Big questions have been asked of the much-touted Indian outfit after it crashed out of the T20 World Cup by losing by 10 wickets to England at the semifinal stage on Thursday night in Adelaide.
Some of those pertain to the team selection, specifically the playing eleven, and head coach Rahul Dravid was not willing to talk about likely changes to the composition for next year’s 50-over World Cup so soon after his team was knocked out.
One of the intriguing questions that remains unanswered is why leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal was not given a single chance to play in any of the six matches the team figured in here in Australia.
Chahal, who till recently, was the prime spinner in the squad but has been regularly left out of the eleven since then.
The 32-year-old leg spinner last played against Australia in the series held in India in September with a reasonable amount of success. But he was not fielded in any of the league matches India played in the T20 World Cup or in the semifinal against England that India lost comprehensively.
All the players were in the running to be selected for the clash against England, Dravid had said ahead of the match.
Without Chahal and the injured Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian attack lacked teeth that resulted in Buttler and Alex Hales hit individual, unbeaten 80-plus scores to knock India out of the competition as England successfully chased down India’s 168 with four overs and ten wickets in hand.
“I’m sure that when you lose in a semifinal, yes, I know it’s disappointing, but yeah, I’m sure there are things we can look back on, reflect on and see that we’ve improved in and we can take forward and move forward as we build for the next World Cup (50-overs a side to be held in India),” Dravid said at the post match presser in Adelaide.
Dravid also deflected a question specifically asking about the future of seniors Rohit Sharma, the captain, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
“Well, it’s too early to talk about it right now just after a semifinal game. These guys have been terrific performers for us. We have a couple of years to reflect on it. There’s some really good quality players here, so absolutely not the right time to talk about this stuff or think about this stuff right now. We’ll have enough games, enough matches as we go on ahead, and India will try and build and prepare for the next World Cup,” Dravid answered.
Matthew Hayden, the former Australian opener who is connected with the Pakistan team as its batting mentor, noted on Friday the absence of a leggie from the Indian ranks against England when talking about the upcoming final on November 13 here.
“One of the things I think India was missing last night, also in the spin bowling department, was the leg spinning option,” Hayden commented when talking to reporters about the upcoming final between Pakistan and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Did India, in spite of having a mental-conditioning coach in Paddy Upton, capitulate, unable to handle the pressure of playing in a World Cup final?
Hayden gave an interesting reflection on this aspect.
“World Cup cricket is a very emotional campaign. Tournament play is very separate to the future tours programme (FTP) play. When it comes to these huge tournaments we know what it all means — it means the opportunity to lift the World Cup, means the opportunity to set nations alight and reinvigorate a nation through the national team’s performance. And it has got a definitive time. One month, as we knew at the start of this tournament, that someone is going to win and, come Sunday, someone will win. And someone will lose as well.
“On the day that matters, on the day how they handle pressure, on the day who got their game preparations spot on, on the day who can handle their emotions, on the day how individuals set up the play — all those cliches in sports matter in the big games. And that’s why you often see in semifinals and final one side capitulate beyond the point of recognition, almost. You saw that last night that Team India were defeated wicket-less (by England), so anything can happen. Generally you have to have your stuff together and Pakistan has done well over the last couple of weeks,” said Hayden.