The dream of Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli to win the 2019 ICC Men’s cricket World Cup in England and Wales according to him was dashed in 45 minutes in the semi- finals against New Zealand.
Yes, It was, and the team has a reason to feel disappointed after all they had lost only one league game in the whole tournament to England and one bad day a loss to the Kiwis in the semis saw them crash out .
The semis loss to the New Zealand and the exit brought to the fore many flaws of the team had and were probably covered as it was winning matches . This is what happened to Team India .
There was too much talk about the Number 4 slot . Ambati Rayudu at one point looked certain to have filled up that slot only to be dumped later. So disheartened he was of the World Cup snub even after his replacement Vijay Shankar got injured and Mayank Agarwal picked in his place that he retired from all forms of the game. Ajinkya Rahane has been now strangely dubbed as a Test player.In- fact , India had tried more than 10 batsmen at the crucial No. 4 spot since the 2015 World Cup but with no success.
India pressed the panick button and brought in Rishabh Pant ( not picked in the original squad but coming in as replacement for injured opener Shikhar Dhawan) to fill in the Number 4 slot after Shankar flopped . Why was Rishabh Pant drafted in the squad as replacement and why he was not picked in the first place in place of Dinesh Karthik is a question the selectors can only answer. Or will they?
The Indian playing eleven had as many as four wicket- keepers – Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the first choice , followed by Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul . A line- up which made one wonder is there a short of batting talent in India ? What happened to the likes of – Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill then .
Apart from Number slot mess, the constant shuffling of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s batting order did not go down well with many. In the semis he should have come out ahead of Dinesh karthik and Hardik Pandya to guide the innings . He was not and the team made a tactical blunder. Former skipper Saurav Ganguly was furious at the batting positions made by the team .
Much has been made about Hardik Pandya . Some even comparing him to the iconic all- rounder Kapil Dev. Barring some brief cameos the big career defining innings from him never came . So much so been called as a game changer. He looked ordinary compared to English all- rounder Ben Stokes.
Rohit Sharma had a wonderful tournament riding his luck and scored five majestic hundreds. Virat Kohli too despite not a ton under his belt was consistent through out. But alas, on the big day when it mattered most – the semis – they failed to fire and their failure saw India crashing out . Ravindra Jadeja made his importance felt in the semis with a blistering knock and brilliance on the field . So why he did not find a place in the playing eleven earlier ? Jadeja could have been the X- factor the team was searching for.Why an out- off form clueless Kedar Jadhav was persisted with? . These are questions that skipper Virat Kohil and head coach Ravi Shastri have to answer when they get back home .
In the bowling, India can take heart from the bowling performances of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami . Both were outstanding in this tournament. The spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal looked ordinary when the opposition went after them . The so called big impact was not seen .
Moreover, one feels India’s World Cup campaign was destined to fail as months before the World Cup got under way , the news channels 24X7 focussed on only one match India would play in the World Cup – June 16, vs Pakistan. There were continuous debates on prime time whether India should play Pakistan or not . One thought was India should be ready to lose 2 points due to Pakistan’s cowardly attack on CRPF jawans on Pulwama. There was pressure by India on the ICC to ban Pakistan from the Cup itself . With Pakistan game top priority the other matches or teams which India would play were pushed into the background .
The impression was created like the Modi wave . World Cup is India’s for sure and the team just has to be there in England to lift the trophy . Only match India needs to worry is the match against Pakistan. Rest teams are no challenge at all for team India like there was no challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha Polls of 2019. New channels believed in the bravado talk of head coach Ravi Shastri with total confidence .
Now that the World Cup campaign is a disaster , it is time head coach Ravi Shastri owns up responsibility and steps down. After all has he not got all he wanted as coach from the powers that may be yet he failed in his mission . If Greg Chappell could be ousted or for the matter be blamed for 2007 World Cup debacle why not Ravi Shastri for 2019 ?
Further , for the betterment of Indian cricket, it is high time the trio – Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Saurav Ganguly , who so eagerly and ever willingly take up posts of mentor in the IPL for the franchises – Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad, And Delhi Capitals throw their hands up and be part of the national team like Ricky Ponting (Assistant Coach Australia ) or for the matter guide the generation next like Rahul Dravid ( Under- 19 , India A coach ) . This will be good INTENT from them all rather than criticising the intent of one of India’s greatest ever skipper skippers and finishers – Mahendra Singh Dhoni. And speaking about the reign of Greg Chappell as coach .
Given the fickle nature of the 24X 7 channels , the World Cup exit and the impending retirement of Dhoni will on air for some time now. The moment India wins the ODI , T20 and Tests coming up in West Indies later on , all these flak for team India will be put under the carpet and it will back to square one . And one expects headline as : #Team India Bounces Back .
And coach Ravi Shastri if he stays on will be termed # Coach With Midas Touch , #Champion of Champions Hits Back. India ‘s World Cup exit one fears will be well and truly forgotten and the mistakes that cost the World Cup will never be addressed . Until a certain Arnab Goswami in his vitriolic way of anchoring makes it a national issue.