Team India's search for a global title remains elusive as they were thrashed by England in the semifinals of the ICC T20 World Cup in Adelaide on Thursday night. It was a tame end to a campaign, which began with a dramatic win over Pakistan. India were no match for England on the big day and were simply outclassed by Jos Buttler and Co. The game was lost in the Powerplays -- India managed just 38/1 in the first six overs after being put in to bat, while the English openers Buttler and Alex Hales raced to 63/0 chasing 169.
For all their talk of showing intent and playing aggressive cricket for the past one year, the Indian top order consisting of captain Rohit Sharma and his opening partner K L Rahul and Virat Kohli was tentative in the first half of the Indian innings.
In the end it was only a blinder by Hardik Pandya (63 off 33 balls) which took India to what many thought was a par score. But it turned out to be a stroll in the park for England as they were home and dry with four overs to spare and all 10 wickets intact.
India have fallen at the semifinals of a World Cup yet again and they have lost to four different opponents. If it was Australia and New Zealand who stopped the Men in Blue from reaching the ODI World Cup final in 2015 and 2019 respectively, the Indians lost to the West Indies in the 2016 T20 World Cup semifinal before yesterday's rout.
The Indian players have found the going tough in knockout games for sure. India last won a knockout match in a T20 World Cup in 2014 when Kohli's brilliance took them past South Africa in the semifinal at Dhaka.
Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav and Pandya were the standout players for India in this edition. Rohit seemed burdened by the pressure of captaincy, while Rahul underlined the fact that he's not a big-match player. It was baffling why leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal did not get a single game, with the think tank of Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid preferring Axar Patel over the Haryana player. Chahal is a genuine wicket-taker and would have been handy on the Adelaide wicket where veteran England leggie Adil Rashid returned excellent figures of 1/20 from his four overs.
India need to adopt the modern style of T20 cricket where teams go hard at the bowling from the start. The Indian T20I team need some major changes. Pandya will be in charge of the team as they take on New Zealand in away series next week. Pandya showed admirable composure throughout the Indian campaign and he could just be the man to lead India in the next edition in the Caribbean and the US in 2024.
The indications are that both Ashwin and Dinesh Karthik have played their final white-ball match for India. Ashwin did alright, but there is no place for such slow movers in the modern white-ball game. The experiment with 'finisher DK' turned out to be a farce. It left both DK and Rishabh Pant unsure of their place in the playing eleven and dented their confidence.
The Indian pace trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Shami did well in the league phase but wilted under the onslaught of Hales and Buttler. There was no swing for both Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep and the duo lacked the pace to trouble the English pair. Bhuvneshwar is well past his prime and India need to look beyond him.
Rohit had turned emotional while leading the country in a World Cup for the first time against Pakistan, by the time the Indian campaign ended the English had brought him almost to tears. He will have a chance to redeem himself in a year's time when India host the ODI World Cup. The Indian selectors and the team management have to be bold and prudent in their ways for India to last the distance.