Team India put up a completely spineless show against Sri Lanka and simply didn’t need deserve to go to the super eight. There is no question that Indian batsmen were mesmerized by Muralitharan at his best. The total of 255 was definitely achievable provided the batsmen applied themselves. Unfortunately, barring Dravid and Sehwag (who was at his best in a long time), none of the batsmen really showed the character and the application to take India through. As for the bowling, the number of extras that India gifted away caused the team dearly and eased the pressure on the opposition. Once again, Dravid failed to utilize the services of Sehwag’s bowling but instead relied on Sachin and Ganguly. Harbhajan failed to get India the much needed break-throughs.
The question before the BCCI is about where does Team India go from here? A good place to start would be enforce some accountability. This means a change in Coach or Captain or both. Chappell has failed to deliver what he was hired for and should be let go. Dravid for his part has never shown any signs of drop in his performance as a batsmen. But at the same time firing the Coach but retaining the captain might be questionable given that the ultimate “decider” on the field is the captain. One can’t escape the fact that Dravid has not been able to inspire his team members to excel though he himself has set a high standard of performance.
It might be best for India to look at a fresh approach. One that is different but yet more suited to the game in its present form and taking into consideration deep rooted Indian issues such as super stardom of its players among other things. India could draw a leaf out of South Africa, who took the daring step of naming the 22 year old, aggressive, inexperienced Graeme Smith as captain in 2003 after their World Cup defeat. Now SA is rated the top team!
It might make sense to go in for a new look ODI outfit without any of the ageing superstars but instead a team with young and upcoming players under the leadership of either Yuvraj or Kaif. The so called superstars can be given a few years of Test cricket before they phase out for good.
This might be a good time to adopt John Wright’s recommendation of having a professionally recruited paid 3-member selection committee instead of the current zonal arrangement.
The BCCI appears to be making the right noises at the present moment. One can only hope that these are not mere responses with political overtones but a genuine desire to make fundamental changes.