New Delhi: Oct 3, 2012
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's "tactical errors" and the poor form of some senior players were the main reasons for India's early exit from the World Twenty20, according to former cricketers who said that there was no need for making drastic changes in the team despite the debacle.
While Dhoni came under fire for some of his "tactical blunders", some former cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar were not in favour of changing the captain or making too many changes in the team.
India failed to qualify for the semifinals of World Twenty20 on net run rate and former cricketers said the team's repeated failures in this format should be analysed and corrective measures should be taken.
Former Indian captains like Gavaskar, Anil Kumble, Dilip Vengsarkar and Ajit Wadekar and a host of other ex-cricketers felt that a combination of factors led to India's ouster from the World T20. Some of Dhoni's decisions also evoked criticism from the former players.
"Indian cricket is now at the crossroads. We have not been able to do well in the two shorter formats which we have dominated. We won the World Twenty20 in 2007 and then won the longer 50-over World Cup last year. After that we have been struggling. This is something we have to look into. We have to put our heads together and find out why this has been happening," Gavaskar said.
"I am not saying that there should be an inquiry or a report being sought from the coach. I am also not saying that heads will have to be rolled and there is need for change of captaincy. Absolutely, there is no need for all these things," he added.
Gavaskar said that the coach and the captain alone should not be blamed for the debacle as they had taken decisions in the interest of the team.
"We can't blame the captain of the coach for this. They take the decision thinking that it would be in the interest of the team. No captain or coach wants to cut his own foot by taking wrong decisions deliberately. Sometimes, the decisions work and sometimes they do not," he said.
"So what I feel is we may have gone wrong in the tactical aspect. You need to tweak here and there. I feel we went wrong tactically in the tri-series in Australia and then Asia Cup and now World Twenty20. We could have done differently but I am not suggesting change in captaincy. There is absolutely no need for this," he added.
Former India opener Chetan Chauhan said that Dhoni had to take responsibility for the team's failure and also felt that pacer Zaheer Khan should not play for India in T20 cricket.
"The tournament is played in the sub-continent. We are used to these conditions. We have been to Sri Lanka, we played very well against them. Keeping this fact, I thought that we should have reached the semifinals. Unfortunately, we did not.
"A captain has to take responsibility, he is the captain. I would not blame him alone, I would blame the entire team. A captain is as good as the team. If you don't perform, a captain could not do anything. Unfortunately, they did not perform there," Chauhan said.
"These are all the factors, plus at few stages Dhoni did make mistakes in decisions, like against Australia, there was no need to rest Virender Sehwag," he added.
Chauhan said except for Virat Kohli, none of the batsmen were consistent in the tournament and that was one of the reason's for India's early exit.
"We have Rohit Sharma, he did not perform. Leave aside Virat Kohli, few games Suresh Raina, the others were struggling. Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Dhoni himself, the batters did not perform that well. The bowlers did not have enough runs on the board."
"As far as bowling is concerned, Zaheer was struggling. There is no need to continue with him. We could have easily played Ashok Dinda. Not only Zaheer was struggling in bowling, he was also struggling in fielding," said Chauhan.
Former captain Anil Kumble was at a loss or words as to why Dhoni brought in R Ashwin late in the South African run chase when India needed to restrict them within 122 runs.
"There is no point when your best bowlers bowls when there are only 25 runs to defend. So that was surprising," he said.
Kumble also agreed that one of the main reasons for India's debacle was the poor form of the top-order batsmen.
"Out of five top batsmen, you expect one to fire and make impact, score a 18-ball 50 but it did not happen. Expectation on Virat were huge and he did live up to those. But Virender Sehwag was not in form. You want your top four to fire in T20 format and when three out of your four top batsmen are not in great always trying to settle in then get big score, it does not work," said Kumble.
Former spinner Murali Karthik felt that Dhoni should have promoted himself up the order as India needed to post a big total after being asked to bat by South Africa.
"In a situation like that where you need to kick on and post a big target, I was wondering if Dhoni could come up. He has done it when India were 120/1 or 140/1, Dhoni has taken charge and I was thinking he would promote himself up," said Karthik.
Former opener Aakash Chopra was also critical of Dhoni for not promoting the in-form batsmen up the order.
"There is consensus that top was not in great form but then the guys who were in form batsmen did not step up, they were not pushed up the batting order, which was surprising.
"Dhoni is an astute captain somehow he left a lot to be desired in this tournament," said Chopra.
Former batsman Anshuman Gaekwad said that the failure of the bowlers, except for spinner R Ashwin, and the top-order batsmen were the two main reasons for India's debacle.
"Bowling was not up to the mark, that was the number one reason. Ashwin bowled well but with four-bowler strategy, we expected all of them to contribute. Second, the openers did not get us the desired start. In most of the games, we did not get to good starts," he said.
"In T20, there is hardly any time to settle down. Overall, we were severely let down by the openers while the bowlers barring Ashwin were not up to mark," he added.
The former India coach refused to blame Dhoni while also not in favour of making too many changes in the team.
"Why blame the captain? What can a captain do if his bowlers and batters don't do well?" he asked.
"Chopping and changing after a poor tournament is not the solution. If we decide to remove our openers then who would be their replacements. It's the same cricketers who have performed well. It's difficult to understand why the same players do so well in IPL but they flopped so miserably in the World Twenty20," he said.
Former opener Arun Lal said that India had a "terrific side that promised to go all the way but one bad match did the damage".
Former captain Chandu Borde attributed India's ouster to lady luck and also refused to blame Dhoni for this.
"T20 is a format where you can't say much. It was bad luck that we were knocked out. I don't want to be critical of Dhoni as I believe he opted for one spinner on the basis of the wicket," he said.
Former stumper Kiran More agreed with Borde that bad luck played a part in India's ouster.
"We had one bad match and it was all over. It's very difficult to predict the outcome of a T20 match. It was pure bad luck. There is no ifs and buts. Every team is struggling in this format," he said.
"Against South Africa, it's always going to be difficult. More so because of the wicket. The pitch was not ideal for a 200 total. Expecting a team to win by 30-40 run margin is a bit too much in a format like T20." (PTI)