If you go by the bottomline, and these days few people seem to have the time of the inclination to dig any deeper, then you’ll see that India have failed to reach the final four of an ICC event for the fourth time in five attempts since the Champions Trophy at home in 2006. The other fact you might want to consider is that this latest exit is the first unsuccessful ODI outing in a year for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team.
While Dhoni’s critics, and the band is beginning to show itself now, will point to an abject performance in this Champions Trophy, they will do well to concede the facts. First, India had one indifferent showing, and that cost the game against Pakistan. The elements ensured that India did not have a say in the match against Australia, and the team sailed home against West Indies.
It is the very nature of this short, sharp tournament that one bad day can send you packing. After a long drawn World Cup in 2007, the general shift has been towards keeping global events tight, and a natural consequence has been what happened to India. As Dhoni pointed out, he only faced three balls in the entire tournament, so it’s a bit hard to say whether he did well or badly.
There are many issues that need to be addressed. The lead among them is the bowling, and Ishant Sharma’s tapering off has just put that in sharp focus. At a time when he is low on confidence and lacking that element of direction that could put him back on track, Sharma needs support, and you can be sure he’ll get that from within the unit.
Over the last 13 months, India have won bilateral ties in Sri Lanka (twice), New Zealand and the West Indies, walloped England 5-0 at home and capped it off with a tournament win in the tri-series in Colombo last fortnight. No matter how much losing to Pakistan hurts, and in essence that was the entire Champions Trophy for India — one loss to the old enemy — it’s difficult to understand how all that preceded it in a year can be forgotten so easily.