Sunday, March 13, 2011

Only the Indian team can do this

     India made a mess of what could have been the biggest total in this world cup. And they "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory" . From  1/267 in 39.3 overs  to 296 all out in 48.4 overs.   Threw away 9 wickets for 29 runs in the space of 54 deliveries.  Think of it.  There was no pressure of chasing a huge target.  Still they batted recklessly.   They could have easily scored a 400 plus score or at least 380.
    India once again showed that they are only a group of a few talented individuals and not a TEAM.

As usual Sehwag provided a blistering start by scoring a quick 73.  Sachin scored a century and created some more records  such as completing 2000 runs against South Africa.  When Sehwag got out India were 142 in 17.4 overs. Then came Gambhir .  He scores a half century.  Then Sachin departs by playing a loose shot.  He has done his job.  He is happy, fans are happy.    In comes Yusuf Pathan.  That change in batting order was really BAD captaincy.  The scoring rate was almost 7 at that time and more than 10 overs were left. There was not any harm in sending the regular batsman Virat Kohli at that time.   Anyway whiile Pathan was sent with instructions to hit over the top there was no need  to Gambhir to take risk. But  Gambhir did exactly that to throw away his wicket.  India 3/268.  Yuvraj came in.  Two new batsmen at the crease; 10 overs to go. They could have played sensibly for one or two overs by eschewing risks and then they could have launched an attack on the bowling.  But Pathan goes for a big hit and ends up in the hands of Smith. 4/268.   Still no signs of Kohli.  Captain Dhoni comes out to bat. A small partnership of 15 runs.  Even the presence of his captain couldn't   make Yuvraj realise that the opposition team is not Ireland or Netherlands. He plays casually and pays the penalty. 5/283.   India still can score around 350.   Virat Kohli is the new batsman.  7 overs still left.    He fails.  Out for 1.   6/286.
The next batsman Harbhajan Singh wasted 9 balls for 3 runs.  He was always trying for  big shots instead of giving strike to his captain.  7/293.   ZaheerKhan also tried to become a hero of his own.  From  the non striker's end poor captain Dhoni watched  Zaheer playing 3 balls and a poorly attempted sixer ending up in the hands of Morkel.  These Indian players seem to have  lost their common sense.  8/294.  At this stage Dhoni never tried to talk with these crazy tail enders  and never tried to protect them from taking strike.  Then came Ashish Nehra. 16 balls remaining.  320 is still possible. But  Nehra had other plans. Instead of  taking a single and giving his captain the much awaited strike, he  faces  two dot balls  and for a while he thinks he is the next Sachin and tries for an expansive cover drive. The result: out for a duck; caught by Smith.  Steyn picks up another wicket. 9/296.   The last man Munaf Patel didn't waste too many balls. He is clean bowled by Steyn in the very first ball. Steyn got his 5th wicket.  India all out for 296 in 48.4 overs. The over hyped Indian batting line up couldn't survive 50 overs.
At this stage India already lost the game by giving up the psychological advantage of scoring  above 300.

              Is this a TEAM Effort?
  The first three batsmen scored 253 runs.  average 84.3
 The next 8 batsmen scored  only 43 runs.  average   5.6


     Even then 296 is not a bad score to defend.   India started confidently restricting the scoring rate and taking the wicket of Smith at 41.   But lost their way  as the experienced Kallis and talented Hashim Amla steadied the South African innings. During this stage Dhoni went into defensive mode instead of attacking.  India really lacked a wicket taking bowler like Sreesanth.  After Amla's exit AB deVilliers showed some enterprising batting by scoring 52 off 39 balls. India had no strategy for containing or attacking AB deVilliers.   Except for one runout, the Indian fielding was poor.  There were dropped catches, wild  throws etc. Dhoni had fumbled three times before effecting a stumping of JP Dumini.
  Even after losing some wickets  SA batsmen kept their cool.  After  Zaheer bowled a brilliant 49th over in which he conceded only 4 runs, SA needed 13 runs to win from the final over.  Peterson was at the crease.  Everybody thought Dhoni would hand over the ball to Harbhajan.  At least he could have given the task  to Pathan  or Yuvraj.   But he asked Nehra to bowl the last over.   That turned out to be the biggest blunder in this match.  Nehra tried to attack instead of containing.   4,6,2,4  was the result.
South Africa won the match by 3 wickets.

Reasons for this loss:
                     Bad team selection.    ( Why sreesanth is still on the bench?)
                     Unnecessary change in batting order
                     Lack of good partnerships in the middle order and lower order.
                     Lack of communication.   (It seems no clear cut instructions were given to the lower order batsmen  or they simply ignored it)
                     Bad captaincy.
                     Defensive fielding plans.
                     Underestimating South African lower order batsmen.
                     Not giving the last over to Harbhajan

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