By Anand Philar
In keeping with Indian "tradition", the knives are out for the losing captain and again, it is Dhoni's lot to face another round of criticism, some of it justified, following the premature exit from the T20 World Cup. Never mind that India won two of the three Super Eights matches, but the fact was that the team was not good enough to progress any further, regardless of what Dhoni said by way of defence.
The captain has to shoulder responsibility in deciding on the team composition that was the root cause for the defeat besides of course, the deployment of resources, like a non-regular bowler Rohit given the ball ahead of specialist spinner Ashwin, against South Africa.
Also, Gambhir was a total misfit and did not deserve a spot in the eleven. In the 10 innings, including two in Tests against visiting New Zealand, his best was a 45 and crossed 30 just once. Under the circumstances, persisting with the the Delhi southpaw was a massive blunder as much as having Irfan Pathan open the batting.
It is not as if one is getting wiser after the event, but the figures were there for Dhoni to see, but he chose not to. Ditto, Sehwag whose one-dimensional batting is something we need to accept as also the fact that he is unworthy of any responsibility.
Regardless of team's interests, he will bat as he desires and I doubt Sehwag cares two hoots who thinks what of him or his batting. The manner in which he got out against South Africa was a disgrace and a lesser player would have been booted out of the team for good. It is all fine to talk about his "potential" and the endless possibilities of him providing a start, but then, it is about time we put team before individual.
I think, India lost the World Cup plot in their very first S-8 game against the Aussies when they went in with five specialist bowlers, including three spinners and yet ended up using three part-time bowlers! It was the most ridiculous team selection one has seen in years and an avoidable meddling with the batting order with Irfan opening rather than an in-form Kohli.
The big defeat against the Aussies hurt us not then but a few days later when India was knocked out of the Cup despite defeating South Africa and before that, Pakistan. Had the rules allowed points to be carried forward from the preliminary league, then India would have made the semis, but the ICC rules are warped and in need of a re-visit. In the event, the victories in the league were totally inconsequential. So much for it being a "World Cup"!
As for the batting, barring Kohli, there was little to enthuse about. Even against lowly Afghanistan, the Indians could muster a mere 159 with our celebrity openers, Sehwag and Gambhir failing yet again. The only time the batting, and for that matter, bowling, looked good was against England whom India beat by 90 runs.
Thus, overall, the Indian team did not quite look the part and the only consolation was that we didn’t lose to Pakistan but who went on to reach the semi-finals. I think, it was a collective failure on part of India and it is pointless to hang the captain for the debacle.
After all, Dhoni will continue so long as he enjoys the confidence of the selectors and I doubt, he will crib if removed from captaincy. Dhoni is also not the sort who will quit just because the Media is baying like a pack of hounds as if cricket is all about one player performing.
In that respect, perhaps, Pakistan deserved to make it that far considering the drubbing they gave Australia though some might view the result of that game with some suspicion given the form that the team from Down Under displayed in the previous matches.
Whatever, the Aussies are never known to perform in matches that are redundant to them and it was Pakistan’s good fortune to have caught the Kangaroos in that situation. Of the semi-finalists, the West Indies, perhaps, are the luckiest. They made the S-8 without winning a game and then got past New Zealand in the Super Over before making the semis courtesy Sri Lanka’s win over England!
Thus far, Sri Lanka seem to enjoy the Midas Touch and I wouldn't be surprised if they go all the way to win the Cup, but of course, you cannot discount the Pakistanis too.