Millennium Post
Editorial

Outclassed!

Team India received an emphatic thrashing at the hands of the English team on Thursday. In the semi-final match, England outclassed mighty Indians — making them look completely ordinary. The Indian skipper believes that the team "batted well at the backend" but "were not up to the mark with the ball." He expressed his disappointment, saying the team "couldn't turn up today." His brief at the press conference sounded a bit like India's exit resulted from factors completely out of control. In reality, this was not the case. England outsmarted India in planning and clinical execution, as well as in the exhibition of a remarkable character. Let's accept the fact that the big contest demanded something special that England were ready with while India decided to go the ordinary way. England were confidently ready to chase a target that India could manage to put on the scoreboard with a saviour-like, heroic innings of Hardik Pandya. India treads the beaten path of going the conservative way in the beginning and then showing some excellence towards the end; leaving the bowling faction with the task to turn out with some miracle — if it happens to be a defending task in the second innings. Flashes of brilliance won't come to rescue each time; particularly when the opponent is more than prepared for a big contest. Ahead-of-the-curve planning and clinical execution must define the approach in big games. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for India. Perhaps this is the reason that India has been outsmarted not once but several times in important ICC knockout games over the past decade. India lost to Sri Lanka in ICC T20 WC final in 2014. The one-sided hammering in the 2015 World Cup semi-finals dashed India's hopes halfway the contest. In the 2017 Champions Trophy final, it was Pakistan that outshined India. Again in the 2019 World Cup semi-final, it was New Zealand that wreaked havoc over Indian players. Given the extra lavish operations of the BCCI, there is no dearth of talent in Indian cricket, and all are paid well. The team has players who, on their day, can single-handedly turn the outcome of any game. However, where India is failing is in introducing innovation in team management and game style — which still carry the vestiges of old-school cricket in a highly transformed T20 format. Team England has been displaying a glaring example of evolutionary cricket. The intent shown by the formidable T20-specialist Jos Butler and Alex Hales, right from the beginning, ensured India were never in the game and completely lost it after the 15th over itself. It was, in fact, a comprehensive gameplan where, even in the absence of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, England's bowling side comfortably restricted India to a convenient target. India's hopes, on the contrary, appeared to hinge on a basic, vague plan — backed by the undoubtable brilliance of Indian cricketers. It is true that had the Indian openers — KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma — kept going in the beginning, there was nothing stopping them. But ifs and buts have no value in determining the outcome of a game. At the root of the Adelaide fiasco has been a constrained, conservative approach — which magnifies for India when the game happens to be a big one. The change of guard from Virat-Shastri duo to Rahul-Rohit hasn't helped India when it comes to winning ICC tournaments. The reason is that the change is not accompanied by a change in approach. Lest it is stereotyped as an impatient, premature judgement, one must make it explicitly clear that the argument is based not on outcome but on the inconsistencies of the process. The Indian team needs a leadership that can take risks and show the character to justify the same. The change in approach is imperative; there is no point holding it back. We need to shed conservatism and embrace experimentalism. The time is ripe when a new team takes the lead. For now, England needs to be praised for its superb performance. Let's hope for an interesting contest in finals on Sunday.

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