India’s inglorious exit from WC 2019: An introspection
India played superb cricket in the group fixtures of the ongoing World Cup Cricket 2019. It gave great hopes to a billion fans for a 1983 repeat at the Lords Cricket Ground. But the script unfolded differently this time around and we fizzled out - at the most crucial juncture.
On a superficial level, it will seem that 45 minutes of poor batting, moist weather conditions, superb swing bowling by Matt Henry and Trent Boult were the reasons for our debacle. But, there are some vital factors which also need our attention. We will attempt an introspection here on a more analytical level to explore the reasons of where we went wrong which led to a billion heartburns.
The main reason for our debacle was our lack of a quality batsman, to bat at the No-4 slot. We tried Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Sreyas Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane at this position for the last 4 years. Ambati Raydu was groomed over the last 2 years to take over the slot and he did a fairly good job. But just before the World Cup, the Chief Selector MSK Prasad endorsed a certain Vijay Shankar to replace Rayudu in the World Cup Squad. The selector went further and announced that Shankar was a 3D, multi-dimensional player and would be the most ideal foil for the No-4 slot. Ambati Rayudu was shocked at his exclusion. So was the whole cricketing fraternity. Rayudu tweeted in protest that he will watch this year’s edition with multi-coloured glasses to spot the #3D talent. Vijay Shankar flopped at the World cup and then 21 year old Rishabh Pant was hurriedly put in that important position. We fail to understand why Ravi Shastri and his think tank, could not find a stable No-4 Batsman in the last 2 years with the World Cup in mind.
Jimmy Amarnath and Bishen Singh Bedi, publicly proclaimed that the Indian Selectors Committee, was “a bunch of jokers.” These public statements were made years ago and had stirred up huge controversies at that time. But its truth cannot be absolutely nullified. Even today, a question always arises in my mind: Who selects the selectors? As of today, MSK Prasad, Sarandeep Singh, Gagan Khoda, Devang Gandhi and Jatin Paranjpyee form the Selection Panel. None of the selectors had successful stints at the International Level when they were active cricketers. The bowling coach, Bharat Arun and the present batting coach, Sanjay Bangar also have not done anything remarkable or memorable to justify their present positions. The million dollar question that haunts the cricket fans is that, why we do prefer very mediocre cricketers to select and groom our players and then expect them to be world beaters. Why not a Madan Lal, or a Roger
Binny or a Zaheer Khan or even an Ashish Nehra?
The middle order was exposed once the stalwarts were back in the pavilion due to the superb bowling of the Black Caps. The decision of sending Dhoni as late as No-7 was also weird. Why Dinesh Kartick and Hardik Pandya were sent ahead of Dhoni defies any logic. Ravi Shastri did not seem to have any Plan B or a contingency plan, if early wickets fell.
The “bits and pieces” Ravindra Jadeja (according to the “legend” Sanjay Manjrekar) only salvaged some pride and infused a fighting spirit into the Indian team. The team management, key persons of the sports ministry, legendary cricketers should sit with BCCI and find out solutions to these issues which need immediate attention. And we all should remember that every day is not about sunshine and there will be some rainy days too in the future.