Cricketing giants India exited the Twenty20 World Cup after New Zealand beat Afghanistan to book the second semi-final berth from Group 2 on Sunday.
Virat Kohli’s team came into the tournament as hot favourites but let their future depend on other teams after big losses to rivals Pakistan, who were the first team to make the final four, and then the Kiwis.
India thrashed Afghanistan and Scotland but it was all too late and now they find themselves out of the tournament even before their final game against Namibia on Monday.
— The famed Indian batting line-up including Kohli and Rohit Sharma came under early attack against quality Pakistan bowling and then the New Zealand quicks.
Invited to bat in both the matches, India suffered a top-order failure and slipped to losses — by 10 wickets and eight wickets respectively — that derailed their campaign at the start.
By the time Rohit hit form with his 47-ball 74 in India’s 210-2 against Afghanistan, they were already at the mercy of net run-rate and other teams.
“The toss gives a very undue advantage,” India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun said.
“And that’s the reason why — it’s a huge change between batting in the first innings and batting in the second innings. That shouldn’t be the case in a very short format like this.”
— The Indian bowlers got just two wickets in the first two matches with Jasprit Bumrah striking twice in what seemed an easy chase for the Kiwis.
Dew did play a big part in all the evening matches in Dubai but going wicketless against Pakistan hurt the confidence of a side boasting an array of bowling talent including pace ace Mohammed Shami.
The same set of bowlers, plus returning spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, proved effective in Abu Dhabi with a big total to play with as they kept down Afghanistan to 144-7.
And Arun said dew was a factor, but “there’s no excuses. We should have done better. We should have batted better. And also the first match we had a chance to defend our total. But we looked a little below par.”
— India’s World Cup players regrouped as a national side in the United Arab Emirates just two days after the Indian Premier League ended on October 15 in Dubai.
A tournament that was supposed to provide insight and good tune-up ahead of T20’s showpiece event seems to have backfired as talk of bubble fatigue crept in.
Bumrah said “sometimes you need a break” after their loss to New Zealand.
Coach Arun said a short break between the IPL and the World Cup would have been good for the fast bowlers.
“Definitely being on the road for six months is a huge ask…And I think that takes a huge toll,” he said.
Social media was also abuzz with #banIPL hashtags after India’s crushing defeats.
Too many cooks?
— India brought in former captain MS Dhoni as mentor for the marquee event to pitch in with his experience.
The move was welcomed by Kohli and the fans lapped it up after Dhoni led Chennai Super Kings to a fourth IPL title in Dubai.
Dhoni had also led India to the T20 World Cup title in the 2007 inaugural edition and then the 50-over prize in 2011.
But former India batsman Gautam Gambhir, who was key to India’s ODI World Cup triumph, had wanted explanations on the role of Dhoni sitting alongside the head coach (Ravi Shastri), the assistant coach, and the bowling coach.
— Kohli had announced that the T20 World Cup would be his last as captain in the shortest format and many spoke of India getting the title as a farewell gift for the prolific batsman.
He took over the leadership duties across formats from Dhoni in 2017 and has since taken India to new heights in Test and white-ball cricket but failed to get the team a world title.
Gambhir said the timing of the announcement could make the team “unsettled and emotional”.
Whether it actually did or not, nobody can tell but ‘King Kohli’ will surely leave the T20 captaincy stage without a crown.
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