From team selection to picking the final XI, everything went wrong for Team India in the Asia Cup, according to a survey conducted by Malayala Manorama among readers.
In the recently concluded Asia Cup, where India were knocked out in the Super 4 stage, wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik faced only one ball.
However, the veteran, who had never bowled in his 16-year-long international career, was seen rolling over his arm in the tournament.
The way India used Karthik, one of the best finishers in T20 cricket, tells a lot about lack of vision and clarity in the team selection.
This is one of the key observations made by most of the participants of an opinion poll conducted by Malayala Manorama among its readers after India's Asia Cup debacle.
Although head coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma maintained that they were trying to experiment on various combinations ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia, most of the survey respondents are of the opinion that constant chopping and changing had created a room of self-doubt in the team.
Most of the players were not able to play freely as their main focus was on cementing their position in the squad. The team management needs to persist with the best available players suited to the T20 format and help them be battle-ready for the World Cup, opined a majority of the respondents.
Here is the result of the survey which was conducted over the course of four days:
Do you think Indian players did not show the same intensity and passion as their Afghan or Sri Lankan counterparts in the Asia Cup?
Yes – 57.39%
No – 34.92%
No opinion – 7.69%
Our players have a lot to learn from the fighting spirit shown by the Sri Lankan team to bring joy to a nation in crisis, pointed out a Team India fan.
According to another fan, the body language of some of the Indian players suggested that they did not want to pick an injury at the Asia Cup and spoil their chance of representing the country at the World Cup.
They should try to emulate the aggression and the never-say-die attitude displayed by Virat Kohli who had been going through an extended lean patch before the tournament, opined many.
Do you think Indian players have a casual attitude toward international matches as they earn big bucks in the Indian Premier League (IPL)?
Yes – 59.22%
No – 29.91%
No opinion – 10.87%
Although most of the respondents love watching the IPL, they feel too much franchise cricket will have an adverse impact on international cricket.
Some of the IPL stars of Team India looked a pale shadow of their usual selves in the Asia Cup.
One of the interesting responses was that rivals are able to tackle Indian players as their style of play is being constantly exposed to them through the IPL.
The franchise league features over 70 matches in an edition, yet the selectors were not able to pick a balanced XI, noted a respondent.
What is the main reason for India's dismal show in the Asia Cup?
Poor team selection – 66.91%
Over-confidence – 26.37%
Excessive cricket – 3.79%
Over-age players – 2.93%
According to a majority of respondents, the team's performance in the Asia Cup exposed the flaws in the selection policies.
It was a big mistake to exclude keeper-batter Sanju Samson, who had done reasonably well whenever he got a chance to play for India.
The team management should have dropped K.L. Rahul after he failed in the first match of the tournament. Playing Hardik Pandya as a specialist bowler does not make sense.
Also, Deepak Hooda, who was drafted into the team as an all-rounder, was not used properly.
Opening with Rishabh Pant would have allowed the team to have a left and right-handed batting combination.
The overconfidence of being the No. 1 ranked T20 team backfired.
However, the tight schedule cannot be blamed for the poor show.
There are many players in other Asian teams who play franchise cricket throughout the year. Afghan spinner Rashid Khan is a good example.
Most of the respondents do not think Team India has an ageing problem.
If the 37-year-old Karthik can be a good T20 player, there is no reason for others to feel to be overage, they claim.
The main problem Team India confronted in the Asia Cup was…
Failure of batting all-rounders – 33.09%
ODI-style batting in T20 – 31.14%
Absence of a top-order left-handed batsman - 14.29%
Other reasons – 21.48%
Most of the respondents said that Indian batsmen have not yet learned to bat in the Power Play overs.
Instead of trying to score a fifty, openers should try to score at a 200 strike rate.
Against Sri Lanka, Rohit played an excellent T20 inning, but the middle-order failed to capitalise on the good start. Pandya's batting was not up to the mark while Pant struggled to middle the ball.
The team management should have tried to open with Pant.
The right-left combination of Rohit and Pant would have disturbed the rhythm of bowlers and field placements.
The middle-order was depleted by Ravindra Jadeja's injury, the survey showed.
What went wrong with India's bowling?
Death-over bowling – 34.68%
Poor show by spinners – 19.17%
Flawed bowling changes – 40.05%
Other reasons – 6.1%
As per the survey, there were two reasons for India's poor bowling performance in the Asia Cup.
One was team selection. Most of the respondents said that the non-inclusion of an experienced campaigner like Mohammed Shami weakened India's bowling.
Those who picked Avesh Khan ahead of Shami deserve credit, some of them said mockingly.
Often, Bhuvneshwar Kumar had to bear the burden alone. The team sorely missed Jasprit Bumrah in the death overs.
The management should have given Deepak Chahar a chance.
Also, the team did not have a single genuine pacer in its ranks.
Besides, Rohit's selection of bowlers in the death overs raised many questions, said the survey participants.
The one player India failed to use properly in the Asia Cup was…
Dinesh Karthik – 45.30%
Ravichandran Ashwin – 18.80%
Ravi Bishnoi – 17.22%
Any other player – 18.68%
A popular opinion was that India could not effectively use a T20 specialist like Karthik.
In the entire tournament, he faced only one ball, coming at No. 7 against Pakistan in India's first match.
Against Hong Kong and Afghanistan, he did not get a chance to bat.
India's batting lacked firepower in the final five overs, yet the team management could not utilise the service of a proven finisher like Karthik.
Most of the respondents were of the opinion that India should have opted for Karthik in place of Pant.
Rotating Ashwin and Bishnoi did not yield the desired result, the survey showed.
One player India missed the most in the Asia Cup was
Jasprit Bumrah - 43.59%
Sanju Samson - 42.49%
Mohammed Shami - 7.20%
Any other player – 6.72%
A majority of the respondents felt that had Bumrah and Sanju been part of the team, India's fortunes in the Asia Cup would have changed.
Bumrah's absence was felt while bowling in the death overs. Sanju, with his aggressive brand of cricket, would have maintained the scoring rate in the middle overs, they noted.
What the team needs is proper T20 batsmen like Sanju. Someone like Shikhar Dhawan, who has always performed well in big tournaments, could also have made a difference.
Chahar, with his wide array of subtle variations, would have fortified the bowling attack. Most of the participants lamented the team management's inability to find a replacement for Yuvraj Singh.
Good luck, India!
A majority of the participants opined that India repeated the flawed Asia Cup selection policies while picking the team for the T20 World Cup too.
It was shocking to see the selectors snubbing Sanju once again.
Jadeja's absence will be a big blow to Team India. Return of Bumrah and Harshal Patel will lend more teeth to the bowling attack.
With India scheduled to play South Africa and Australia before the World Cup, fans are expecting some changes to the final squad for the mega event.
Although most of the fans are unhappy over the team selection, they want India to do well at the World Cup and make the country proud.