The signs were ominous even before India travelled to Australia. Conditions this time of the year favour bowlers. The grounds are larger Down Under, some of the pitches are juicy, and facing some of the faster bowlers would be daunting. With their fabled batting, India can score big.
After looking at the conditions, India decided to adopt a conservative approach, saving wickets and launching in the last ten overs. On paper, India has a very strong batting order. Rohit Sharma, the designated powerplay basher, K L Rahul, and Virat Kohli can set the game up for Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya to launch an all-out attack. However, despite cautious starts, barring Kohli, the other batters did not hold their end of the bargain. Frequently, they had to rely on a big finish to reach par scores. This strategy nearly came unstuck against Pakistan and Bangladesh, while South Africa and England exposed the limitations. If it were not for Kohli’s innings against Pakistan, India might not have even reached the semi-finals. Despite moments of brilliance from Suryakumar, Arshdeep Singh and Pandya, by and large, this was a forgettable World Cup for India.
Without Jasprit Bumrah’s new ball nous, the attack looked toothless at times. The team management, including head coach Rahul Dravid, seemed clueless about how to fit Rishabh Pant into the team. The selection was baffling too. For instance, when other team wrist spinners managed to buy wickets and contain, India did not play Yuzvendra Chahal at all. Pakistan’s Shadab Khan and England’s Adil Rashid were perfect examples.
It’s time the selection committee gets bolder and sheds its emotional baggage. We have enough players to have two or maybe even three different teams, with two different coaches, for red-ball and white-ball cricket. Some of the big teams, like England, have already adopted it. One has to understand that T20 is a modern game. Here there’s no scoring in the V.
It’s evolved into a 360-degree game with innovative shots the order of the day. There are enough players in the domestic circuit; we get to see them in the IPL. With the T20 World Cup in 2024, it’s time to find the right combination. If ageing big names need to be excluded, so be it. In the end, one has to keep pace with the evolution.