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Why went wrong?

Rahul A Chand
11 July, 2019

People are saying the better team won. It is true, the BlackCaps were a better team on the day. However, I don’t think New Zealand was a better team than India in the league stages. 

For India to chase 239 runs was as easy as cracking peanuts. They looked good on paper and sharp on the field. They went as favorites with the win predictor giving the odds of only 2% for them to lose. Despite strongly positioned to win with not a huge score to chase, India’s 98% chances of winning kept declining and nosediving in the first few overs. So, what exactly happened? What went wrong with the Indian Team?

I believe there are two primary reasons why they couldn’t function and something which prevented them from keeping their world cup dreams alive and rather sad and unfortunate to ponder upon for their exit from bid to claim the world cup title for the third time.

Firstly, it was the over confidence of Indian batsmen coming in at first, second and the third order. Their wickets fell in no time within just a few runs that the scoreboard appeared like that of a soccer match. India cannot always rely on few of their best batmen be it Kohli or Sharma to pull through 100 plus runs in the opening phases. The New Zealand side on the other hand were cognizant of the dangers on letting India build up a partnership in the first 10 overs and therefore had already planned to dismantle the opening batsmen. When Rohit Sharma was out, it was evident that India still felt that Virat Kohli can pull it off for them, but the BlackCaps didn’t stop there. Their hunger for Virat’s wicket to be down before the first 10 overs are complete was evident and they were able to establish that not too late in the game. They came prepared to give them staggering ball throws and hungry for the wickets of India’s biggest batmen in the opening order. So right at the beginning of the match the Indian team failed to hold on to the pressure despite world’s best batsman batting for them. It wasn’t a regular match and India should have restrained from depending too much on their great players like Virat and Sharma to do the job alone. It is a team sport and they can fail at any time to ignite and the rest of the team must be equally prepared to do the job.

Secondly, when the opening overs are dismantled and when your best batsmen are all gone the middle order must function. It must keep the momentum alive and keep scoring. India’s middle order did not function, and wickets kept falling like someone flipping pages in a book. The middle order was unable to establish partnership and keep making runs and therefore too many dot balls starred on their face and on the scoreboard. The coaching team sent MS Dhoni late thus mounting further pressure on the players. They needed experience, skills and leadership on the field, and none was evident in the play. Fortunately, Hardik Pandya and the newbie Rishabh Pant gave a bit of a fight but were unable to make a fifty thus putting India further into doldrums. India was on the verge of losing the match and prayers, optimism and hope were not being answered. The pressure intensified on Indian batsmen and they succumbed to it and began to dwindle slowly. Finally, when MS Dhoni and Jadega found a formidable partnership the chances of pulling a close match suddenly got revived. I got off my chair and told myself this is our game, India will pull through. Jadega kept pulling sixes in his bag and Dhoni’s skills and judgement on when and where to hit the balls gave some hope. As the partnership solidified and Jadega crossed his fifty there was hope that India has some elements left to pull it of like a live wire match. I decided not to walk to my bedroom but be glued to the TV. I was hopeful and was thinking maybe they will pull through the challenge and I can tease of my friends cheering for the New Zealand.  However, this was short-lived as the BlackCaps got the wickets they wanted and Jadega was out. In the end Dhoni, although composed and focused couldn’t help India and the team must have thought we wish we had a few good batsmen left to hit a few sixes in the last overs to pull through. It was close yet so far.

So, would the result be different if Kholi and Sharma batted for at least good 10 overs and build a partnership? Yes. If India would have established a partnership in the early stages with at least 100 runs, they would have won hands down. Even if Kholi, Sharma and Rahul were out India could have easily come out winning the match if young Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya established a good partnership and cross fifty. Sadly, both scenarios failed, and India lost. In the end the match looked close to a win for India, but they were unable to go that far. They lost every bit of the armor to fight in the end.

I think even though star players like Kholi, Sharma and Rahul were out in the early overs India still would have easily won would the batsmen who came in the middle order avoided a few dot balls, scored a few runs per over and then Dhoni and Jadega to finish it off well. Nothing really worked for India on the day. While the bowlers played well for India keeping a total run chase as low as 240, the batmen didn’t really function.

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