Dhoni's wrong 'un and throwing it away
India have quite a few issues to sort out before their next outing. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay writes. India's performance in powerplays | Equations that can spoil India's hopes | India's worst collapses in WCindia Updated: Mar 14, 2011 02:23 IST
Dissecting a defeat isn't easy but not if you are talking about the Indian setback against South Africa in Nagpur on Saturday. Rarely does a range of errors assume such proportions in a One-Day match and become the difference between victory and defeat.
Batting, bowling, fielding and leadership, everything went awry after a start loaded with positives before a question mark surfaced over India's chances of making it to the quarter-finals. There is no room for a false step now and it's worth inspecting what went wrong on a feverish Saturday.
It's easy to tell that India's shoddy showing in the batting power play was a precursor to what was to unfold. But what went wrong? Batsmen came in and went with such absurdity that sanity went for a toss. Perhaps things were building up to it as India did not exactly kick on after the fabulous partnership between Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. And when Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir fell in the 40th and 41st overs, the other batsmen took it upon themselves to hit out from the word go.
Bowling & fielding
Zaheer Khan bowled his heart out but significant success with the new ball continued to elude India. The opening bowlers didn't beat the bat often enough to sow doubts in the minds of batsmen for whom it was just a matter of seeing off that period. Dhoni had already voiced concern about this shortcoming but it continues to haunt him.
The spinners bring up the second front of worry. Unable to take wickets against the weaker sides and failing to check the run flow against the big guns - is this what India's biggest strength on paper has to offer? On a pitch that got slow and offered turn, the slow bowlers were expected to tighten the screws when it mattered. But they failed.
Fielding was forgettable. Crucial catches were dropped by Yuvraj Singh and Gambhir, the latter's let off leading to a six by Johan Botha off the next ball. And in the penultimate over, substitute Suresh Raina fumbled with a run out chance of Robin Peterson, who then hammered 16 in the final over by Ashish Nehra to clinch victory.
It was startling to see Nehra called upon to bowl the last over. He has done well at the death in the past, but with Harbhajan Singh having one more over left, this move was baffling.
The sardar enjoys pressure situations and the tail-enders are certainly less comfortable against spin than pace. Plus, Harbhajan had been economical in the last few overs he had bowled.