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    Somshuvra Laha is a sports journalist with over 11 years of experience writing on cricket, football and other sports. He has covered the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, cricket tours to South Africa, the West Indies and Bangladesh and the 2010 Commonwealth Games for Hindustan Times.

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