Swagger turns into limp for shaky Team India

Swagger turns into limp for shaky Team India

Just one league match remains for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men -- against the West Indies next Sunday in Chennai -- but after another unconvincing performance, questions have to be asked now about their ability to repeat what Kapil Dev’s team achieved so gloriously in 1983.

Five matches into this World Cup, India are yet to deliver a polished all-round performance and the tag of favourites no longer fits them. Their batting sparkled on a couple of occasions while bowling and fielding have been below par most times.
Bangladesh and England felt the full fury of India’s batting might but wobbly performances against Ireland and the Netherlands soon revealed the chinks.

Saturday then showcased the best and worst of Indian batting -- a spectacular top-order display and an incredibly insipid performance lower down. Dhoni was justified in castigating his batsmen for playing to the gallery rather than for the team and with the business end of the tournament fast approaching, his worries found echo around the nation.

“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 a big difference,” former Indian opener Arun Lal said.

South African legend Barry Richards felt the batting collapse was bizarre. “It was bizarre, 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.

Dhoni’s decision to rejig the batting order too was slammed by Lal. “In hindsight, the shuffling of the batting order did not work out. Yusuf 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.

Their confidence having taken a few blows now, India face a difficult few days with their attitude crucial to the route their campaign will take. Erring on the side of caution can backfire and a cool approach is the need of the hour as bigger tests beckon.

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