IPL has been a big jinx for India's T20 team
Twenty 20 is perceived as a game for youngsters. India's failure in the World T20 should make the selectors take a re-look at its ageing side, says Harish Kotian.
Going by common logic, India should have dominated the World Twenty20. They won the 50-overs World Cup last year, and many from that team, which had a few match-winners, played in the latest edition of the tournament in Sri Lanka.
Playing in the Indian Premier League, where players get to rub shoulders with the best in the world and acquire the best of coaching and training, was the biggest advantage for the Indian players. But the IPL has been a big jinx for them, at least in T20 cricket.
India won the inaugural World T20 in 2007, which paved the way for the creation of the hugely popular IPL in 2008. Call it a coincidence or misfortune, but since the inception of the cash-rich league, India never made it to the semi-finals of the World T20.
Image: The Indian team
Photographs: Daniel Munoz/Reuters
Big loss to Australia proved crucial in the end
A number of factors went awry for India in this World T20, but the crucial and most lethal one was the crushing loss to Australia. The team had to pay a very heavy price for just one big mistake, and even though it came back strongly after that game, it never really recovered from the mauling.
Australia hammered 141 for one in 14.5 overs during their crushing nine-wicket win over India in the Super Eights, scoring at the rate of 9.50 per over, which proved very crucial in the final analysis.
One felt that India had a chance to make up for that thrashing when they dominated Pakistan in the next game. However, they took 17 overs to overhaul a target of 129, at a run rate of 7.58, despite dominating with the bat, as they won by eight wickets.
As a result of that net run-rate difference, combined with Australia's loss to Pakistan by 32 runs, India needed to beat South Africa by 31 runs. But lack of options in the spin department meant that they had to rely on part-timers and also could not go in for the kill in the middle overs, during which they were mostly defensive.
Image: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks on as Australia's David Warner
Photographs: Pal Pillai/Getty Images
India hampered by poor form of openers
India was also hampered big time by the poor form of their openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Sehwag scored just 54 runs in five matches in the tournament and was even dropped for a couple of games, while Gambhir managed just 80 runs, at an average of 16.
Dhoni's team selection also drew a lot of flak. He preferred to play an extra pacer instead of a spinner in the crucial match against South Africa, who are known to be weak against the turning ball. He also seemed short of ideas when Australian openers Shane Watson and David Warner were taking the Indian bowlers apart and let the game drift.
Image: Gautam Gambhir (left) with Virender Sehwag
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Time to replace Dhoni with Kohli as T20 captain?
Maybe, it is time to ring in a change. India made some drastic decisions way back in 2007 when a young Dhoni was a surprise choice as captain of the T20 team. He came back with the World Cup and subsequently took over the reins in the other formats and achieving much success.
One wonders whether the new selection committee, headed by Sandeep Patil, will be brave enough to relieve Dhoni of the captaincy in the T20 format. Virat Kohli, who is being touted as a future India captain, could be handed the job. The move could help groom Kohli for the role in the other formats.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (right) with Virat Kohli
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
India needs to have a re-look at its ageing side
India also needs to have a re-look at its ageing side. T20 is perceived as a game for youngsters, with a lot of emphasis being laid on fitness and speed. The manner in which some senior players struggled on the field was clearly visible. Unlike ODIs and Tests, T20 has no place for the slower fielders to hide.
Also, it is time senior pros like Virender Sehwag (33 years), Zaheer Khan (33 years), Gambhir (30 years) make a call on whether to live their age or work extra-hard on their fitness and be compatible for the shorter version.
For now, though, their places in the squad appear safe as India prepares to switch back to the Test mode. They host England in a four-Test series, starting on November 15, and all the fans want for now is a revenge for the 4-0 whitewash humiliation suffered last year.
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters