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Where did it all go wrong for India?


The city of Troy was supposedly impregnable until that bright spark Odysseus dreamt up the Wooden Horse. After ten long years of trying this ingenious invention helped rout the Trojans and finally claim the city for the Greeks. Prior to the World T20, we like many observers believed that India were the favourites to lift the crown. Led by the inspirational MS Dhoni, many of the Indian players were bang in form from the IPL and despite being without Virender Sehwag appeared to have enough firepower with bat and ball to make a serious impression.
This belief was reinforced when they trounced South Africa in the preliminary round thanks to Suresh Raina's magnificent century, and we even tipped them to win the admittedly difficult Group F in the Super Eight stage. But after heavy defeats to Australia and West Indies, the question now is where did it all go wrong?
Odysseus' cunning mind wasn't required to identify India's achilles heel with the Wooden Horse that has breached India's barricades for the umpteenth time being a heady mixture of express pace and bouncy wickets. Without the genius of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag, their batsmen have again failed to cope with top-class fast bowlers on lively surfaces. It was the same in South Africa in the Champions Trophy. And it was the same in the World T20 in England last year. The new generation of Indian batsmen may be talented, but they have continually failed to deliver consistently when they are the main attraction and not the sideshow to the four aforementioned geniuses.
When Gautam Gambhir was reeling off all those centuries in successive matches on the subcontinent, we were warned that he may not find it so easy when playing against better bowlers on faster tracks. This certainly appeared to be the case when Gambhir faced Dale Steyn earlier this year when South Africa toured India and is now undeniable following his obvious discomfort against the short ball on the bouncy Bridgetown wicket.
We've written before that we believe Yuvraj Singh is over-rated, but would freely admit that he has done well for India in the T20 and ODI formats. But his poor form in the IPL has spilt over here and it would appear that he needs to put as much effort into his cricket as he does in piling on the pounds.
Of the others, Murali Vijay has disappointed and been a poor substitute for Sehwag, Raina despite his heroics against South Africa (on the more docile St Lucia track) obviously struggles against the short ball, Rohit Sharma is a bit hit and miss and Yusuf Pathan never seems to do for India what he does for Rajasthan in the IPL. It won't be long before India is without the services of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman permanently, so it is time that some of the new breed stood up and proved that they are worthy successors. Perhaps the most talented of the lot is Virat Kohli, but he was bizarrely left out of India's squad. Robin Uthappa too would have been a better bet as kamikaze batter than Pathan.
It was not just the batting that let India down. The fielding against Australia and West Indies was dreadful with Ravindra Jadeja being the main culprit. Indeed Jadeja seems to be in competition with Saeed Ajmal as to who is the worst fielder in the tournament - dropping Chris Gayle proved the difference between winning and losing yesterday.
We also can't understand the Indian selection policy concerning its spin attack. As the IPL showed and as Harbhajan Singh has demonstrated ably in the World T20, quality spin bowlers are a crucial weapon in this version of the game. But firstly, India left Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha at home in favour of the inferior Piyush Chawla, and then preferred the part-timers Pathan and Jadeja to Chawla once they arrived in the Caribbean.
India still has a mathematical chance of qualifying for the semi-finals, but whatever happens they need to learn to cope with pace and bounce fast. Otherwise, they will continue to struggle on lively pitches without the genius of Sachin, VVS, Rahul and Viru.

David Green is the brain behind The Reverse Sweep and as well as writing for HoldingWilley, also provides regular articles to many other leading sites on the net. You can also follow David on Twitter @TheReverseSweep. Read more about him here.

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