Holes in Dhoni tactics sank India

Holes in Dhoni tactics sank India



Their early tournament form, including a towering win over South Africa in the first phase, seemed to justify their status as joint favourites, but a shift in venue from placid St Lucia to fiery Bridgetown triggered a dramatic turnaround in fortunes that Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men were unable to arrest.

In becoming the only side not to register a victory in the Super Eights, India’s tactical shortcomings were ruthlessly exposed. The Australian pace juggernaut reopened the wounds inflicted by the short-pitched delivery that had proved their undoing in the same competition in England last year, and the West Indies rubbed salt into those wounds.

News spreads fast in international cricket these days. The fallibility of India’s much-vaunted young guns against the short stuff is hardly a secret; what is shocking, though, is that in the period between the England disaster and this Caribbean misadventure, little thought or work appears to have gone into rectifying a glaring inadequacy.

Neither Yuvraj Singh, in the midst of one of his most prolonged slumps, nor the overhyped Yusuf Pathan looked like scoring a run. Dhoni did his and the team’s cause little good by steadfastly refusing to be flexible, stubbornly relying on tried, tested and unsuccessful methods both with bat and ball, a shortcoming quickly identified by such legends as Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri.

Only Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma came away with their reputations enhanced. Others, including senior pro Zaheer Khan and Dhoni himself, must return to the drawing board if they are not to court humiliation on a regular basis.

More as an observation and less as an excuse, Dhoni spoke in the immediacy of India’s campaign-ending defeat to Sri Lanka on Tuesday of the necessity to respect the body.

The Indian captain was referring to the late-night parties of the IPL — since banned by interim chairman Chirayu Amin — and have expectedly raised a hue and cry.

It’s no secret that most Indian players, old and young alike, were no fans of the post-match parties which they considered an imposition. There were the inevitable party animals, and it was perhaps to them that Dhoni was alluding when he spoke of the pitfalls of incessant partying. There is no denying the adverse impact of playing till midnight, partying into the early hours of the morning and then flying off for another dose of the same.

In the Caribbean, India were found wanting tactically and technically. If they are to remain competitive in all formats, they must correct these anomalies as quickly as Amin righted the folly of late-night parties. Or continue to flounder and disappoint.

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