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I hope India choked

May 12, 2010

I hope India choked against Sri Lanka on May 11th 2010. I hope that seasoned professionals with significant amounts of experience lost the plot in a crunch game. I hope it was technical deficiencies brought about by an all-consuming focus on the money-engorged IPL that was the cause for their 2nd embarrassing exit in as many editions of the T20 World Cup. Because the alternative is way too disturbing.

When a team needs not just a win, but a defined margin of victory, to stay alive in a big tournament, one of two things tends to happen. All out “nothing-to-lose” cricket that shocks the opponent or abject surrender. India did neither yesterday.

A statistic that reads 37 in the last 5 overs leads you to expect a clump of wickets resulting from desperate heaves by the batsmen. Fact is only 3 wickets fell. At the end of the 10th over, India were at 90/1. 10 overs to go with almost the entire batting lineup to come. The 2nd wicket fell in the 12th over, when Dhoni promoted himself to number 4. The score was 98/2 after 12 overs. From then until the end of the final over, India scored 65 runs for the loss of 3 more wickets. Dhoni faced 19 balls and scored 23 runs. He hit one ball over the rope. Most of the other deliveries were a combination of nudged singles and mistimed drives. At no stage did he look like he was out there to get as many as possible without regard to losing his wicket. A total of 180-plus ended up at 163.

In contrast to the Indian innings, Sri Lanka was at 58/3 at their halfway mark. The required run rate for them was 10.60 and for India to defend was 8.60. Sri Lanka needed a win and needed over 11 an over in the last five. Big matches and slowing tracks make anything over 7 a challenge but Sri Lanka not only knocked out India but won the game. Like the batsmen, none of the bowlers lost the plot save for a Nehra over where three boundaries were hit. With a run rate of 7 to defend (to qualify), Dhoni got Vinay Kumar to bowl around the wicket to defend the shorter legside boundary. Instead of providing run savers within the circle on the offside, he kept deep point where the batsmen collected their singles and twos with disdainful ease. Only when Sri Lanka had scored the 143 did he bring in more fielders into the circle. What followed can be attributed to a demoralized side having nothing to play for or something more.

I have observed Dhoni’s batting and his captaincy for too long to be left wondering. About the 19 deliveries he faced where he played not more than 3-4 shots in anger. About the defensive field placings that gave easy singles to a middle-order that had scored precious little in the tournament so far. Dhoni’s tactics have sometimes been unorthodox but never plain defensive and daft. I am left with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach about whether it was 11 against 11 in India’s final match at the T20 World Cup. I hope India are really that bad.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2010 10:14 pm

    Hey Nice post…ya the night parties are the problem…my question is should we need IPL??
    my friend wrote a blog read it and post ur valuable comment…

    • May 14, 2010 9:45 am

      good post on your blog. I partly agree with the points raised. Mostly, India were never that good at T20 as that world cup win made it seem.

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