Making sense of the big stories

'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

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India in the World Twenty20

'Shocking that bouncers were India's nemesis'

June 16, 2009

Sanjay Manjrekar: "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" © AFP

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.

Sanjay Manjrekar: "MS Dhoni's inability to get the ball to the ropes consistently is beginning to concern me, and it should concern Indian cricket as to why that is happening" © Associated Press

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

Posted by steve19191 on (June 17, 2009, 13:00 GMT)

Good afternoon all, quite frankly i am flabbergasted by some of the comments here, I for one am a great fan of indian cricket i think the flair they bring to all formats of the game is marvellous having said that i think the main reason india are out of the tournament was over confidence i think they took the WI´s very lighty thinking they were going to roll them over easily, and whem faced with a very average england sde they again thought all they had to do was turn up.

Such a shame where so much talent is nullified by arrogance

Posted by aizad on (June 17, 2009, 7:51 GMT)

England is one of the few places worldwide where players techniques get severely tested owing to weather conditions. India was unable to adapt to the moving ball in the early stages of the tournament. They tried to tackle this by bringing front-foot into play more often for reducing the ball swing. This resulted in their downfall against the English team that bounced them out. The Indian players were all looking to come on the front foot too early and that did them in!

Posted by kimivasu on (June 17, 2009, 4:33 GMT)

India has always been bad at playing the shot balls. Now it was clearly evident that no one in the current team was able to play the rising delivery. If it was the shot ball in the batting section, fielding was at its worst ever. I do pity the players. They had to play without any break. Dhoni was clearly struggling with his glovework because of his finger injury. He didn't have any time to rest his injured fingers. I am actually happy the coach has the guts to blame BCCI n IPL, which I believe is blame worthy for pushing their invaluable players to breakdown. One more factor was team selection. I am absolutely baffled how Praveen Kumar was not picked and also giving a game to the inexperienced n young Jadeja in a pressure game when a more experienced player was available in the form of Dinesh Karthik who certainly played the rescuer act for DD time and again this IPL!! Please correct me if DK wasn't yet available in those matches.

Posted by hussain65 on (June 16, 2009, 22:13 GMT)

Well... The simple reason for India's dissappointment was jadeja's 25 which came from 35 balls.... in this nature of game batsman should have minium strike rate of 100 and speacially when you have a target run rate of over 7.00 If he was not able to hit big shorts, than should have rotate the strike Those 10 balls which were gone wasted was the key of losing the game for india. I think lack of managment from Dhoni, he should have sent Yuvraj or more experience player rather than testing a new player. Also the India team was very over confident because of IPL. thinking that they can do everything and this WC is there's.... from day one. Also every team was prepared aganist them and played there best.. Anyway this will teach some lesson that " IPL is IPL and International Cricket is International Cricket"

Posted by gerardpereira20 on (June 16, 2009, 21:57 GMT)

Gary Kirsten is right to blame the IPL for India's failure at the T20 world cup.The players were jaded and injury prone and the whole team bar Yuvraj played well below par. Fatigue affected the players ability to perform under pressure, There were too many basic mistakes from the captain downdwards. The format requires at least two power hitters in the top three to take advantage of the field ristrictions in the first six overs, Rohit Sharma, Gambir and an out of form Raina did not fit this criteria. The quick bowlers ,which ever combination you choose leaked too many runs at the start and at the death. There were too many elementary tactical mistakes made by Dhoni in the England game. Raina's inability to cope with the short ball, Jadega's inability to rotate the strike, Ishant bowling too short balls, Zaheer and Harbajan bowling wides, the list goes on and on. Dhonis brave new world is in tatters.Tendulkar, Dravid ,Ganguly and Kumble are going to be a hard act to follow

Posted by tanveers on (June 16, 2009, 20:18 GMT)

Ishant Sharma is over rated. I say that again. See his record (Bowling average of 33 in tests, 30 in ODI, and 55 in T20Is). Just because he got Ponting out a few times does not mean anything. You have to have numbers behind you to prove. The thing with India is that, they have never produced a genuine fast bowler, and if any time a bowler hits a 140 km/h mark, that bowler starts making news.

Furthermore, what happened today? The spin masters got spun? How cocky it was to play with the same Eleven? See that's the point I was trying to make. Indian team is way over confident. They wanted to prove a point that with the same 11 they can beat the current best team of the tournament (RSA). But Alas, they were again just not good enough.

Posted by venk............... on (June 16, 2009, 18:26 GMT)

Team is very good in all the aspects however due to tactics of Dhoni India failed to make it to semi final.Incosistency in batting orde,Dhoni's poor performance in batting,poor fielding,lack of motivation,shewag's absence etc are the predominent facotrs which affected the team's success.Dhoni is a middle order player and he is good in picking the single's and two's .....but he came to bat at no 3 this is the main demotivational factor to the players like Yuvraj and Raina,though he batted at no 3 did not maintained good strike more thing is he failed to have good cooperation among the team.Don't know why the cricket board of India has given that importance to the Dhoni rather than players like Sehwag and Yuvraj.

Gambhir and Rohit's opening pair is the one more cause for the India's failre.As a opener one should be aggressive but both the batsmen's failed in doing that.Rather than Rohit sharma ...Yusuf Pathan is the best pair to Gambir to open the innings.

Posted by DrDeepakSitaramHiwale on (June 16, 2009, 18:01 GMT)

I think the comments made by Gary Kirsten warrant some close scrutiny into the overuse and the injuries that the cricketers are sustaining as a result. If any one is to blame, it is not the captain or the coach or the team; it is the BCCI and the ICC that is to be blamed. They have no respect for the demands of the cricketers to have a closer at the schedule of the cricket calender; Sachin has been saying that for years now. Don't want to be critical of anyone, but cricket wont lose out if people like tanvers and nasersid didnt watch cricket. I mean I have seen people who have never ever held a cricket bat in their hand having an opinion on how sachin should have played. When Tanveers says that Ishant is over rated, I would like to remind him that Ishant at the age of 19, was making Ponting, the then best batsman in the world, dance to his tune. If anything, I think we Indians don't rate him high enough.Also I'd really like to know what Mr Tanveers had achieved in life by the age of 19

Posted by DrDeepakSitaramHiwale on (June 16, 2009, 17:47 GMT)

I think sachin_kglr is right when he says that the intensity was lacking. Gary Kirsten pretty much summed it up when he blamed fatigue for the loss of the Indian cricket team in the ongoing tournament. I have been traveling the length and breadth of England to cover the matches of the ICC World twenty 20 and just that has been quite an exhausting experience, although I get to sit in the comforts of the press box, sip away cold drink and work away on my laptop. Imagine traveling around the world and then turning up for every match with a billion people expect you to perform every match. I have seen some commentators who have represented India go on record and say that some of Dhoni's decisions were not right. If a lay man went and said that, you can understand but when a seasoned ex cricketer says that, you feel sorry for the chap. Everyone knows that if India would have won, no one would have questioned the promotion of Jadeja. It is very easy to criticize in hindsight.

Posted by anantshruti on (June 16, 2009, 17:13 GMT)

I think there was lot of pressure on the team to perform especially with the recent success that this team had in India and overseas. First world cup when India won, no one anticipated it and there was literally no pressure on the team. They performed and they won. even if we take the recent success in New-Zealand, India won the Test and One-Day series but lost both the T20 games. With IPL happening immediately before the world cup (rteally stupid), Indian team was at worst condition physically. We lost Sehwag and Zaheer barely mad ein the nck of the time. Then they had a very easy pool in the round robin and totally never exposed to real big guns. So, we should over react to this, take some good rest and move on.

Dhoni is a great cricketer and very good captain. T20 is all about strategies and tactics, some day they work and some day they go against. It does hurt but got to move on.

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