Sunday, March 13, 2011

India’s loss to South Africa in the World Cup preliminary game

One may say it is just a game and someone has to win and someone has to lose. Why such a fuss! Agreed! I personally believe that there is a lot of fuss being made over the 45 preliminary games when in all probability the Top 8 teams will qualify for the Quarter Finals and once they reach the Quarters, none of the earlier results will matter.

Still, as someone who lost a significant portion of sleep over this game and as an avid cricket fan, I would like to analyse the game and present my views. Back to the original question - Why did India lose the game?

In my opinion, there are two possible reasons – one sinister and one cricketing! For the sake of this article I am going to assume that there is no match fixing or spot fixing during this World Cup and even if they did occur, they did not influence this game.

India got off to a flyer and was 120 odd for no loss at the end of 15 overs. My spontaneous reaction was India should take up the batting Power-Play immediately. This would have put the South Africans on the back foot and gotten us to say 160-170 in 20 overs just batting the way we were and effectively bat South Africa out of the game. I wasn’t expecting anyone to agree with me and was pleasantly surprised when Ravi Shastri echoed my views a couple of minutes later (I have witnesses to this)

India allowed South Africa to get back in the game with their spinners between the 16th and the 25th overs. But then Tendulkar and Gambhir played a massive role in almost taking the game away from South Africa by taking the score to 260 odd for 1 in 39 overs. Dhoni took the Batting Power-Play at this stage as expected. He then sent Yusuf Pathan ostensibly to up the ante. Once Yusuf got out, Dhoni did not back off and sent Yuvraj for possibly the same reason. Once India lost 4 wickets in succession, one would have expected Dhoni as the captain would take control of the situation. But as usual Dhoni pottered around at the crease scoring a strike rate of 50 and let everyone take a shot at scoring quickly and the rest as they say is history.

I for one went to bed at this stage (It was midnight my time) and did not follow the Indian bowling closely. But there are certain indisputable facts and questions to be asked? Nehra was playing a game after being out for injury. Why was Nehra given the ball for the last over? India’s most successful bowler of the day, Harbhajan Singh did not complete his quota of 10 overs. Why? Why was Harbhajan not given the last over? Why was Tendulkar or not given the last over? If anyone has forgotten, Tendulkar has helped India win in similar circumstances? Why is Sehwag never given a bowl these days? Who is the one person responsible for all these decisions?

It is easy to say that India lost because the middle order collapsed or maybe because Nehra bowled badly. That in my opinion is a cop out. In my opinion, based on the above facts, there is one individual who had control of the things that went wrong for India and who made wrong decisions at critical junctures of the game. Hence I believe that the reason for India’s loss is the poor captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I rest my case.

Sai Mahesh
Sydney, Australia


  1. I agree. The commentators discussed about batting powerplay after 15 overs.
    What is the guarantee, India would succeed, when they failed the same in 38 overs? Assume, there was a debacle at 15 overs stage, India would have failed to reach even 200 runs. In the normal cirumstances, India would have lost a couple of wickets (based on what happened in the past) and started consolidation. Eventually India would have ended up with more or less the same total.

    In the past 2 decades, overs 16 - 40 are always consolidation phase for any team. India did not do bad.

    Sehwag has injured shoulder. That is the reason he has not bowled for the past 2 years.Tendulkar had not bowled in a long time. Asking him to bowl the last over would be too much of a gamble.

  2. I agree with you that Captain Mahindra Singh Dhoni screwed the game. Missed out to mention this in my first comment.


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