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'Shocking that bouncers were India's nemesis'
What led to India's surprise exit from the World Twenty20? Sanjay Manjrekar and Dileep Premachandran analyse (10:32)
June 16, 2009
India in the World Twenty20
'Shocking that bouncers were India's nemesis'June 16, 2009
In-form players in the IPL, two easy wins over Ireland and Bangladesh - as India stormed into the Super Eights of the World Twenty20, they were red-hot favourites to retain their title. But all it took were two defeats to West Indies and England, and India now find themselves out of the tournament.
Once again it was the age-old problem of the inability of their frontline batsmen to play the short ball that came back to haunt them. The West Indian bowlers exploited that weakness on a fast Lord's pitch on Friday, and then it was the England fast bowlers who made life difficult for the Indian batsmen with a barrage of short deliveries, bouncing them out of the tournament. Out of the seven wickets that India lost in their game against West Indies, four were to well-directed short deliveries, and in the game against England, two Indian batsmen fell to short balls.
While most of the Indian batsmen were in good form coming into the tournament, courtesy the IPL, this collective failure of the much-vaunted batting line-up has left many staggered. Sanjay Manjrekar explains why.
Sanjay Manjrekar: India went into this match against England with self-doubts, because I think West Indies really hurt them in the earlier game. Their batting failing actually surprised me, but the reasons for their batting failure was shocking. I believed India had one of the best teams in this championship, even better than the team they had last time around. But Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor on a fast Lord's pitch really gave the rest of the world the idea of how to bowl against India.
What was shocking to me was that in a game like Twenty20, the shortest format, the bouncer would be India's nemesis. That is something I didn't see coming.
And it wasn't just losing wickets to the short ball. Manjrekar believes that it was a lack of the ability on the part of the Indian batsmen to score off the short balls, score eight or nine an over, that cost India dearly. The England bowlers bowled 22 short deliveries to India and the batsmen managed just 20 runs off them - not the ideal scenario in a format that is all about scoring runs in quick time. Manjrekar throws light on where the key Indian batsmen were found wanting technically.
SM: My first observation was that they tried to hit their way out of trouble, which is a risky option. When you are in trouble, you either defend or attack. When you attack, you have to be sure that you have that kind of ability as a batsman to attack the short deliveries.
Rohit Sharma at the top - it wasn't so much about his ability to attack the short ball, but right through the tournament I think he was trying to play too many shots for somebody who doesn't need to. Gambhir wasn't quite 100% and the short deliveries didn't quite help him. He scored fluently when the ball was pitched up, but struggled against the short ball. Suresh Raina at No. 3 really dented India's confidence, because that is a very important position and in the two matches against West Indies and England he looked really out of place against the short ball. It's not just about a wicket or the dot balls, it's just how the team looked, as well, against that sort of bowling. The moral advantage then goes to the other side. The England bowlers felt on top when they suddenly had one or two top Indian batsmen hopping
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to send Ravindra Jadeja in at No. 4, playing his first game of the tournament, has come under severe criticism. Jadeja managed 25 in 35 deliveries, and his partnership of 38 with Gautam Gambhir took seven overs, at a time when India really needed to seize the initiative. While Manjrekar says that Jadeja coming ahead of Yuvraj Singh surprised him, India's problems in the batting go beyond that.
|"There was the lack of intensity from India in the Super Eights games against West Indies and England. It just looked like the team that wanted it more won. India were much more sloppy than both West Indies and England. In Twenty20 games the margin for error is so small that if you are sloppy and if you have three or four bad overs, either with the bat or the ball, you have lost it" Dileep Premachandran|
SM: The problem I see with Jadeja is that he doesn't have the strength and the power for Twenty20 cricket. So he struggled to up the tempo. I thought he showed great courage while bowling and in the early half of his innings. His problem was in his inability to get the ball to the boundary, which started putting pressure on the batsmen. That was one weakness that hurt India, but more than that it was the top three failing and not making an impact in the crucial games that was the biggest setback for India.
It wasn't just the inability of the Indian batsmen against the short ball that was shown up. Tactically, too, India came undone. Cricinfo's Dileep Premachandran, who was at the game against England, elaborates.
Dileep Premachandran: I'm not sure how much it was a technical issue and how much it was tactical issue in not being able to cope with the pressure and getting the tactics wrong. For example: knowing that somebody like Raina has had a problem against the short ball in the past and knowing that England used that tactic from ball one yesterday, I was surprised that he was sent in at No. 3 instead of a Yuvraj or Yusuf Pathan. And in the same vein, Jadeja had played one ODI before last night and, I think, two Twenty20 games, so the decision to send him ahead of experienced players was just utterly bizarre.
While fingers have been pointed at India's batting, there are other areas where the team has come up short that affected their overall performance. India gave away 57 runs in the last five overs in the game against England; conceded 16 extras compared to England's eight, and in the game against West Indies there were several lapses in the field. Areas that cost India dear, Premachandran says.
DP: I think I would put it down to two things. I think one was the lack of intensity in the Super Eights games against West Indies and England. It just looked like the team that wanted it more, won. India were much more sloppy than both West Indies and England. In Twenty20 games the margin for error is so small that if you are sloppy and if you have three or four bad overs, either with the bat or the ball, you have lost it.
Looking at yesterday's game, you could just pinpoint that seven-over partnership between Jadeja and Gambhir, where they made just 38 and left the others with way too much to do. If you look at the campaign on the whole, there are definite worries over both the new ball and death bowling. I am not sure that Ishant Sharma has mastered this format yet. The spin bowling looks okay, but some of the batsmen are not as good as they think they are.
One of the reasons why India were considered favourites coming into this tournament was the form of their key players in the IPL. Two Indian batsmen, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, were in the list of the top 10 run-makers in the tournament; three Indian bowlers, RP Singh, Pragyan Ojha and Irfan Pathan, featured among the top 10 wicket-takers. But Premachandran believes that getting carried away with the performance of the Indian players in the IPL was not the right thing to do.
DP: There is a lot of talk about how the IPL has benefited Indian players, and it has, there is no question about that. But there is a big difference between playing for an IPL team, where you have experienced or great players around you, and being part of a national team, where the pressures are different and maybe team composition reflects a lot of things. And you have to adapt differently in the international arena. India just haven't done it this time. They were well beaten by West Indies and they were not clever enough to win a match against England that they should have won.
Problems with short-pitched bowling and tactical errors may well have cost India, but there is another factor that cannot be overlooked and that is the poor run of form of the captain. Dhoni managed just 81 runs in four games, with a high score of 30 and a strike-rate of about 105. What has troubled India more than his lack of runs, though, has been his inability to get the momentum going despite spending a fair amount of time at the crease. And this was shown up clearly in the game against West Indies, when, coming in at 29 for 3, Dhoni struggled to a 23-ball 11.
SM: I was watching Dhoni yesterday and if he had hit even one big shot in the innings that he played, India could have come close to chasing that target down. Dhoni's inability to get the ball to the ropes consistently - he tries and he is unable to do that - is beginning to concern me, and it should concern Indian cricket as to why that is happening. That, to me, is the major concern more than why he is not getting runs. You can run through a bad patch but why aren't Dhoni's big shots coming off, even when he needs to play them? Sometimes he doesn't want to play them, but yesterday was an innings where he had to go in and hit a couple of big shots and they just weren't coming. And it's happening often enough for everyone to be concerned.
When Dhoni came in, not too many bowlers knew where to bowl to him. What they have realised with him is that they need to pitch the ball right up, which means Dhoni also now has to start developing a few other shots whereby he counters this move by the bowlers. My feeling is, maybe yes, after he started off as a real dasher, he then played some very effective match-winning innings with a slightly conservative approach, and now that India need him to go out and be that blaster again, I think he has lost some of the spunk that he had with the big hitting
Dhoni accepted that it was a collective failure on the part of the Indian team that led to their early ouster from the tournament. How India now face up to West Indies in their four-match ODI series after the World Twenty20 ends could well reflect whether they have learned from their mistakes.
With Ranjit Shinde, this is Akhila Ranganna for Cricinfo
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