It takes a special kind of talent to single-handedly lose one World Cup. It takes talent of a different kind of God-ness to lose two World Cups (India still has a mathematical chance of making it to the semis but let us agree they do not deserve to) through one’s individual brilliance. Ravindra Jadeja is one such legend. If he decimated India’s chances in England with his Mohammed Kaifian batting, this time in West Indies he did it with his bowling and fielding. To be fair, he was not allowed to display his batting prowess, having been sent in at the fag end, even after Harbhajan Singh, else I am sure he would not have left any stone unturned even there.
It was KKR that first introduced us to the concept of the “all-round failure” with Rohan Gavaskar, who did not bowl and batted after the bowlers. It would perhaps have been better for Team India if Jadeja had been like Rohan Gavaskar in that he was never given the ball. But he was and he gave away 3 sixes and 1 four in two overs against West Indies and 6 sixes in two overs against Australia. And unlike Gavaskar, he could not even produce misti doi on demand.
Of course its easy to get carried away and blame Ravindra Jadeja for everything. The person more culpable for India’s miserable performance is the dude who kept Jadeja in the team after the match against Australia, in the process benching a genuine bowler. Hell they could just played ten men and that would have been better.
Well at least now people cannot blame simple IPL fatigue for Indian’s shameful performance—Jadeja was not allowed to play a single match in the IPL (BCCI for once getting something right, albeit unintentionally) and so he should have been as fresh as Arun Lal in spring. Debunking the fatigue myth are the examples of so many in the Australian team (Warner, Watson, Hussey etc) who were in the IPL and performers like Jayawardene, Gayle and many others, who have been able to maintain their standards from IPL and even raise their games when playing for their countries.
Fundamental things need to be looked at and understood, not the least of which is why Sehwag develops an “injury” right after IPL and right before the World Cup. Even more importantly, fans and selectors need to understand that IPL and T20 internationals are entirely different games, none of which incidentally are cricket. IPL ,by virtue of it being played in India and with the restriction of four foreign players which makes most teams shore up their batting with foreign talent leaving their bowling to domestic players, makes certain types of technically inept batsman appear far better than they actually are.
Case in point being Yusuf Pathan who is always one short ball away from getting dismissed against international opposition. He is and will remain an exceptional IPL player, given its restrictions. But he is definitely not international class. Like Jadeja. Yet every year we make the same mistake in our T20 World Cup selection——-filling up the squad with the best players from IPL, under the assumption that excellence in IPL implies great form in international T20s.
Another thing we need to look at is the problem with short-pitched bowling.” Remember last time in England, we discovered this fatal weakness as if “all of a sudden”, brought Dravid into the team as a reaction and then quietly discarded him when Youngistan started playing well in One Days. The message went out from the powers that be — “See we Youngistanis dont have any problem. If we did, we would be exposed in One Days. But we arent !”
Problem solved. We select an identical side to last time and go to West Indies and find the exact same problem ! And we are all totally confused as to what is going on.
Now here is a hypothesis. In a twenty overs game, the ball is fairly new throughout (since 20 overs is the oldest it can get) and the fast bowlers knowing they have only four overs to bowl (often in 1 over spells) can consistently bowl short balls (a good short ball is always an effort ball, taking quite a bit of stamina to get right). In a fifty over game with a longer time horizon and where spells are longer, it is impossible to keep up that consistent intensity.
The problem with Indian batsmen is that they cannot score big against good short pitched bowling (they can survive short pitched bowling however), because as Dhoni mentioned, most of them cannot pull well. In a T20 game, with the pressure to score two boundaries an over there from the very onset (thanks to gems like Jadeja, three boundaries an over actually), Indian batsmen are forced to attack short-pitched bowling from the get-go and this almost always leads to their undoing.
In an ODI, they can wait a bit till the bowler’s intensity drops and the ball gets older, at which point of time getting the ball near the batsman’s chin consistently becomes difficult (the odd ball can always be let go in an ODI). Even when the ball is replaced in the thirty-sixth over, the main bowlers are then usually coming back for their second/third spells and do not have the same stamina they had in say the eleventh over. Also with a score like 210/3 at the end of forty overs, the pressure to hit the odd-short ball is not as much as it is when at 21/1 in the 5th over chasing 180 and where every other ball is coming chest high.
This basic technical problem, of not being able to hit fours on short balls, is what I believe is the principal reason why India is not a very good T20 international side in venues that have bounce and carry and our debacles in two successive World Cup, under identical circumstances, should make that clear.