India were crushed by arch-rivals Pakistan by 10 wickets in their tournament opener and then lost to New Zealand by 8 wickets in their second match. India currently find themselves languishing in fifth place on the Group 2 points table, behind even Namibia and ahead of Scotland, only on NRR.
Pakistan’s emphatic victory was their first against India in the T20 World Cup, while New Zealand extended their victory streak against India in T20 World Cups.
TimesofIndia.com ran a poll asking readers and fans what they think was the main reason for Team India’s debacles in these two matches.
The options were: 1) Wrong team selection; 2) Senior players’ bad form; 3) Toss — India lost in both matches; 4) Too many advisors– coaches, mentor etc and 5) World Cup starting too soon after the IPL (i.e. bio-bubble fatigue).
The option of “wrong team selection” got the maximum number of votes in the poll that was run for just under 24 hours. This option received 3942 votes which was 30% of the total votes received.
India did not pick their most experienced spinner R Ashwin in their playing XI in their high-voltage clash against Pakistan. After the defeat against Pakistan, India made two changes in their playing XI, opting for Ishan Kishan and Shardul Thakur in place of Suryakumar Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Mohammed Shami retained his place in the playing XI despite being expensive against Pakistan. Not just that, Rohit Sharma batted at No. 3 with Kishan opening the innings with KL Rahul. The move backfired as Kishan was dismissed by Trent Boult in the third over.
Overall, players like Ruturaj Gaikwad, Harshal Patel, Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Venkatesh Iyer and Arshdeep Singh to name a few were not included in India’s 15 member squad for the WC.
The next highest number of votes – 3641- were polled for the option “World Cup starting too soon after the IPL (i.e bio-bubble fatigue)”. This was 26% of the total number of votes received.
Indian pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah in his post-match press conference after the defeat to New Zealand talked about bubble fatigue that had affected the team. Over the years it has been seen that the Indian team has never fared well in the T20 World Cup when this tournament was played right after the IPL. The Indian team has been in bio-bubbles since June and from then on, the players have been playing on stop.
The next highest number of votes – 2910 – were polled for the option “Senior players’ bad form.” This was a close third, receiving 22% of the total votes.
The low scores against both Pakistan and New Zealand displayed Team India’s batting failures. Rohit fell for a first ball duck against Pakistan and the team management’s decision to demote him to the No. 3 spot against New Zealand raised many eyebrows. Rohit got a start against the Kiwis and even hit a six and a four in his 14-run knock but failed to really get going. Virat Kohli scored a fine 57 against Pakistan but didn’t get any support from his teammates at the other end. Against the Kiwis, Kohli fell for 9 in a quest to score quick runs.
1,549 respondents thought that the fact that Kohli lost the toss in both the matches was a decisive factor in the result of the match. This was 12% of the total votes polled.
In both the matches India were asked to bat first and the team bowling first had the advantage. Having two world class left-arm seamers in Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan) and Trent Boult (New Zealand) was a shot in the arm for both the teams which have played against India so far. As the dew settled in after the first innings, the Indian bowlers struggled to keep the ball dry and hence found it hard to grip the ball, while batting became progressively easier.
1,279 votes meanwhile were polled for the “Too many advisors– coaches, mentor etc” option.
The announcement of MS Dhoni as the mentor of the team for the T20 World Cup was met with great cheer. But few also questioned his appointment with Ravi Shastri already there as the Head coach. As the saying goes that “Too many cooks spoil the broth,” some decisions taken by the team management were inexplicable, like the exclusion of the experienced Ashwin, removing Rohit from the opening slot where he has been so successful over the years and the inclusion of Hardik Pandya purely as a batter. Pandya scored 11 runs against Pakistan and 23 against New Zealand. In both the matches, he didn’t look fully match-fit and was a far cry from the devastating hitter he can be. Pandya didn’t bowl against Pakistan and sent down just two overs against the Kiwis, conceding 17 runs, as his slow medium pace failed to trouble the Black Caps.
India’s hopes of qualifying for the semifinals now hang by a thread. If India have to make it to the semifinals, they need to beat Afghanistan, Namibia and Scotland by big margins, and hope Afghanistan beat New Zealand.
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