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India back in the war room

It was on a sombre, quiet note that the team India departed, which is exactly what was needed for it to indulge in some introspection.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2006 15:32 IST

After their Kuala Lumpur debacle, it is imperative that the Indian team takes a long, close look at the recent performances, reassess its strategy of seemingly unproductive experiments, re-focus on the goals and chart out a firm course for the rest of the season.

The Indian team left the Malaysian shores in complete absence of ceremony, no autograph-seekers thrusting pens under their noses; perhaps it is hard to believe for cricket enthusiasts here — who are not more than a handful, in any case —that the tournament's final is going to be held Indian absence.

No Indian team member would have expected such a low-key departure. Even as the Australian and West Indian cricketers returned to their hotels after their Saturday training sessions, the world's most celebrated cricket stars were mournfully checking out, disappointment writ large on their faces.

Thus, befittingly, it was on a sombre, quiet note that the team departed, which is exactly what was needed for it to indulge in some introspection. Coach Greg Chappell and his Australian support staff remained in Kuala Lumpur as they are heading back home to Australia for a break.

Before parting, though, Chappell and the boys did sit together for a session of heavy introspection where skipper Rahul Dravid was not averse to blaming even himself for the collective failure of the team.

The focus of the meeting was to review the poor team's performance. Rahul Dravid, it is learnt, urged his teammates to go back and do an "honest assessment" of their performance in Malaysia. "I want you all to assess yourself honestly and review your performance once you go back," Dravid is believed to have told the team.

The players were also handed specific training schedules to be followed before the start of the Champions Trophy. Dravid did not spare himself, admitting that his failure with the bat contributed to the team's woes, though he shied away from picking upon any specific player.

"It was not exactly a brainstorming session to discuss yesterday's loss," said a player. "It was basically to make players realise the mistakes they have made during the tournament."

"The players were urged to get ready for the next big challenge ahead — the Champions Trophy," he added. "The rain factor prevented us from gaining insights from our experimentation here," he said.

While 12 members of the team took a flight to Chennai, three others — Mohammad Kaif, RP Singh and Suresh Raina — flew to Delhi to make it to the Uttar Pradesh-Sialkot match, which starts in Dharamshala next Wednesday.