If the primary wicket taker of the side does not come on till the 26th over, there is the problem right there. No matter what the circumstances, Dhoni’s decision to hold his ace bowler back may have affected Harbhajan Singh’s performance on an otherwise up and down for India on the field. I believe Harbhajan Singh is like Tendulkar when it comes to participation. He needs to be in early and get as much of the strike (of the crease) as possible. Virat Kohli’s half trackers and Yusuf Pathan’s harmless spin let Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Yousuf settle in and subsequently destroy the Indian bowling attack. At 52 for 3, you would want to corner the opposition by attacking further and playing on the minds of a under confident batting line up. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
While Tendulkar seemed to fall in the run of play, Gautam Gambhir played a majestic innings. He hardly demonstrated any rustiness despite his absence from the game for a while and played some glorious shots. Dravid’s calling and running had a lot to be desired yesterday. Despite that Gambhir could possibly have made a stronger attempt at getting back to the crease. His departure was extremely crucial for India since the Pakistani side were starting to feel the brunt of hit attack.
Virat Kohli, in the way he batted, reminded me a lot of Robin Uthappa. His came, played and departed in a fashion that bore a similarity. I am not so sure if the decision to send Kohli up the order was a good one, on hindsight. Raina’s innings, I thought, was the most intelligent of all. He mixed some sensible running between wickets with the kind of aggression that he is so good at. He knew that Malik was possibly the weakest link and took him to the cleaners in an over where he played some amazing shots. I thought his dismissal was a really poor decision on the part of Steve Davis.
Yusuf Pathan lacks the ability to think of a game beyond 20 overs. In fact, when he is at the crease even that seems a far fetched thought. I have absolutely no idea as to why he continues to maintain his captain’s confidence. I would dearly like the explanation for why he is a better fit in the side compared to Rohit Sharma, Abhishek Nayar or even his own brother. He needs to be relegated back to IPL and T20 status.
While Dravid’s running and calling may undergo some scrutiny, I thought he held the innings well. He batted sensibly and as long as he was at the crease, there was always hope. Another terrible indecision cost him his wicket. While India did lose the game by 54 runs, overall, I do not think they played as badly as they did in their recent loss to Sri Lanka while chasing a similar total. Gambhir’s is a very welcome return to the side. They may want to consider playing either Amit Mishra or Abhishek Nayar in the next game instead of Yusuf Pathan. They could also consider playing both while keeping Virat Kohli out.
I still believe this Indian side, despite its depleted strength, is good enough to beat Australia and West Indies to go through to the next stage. In fact, I think they will do so with considerable ease. Exciting times ahead.