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Manager gives team clean chit

cricket Updated: May 15, 2010 01:46 IST
Kadambari Murali Wade
Kadambari Murali Wade
Hindustan Times
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The report of the Indian T20 World Cup team manager to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, likely to be submitted on Saturday will not recommend any disciplinary action against any player, including Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who, contrary to reports in a section of the press, will continue as India skipper in all forms of the game in the forseeable future.

It is also likely to focus entirely on cricketing issues, avoiding matters like fitness and discipline, putting down India's failure in the Caribbean to an "inability to cope with bounce".

The team returned to India on Friday.

"It makes no sense to sack Dhoni," said a top BCCI official. "We are world No. 1 in Tests and No. 2 in ODIs and are looking at keeping the core of the team stable ahead of the ODI World Cup next year, which is now only eight months away. In any case, the selectors will now only meet ahead of picking the Asia Cup team for Sri Lanka in June."

While India tour manager Ranjib Biswal would not comment on his report, sources told HT he is likely to give all the players "a clean chit" on disciplinary grounds.

"We've been hearing reports about how the players were unhappy with the 9:30 pm curfew, but it's not true," said a source.

"Apart from one unfortunate incident on the night before our departure, when a few American-Indian fans abused some of the players in a St Lucia pub, causing a bit of a scene, the players have had no problems," the source added. "There has been no partying, drinking or nights-out."

Biswal's report, however, is expected to point out that certain plans "discussed in pre-match strategy sessions were not properly implemented".

Coach Gary Kirsten, for instance, had cautioned against playing the pull shot, or launching a counter-attack against teams like Australia or the West Indies, but the Indian batsmen disregarded him and perished to bouncers trying to go after the bowling.

"The problem was that in both games in Barbados, we were chasing in the region of 170-180 runs," an India player told the Hindustan Times. India failed to chase 184 against Australia and 169 against the West Indies.

The player added: "With nine runs to get per over, you really had no choice but to go after the bowling from the start."

The manager's report is likely to recommend that India play more games on bouncy wickets to acclimatise. Another point likely to be discussed in the report is India's inability to hold on to its wickets in the first five-six overs.

"The plan was to have a steady start, even if somewhat slow, keep wickets in hand, get 30-35 on board and accelerate from there to get about 190," said a source. India's highest score in the event was 186 against South Africa in the league stages and they invariably lost early wickets.

As always, fielding is likely to be cited as a problem, particularly the dropping of vital catches.

While the notorious IPL parties are a non-issue for now, the report is likely to take on board the players' view that playing back-to-back tournaments, with practically no break and then flying 36 hours to the Caribbean didn't help.

Incidentally, team sources said that while Kirsten was "livid" about their early exit, chastising the players for "losing consecutive six Super Eights games over two T20 world cups in succession", he has not recommended any drastic action against anyone.


"He was quite upset but he basically talked to us about Sri Lanka (the next major tour for the top India players) and how to utilise the break," the source said.

Kirsten reportedly gave the players certain "guidelines" for their time off and repeatedly used the term "active rest", asking the six senior players who would not be part of the India tour to Zimbabwe - Dhoni, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Zaheer, Harbhajan and Nehra - to not spend their break "sitting around".

While talking to the players, individually and as a group, Kirsten also discussed next year's World Cup and how they would use the next few months to focus and as preparation for that.

"It probably looked worse than it was, like we had a big meeting on and things were getting ugly because we had to vacate rooms by noon and then just sat around in the common team room talking or roaming around outside it till 3pm, when we left to get our flight back," said a team source. "We had nowhere else to be for those three hours".

Meanwhile, BCCI sources said that all the players in India would possibly undergo a fitness test ahead of the Asia Cup.