NEW DELHI: They flattered to deceive! That’s the only way one can sum up the performance of Team India in the recently-concluded Asia Cup. After a convincing victory over Pakistan in the opening match, the Men in Blue lost their plot as the seven-time winners of the Asia Cup failed to qualify for the final. Their nightmarish performance in the Super 4 stage with losses to Pakistan and Sri Lanka can be seen as a ‘moment of reality’. What is more worrying is that despite the presence of the two of the best T20 batsmen in the world, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, India looked predictable, low on confidence and very beatable.
With the World T20 barely a couple of months away, things don’t look very rosy for the Indian team. They will have to pull up their socks and play out of their skins if they are to make an impact.
The main reason for India’s debacle was the lack of the opening and the middle order to fire. “When we speak of the quality and pedigree of Indian batsmen in the likes of Rohit, KL Rahul, Virat and Rishab Pant, we assume that they score heavily and put the opposition under pressure. But sadly, that was not the case as barring Virat, all the top batsmen failed to deliver,” said a former national selector.
The inexplicable reason for not including pacer Mohd Shami in the Indian side also remains a mystery.
For some time now, Shami has been one of India’s most successful bowlers and his recent performance in the IPL was spectacular. He not only claimed 20 wickets, his economy rate was among the best. Former chief selector Ravi Shastri minced no words when he said, “Someone like Mohd Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels baffles me”.
The silver lining
NEW DELHI: The only silver lining to the Asia Cup debacle was Virat Kohli’s return to form. Kohli, who was woefully out of form and was under threat of being axed from the team, finally found his touch during the tournament. His unbeaten century against Afghanistan in India’s last match and his scores of 60, 44 have ensured that Team India can breathe easy on its main batsman’s form going into the World T 20.
There is no doubt that India missed the services of Jasprit Bumrah at the death overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar proved to be a poor replacement as he kept on leaking runs at the end. “In both the matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Bhuvi conceded 19 runs each which proved to be one of the contributing factors for India’s defeat. I think that Bhuvneshwar’s poor bowling at the end was a letdown,” said former cricketer Rajinder Amarnath.
Also, the chopping and cutting of the Indian middle order was one of the main reasons for India’s poor showing. “I think there was too much of experimentation during this tournament as the team management was keen on trying out some new players. They should have been more focused,” said a former selector.