A shocking defeat…

So India lost to Bangladesh in its first outing in World Cup 2007 in an embarassing manner. While the defeat is hard to stomach, the manner of the defeat leads me to despair. No doubt there will be many a post-mortem conducted. Effigies will be burned by angry mobs. Heads may roll. I suspect that the aftermaths of this earthquake will, unfortunately, be felt by quite a few people connected with the scene — particularly if India doesn’t qualify for the Super8.

India can still qualify. But the team will need to play like it can. I have not lost hope, although I will understand perfectly if many Indian fans tune off at this point in time. The team has let its fans down in a terrible manner.

However, more importantly, the team let itself down.

Today, a different Team India took centre-stage. What we saw was a tentative, unsure, unconfident team that went through the motions in a rudderless manner. And that is the bit that is hardest to stomach.

All of this on a day when Pakistan lost to Ireland and proceeded to crash out of the 2007 World Cup! It was certainly a day of shocks and surprises in the West Indies!

There are a few key ponits in the game when I went “huh?”.

  • The self-belief of Bangladesh: No one can and should take away from the way the Bangladesh team played. They played with fire. They played with self-belief and agression. They wanted to win more. They won. This was a huge step forward for a young team. I was certainly impressed.
  • Batting first after winning the toss: Bangladesh are good chasers. The ball darts around a fair bit in the initial overs. CricInfo suggests that Dravid can’t be hanged for his decision to bat first. But this was a mistake. It was a costly mistake. Dravid said he misread the pitch. I think he also misread the opposition. India should have had first use of the ball on a “tricky” pitch that played less and less tricky as the match progressed! This is not about “hindisght”. I watched the game with a few friends and all of us went, “India batting?”… My own view is that Dravid misread the opposition and said he’d bat first. Clearly, underestimating the opposition was wrong. Winning the game was more important.
  • Opening with Sehwag: This was a terrible blunder that could be put down to a inexplicable combination of obstinacy, denial and foolhardiness. The team should have opened with Uthappa and Ganguly. Sehwag should have been played lower down the order. This wasn’t a time for bravado and foolhardiness. Winning the game was more important. Both Vish and Mahesh have pointed out that this was a blunder. Sehwag appears to be at a strage cross road in his career now. I suspect he will not play the next game. Yes, the other batsmen failed too. So, it is not perhaps right to blame this one decision as a turning point. But it certainly was a silly decision, whichever way you look at it.
  • The team not setting a realistic goal/target: One got the feeling that the Indian team went into the game with an aim of scoring perhaps 260+. On this pitch, perhaps a score of 230 would have sufficed! A direct result of this misreading perhaps led to the mind explosions that Yuvraj and Ganguly had. Agreed. Up until then, they had played brilliantly to set right a ship that had been rocked. But the book isn’t finished unless the last chapter has been penned! Ganguly and Yuvraj played shots that key/set bats should not have played. This was a mistake that everyone else did too — Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dravid, Uthappa, Agarkar, Dhoni, et al. However, the shots that Yuvraj and Ganguly played was all the more galling, given that they were set; they also had the match under some semblance of control at that point in time.

There are other reasons like dropped catches, etc. But the above are the key ones in my view.

India can still make it to the Super8 phase. The journey is incredibly hard though. They have their backs to the wall. They will have to play incredibly well and hope for other favourable results to take them home.

I suspect the Sehwag journey will stop temporarily. I suspect Harbhajan will warm the bench for a few games.

— Mohan

10 responses to “A shocking defeat…

  1. We can only hope that for India’s sake, Bangladesh also beats Sri Lanka.

  2. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) I did not get to watch the game. But from what I hear, Bangladesh played superior cricket. Bangladesh seems to become good at big match games. They did beat Australia recently, didn’t they. Even though it was a warm up game, they gave NZ a reality check. This was bound to happen sometime, it turned out to be India unfortunately. It is always a guessing game when a team filled with teenagers take on an experienced side. Remember the Pakistanis a few years back!!!

    Anyways, while the rest of the world seems to a perfectly sane view of Sehwag the team management is blinded by adamance as rightly pointed out by Mohan.

    As stated by Mohan, the best way to get out of this mess is to stop the analysis of the game gone and play “unreal” cricket in the next two games.

    Strangely, i am not as upset as I thought I would be, I still have hopes!!! Lets hope those hopes are for real.

  3. I watched the entire match and I was totally disappointed with India’s performance. Indian batsmen made Bangladesh bowlers resemble – McGrath or Muralitharan. Bowlers other than Munaf Patel did not have any impact.

    Over the years, I have not been able to figure out Ajit Agarkar, is he bowler or a batsman.

    Ganguly’s innings was not convincing at all. His innings was gutsy.

    Dravid was unlucky a bit.

    Uthappa was out atleast twice before he got out.

    Sehwag ….

    I predict scorching centuries – Viv Richards’ like Innings – from some Indian batsmen in the next match against Bermuda.

  4. We all still believe India have a chance! Boy, talk about being in Denial

    Here are the two options for India to qualify –

    1. India beats SL and SL beats Bangladesh. We will have a three way tie. The top two teams will be decided by run rate and this is where the game against Bermuda will be crucial to all teams. SL have already performed well against them. India will have to try and better this.

    2. Bangladesh and India both beat Sri Lanka. Both Bangladesh and India will qualify.

    (and Bermuda loose all games)

    If India qualify into the Super8, it would be better if SL qualify with them, so that they can carry 2 points across to the next round. But at this point, thinking about the 2 points and how it would help India qualify for the semis seems so far away…India should just concentrate on the next game and as Mohan pointed out – Play like it can

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  7. Bangladesh was simply awesome. We kicked some indian butt. I really think India were too cocky. Tamim killed all the bowlers, cant say the same about the indian batsman to the bangladeshi bowlers. India is an over hyped team. They will be heading back home very very soon.Good BYe you guys. Its Bangladesh and Srilanka who are going through..The indian team are FULL TIME MODLES and part-time cricketers!!!!!!

  8. Dave Whatmore was the architect of SL of Worldcup victory in 1996. Whatmore formulated the attacking strategy that changed the one-day game, with Sanath Jayasurya and Romesh hitting over the top of inside ring in the first 15 overs.

    He has selected some good young players

  9. less than 20 years. All the young players have good potential. But Bangladesh is far from a competetive team against quality teams. Bowling is their weak link. Other than one opening fast bowler and one spinner. India could have taken advantage of that.

    Dravid decison to bat first played in to their hands. Quck dismissals of Sehwag, Uthappa and Ganguly’s tentative batting (play and missi) and created even more pressure for the other batsmen. Ganguly should have attacked to ease pressure for the team. He is not an anchor type of player. Sachin’s dismissal put even more pressure on the team.

    Tamim’s blazing attack (Gilchrist type of innings) hitting the Indian bowling to all parts of the ground made their task easier. Indian bowler lost rhythm at that point. Another 40 – 50 runs, India could have won the match. I can not understand the nonsense batting of Agarkar of Harbhajan.

  10. A good summary on the demise of Indian cricket. I could be writing a much more ruthless “two cents worth” from my part on India’s performance – but India are lucky that Ireland beat Pakistan (surely an ICC match-fixing review will be done here) and now the very tragic news on Bob Woolmer.

    I guess one can do as much analysis as possible – but the thing that remains is the fact that when the conditions don’t suit India, they generally capitulate and miserably.

    Forget about the fact that Dravid misread the conditions, but don’t you think any of the seasoned campaigners could dig in their heals (other than Ganguly and Yuvi).

    It was so disappointing to see Sehwag, even after getting another opportunity and totally stuffing it up AGAIN! If anyone watched the game, I was seriously hoping that he got “run out”, in the 2nd or 3rd over. I have never had these thoughts about Sehwag’s batting.

    Next match India has to go with the following team, in batting order:

    I know the Irfan selection might be a bit “out there”, but you’ve got to give him a chance – and maybe he gains some confidence against Bermuda.

    Anyway there’s my brain dump for the week…Raghu

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