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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Bouquets, Brickbats & World Cups!

I would have ideally loved to have written this happily from the winner’s corner rather than with a team which after threatening to kayo all opposition finished with the silver medal in the just concluded World T20 in Bangladesh. While admitting to not being too sold on the shortest version of International Cricket, I do follow it like any other fan especially if it is a Nation vs Nation tournament. And hence a sense of disappointment aired in the opening lines of this note.

Looking back there were quite a few positives to come out of the tournament. Firstly India reinforced that they are a powerhouse in the subcontinent and the only competition to this team is possibly and equally endowed team from the subcontinent, Sri Lanka in this case. What happens when this team travels to England and in longer formats is a debate which I postpone to a later date. Secondly, and this is not restricted by any geography, is the reconfirmation of the fact that the next batting superstar from India is well and truly underway to dominate all bowling in the years to come. No points for guessing that I refer to Virat Kohli who is likely to become the ‘prized wicket’ in the decades to follow.
'Prized Wicket' in the decades to come
Thirdly, whether it was the pitches or the confidence shown in him or simply the belting he received at the hands of M S Dhoni during practice or a combination of all these, Amit Mishra yet again staked his claim to be the best leggie in India at the moment and by a mile. A large heart comes as an asset if you have to do what Mishi did in the tourney, attack and look for wickets and not be overtly bothered by an odd boundary or two. Finally, the reincarnation of Ravichandran Ashwin as a wicket taking weapon. I am not given to going overboard but that Hashim Amla ball was indeed magic. That his wicket taking led to drop in economy rate was but an expected collateral benefit. Despite the loss in the final the team looks fairly balanced to win in the subcontinent and compete well abroad.

2007 seems eons ago!
The reaction post the defeat in the finals was unexpected to say the least. That people should resort to pelting stones at Yuvraj Singh’s house shows that juvenility is still very much in vogue in the country. Yuvraj Singh is easy target, an identifiable scapegoat. Objectively speaking even his diehard fans would readily admit that he has been off colour for some time now and should have ideally been dropped after the first or second league game. That he was played in every game including the finals speaks volumes of the misplaced confidence the team management reposed on him.

The most disturbing feature for me throughout the tournament though was the Captain. It was visible to the whole world except M S D that Yuvraj was struggling and like hell. Admittedly reposing faith on a struggling player is part of his role, winning for the team is his primary one and MSD was found wanting on this count by backing past performance than present form. Not dropping Yuvi, not changing the batting order to give an inform Suresh Raina a larger opportunity or promoting himself in the final ahead of Suresh Raina who has been at his fluent best in the tourney, preferring Mohit Sharma over Mohammad Shami………..many of these moves belies logic. While one may point out to similar cases in the past, Ishant and CT13 comes to mind, one feels it is time to remind the Captain that he is playing Cricket and not poker.
Time for a 'DRS' on his Captaincy?

If the above lines give you the impression that I am nitpicking, let me assure you I am not. For it was evident to all of us, Sri Lanka bowled possibly the best death overs seen in a long long time. Don’t forget they reduced Dhoni to a strokeless wonder and denied Virat Kohli the strike. They looked hungrier too given the additional incentive of “This time for Sangakkara and Jayawardene”. Reminds us Indians so much about a similar evening at Wankhede on 2nd April 2011!

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