In another tantalizingly close finish, South Africa beat India with just 3 balls to spare. It was a thoroughly professional show by the Proteas and they richly deserved the win. As opposed to the Indians, who thoroughly deserved to lose last night’s game.
One may argue in the merits of choosing Nehra over Bhajji in that last over. It might have made a difference… we will never know. But, to me, the game was not won/lost there. Dhoni’s captaincy was good generally. He shuffled his bowlers well, was aggressive, and always ahead of things. SA batted very sensibly and everyone who came out to bat made a contribution. I think AB’s little innings was special in that it created the momentum for them to carry on. AB, by the way, is probably my favorite international cricketer now. No, the game was lost elsewhere. The Indians lost the plot while they were batting.
You cannot lose 9 wickets for 29 runs in an ODI! Not unless you are an ‘associate’ team playing against the big boys (or you are B’ldesh!). Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir had set the match beautifully for the Indians, only for the others to throw it all away. It was shameful. Among all the super-stars, there was not one sane head to raise his hand to be counted. No one could keep cool and work the way through the end. There is a word in English for this kind of performance- pathetic!
So who’s to blame for the batting debacle? The top 3 did their job splendidly, and are therefore out of contention for this dubious distinction. Virat Kohli is young, and has performed well in the previous games. We can excuse him for the one-off game. Yuvi similarly can be discounted on past performances in this tournament. Mr Pathan knows only one way hit the cricket ball and that is to hit it hard. There are limits to what that sort of belligerence will deliver. So that leaves only our captain dearest- Mr MSD!
Coming to think of it… when was the last time MSD finished a match for us? I can’t recollect even one from recent memory. I can’t remember a decent batting contribution from him, in all forms of the game, for a long time. So is Mr MSD in a form slump? It appears so… and it’s badly affecting Team India’s batting.
Dhoni is the calm and serene head in the middle of the order. He handles pressure well and can be depended on to hold anchor when the storm arrives. He’s done this job with distinction but it’s been some time now since he’s delivered. India should not slump like it did that day with Dhoni around. He’s the guy who gets us out of those dreadful periods of play. But, he failed!
It’s been reported that he’s very unhappy with the batting performance from the last game. I hope he said that in a very expansive tone- to include himself. Mr. MSD needs to remove his sword from its sheath and get going.
So what’s to say of India’s bowling? The less said the better! Yes, I know I blamed India’s batting for the loss… but that’s because I have very little confidence, if at all, in India’s bowling to believe that it has the goods to win us a game by itself. Yes ZAK and Bhajji can be brilliant in periods… but Nehra and Munaf… really?
Among the top teams, India has probably the weakest bowling line up. So how do we correct it? It might be worth to give Sreesanth a try. I’m not saying that he’s better than Nehra or Munaf. But there’s a small chance that he might be in some sort of form. The other two are obviously doing nothing.
And I might be tempted to bring the extra spinner. Play only 6 batsmen even. I’m not very clear on this though… I’m just shooting off my head here.
India doesn’t look like a world cup winning squad at the moment. It’s lacking that killer instinct. It needs to deliver that knockout punch when it gets the chance. Pray that they find it soon!