The great ICC choke returns: Five blunders that cost India the T20 World Cup
It may sound rude, but 12 months apart, India's two T20 World Cups are defined by 10-wicket defeats. After a detailed sifting, we list down five reasons why India failed to win the T20 World Cup.
India have been eliminated from the T20 World Cup following a crushing defeat to England in the semifinals. And while it may sound rude, the fact remains that12 months apart, India's two World Cups are defined by 10-wicket defeats. After India crashed out of last year's World Cup in the UAE, it was believed that with a fresh change in guard and the so-called 'new batting template', India would revolutionise their approach in T20 cricket, but one year later, Indian cricket in T20 still finds itself in the same rut. Ravi Shastri went out and Virat Kohli gave up captaincy, but if you are to take out the win against Pakistan in India's first Super-12 tie, the loopholes are very much intact.
For the seventh time in nine years, India have failed to win an ICC tournament, despite coming close… again. The dreaded 'C' word, which has become synonymous South Africa over the years, is now heavily casting over the Men in Blue, who once again stumbled in a knockout match. For a team that has bossed bilateral series at home and pulled off some memorable wins away, this will be a tough pill to swallow. While some of it may stem from tactical errors, most it was due to underlaying concerns which surfaced when it mattered the most. What were those? After a detailed sifting, we have listed down five reasons why India failed to win the T20 World Cup.
1 No room for Yuzvendra Chahal, India's No. 1 wrist-spinner
Believe it or not… Yuzvendra Chahal is India's No. 1 limited-overs spinner – he has taken 21 wickets from 19 games - and yet to keep him benched ahead of R Ashwin is a move which only the team management can explain. When India left out Chahal from their T20 World Cup squad last year, many felt they would learn from the mistake, but it wasn't the case. In a tournament where Pakistan's Shadab Khan and Adil Rashid of England repeatedly troubled batters with their wrist-spin, Chahal was not given a single game. Why? We may never know. But if at all the tactical call was taken believing that Ashwin can get you handy runs – which he did by hitting the winning runs against Pakistan and smashing a six and a four against Bangladesh – then it sends out an even weaker message. If Ashwin the spinner is in the Playing XI as an all-rounder, India's famed top-order deserves a dressing down and have their places reassessed in the team.
2 Powerplay Muddle: Where did the fresh batting approach vanish?
Following India's defeat to Pakistan and New Zealand in last year's World Cup, one word that became synonymous with their style of batting was 'timid'. Sure enough, with Rohit Sharma taking charge of the team, it changed, even if it came at the cost of one of India's greatest batters looking clunky. Rohit was far from his fluent best but his new role was entertaining to say the least. Led by Rohit, watching India go after the bowling inside the Powerplay was a breath of fresh air and was tipped to be a game-changer for the side.
However, come the World Cup, the much-hyped 'newly-discovered batting template' and Rohit's form vanished. India struggled in the Powerplay – their highest being 46/1 against Zimbabwe. After the first six overs, India's scores per match in the World Cup read 31/3 (vs Pakistan), 32/1 (vs Netherlands), 33/2 (vs South Africa), 37/1 (vs Bangladesh), 46/1 (vs Zimbabwe) and 38/1 yesterday against England. In a day-and-age where the average Powerplay score should be 70/3, with India it's still the other way round. India got away with with this glaring issue itin all their Super 12 matches, but couldn't save themselves from getting exposed against a quality team like England.
3 DK vs Pant – Experience over youth is not the way forward in T20s
T20 is a young man's game, and despite all the dives that Dinesh Karthik dished has out lately, investing in a 37-year-old for the World Cup was a move full of risk. Over the years, India have found themselves in countless situations which have been tailor-made for Karthik, scenarios where he would have envisioned himself bailing India out of trouble. But barring the one Nidahas Trophy final, Karthik has let the opportunity drift time and again. Everyone loves a great comeback story, but in T20 cricket, results matter more than fairy-tales. DK's inclusion over the red-hot Rishabh Pant was, at many levels, baffling. The guy is already a Test match legend, and has cracked the ODI code with a century in England earlier this year. A longer rope and who is to say that Pant wouldn't have aced T20Is as well? When India won the T20 World Cup in 2007 under MS Dhoni, it was a young brigade, not cricketers in their late 30s given countless opportunities. Much like the Chahal vs Ashwin conundrum, the toss-up between Pant and Karthik didn't help either.
4 Persisting with KL Rahul at the top
Here's a trivia: KL Rahul had played his first T20I this year in the Asia Cup, in August – eight months into 2022. Between November 19, 2021 and August 28, 2022, Rahul did not feature in a single T20I match for India and was straightaway thrusted back into the opener's slot. Since his return, Rahul had peeled off four half-centuries but all of them at a rudderless strike-rate. In the World Cup, he scored two more fifties – against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, but each time he was expected to stood tall in the big matches, Rahul disappointed. With scores of 4 against Pakistan, 9 against South Africa and 5 against England, Rahul has not done justice to the insurmountable faith the management has shown in him. In fact, Rahul has pretty much become a pale shadow of himself. The Rahul who would hit towering sixes and simply explode is long gone. Heck, India could have benefitted with even the Rahul who plays for Punjab Kings in the IPL. But, alas… It's time Indian cricket moved on from him, at least in T20Is, especially when an in-form and talent Shubman Gill is waiting in the wings.
5 Lack of genuine pace
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep had been brilliant for India. The veteran India quick showed shades of his glorious self, while the young left-arm pacer, quite rightly, established himself as the next big thing in Indian cricket. But on Australia pitches, India lacked a genuine pacer who could crack up 145 clicks regularly. The moment Jasprit Bumrah got injured, the warning bells hand rung and despite a late SOS to Mohammed Shami – who had not played a T20I since November last year, India had a big box unticked. It is time for a wake-up call. Umran Malik will be on the flight to New Zealand soon, and while it may still be a while before he is ready to become an automatic choice, he needs to be groomed, be with the team for every series – even as a net bowler would do – but like Pakistan's Haris Rauf, the 22-year-old speed sensation needs to be looked at as a future pace option for Indian cricket.