Real reasons behind India’s poor show in the T20 World Cup

India has crashed out of another T20 World Cup – two in succession, I must add. As usual, several points are being made as to why India failed. Several people blame IPL, some others blame the batsmen or bowlers while others pick on Dhoni’s captaincy. Let’s try to analyze the real reasons here.

1. Paper Tigers

Even when a lot of people have hailed India’s so-called strong batting lineup (not just the current team but before as well), I have always maintained that India is a highly overrated cricket team. The fans may hate to hear or accept it but even when India was reigning the No.1 spot in ICC test rankings, they got up there due to huge number of matches played in the sub-continent conditions. The best they ever manage to do is to win one test match each in a series in Australia, West Indies and South Africa respectively. Our paper tigers’ batting records (even Sachin Tendulkar‘s) never helped India to peak.

None of our batsmen – from any generation barring probably the mighty Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath to some extend – were ever effective against quality pace bowling attack. And that gets us to the next point.

2. Pitches in India

In order to prepare our batsmen for bouncy and fiery tracks abroad, we have to prepare a few such pitches in India itself. I am sick and tired of writing about this so many times. Unless we have bouncy pitches for domestic circuit and even IPL, none of our batsmen will learn to combat good quality bowling attacks.

3. It’s all about batsmen! They are gods!!

In India, Sachin Tendulkar is god but a talented fast bowler can never become a god. A near god from the past was Kapil Dev and extremely talented bowlers like Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan wasted their whole career breaking their backbones by bowling in dead tracks in India. Our fans and our system should learn to appreciate bowlers and their efforts. And the best way to help them is with some good bowling tracks where our paper tigers can be put to real test. I am sure Tendulkars and Sehwags will be getting hit on their heads by our talented fast bowling unit if they are provided with the right pitches.

4. The IPL impact

The BCCI and India had a great chance to revive the quality of cricket (in real sense and not the money part) in India but they opted for not putting the right and fair support for all departments. The IPL helped Indian cricketers to make money but not to prepare them for the world arena. Pitches was one part but the main problem was that it was still about glamour, batsmen, parties, cheer girls, DLF maximums etc – basically everything but cricket.

The IPL fatigue definitely added problems on top of injury omissions (like Sehwag). India went to their World cup right after the IPL and without a practice game. IPL parties and tight schedules added to the misery and fitness of our batsmen and bowlers. Definitely, every team (England, Pakistan) that did not take part in IPL played better than India in this T20 World Cup.

5. Wrong Selection & composition

India is the only country in this World cup, that doesn’t have single senior player. Who said, Twenty 20 is all about vigourous youngsters? Look at Jack Kallis’ or Mahela Jayawardene‘s performance. If Sehwag wasn’t available for the tournament, why not fall back to a senior who was performing well?

Also, when we selected our squad and when Praveen Kumar was injured, why wasn’t a new pacer sent to the squad? On top of that, why wasn’t even Vinay Kumar given a chance to play, especially on seamer friendly Barbados track?

As for out of form Yuvraj Singh, he shouldn’t have even figured in the Indian team after his poor show at IPL and visible no-care attitude. This attitude problem should have been fixed by dropping him out of the squad. Ravindra Jadeja is another hugely overrated player who shouldn’t find a place in this Indian team. Moreover, he did not have any kind of match practice for months owing to his expulsion from IPL. Playing an eighth batsman on the side itself was a wrong plot.

6. Captaincy

Dhoni was not captain cool but ‘captain fool‘ for this entire tournament. Having won the toss in all super eight games, he didn’t opt to bat in the first two. He was obviously scared of exposing his batsmen to the bouncy track in Barbados in the first two matches. And on a bouncy track, Rohit Sharma and he himself should come at no. 3 and 4 respectively to make a statement instead he chickened out to number 7 himself. As usual, when the going is good (like 90/1 etc) on flat tracks he promotes himself. This is not what is expected out of a captain and he is a very opportunist and selfish player that way. I have seen himself promoting on almost all flat tracks when India is doing well but never seen him coming up the order on bouncy tracks.

Also, he has specific likes such as Raina, Praveen Kumar, Pathan, Jadeja etc where as people like Vinay Kumar, Rohit Sharma, Pragyan Ojha (never even get selected), Dinesh Karthick etc are always neglected either in selection or final eleven. Do we see a pattern here? Even for the tour in Zimbabwe, I thought, the more experienced Dinesh Karthick should have been the captain instead of Suresh Raina.

7. Attitude Problems

There’s a lot of attitude problems with the young generation cricketers. Most of them are there for money alone and wouldn’t care about the national side and the countries’ priorities. The culture of events like IPL with overnight parties and too many endorsements don’t really help cricket but only help these stars to make money. I think BCCI should stop the contract system and take players who are on form at a particular time. People like Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth should be taught proper lessons as and when behavioral problems and nasty incidents happen.

In short, we must keep people with great attitude, who can work hard and who takes real pride in playing for the nation.

8. Tight international schedules

India is the only country who plays too much of limited over and Twenty 20 cricket by jeopardizing their international schedule and form. If BCCI not going to do something about shortening the IPL event duration and play lesser number of ODIs per series, they will not be doing any good to this country. If playing so many games is a must, they should rotate the players including the captain.


If I have to pick top three reasons for India’s recent failure (and past fake glory) I would pick the following:

– Flat pitches in India
– Tight International schedules (IPL + Too much of limited over cricket)
– Wrong selection process and final 11 composition

What do you think?

Twenty 20 World Cup feels better than IPL

It feels like a decade since I last posted on this blog. However, I have a topic now in the form of the Twenty 20 World Cup that is taking plaec in England.

Sandwiched between the IPL and the Ashes, the timing of the World Cup seems right. It is not particularly hot or cold at this point of time though the mood and interest have been a little bit timid as compared to the IPL. This is because, of late – thanks to the IPL – all of us have consumed an overdose of 20-20.

The format is interesting and is at its best when countries play the event rather than cooked up teams as in the case of IPL. Also, the shorter schedule/duration makes it more interesting. For example, in a matter of five or six days a few teams have already been eliminated unlike the IPL where the fans need to wait for a whole month even to figure out which is a good team.

A couple of facts about the Twenty 20 World cup and the twenty 20 game in general:

  • Teams like Australia are yet to figure out what Twenty 20 is all about
  • Teams that are bad at longer plans but can perform in quick bursts are doing great here e.g. West Indies
  • The teams that have maximum number of ‘generalists’ than ‘specialists’ are likely to do better
  • The formats can be made more exciting with more rules like ‘free hit’

I am looking forward to the super eight league. I personally feel that either West Indies, India or Sri Lanka will the second World Cup Twenty 20. England may not be at its best and New Zealand & South Africa are good at goofing it up towards the end of any series. The days ahead are interesting!

Hopefully, Lalit Modi may take a look at the scheduling of this event and make IPL a shorter event next time.

Plagued by the 20-20 war…

After a short break from India’s tour to Australia, I was looking forward to see some good test cricket action from the current set of series – ie. West Indies v/s Sri Lanka, England v/s New Zealand and India v/s South Africa. Unfortunately except for some good cricketing moments in New Zealand, the other series seem to be already disappointing.

Sri Lanka has just completed their first test victory in the West Indies. I should say that despite a lackluster West Indies batting (I wonder why Sarwan should be there in the team at all) and incomplete bowling attack, a win is a win. I particularly liked Srilanka’s upcoming batting heroes and veteran bowlers Vaas and Murali. But the pancake pitch again did not help the cause of test cricket.

After an exciting One day series display by NZ, England regrouped well and won the test series in New Zealand. Ryan Sidebottom and Tim Ambrose, the debutant, were exciting to watch. A test series that is ending up with good result-oriented matches is always a pleasure to watch and that way I liked this entire series. The highlight of the series also was Stephen Fleming’s last appearance for New Zealand. I will write him a little later, but definitely New Zealand’s test cricket will struggle without him as well as Shane Bond who retired to join the Indian Cricket League.

The test series between India and South Africa has started on a pathetic note in Chennai. Though the pitch build quality as well as the ground is good it’s still a flat batting track which will definitely help the flat-pitch-bullies on either side while RP Singh and Sreesanth will break their backs. Time and again, it’s frustrating not to see any action from BCCI in this regard. They seem to be fully concentrating on 20-20 premier league now.

The premier league is affecting the players’ approach to the game as well. Most of them look like preserving time and energy for the money making part of the game rather than being good to cricket. Though I am looking forward to see the 20-20 action as well, it’s almost sure that India’s (BCCI’s) approach to the business of cricket will soon land them in trouble.

God save test cricket!

Time to transform the game?

For more than twenty years, I have been an ardent fan and follower of the game of cricket. Like many Indians my contribution to the world of cricket includes playing the game in school, university and even trying my hands at the harmless tennis ball cricket at workplace. Along with my class mates, I bunked classes (and even examinations) to watch India performing against their arch rivals. Memorizing and recalling what exactly happened in 1987 cricket world cup semi finals or remembering how many runs were scored by a favorite batsman in a particular match and how exactly ‘technically’ he was out was a matter of pride. Debating about similar issues in friends circle, at work or even with strangers while watching live cricket in the roadside TV shop was part and parcel of my life.

Having experienced the good and bad that cricket has handed me during my studies and initial work life, of late I started thinking about the pluses and minuses of this sport – especially in the context of a developing nation. My thoughts may hurt readers from all walks of life for whom cricket is a religion. However, I request you to provide your constructive and unbiased feedback on my views.

Most people believe that the game of cricket was originated in England during the 16th century though it became popular only by the eighteenth century. The first official cricket test match was played in 1877. There is also a theory that the British devised the game of cricket based on an ancient Indian game by name gilli-danda. Regardless of the origin, it was the British people – during their colonial rule – who made the game popular around the world. Having a five day test match was probably perfectly fine in the 18th century when life was more laid back in nature. The test match cricket remained – and still remains – the longest form of sport.

The 20th century witnessed the arrival of the limited over cricket game that was more like an action packed single day of cricket. Though, many people predicted that test cricket is the ‘real form of cricket’, the one day matches became more and more popular as time passed by. This also resulted in the formation of a world cup cricket tournament that was played between major cricket playing nations once every four years. It took almost 100 years since the first international test match to change the game significantly to make it more appealing for the mass. However, one whole day of cricket still meant a lot of time though crazy followers always wished that they had more of it.

The Twenty 20 cricket – the latest avatar – took relatively lesser (30 plus) number of years to formulate since one day cricket became so popular. People started realizing that, spending the whole day in front of the TV or in a packed stadium probably meant a bit too expensive in the 21st century. Also, the Twenty 20 cricket is even more action packed and thrilling and this is where cricket is standing as of today. The five day long cricket test match and one day long game is now co-existing with the Twenty 20 version that typically gets completed in roughly three hours.

Now the question is whether this kind of transformation is good for the game as well as the fans. I feel that, definitely it is the way to be. As I mentioned earlier, I have not heard of any other sport or game that spans over several days or for that matter even one whole day. In the modern world loosing so many days means lesser productivity. A developing nation like India needs to bank on its vast human resources to shape up the future. It is a known fact that if there is a live cricket match telecast of an India match, students bunk their classes, office workers and laborers take leaves and sometimes even public security departments and essential services see shortage of attendance and hence interruption. And India plays 50 such one-day cricket matches a year. One can imagine the productivity at work, teaching/learning in schools and hence the overall productivity of a nation!

Any sporting activity relates to some focused action for an hour or two. It refreshes your mind and body, keeps you high on adrenaline for a short time-frame and helps you revitalize. But if it is a day or week long affair, it tends to make you lazier, lethargic and eventually a couch potato. It may be a good lifestyle post retirement but not definitely for the young and active. These days, five day test matches reminds me of those never ending television serials on Indian TV channels, that is mainly targeting the jobless and the retired.

Another India specific issue due to cricket-mania is the way other sports and sports persons are neglected. Cricketers are like stars in India and they make millions whereas most of the other sportsmen struggle to make a good living. Basically it has become a commercial, political and religious set up where cricketers, cricket bodies and their MNC sponsors thrive at the expense of the precious national human resources.

I would not be an antagonist to the game and say that the game should be banned in India. But it definitely needs to transform into something that makes more sense. It could be Twenty 20 format or even shorter form of the game. But definitely, India cannot afford to spend millions of person days almost every other day watching cricket for nothing. The lawmakers of the game and the nation should seriously think about it and act for a better future. This is the era where India is economically booming and we need to fire all our cylinders and mobilize the resources towards becoming a developed nation by 2020.