India’s performance at the ICC World Twenty20 cannot be called disgraceful. It can never be that when a team loses only one of their five matches. However, the tournament should not be viewed as a satisfactory one for the 2007 champions.
India’s failure on the world scene (only two ICC triumphs in the last ten years — from October 1, 2002) has reached frustrating levels, given the kind of talent on board. The victories in the 2007 World T20 and 2011 were highly commendable, but performance in other world events has been poor.
Loose selection hasn’t helped too. The selectors depended on tried and tested players from the ODI arena for success in the shortest form of the game. Six of the playing XI in Tuesday’s game against South Africa were part of the squad in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa. This fact provides a hopeless advertisement for a youth policy. That team was picked by Dilip Vengsarkar — quite clearly, India’s best chief selector since then.
The batting order failed to subject the opposition to near-impossible targets in Sri Lanka. Yet, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s ‘horses for courses’ selection was slightly warped. Piyush Chawla claimed two wickets against England but he didn’t deserve to get a game in the first place. Dhoni chose not to persist with England’s tormentor Harbhajan Singh after one failure against Australia (2-0-20-0). And once comeback man Harbhajan Singh starred in his first match of the tournament, he ought to have been given more rope.
Overall, India were unfortunate to go out of a tournament in which they tasted more success than failure. There is no reason for breast-beating, but better selection is the need of the hour. The selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil must act on the form displayed by openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in this tournament when it comes to picking them again.