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Did MS Dhoni get his tactics wrong in the ICC World T20 2014 final?

Sending Yuvraj Singh ahead of Suresh Raina and persisting with pacers at the start proved costly for India  © Getty Images
Sending Yuvraj Singh ahead of Suresh Raina and persisting with pacers at the start proved costly for India © Getty Images

Did MS Dhoni make a few tactical errors in the final of the ICC World T20 2014? Should he have sent Suresh Raina ahead of Yuvraj Singh? Nishad Pai Vaidya writes that it was a day India just couldn’t execute their plans.

In the all important ICC World T20 2014 final, did MS Dhoni lose the plot with a few tactical errors. For a team that lost only four wickets in its innings, on a slow but decent surface, India only managed to score 130. It was never quite enough for them as Sri Lanka got home with a few overs to spare. But did Dhoni also make tactical errors in the field? There are many questions the fans ask as the Indian team lost the final. Perhaps, it was a day where it all went awry for India, or they just didn’t execute their plans well.

The whole focus has been around Yuvraj Singh, who batted at No 4 and could score only 11 off 21 balls. That innings did hurt India as they failed to press the initiative in the slog overs and they managed to score only 19 runs in the last four overs. At the outset, one must give full credit to the Sri Lankan bowlers. They bowled magnificently and it is perhaps Yuvraj’s misfortune that he faced most of the deliveries then. Even Virat Kohli and Dhoni could not hit any of the 15 deliveries they faced amongst themselves in that period. So, is Yuvraj being made the villain unnecessarily?

In hindsight, one may say that Dhoni could have sent in Suresh Raina instead of a Yuvraj. But, with ten overs to go, it was the right ploy then to send in Yuvraj. As Dhoni said at the press conference, Raina is one batsman in their team who can attack from the word go. He generally doesn’t need time to settle in the T20 format and that is why they kept him for later. Anyways, the No 4 spot has been Yuvraj’s through the tournament. He did score that 60 against Australia to roar back to form. Against South Africa, he manages to work the strike over and hand it to Kohli.

In such crunch games, India could have taken an inspired call and promoted Raina. However, you couldn’t have imagined Yuvraj eating so many deliveries with the Sri Lankans keeping him quiet. What if Raina was dismissed early? It was one of those terrible days for a player and unfortunately for Yuvraj, it had to come on the most important day of the tournament. Had he been dismissed early, one wouldn’t have spoken about his failure as much as it is being analysed now.

In the field, Dhoni did make a few surprising tactical decisions. Yes, 130 was never enough, but perhaps there could have been a better fight. In the initial overs, India persisted with the seam bowlers. Mohit Sharma’s second over was quite expensive and Dhoni could well have brought in the spinner earlier than he did. There were also a few gaps on the leg-side, which allowed the Sri Lankans to knock it around and ease the pressure. They needed to go at around six an over and the only way Dhoni could have made a fight out of it is by taking wickets. India did take wickets, but at some cost.

There are many things one may point in hindsight. As Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain said after his team’s exit in the semi-final, that you may say, “This could have happened, or that could have happened.” On the park, it is about executing those decisions. There are days when they come off, other days they don’t. India had a magnificent run, but their worst day had to come in the finale. The fans better realize it happens in sport.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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