I have been very amused by some of the reactions that have followed India’s defeat against South Africa. The general feeling seems to be that India’s World Cup campaign has gone for a toss. A closer analysis perhaps would justify this. India has played two games against major test playing teams, losing one and nearly losing the other. Of the remaining three games, they have conceded 290 against a team that the West Indies bowled out for 58 and were 99/4 and 110/5 against the other two minnows. As Bill Lawry would perhaps say, it’s just not happening.
The main villain in this saga seems to be MS Dhoni. He has been blamed for not picking Ashwin, for sticking with Chawla and most importantly for giving Nehra the final over on Saturday. If Harbhajan would have bowled the final over and India would have lost, then the same people would have criticized Dhoni for not giving Nehra the final over. If Ashwin would have been picked ahead of Chwala and had conceded 70 in 10, Dhoni would have been criticized for favoring a fellow IPL team mate.
After the game on Saturday, news channel around India had a gala time. There were two hour debates, strategies were debated and team selections contemplated. Times Now, a news channel that is never far away from pouring oil in a growing fire, had a debate on whether Dhoni had become complecent. Navjot Sidhu stated that Dhoni cannot carry on thinking that bad performances will not be condemned. Phew. All this after one loss
It is important for all of us to remember that game seems a lot simpler from air-conditioned offices and living rooms. Ian Chappell, master captain, master player and some one who has played a lot more cricket and hence knows a lot more about the game then all of us, made a fitting one line comment- “ Dhoni is the best captain in the competition by far”. I don’t think Dhoni has done anything drastically wrong in this competition, nothing at any rate that seems to have altered the result of any game. In fact like always he has been refreshingly honest and candid in his assessment. ( batsman need to play for the team and not for the gallery, we cant improve much as a fielding team).
India lost against South Africa not because of Dhoni’s captaincy but because for some strange reason, Tendulkar and Gambhir added just about 100 runs between overs 20 and 40. This was followed by the gigantic collapse. These were the major contributing factors to the defeat. Ofcourse conceding 13 runs in the final over was disappointing but that can happen with any bowler.
But we will still debate and discuss and every Indian loss will always be a National disaster and a crisis.
A country little away from us, had 8.9 earthquake. Its coast was hit by a tsunami and the country is going through a nuclear emergency. That is a crisis.
Sometimes, only sometimes, we need to keep a little bit of perspective.