S. SOORAJ | 7th November 2021

Let’s face the facts- a 66-run victory against Afghanistan and a 6-over chase against Scotland was still too late for this star-studded Indian team that have crashed our in the Super 12.

So, what did go wrong for a side that looked a safe bet for the final?

The luck wasn’t the best and the performances were even worse

Everything went south for India from the word ‘go’ in this T20 World Cup and despite seeming to reclaim their usual devastating form back, a shot at the title looks a bit too far-fetched.

And while admittedly, the performances in the first two games were a shambles, Lady Luck wasn’t on Team India’s side either.

After all, the toss has been a deciding factor in almost every Super 12 contest as of yet. And this didn’t come as a surprise because we saw the coin dictate the winner in the IPL as well.

Almost every team that wins the toss puts the opposition into bat, in the hope of restricting them to a below-par score. The pitches are initially slow, which makes it next to impossible for the batsmen to get going and set an imposing total.

And in the second innings, the dew plays an enormous factor, making picking wickets seem like rocket science.

And with Virat Kohli and losing tosses going together like bread and butter, the Indian team was already on the back foot before the games began against both Pakistan and New Zealand.

Another factor where misfortune was on India’s was the fixture pile-up.

While being thrown into the deep end amongst sharks such as Australia, England, South Africa and West Indies may seem like the group on death on paper, the way the ties were stacked up made Kohli and his troops’ journey a slippery slope.

India walked into the group of sudden death where every win mattered. And given that the first two games were against the heavyweights in the group, it was all or nothing die from the get-go and their hopes died before the Indians found a way to come to life again.

Due to the losses in the first two fixtures, India’s survival was in the hands of Afghanistan against a boisterous Kiwi outfit. And we all know how that turned out.

Now that we’ve been fair and given India the benefit of the doubt, it’s time to say it as it is.

While the fixtures, the toss, the fatigue and the bubble all seem like fair reasons, the fact is that India were poor against Pakistan and New Zealand.

A team of superstars that is well and truly capable of toppling any team on their day, the Indian side simply did not rise to such high-octane occasions.

After the 2013 Champions Trophy triumph, the Men in Blue have failed to win an ICC trophy, despite this being a golden era of Indian cricket.

This Indian team seem to ram through any top team in bilateral tours, but it has to be said they just cannot replicate the same in ICC tournaments.

Fingers can be pointed but India have been underwhelming and quite deservingly, are on the brink of an early exit.

Is the Indian batting arsenal up to scratch for T20 cricket?

Sure, the side features stalwarts such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul in their ranks. But can a T20 side go with just 3 game-changing who take their time to settle into their stride before they get going?

The treasured trip shine for their IPL franchises because the roles they carry out are a polar apart from when they don the national colors.

Virat Kohli opens the batting for RCB and anchors the side, not having to accelerate the innings with AB de Villiers and Glen Maxwell going big at will. The same goes for Rohit Sharma who can sit back and let the big-hitters at MI enter demolition mode.

With Rahul, it’s a whole different story as he needs to be sensible knocks as there’s not other batsmen in that XI, capable of seeing the Punjab Kings through.

How can 3 anchors be the core of an Indian side that scored only 6 sixes in a combined 40 overs against New Zealand and Pakistan?

The story against Afghanistan and Scotland was totally different of course and hence, it doesn’t count as a part of the assessment.

This ties into the point that India’s batting really struggles to have a go at top-drawer pace attacks like that of New Zealand and Pakistan.

Another problem that needs to be highlighted is how unsure they make-up of the top order is. Kohli had said publicly that he would open with Rohit in the T20 World Cup before the start of the IPL.

And after the tournament, KL Rahul’s incredible outing forced the Indian skipper’s hand at sending him out to open proceedings.

And just after one loss, he rejigged the line-up yet again, pairing KL Rahul with Ishan Kishan and it had failure written all over it.

This doesn’t just come off as much of a surprise because this set of players haven’t even played 5 T20I games together.

While the IPL is a conveyer belt of talent, it’s high time India look beyond just IPL performances and build a T20 outfit that works in tandem.

Imagine this side with in-form risk-takers that could be the yin to the yang of Kohli, Rahul and Sharma and the tide would have been turned.

Why an extra all-rounder could have been a gamechanger

And it has to be said that one of the main deficiencies in the side still remains Hardik Pandya, who was supposed to take up the role of a dynamic pinch-hitter in the middle-order.

But his forgettable run with the bat only adds to the woes of what he cannot do with the ball as things stand.

Picked as a specialist death-batsman, his lack of exploits, barring the clash against Afghanistan was a major blow to the Indians.

Going into a T20 game with only 5 bowlers isn’t always a great idea. And especially when your fifth bowler is Ravindra Jadeja.

Jaddu isn’t your traditional first-choice bowler and to expect him to bowl full spells is silly. When his spin-bowling doesn’t seem to work, he is more prone to having a poor day on the field.

This has been a recurring pattern at CSK where he would rarely bowl four overs in a game.

Only in the games where the conditions are favorable to Jadeja would Dhoni hand over the ball to him to complete his spell. And it worked like a charm for the Men in Yellow.

While Jadeja is easily one of the most valuable players in this Indian set-up, expecting him to deliver in every possible way is too much of an ask.

But Jadeja or no Jadeja, with more options on the field, captains always have the choice to change things up. And Pandya not being able to bowl in the first two games of the T20 World Cup turned out to be an absolute blunder for India.

Kohli was forced to bowl all his bowlers out and both New Zealand and Pakistan strolled to an easy win.

Simply another result of shambolic mismanagement which lead to a lack of clarity when it comes to Hardik Pandya’s role. The Mumbai Indians juggernaut didn’t bowl a single over in the second phase of the IPL and all eggs were still put into one basket, based off zero evidence.

While two losses in UAE don’t dismiss the miraculous triumphs that this Indian team have achieved in the past few years, there’s more to building a super-team than a stacked squad. When specific roles align with world-class cricketers, there’s your winning recipe.

Too many cooks really have spoilt the broth for India this time around.

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