By Suhrid Barua
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has got a fair amount of flak for repeatedly and unproductively shuffling the batting order in the ongoing World Cup. The biggest sufferer of this reshuffle has been Virat Kohli, who has slumped badly after scoring a hundred on World Cup debut against Bangladesh in the opening game. Kohli has been wasted in the shuffle has he has managed just 55 runs in his last four innings.
Chandu Border, a former India captain Chandu Borde, explains the rationale: “You got to understand that the team think-tank is trying out all possible combinations to ascertain the best eleven for the sterner tests in the knock-out phase. The experiment was carried out more in the games against Ireland and Netherlands as preparation than anything else.”
Team India’s passage to the quarter-finals is sealed irrespective of the outcome of Sunday’s final league tie between India and West Indies at Chennai. But the wounds of that nail-biting defeat to South Africa lingers. “I know most of these boys closely. I was the manager of India team for the 2007 England tour and I can tell you that the team would have been gutted after that narrow loss. I’m sure they would bounce back,” the 76-year-old opined.
The former national selection committee chairman conceded that the Indian bowling is an area of concern. “Yes, our bowling is worrisome, but the team had seven days rest after the last match. It has given then the time to go to the drawing board and come out stronger,” said the man with 55-Test match experience.
No bowling talk can be complete without mention of Ashish Nehra – the man who frittered away 13 runs in the decisive last over to Robin Peterson. “Nehra is coming off an injury and it’s unfair to pin the blame on him for the defeat to South Africa. Instead of Nehra, it could have been any other bowler bowling that final over and we would have still lost. I’m confident that Nehra would deliver… He has got a pronounced swing, gets the bowl to jag back and also move away. He should be persisted with and not criticized for that one abysmal over.”
Borde sees nothing wrong with Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy. “There was nothing wrong with his captaincy when India were winning. Suddenly, we tied one game against England and lost against South Africa, people are yelling for his head!”
(Suhrid Barua is a cricket buff who invariably gets pumped up before every India match)