Mar 26, 2007

Cricket World Cup 2007. Post 1

I'd expected to write some posts analyzing India's performances in the World Cup, how the others were doing, and so on, as I'd done with Italy (my favorites in that tournament) during the Football World Cup last year. The past week I was busy with work, and before I could start writing, India's campaign has prematurely ended!

So here goes a series of posts about what went wrong, and maybe one or two about what actually happens in the WC this point on.

First thing - in the press conferences that followed India's loss to Sri Lanka, both Dravid and Chappell asserted that the planning was fine, the players just didn't play well enough. There's no arguing about the players' poor performance, but to say the planning was fine, is turning a blind eye to obvious mistakes.

Error no 1 - choosing to bat against Bangladesh. It's well accepted now that the team batting first has a major disadvantage in these conditions. India's opening match was the 6th or 7th in the tournament, on the 4th matchday. The B'desh captain later said that they'd arrived early in the Carribean and knew that the ball does a bit in the first hour. India still chose to bat first, ignorant of the conditions, and over-confident about their chances against their opposition. This unnecessarily made things tougher for the players, and the team mgmt, thinktank or whatever, should accept this and learn their lesson.

Error no 2 - The playing 11. Ajit Agarkar has been around for more than a decade and it is well known that he is erratic. He was played in all the matches inspite of poor performance in the first, ahead of Sreeanth and Pathan. Sreesanth may be erratic as well, but he is young, and has shown enough promise and passion to be given a chance. Pathan, even bowling poorly, as probably as good a bowler as Agarkar and as useful a batsman as Uthappa. He could have replaced both alone, bringing more balance to the team, and allowing the captain to play both Kumble and Bhajji, or any other additional player.

Error no 3 - Munaf not taking the new ball. What all good teams seem to be doing, is starting with two good bowlers who give nothing away, creating pressure, and forcing the batsmen to make mistakes. India had one bowler capable of providng tight starts in Munaf, but he bowled first change. Agarkar was given the new ball alongside Zaheer, and he allowed all pressure to dissipate.

Error no 4 - Yuvraj at no 6?! I dont know how many would agree, but I'm convinced Yuvraj is the best bat in this team. Look at his record in the last year or so. Even against Bermuda, Sehwag worked his way back into form, but the guy who shepherded the innings and took India to a position to cross 400, was Yuvraj - who came in at no 4. An accepted principle in ODI cricket is 'Best Batsman First'. Aus has Gilchrist and Ponting in the first 3, SA has Smith and Kallis, WI have Gayle. India - in their best times - had 3 of Sachin, Sehwag, Gangualy or Dravid in peak form. In the current tem, Yuvraj has to be among the first 3.

This is not to say we had a great team done in by a few bad decisions. India didnt have the wherewithal to go far in this tournament - that will be taken up in another post. But they could have done better than this, if they'd got some basic choices right. More later

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