A brilliant hundred from Sangakkara helped Sri Lanka to a thrilling two wicket win over India in the Asia Cup 2014 group-stage match at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, Fatullah, on Friday.
Here, we look at five possible reasons why India lost.
1) MS Dhoni’s absence
There is a saying:”You miss someone the most when he is not around.” Team India will be realizing the value of their regular skipper now that they failed at crucial junctures in Friday’s match against Sri Lanka defending a pretty decent score of 265. MS Dhoni is regarded as cool captain not for nothing by cricketing world, as Indian team missed the services of India’s most successful captain in ODI cricket. Dhoni has the ability to read the situation better than most especially when playing in subcontinent and add to that his ability to rotate bowlers and give them crucial overs. Dhoni is also known for thinking on his feet as can be seen from various examples like giving Joginder Sharma the last ovet in a T20 World Cup final in 2007 to as recently as handing Vinay Kumar the penultimate over in 2013 ICC Champions Trophy Final last year against England. Add to MSD’s captaincy his batting ability and you have a complete package. Not to forget Dhoni is the best finisher in the history of ODI cricket. So all said and done absence of Dhoni was, if not only, one of the primary reasons behind India’s defeat.
2) Poor fielding
This reason is a bit of surprise to even me because this Indian team is the best fielding team in India’s history, well if not the history then certainly in our generation. Let us see why we have put poor fielding (add Dinesh Karthik’s pathetic wicket-keeping). India dropped as many as three vital catches in this match all pretty catchable. The most costly dropped catch was of Kusal Perera when he dropped on seven by Dhawan, as Perera went on to score 64. The other very costly miss was stumping chance by Dinesh Karthik of Kumar Sangakkara, who was 15 at that time; as he went on to smash a match-winning hundred. It was not just catching and wicket-keeping but also ground feeling that cost India this match. All in all I just hope this display in the field was more of an aberration than a regular occurrence.
3) Middle-order collapse
India went into this match with a very inexperienced middle-order in absence of Suresh Raina (poor form), Yuvraj Singh (poor form), and MS Dhoni (injury). So it was expected that India will have a tough time in matches when the top three are dismissed early. But there are no excuses when a team goes from 2/175 to 7/215, thus losing five wickets for 40 runs. The trio of Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, and Ambati Rayudu has to step up if India harbours ambitions of winning Asia Cup, especially since they have the worst bowling attack among top nations.
4) Lack of penetration from bowlers
As I mentioned earlier India has the worst bowling line-up among the top nations in world cricket, as a result it is even more pertinent that Indian batsman give them a cushion of extra 20-25 runs. Looking at the fast bowling line-up of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, and Stuart Binny most batsman of Pakistan will be licking their lips. With premier spinner Ashwin out of form completely, the only saving grace is Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling. India bowlers need to pull up their socks and that too very quickly.
5) Virat Kohli’s captaincy
I can safely say from the evidence of last couple of matches India has played in this tournament that Virat Kohli is in for a leather hunt for the remainder of the tournament. Yes, Virat Kohli, has only lead in handful of matches at international level, but from whatever little sample piece we have (you can include RCB matches also) I infer that he is not a captain who inspires confidence when chips are down. Now on to his tactical side of captaincy and even there he does not look convincing. Just take a look at following example – he kept Bhuvneshwar Kumar for death bowling, when his skill set suggest he is completely a different bowler. Kohli is in this team for long enough to ralize that Kumar is not someone who bowl in the end overs. This is not to say that Kohli can’t captain national team, but one can only hope with experience he will get better.