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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Report


Even the selectors are answerable: More

March 24, 2007 23:26 IST


Kiran More
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Sri Lanka virtually ended India's hopes of qualifying for the next stage at the World Cup after powering to a 69-run victory in their Group B match in Trinidad on Friday.

Chasing a target of 255, India were all out for 185 in 43.3 overs to go down tamely in this crunch match.

Only a loss for Bangladesh against minnows Bermuda in the last match in the group can see India sneak through to the Super Eights on a better run-rate.

Kiran More, former India wicketkeeper and chief selector, analyses the India-Sri Lanka match.

'I think the big disappointment for India was their batting. It was a total failure of the batting in the whole World Cup,' he told Special Correspondent Harish Kotian.

'Sourav Ganguly should have taken the initiative. Robin Uthappa is a junior player and always the senior players take strike and play the shots,' he added.

Excerpts:

What went wrong for India in this match? They went down so tamely to Sri Lanka.

Rahul DravidI think the big disappointment for India today was their batting. It was a total failure of the batting in the whole World Cup. Against Bangladesh we failed to score 200, against Sri Lanka also we failed to score 200, only against Bermuda we managed to score 400 runs.

We had a good, strong batting line-up and our team depends on batting. It has been the history of Indian cricket; we always feel that if our batting is strong, we will win matches.

Our fielding was not great and so was our bowling and that is why we were so dependent on our batting, but even the batting was a total failure.

In today's match, we had everything going well till the middle overs. We restricted Sri Lanka to 254, but in that we gave away too many extras, around 27 which I think were too many for a one-day international match.

Don't you think the senior batsmen in Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar let us down in this crunch match. No one took responsibility to bat through the innings?

Sourav should have taken the initiative. Robin Uthappa is a junior player and always the senior players take strike and play the shots. I think that's where as a team combination the partnerships get going in a match.

Again when Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid were batting together, Sehwag was batting so well and Dravid was batting so strongly. The way Sehwag played that shot [when he got out], he was well set on 48 and could have go on to score a 90 or 100. Today he could have showed what a class player he is and could have become a hero.

After playing so many one-day internationals, playing that shot against Muttiah Muralitharan when there is a fielder waiting in the slips, I think the shot is not on. The selectors will have been watching the match and seen what a loose shot Sehwag has played.

When play such kind of shots it doesn't look like you are playing for the team, but playing for your individual self. There were no partnerships after that and the run out of Yuvraj Singh was very crucial. But overall, it was a very poor batting display.

On this placid wicket, we should have won this match with four wickets in hand and made it to the second round. But after that loss to Bangladesh, it was always going to be difficult for us to advance.

Sri Lanka has been doing well and with Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas, they look a strong unit.

On paper our batting looked solid and in the past also we have won matches with our batting alone.

In the bowling and batting department, we have a lot of weaknesses, and there is no bowler who looks like taking four or five wickets in an innings and win it for us.

Bowlers did a good job for us today, but still we could have restricted them for around the 220 mark, but we gave away too many extras.

Is our much hyped batting line-up past its prime?

Of course, and I have been saying that we must not only look at the World Cup but beyond that too. There is always the youth waiting and you must give them opportunities also. Definitely these [senior] guys have done well for the country and if they failed for 1 or 2 innings, it does not make them bad cricketers. They are outstanding cricketers and I respect their cricket but at the end of the day the selectors have to take a call. The selectors have to look at a different angle also -- we have not done well in two matches. The foot movement of some of the top batsmen against the pace bowlers in the two matches was not up to the mark; especially against Bangladesh they didn't look comfortable at all. Bangladesh does not have a great fast bowling attack, so imagine if you play some of the top teams on such type of pitches, you will definitely struggle.

The selectors will now need to decide on how to go about selection of the team for the future matches and the process to groom the youth. Greg Chappell has already said about these already and we will need to talk about that.

Now that the World Cup is gone, we should forget about it and start from the scratch.

Naturally after such a poor showing calls will now be made for wholesale changes in team. But from your experience as the chief selector, what do you suggest. Which players do you think must be shown the door?

I don't think it's a question of targeting a few individuals. The selectors have to sit down, think about the future and decide which players they want to back from this team. There are some players who are good enough to continue [in the one-day team] but a few players you must make them play in Test cricket only and not in one-dayers.

In the next four years, keep trying around 20-25 players, out of which you might get around 7 or 8 players, who will be outstanding. Then there are guys who are already in the team like � MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Robin Uthappa, who are outstanding cricketers. So you got to continue with these cricketers and also try and bring a few young players in the team.

The selectors will have to make a few tough calls. They will need to send a signal to the Ranji Trophy also that we are looking for some cricketers. They will also need to make the senior cricketers answerable on the World Cup debacle. Last time we when we lost in South Africa [last year] all the blame went to the juniors, so this time it's the turn of the seniors, who I feel have to take all the blame.

Being a former wicketkeeper, what is your take on Dhoni's performance in the World Cup?

He has not done well as a batsman, but as a wicketkeeper he has performed well. I am disappointed with his batting. He is still young and he just had one bad tournament, but that does not make him a bad cricketer. I am sure he will come back strongly.

Player like Dhoni must be carried for the next years. There will be odd cries for his axing if he is not doing well at times. Similarly, you have to back players like Uthappa, Pathan and Karthik. It does not matter if they fail in the next five or ten matches, but they are outstanding cricketers and this is how you build a team. When you drop such [young players] you don't make them comfortable, you make them insecure. And when they are insecure, they lose the confidence of the selectors also.

You need to try such players, give them opportunities and that is how they can become match-winners.

Greg ChappellDoes it hurt you today because being a former chairman of selectors you had played a key role in the development of the majority of this team? Where do you think it all went wrong?

I think the fact that the selection committee was changed five months before the World Cup. I don't blame Dilip Vengsarkar for it, but the policies of the Board that we have in the constitution, the selection committee has to go out as per the rules.

I felt that we job we had done we could have continued with that. We had exchange of ideas with Vengsarkar before he took over and discussed a few things, but it never happened.

I think the system needs to do that, but it never happened. Vengsarkar had his own agenda, which I think he discussed with Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell. So I think the blame has to be shared by everyone, it is not that one person has to be blamed.

The captain is answerable, the coach is answerable and even the selection committee is answerable for it. You just can't live on past glories, so the selectors have to decide who are the best players and make a decision.

I was very disappointed when people started blaming youngsters after we lost in South Africa. But tell me how many senior players scored in that one-day series. All the blame went to the juniors and that is how they got dropped from the team.

That is why I think the selectors have to be very careful about the players they back. It is not only the World Cup that you always think about; is all about India's future overall. That is how you build a team. The top teams in the world don't just look at the World Cup, but also beyond that like to how to process future players.

Also, we need to improve our domestic cricket. We need to get some youngsters to come up at the state level. At the moment there are too many seniors playing at the Ranji Trophy level and the juniors don't get a chance to play in the state teams. So that policy has to be decided by the state associations.

Photographs: Getty Images


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