Soul-searching time for India

Former champions must work on shortcomings after another early exit

Soul-searching time for India

On his knees: Skipper MS Dhoni will have to cop a lot of flak after  India made an unceremonious exit from the World T20. AFP

Three years ago, India were the World T20 champions but today, they appear a pale shadow of their glorious past. In his first assignment as the skipper of the national squad, Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the world by storm, leading India to a stirring title win in South Africa, but in the last two years, he has been unable replicate his magic. Six straight defeats in the Super Eights of this competition spread over two years mean there is some serious soul-searching to be done.

Ever since the West Indies bounced the Indian batsmen to their doom in England in the last edition, all other top have successfully exploited this weakness in the Indian armoury.

The Indian batsmen appeared almost bullish as they whacked the daylights out of the hapless bowlers on flat Indian tracks during the Indian Premier League, but in conditions slightly favouring the bowlers, they have looked vulnerable, to say the least.

During his grilling by the media after the exit, Dhoni admitted that there were a few issues to be addressed. “We are not performing to our potential, that’s for sure,” he agreed, but was unable to come up with a proper answer for India’s abysmal show in this event. “I don’t know (where we are going wrong)… can’t really say much about it. It’s not that we have come here to lose.

“We have given our 100 percent and if at the end of the day you are on the losing side, you can’t do much about it. This is the best T20 side you can get in India. I think the boys are giving their best, they are preparing well and practising well, but if you are outplayed by the opposition, there is nothing much you can do about it,” he explained.

It was almost 10 months ago that India were made aware of their inadequacies against the rising ball, but no amount of work in the nets seems to have helped them. Dhoni recognised that India’s woes stemmed from that fact that they grow up playing on flat pitches and face bowlers who can’t crank up high speeds.

“Most of us have that problem for that matter, not just the youngsters,” noted Dhoni. While the stumper maintained that there was no way India could neglect the problem, he also felt that there was no shame in admitting the weakness.

“We come from a place where we don’t have bowlers who bowl at 145-150 kmph consistently, and most of the wickets don’t have that kind of bounce. We should also remember that we are good players of spin and that’s our strength. We shouldn’t be ashamed that we can’t play short-pitched bowling. And also in T20, how much can you be ducking and leaving all the time? But if you have a problem, it means you have one and there’s nothing much you can do about it,” he reasoned.

Nothing much you can do? Well, there is plenty to be done. Team India coach Gary Kirsten is from South Africa and as an opener of great repute, you can’t expect a better person to come up with solutions to the problem which has become a bit of a joke now. So much so, that even the gentle medium-pace bowlers look to bounce the Indian batsmen out.

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