Even before the ICC World T20 kicked off, we all knew that it wasn’t the best Indian team which was heading into the major tournament. While the selection of some of the players was shocking, the ones who were included on the basis of their past records weren’t in the best nick either. And, as per reports, the ‘rift’ hadn’t settled and there was a lot of talk about the dressing room environment.
India’s major concern was the form of their veteran openers. Gautam Gambhir and Sehwag, who shared a century partnership way back in December 2010, looked shaky all through the tournament. Even in the warm-up games, the execution of their shots and the body language showed their lack of confidence ahead of the crucial tournament.
So pathetic was their form that neither of them could score even half a century. While Gambhir scored 95 runs in seven matches (this includes the two warm-up matches), Viru scored 92 runs in five matches. They never clicked to get India to a good start that eventually created pressure for the middle-order batsmen.
Apart from Virat Kohli, none of the other Indian batsmen was in their best form. There were some doubts over Kohli’s form in the shorter format of the game after he failed to impress in IPL 2012. But the talismanic right-hander continued his purple patch and the cricketing fraternity went gaga over his adaptability for the different formats of the game. As Virat continued to play back-to-back fantastic knocks, Team India became overly dependent on him, something which cost them the tournament.
In spite of serious criticism, Dhoni once again went ahead with the ‘talented’ Rohit Sharma who apart from one knock (55* against England), continued to struggle. Sharma who has had enough opportunities so far, once again couldn’t do much in the tournament, and there was not much difference in his body language either.
Things haven’t changed much for Manoj Tiwary. His last pleasant memory remains to be his winning boundary hit that had sealed the IPL 2012 title for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Since then, the youngster has been asked to warm the benches, making way for the ‘talented’ Rohit.
Throughout the tournament, the Indian team missed a genuine fast bowler, something which the selectors ignored. Umesh Yadav was fit for selection, but the selectors preferred to go with Balaji instead, and at times, India missed a bowler who could rip apart the tail of the opponents. While we have always wanted an express bowler in the side, Umesh Yadav was ignored for reasons unknown.
Indian bowling looked ordinary as the spearhead Zaheer Khan had another tough tournament and it seems as if the left-arm pacer has now taken his place in the side for granted. The 34-year-old went wicket-less in the first four matches and it was only in the last match against South Africa that he managed to pick three wickets. Apart from his inconsistent bowling, Zaheer’s batting can’t be overlooked either. During his hay days, he used to be such a clean striker of the ball. His four successive sixes against Henry Olonga in an ODI in 2000 remains to be one of the finest memories for Indian cricket fans. He was extremely good against the spinners and was not a tail-ender at all. But these days, he barely connects his bat with the ball, let alone hitting boundaries.
Last but not the least, having lost his ‘midas touch’, skipper MS Dhoni continues to disappoint in all formats of the game. He didn’t do anything substantial in the ICC World T20 and even his decision-making was under scrutiny. He experimented with Pathan in the middle of the series, rested Sehwag for two matches and wasn’t sure of which spinners to use.
The openers are not living up to the mark, the pace bowling attack looks ordinary, the middle order lacks consistency and the team environment is susceptible. The selectors, for sure, have a lot to answer and they just cannot keep playing with non-performing veterans. While ‘perform and perish’ is not their cup of tea, they definitely need a skipper who can gel well with the team and also select eleven players for a longer period.