In the crucial encounter between India and Sri Lanka, Rahul Dravid scored 60 runs and was the top scorer for India. Still we have captioned this report the way it has been since India had lost the match even before it began due to its faulty team selection. If one recalls our previous analytical report, we had suggested that Irfan should be brought back in place of Uthappa and if possible replacement of Dhoni with Dineh Karthik should be considered. We had also stated that we need not consider Harbhajan as the fifth bowling option. Never in our dreams we had thought that Dravid would have the crazy idea of dropping Kumble and taking Harbhajan as a replacement. Dravid also did not consider either bringing in Irfan or Dinesh Karthik. Thus Dravid made three deviations from the pre-match recommendation and had to pay for the same with the loss.

Even in the Bangladesh match we had differed with Dravid on the leaving out of Kumble and opening with Sehwag and concluded that these were contributory to India’s loss. We need to again conclude that it was the wrong decisions of Dravid in the match against Sri Lanka that led more than anything else to India’s exit from the World Cup.

The undersigned has been one of the staunch supporters of Dravid as a captain earlier when Ganguly was not performing. However, the mistake of leaving out Anil Kumble even after his good show in the second match and Harbhajan’s lack luster performance, is some thing hard to digest. While his faith in Sehwag has been justified to some extent, the other decisions including his reluctance to try Karthik in place of Dhoni for the Sri Lankan match showed that he lacked conviction and went by past form rather than current form.

It is unfortunate that these decisions resulted in the early exit of India and caused a lot of disappointment to millions of Indian fans.

If we lose a game because the players donot perform on a given day is one thing. But losing a game by not chosing performers is another thing. What has happenned in the case of India is that the team management committed harakiri either with ovre confidence or plain stubborn ness.

In order to understand the Indian performance in greater depth, let us look at the following table of performance under the NCR scanner (Naavi Cricket Rating)

Indian Performance in Cricket World Cup 2007 (Naavi Cricket Rating View)

Player Batting Bowling Fielding Total
Rank Name Bangladesh Bermuda Sri Lanka Bangladesh Bermuda Sri Lanka Bangladesh Bermuda Sri Lanka Batting Bowling Fielding Total
1 Virender Sehwag 0 46 63 28 10 0       109 38 147
2 Munaf Patel 15 0 8 29 26 25     10 23 70 10 111
3 Zaheer Khan 13 0 -2 8 38 47       11 93   104
4 Ajit Agarkar -1 0 0 -5 48 28       -1 71 10 80
5 Yuvraj Singh 41 42 3 -7 0 0       86 -7 79
6 MS Dhoni -3 10 -1       30 10 30 6 70 76
7 Rahul Dravid 8 6 57 0 0       71   71
8 Sachin Tendulkar -1 29 -2 2 11 21       26 34   60
9 Sourav Ganguly 37 8 -6 0 19       39 19   58
10 Anil Kumble   0   43         0 43   43
11 Robin Uthappa 5 0 17   0     10 22 0 10 32
12 Harbhajan Singh -3   21 5 -2       18 3   21
13 Dinesh Karthik 0         10 (Substitute) 0   10 10
NR S Sreesanth                        
NR Irfan Pathan                        

 

The above table indicates that Virender Sehwag was in fact the Indian Player of the Tournament and scored a total of 147 NCR points. If we leave aside Dinesh Karthik who scored 10 points by taking a catch as a substitute, Harbhajan Singh had the dubious distinciton of being the Indian player with least NCR points. We can therefore call that for India, Virender Sehwag was the Hero of the tournament and Harbhajan was the villain of the tournament.

Looking more closely at the bowling points alone, Harbhajan scored jus 3 points from two matches against 43 points scored by Kumble from a single match. Zaheer Khan was the top bowler for India while Yuvaraj as a part time bowler was the worst bowler.  Dravid owes an explanation of how he came to prefer Harbhajan to Kumble for the match.

Knowing that Harbhajan was a staunch supporter of Ganguly, we also need to check if there was any disinterest in Harbhajan to perform under Dravid so that Ganguly can come back as captain. Though Ganguly played well in the first two matches, he just did what was required to cement his place. He did not take India to victory in the Bangladesh match after  having set in and failed in the crucial match against Sri Lanka. This could also lead to speculations on whether he and Harbhajan caused the team to perform worse than they otherwise could have. Though Sehwag also belonged to the Ganguly camp, after his  failure in the first math, his own position was in doubt and he had to work his way into the team first. But may be he would not be too unhappy with the failure of Dravid.

While Chappel will be made to shoulder most of the blame for this debacle, let us not forget that the problem was with the  Captain’s decisions and failure of key players more than anything else. In fact the selectors had given a good team this time and except for the dropping of Romesh Powar in preference to Harbhajan, no other fault could be found with them. Having got a team which had the potential to win the world cup, it was Dravid who thorugh wrong choice of players in the first and the third matches and a wrong decision to bat first in the first match, and sticking to the 7 batsmen plan instead of 6 batsmen plus Irfan, that caused the Indian loss. If there was any silent rebellion inside the team with the Ganguly camp working against Dravid camp, it has made the situation even worse. Tendulkar being himself out of form could not help Dravid and Dhoni was caught with his inexperience.

Hope we realize our mistakes for the future. But it was sad to see Kumble being the first person to console Dravid when India lost knowing fully well that he will not get another opportunity at the World cup despite being India’s top bowler. Tendulkar, Ganguly and several others would not be around for the next world cup and we have to rebuild our team from now on.

 

Naavi

March 24, 2007

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