India now find themselves in a situation akin to 2003 Cup, when we lost to Australia in the second game. After the defeat to South Africa in Nagpur, I can sense restlessness and unease among the fans. The players have been criticised by all and sundry, and it is impossible for the team not to be unaware that their performance has created a lot of displeasure.
Criticism is not new
The incessant criticism can have two kinds of effect on the players - either it will make them determined, which is what I have seen in a majority of the cases, or the team might just crumble under pressure.
What we must remember is that this is neither a new pattern nor a new phenomenon in Indian cricket. Even in this tournament, during victories over Ireland and the Netherlands, fingers were pointed at the team. This time, it is being done after a defeat. The only outcome that can satisfy everyone is a convincing win, because that is the demand these days.
Tons of runs
We need to understand that despite the middle-order collapses, India have scored more than 1,400 runs in five matches. They are scoring at nearly six an over, so I don't see how that can be construed as failure! If the top-order clicks, it is practically impossible for the middle order to stack up the same numbers because by the time numbers five, six and seven come out to bat, several overs have already been consumed.
How many opportunities has the middle-order got to score 50s and 100s? To me, they have done their bit. In fact, it was the middle-order that won us the matches against Ireland and the Netherlands.
Of course, losing nine wickets for 29 was a shocker. India must realise that there is no need to go hammer and tongs during powerplays since teams operate their best bowlers. India need to be sensible in their approach during this stage.