PARTAB RAMCHAND | 11 JULY, 2019
Don’t be Over Critical of India, Give Credit to New Zealand
The postmortems are out on India’s defeat in the World Cup semifinal and as usual the criticism has gone overboard.
One can understand the disappointment especially as India were the favourites to beat New Zealand but one must be balanced in the criticism and not try to find fault with anything and everything the Indians did. After all Virat Kohli and his men performed in exemplary fashion during the league stage heading the points table and losing only one of nine matches and one should not lose sight of this.
As the captain himself while putting things in the proper perspective philosophically admitted that he was disappointed at the defeat after playing so well till then but that’s the way things sometimes churn out.
Let’s face facts. The picked squad generally met with approval. There was the odd selection and omission that was questioned but the team that pleases everyone hasn’t and will never be selected. Everyone predicted that the Indians would be among the semifinalists. The knock outs were always going to be tougher with the added pressure of one bad game meaning elimination. But with India avoiding England and Australia and coming up against New Zealand in the semifinals hopes were raised that the Indian team would make it to Lord’s for the title clash.
But truth be told New Zealand were always going to be tough opponents. They have several world class players and if they just about made it to the semifinals squeaking past Pakistan on NRR it was because these cricketers had not performed up to their reputation. After all let us not forget they were World Cup runners-up four years ago at Melbourne.
Indeed rather than coming down hard on the Indians we should give credit to New Zealand who put up a thoroughly professional performance. On a slow surface the batting of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson was exemplary and then the bowlers did a commendable job in defending a total of 239.
The fielding backed them up admirably with Martin Guptill’s run out of Dhoni being the piece de resistance and Williamson stood out with his tactical acumen. The manner in which he rotated the bowling so that the weaker links were not exposed and bowling his three main wicket takers Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson in short spells and bringing them back at the right time when the Ravindra Jadeja – MS Dhoni partnership was raising Indian hopes was strategic captaincy of the highest order.
His field placing too was spot on and the bowlers backed him up by bowling to the field. The Indians were choked for runs and this led to the risky shot selection in some cases which increasing pressure generally results in.
The result must be galling for the Indian team and the millions of Indian cricket followers the world over but let us admit that the better team won on the day. However good this side is it is not as formidable as the West Indian team of the 70s and early 80s or the Australians of the first few years of the new millennium. So let us be restrained in our praise of the squad and balanced in our criticism.