Indian batting collapse bizarre: Former cricketers
New Delhi: Former cricketers on Sunday described India`s dramatic batting collapse in the three-wicket loss to South Africa in a World Cup encounter as bizarre but defended captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his decision to give the last over to paceman Ashish Nehra.
India suffered a stunning batting collapse with their last nine wickets falling for a mere 29 runs to be all out for 296. Later, South Africa needed 13 from the last over for a win but Nehra conceded 16 runs from the first four balls as India lost by three wickets.
South African legend Barry Richards blamed Indian batting collapse for the loss. "It was bizarre and nobody expected such a thing from a batting side like India. I could not imagine at the 40th over that India would not play the whole 50 overs and would be all out for 296," he said.
"I imagine that South Africa might have been really boosted in their confidence after bundling them out for 296," he said.
Former Indian opener Arun Lal was also puzzled as to how India could lose nine wickets for just 29 runs.
"If a team like India can be bundled out for 296 from 267 for one in the 40th over, it`s inexplicable. But it also showed that you cannot depend on the bowlers and I feel another 10-15 runs (to India`s total) would not have made much difference," he said.
Lal pointed out that Dhoni`s shuffling of the batting order has not worked so far in the tournament, including the promotion of Yusuf Pathan up the order against South Africa.
He said Pathan should be told not to go after the ball immediately after taking guard. "In hindsight, the shuffling of the batting order did not work out. Pathan is paying dear because of his reputation. He must be brought down the order. If he is to be promoted he will have to be told that the team does not expect him to go after the bowler from the first ball," Lal said.
"He should be told to watch the first 5-6 balls and then he can do more damage than all other batsmen put together," he said.
Lal, however, defended Dhoni`s choice of Nehra for the last over but said that the paceman failed to deliver when it mattered the most.
"We are talking too much about the last over being given to Harbhajan Singh. But normally in such circumstances there is more chance of a spinner being hit for boundaries. You don`t expect it from a medium pacer. The only thing is that Nehra failed to put any of his four balls to the block hole," he said.
Former New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond refused to blame Dhoni`s captaincy for India`s loss and said axe should not fall on Nehra for his last over performance.
"Everybody is right on hindsight. Dhoni has been doing well as captain for the past few years. It was simply a case of his moves not working out on a particular day. He did not have a good day in the office. He must have thought that Nehra would do the job," he said.
"These things happen with any international side. Nehra could not do the job but it should not be that he should not be considered for the next game because of that," said Bond.