What Went Wrong for Team India in South Africa?

Team India is now fighting hard to get a berth in the semi-final in Champions’ Trophy being played in South Africa. What went wrong with Team India when they failed to perform to their potential against arch-rival Pakistan is a matter of debate. A win against Pakistan would have bolstered their sagging morale but that was not to be. They lost eventually and it proved costly for them.

Wasim Akram, ace allrounder and former captain of Pakistan called Team India a “listless” “disinterested” team that was just going through the motions in South Africa. Dhoni failed miserably to employ his bowlers properly as he used to do in the past.

Wasim lamented that Harbajan was wayward in his bowling giving away too many runs. He chided Dhoni for not bringing in Harbajan earlier and failed to advise his strike bowler not to bowl short. He was also guilty of not running his bowlers in the same way he used to, and looked unimpressive in the matach.

What was the reason for such a lackluster show in South Africa? Is it the team selection or lack of planning or over-confidence? It’s a mixture of all. The body language of the players suggested all these. There were too many lapses in the field and missed chances, besides bowlers letting down the team. Barring Suresh Raina, no other player seemed to be fielding well in both matches.

All bowlers failed except Mishra, who looked impressive. Ishant was the biggest liability while Parveen Kumar looked out of sorts not to speak of Harbajan Singh who was a disaster. On batting line-up, one can easily say there was not much effort except Dravid, who despite his age, stood there facing 125 balls scoring 76 runs. Others just seemed to be in hurry to return home.

With lack of focus in the match against arch-rival Pakistan and also against the Aussies, Team India now bank on Pakistan to beat Australia by a huge margin and thereafter it hoped to beat the second string WI team by a similar margin to make its chances to the semi-final. It will be decided soon.

Akram said that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men are looking extremely unimpressive in the ongoing eight-team tournament and they don’t look good enough to make the semi-final.

“Their (the Indian players) mind seems to be elsewhere completely,” Akram told sports network from Johannesburg after Australia scored 234 for four in 42.3 overs against India.

Australia were 234-4 in 42.3 overs when rain disrupted the match. Otherwise, Aussies were good enough to put up a huge total against such a timid bowling attack. Even if the D/L method was employed, it would have been a herculean task to post a win against the mighty Australian team under such conditions.

Bedi and other former cricketers came down heavily against such a listless performance by Team India against Pakistan and the Aussies. Bedi was particularly severe on Harabajan, Dhoni and Sachin, not to speak of the fast bowlers. He was unable to understand how a bowler like Parven Kumar made no attempt to take a catch on his follow through when Ponting offered him so early. They wondered how a medium pacer could not bend and looked tired after bowling a few overs. He said Harbajan was not a debutant in the match to bowl such deliveries against the Aussies.

The fielding was much to be desired. With Raina alone excelling, others were a scene of pity, Sachin diving after the ball sped past, others not grabbing easy catches, while the oldies the rarely seen running in the field. Overall, it was an unimpressive show in both games.

Having done that, Dhoni spoke during the presentation ceremony that the boys would have to perform well against Australia or else they have to pack their bags to fly back home, as if he was not responsible for the disaster. Instead of waiting for the Pak-Aus result to chalk out his strategy against WI, he has asked the Indian fans to cheer for Team Pak as India’s semi-final chances so much depends on their winning against Australia by a huge margin.

All said and done, many weaknesses in Team India have been revealed in the ongoing tournament. BCCI has to look for a good selection team disbanding the present selectors headed by Krish Srikant, who did not believe in youngsters but banking on the oldies.

While we cannot stop condemning our players for their poor performance in the ongoing tournament, we at the same time pray and hope, they make it to the semi-final after beating the West Indies team impressively. Jai Hind.