Post IPL, players went into their comfort zones - Anil Kumble
Former India captain Anil Kumble has said that Indian players could have slackened a bit following the IPL, where the pressure of performing for franchises is "quite intense".
"The pressure during the IPL is very different, as you are performing for your franchises," Kumble wrote in the Hindustan Times. "It's quite intense. Perhaps, the players felt more in their comfort zone when they went back into an Indian set-up and it cost them. It sounds odd but it makes sense."
Kumble was critical of India's handling of their fast bowlers during the tournament. "After Praveen Kumar went back, Zaheer Khan seemed to be struggling with something and Ashish Nehra, on his own, wasn't enough on that wicket. Our selection was wrong in Barbados, where we played an extra batsman. India did not show faith in Vinay Kumar on a wicket that offered both bounce and carry, which was a mistake," Kumble wrote.
Kumble was worried by the team management's inability to nurture fast-bowling talents. "If you look at the number of players who have turned out for India over the past couple of years, there's quality. Yet, they've all disappeared: You don't have Sreesanth, RP Singh is completely off the selectors' radar, there's no news of Munaf Patel, and Ishant Sharma seems out of sync. Irfan Pathan, a key player in any format, is gone.
"We need to look at how we're handling our pacemen - just like we've picked Abhimanyu Mithun, who turned out for India in the last one-dayer against South Africa, for the India A team. He should have been picked for the Zimbabwe tour. We're making the mistake of picking players for ODIs based on their IPL performance but bowling ten overs and four are completely different," Kumble wrote.
Kumble thinks India missed a trick in not including Irfan Pathan in the scheme of things, given his credentials as a seam-bowling allrounder. Instead, India was saddled with Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja, both spinning allrounders, who were umimpressive with the ball during the tournament. "In Irfan's case especially, it's worrying because while India have spinning allrounders, players who can do a bit here and there, they need someone for the role Shane Watson does so well for Australia, Jacques Kallis has done for years for South Africa or a Tim Bresnan, with his ability to bowl 137-138 kms per hour and then bat, is beginning to do for England," Kumble wrote.
Kumble also thought India paid for their lack of flexibility in the batting department. "Maybe, sending Yusuf Pathan out when the Sri Lankan spinners were bowling in tandem would have made more sense on that wicket. We needed someone to get a 20-ball 50. Also, someone like Dinesh Karthik, who's batted in the middle for India, would probably have been useful in the games in Barbados, given his ability to play the rising ball. India have to address the problem - either ensure that the guys in the team adapt to the bouncing ball or pick people who can play it," Kumble wrote.
Kumble's most telling observation was about the mindset of the team. "Despite knowing fully well what we needed to get before the game, we couldn't - Sri Lanka didn't look at getting 143, they looked at winning. They were not defensive and that's where they got it right.
"Their positive mindset was the difference between them and India, as evidenced by what Dhoni said after the loss to the West Indies. 'We'll play Lanka and go home'. India seemed already resigned to the fact that they were out and that was unacceptable," Kumble wrote.