When the captain and coach got it all wrong

For all the experiments by Dhoni and Fletcher, they could not get the team balance right.



Isn’t a record of four wins out of five matches impressive? Not really, when two of those wins were a shaky performance against Afghanistan and an inconsequential league game against England. Not being able to finish in the top two in a four-team group will be counted as India's failure.

The inability to qualify for the World Twenty20 semifinals has put a question mark on the effectiveness of MS Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher. Since the two got together, success away from home has eluded the team. Their only claim to fame can be the West Indies Test series win in 2011.

Since then, India were routed in England and Australia, failed to make the finals of the one-day Tri-series in Australia and the Asia Cup in Dhaka. The debacle here has added insult to injury. The two are regarded among the shrewdest brains in cricket but have failed to click.  

Leadership slump
Dhoni is a pale shadow of what he was during his partnership with Gary Kirsten, and the T20 event in Sri Lanka is the latest example. In a format where one mistake can cost you the game, India failed to find a settled combination right till their exit.

For all the experiments by Dhoni and Fletcher, they could not get the team balance right. They remained in a dilemma over whether to pick a six batsmen-five bowler combination or play seven batsmen and four bowlers, and whether to play three pacers or an extra spinner.

Once the England batsmen floundered against spin, India fielded the same combination of five bowlers against Australia. It didn't reflect well on the tactical acumen of the captain and the coach. The strategy seemed to be based more on the hope that ‘what worked against England will work against Australia’.

One wondered if they took into account the fact that Shane Watson, David Warner and Mike Hussey were adept at playing spin on slow wickets due to their Indian Premier League stints.

There are bowling units for whom the opponents and conditions may not matter, but rating the Indian attack among them is wishful thinking, and thus the key lies in selecting horses for courses.

Dropping Virender Sehwag for Piyush Chawla was loaded with risk and it was the Australia game in the final analysis that sounded the death knell for India. They came back to win their next two Super Eights games but could not recover the ground conceded against Watson and Warner. The only time India looked to have got the combination right was against Pakistan and it reflected in the result.

No change
If one thought wiser sense had finally prevailed, against South Africa the captain went in with an unchanged line-up. The three-pacer theory has often worked against Pakistan but it was surprising to see Dhoni use the combination against the Proteas.

And that too on a wicket where, minutes earlier, Pakistan had strangled Australia with spinners, not bowling their pacer till the 18th over.

Shoddy showing
In the end, despite the four wins, it was a shoddy performance, the prime example being the win over Afghanistan.

It was a torturous batting show with the batsmen edgy and nervous. They were only made to look good because of the poor catching by the inexperienced Afghans.

Dhoni at least has the cushion of his previous record, but for Fletcher, the signs are not good. The duo needs to get its, and the team's, act together, and fast.


RELATED LINKS:

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On Now: Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils

On Now: Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle-order lifts Chennai to 177-7. More »

Bowling worries for Super Kings

Bowling worries for Super Kings

After failing to defend a mammoth 205 against Kings XI Punjab, Chennai have a lot to think about. More »

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

The class act from Saurashtra may have to rethink his approach to the mannerless format. More »

BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years: Manohar

BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years: Manohar

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

The BCCI is likely to convene a special general body meeting (SGM) in May to replace N Srinivasan on the board's disciplinary committee. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Roach escapes injury after car crash

Roach escapes injury after car crash

The West Indies fast bowler lost control of his BMW sedan due to slippery road conditions in his native Barbados on Saturday. More »

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

The former CBI Director is one of the three candidates proposed by the BCCI to head the enquiry into the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal. More »

Cook relieved after period in limbo

Cook relieved after period in limbo

The England captain is looking forward to a fresh start after a dispiriting Ashes defeat last year. More »

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara go over their World T20 win, and feel grateful to have fans whose support remains unwavering in victory and de… More »

Repose faith in Indian coaches

Repose faith in Indian coaches

All of them cost plenty of dollars which I feel is unnecessary for a two- month tournament, says former cricketer Yajurvindra Singh. More »

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

[T20 Newsline] Lacklustre Super Kings, fast-improving Sanju Samson and other news from IPL-7. More »

Aussie coach joins emerging Afghanistan

Aussie coach joins emerging Afghanistan

Peter Anderson has started work in Kabul as the fast-developing team prepare for their debut at next year's World Cup. More »

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

As Lanka's head coach decides to jump ship, euphoria over winning an ICC tournament has dissipated into fuistration. More »

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Sri Lanka's chief selector is upset at news of head coach Paul Farbrace's possible move to England. More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »