India were out played by a high- spirited West Indies team at Lord's last night. It gets tough for India to qualify for the semis now. They have to beat both South Africa and England to get through. With the South Africans playing as well as they are, that's a task that's going to take some doing.
West Indies played to a plan. The bowling was aggressive. They bowled short/just short of length to all the Indian batsmen. I remember at least 3 Indian batsmen getting out trying to play the pull.
India lost 3 early wickets and Dhoni and Yuvraj had to consolidate in the middle. Dhoni got stuck and his hitting form will be of concern to him and the rest of the team. He scored a mere 11 runs of 23 balls and doesn't seem to be able to score as freely as he used to. I think MSD just needs to be more positive. He's been playing the role of sheet anchor quite successfully for India and has been quite successful in Tests and ODI's. But any good player should also be able to raise the tempo when he wants to, especially in T20 cricket.
Yuvraj was brilliant again. It's like he was built for the T20 game. It was his innings and Yousuf Pathan's late flourish that took the team to a respectable 153.
India started off the second innings really well. Being able to keep Gayle tight for over 6 overs was excellent work by the opening bowlers. Irfan bowled well and brother Yousuf also played his part. Zaheer was disciplined. Dhoni kept rotating his bowlers in a bid to keep Gayle uncomfortable.
Bhaji's maiden over to Gayle was a treat to watch and was the highlight of the initial part of the second innings. For the true connoisseur of cricket it was off-spin bowling at it's best. It was an interesting duel between the spirited Punjabi and the big Caribbean bloke. I'm happy that the duel went Bhajji's way.
But it looked like India had plans only for Gayle and no one else in the West Indies batting line-up. Most of the bowler looked short of ideas when the other batsmen came in. When Bravo joined Simmons in the middle, India looked completely lost. The pair were able to score runs freely. The required rate was about 9-9.5 an over, and these batsmen were getting them easily! There was a boundary being scored every over, and Bravo was running like his life depended on it.
A note here on the Indian fielding. I remember two miss-fields where the ball went right through the Indian fielder and to the boundary. Generally the fielding effort was lethargic. India didn't seem to have 'the bite' when it was fielding. There was no running around and diving, no incredible saves, and the returns to the keeper were horrible and need to be worked on urgently. The energy and passion seemed to be missing. India seemed to lack that X factor on the field (which was so visible in the Windies fielding). It could be the fatigue from playing so much cricket and traveling over the past year.
Bravo proved to be too good and the Windies reached home comfortably.
Things look bleak now for the Men-in-blue. Getting in to the semis is going to be an uphill task. I think more than anything India just need to take a bit of rest, take a little time out, and then get back to things full-swing. India is still one of the top teams in the tournament and now it's for the boys to live up to their tags.