Leaving Shikhar Dhawan out wasn’t the best move

When you play at home, you expect better. But it seemed that our team was confused about what is their strength — whether to play on flat tracks or turners.

Shikhar Dhawan was dropped from the playing eleven in the semi-final match against West Indies.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

After India’s semi-final loss on Thursday, two videos from either team, crashed into our WhatsApp messages, TV screens, YouTube links and Twitter accounts. Both were brilliant in content and right up the alley for media houses.

One was that of Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo in the boogie-woogie mode on the latter’s new song “Champions”. First in the dressing room at Wankhede Stadium and later from the porch of the hotel, till they reached the elevators, the West Indian pair was not only unleashing dance moves, but were letting lose the free spirit of the Caribbean region.

The other video was that of India captain M.S. Dhoni answering the retirement question at a post-match press conference. The journalist here was an Australian national, whom Dhoni asked to come over and share the microphone with him. People have castigated him for counter-questioning the journalist. The general feeling is that he should have simply said “no, I haven’t thought about it” and moved on rather than making a big show out of it. Some writers have also highlighted that Dhoni’s indifference towards Indian media can be contagious in the team. Well, personally I think that it made for an interesting video.


What about the merit or demerit of this whole act? Well, let us just leave it at the subjective wisdom of the protagonists and the antagonists.

I am sure of one thing though. There will be some clever stakeholders who will try to label India’s aborted campaign as a good one. I say this with conviction because the same thing happened when India crashed out of the 2015 World Cup. At that time, the only good team we had beaten was South Africa and to an extent the West Indies, before crashing out to Australia in the semis. Besides that we beat an ordinary looking Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland and UAE. Any proud cricketer will tell you that this is ordinary show by a team that went into that 2015 competition as defending champions. I hope the same is not repeated and we address our challenges head on.

When you play at home, you expect better. But it seemed that our team was confused about what their strength is — whether to play on flat tracks or turners. I also think that leaving Shikhar Dhawan out wasn’t the best move. Like I mentioned in my earlier column, if ever there was a venue where a struggling batsman could have got his form back it was Wankhede. In general too, I don’t think we dominated the competition the way we could or should have.

With our team not there in the competition, there is much less pressure while watching the final. This will be one of the games where I can sit back and relish cricket and not worry about the result. Actually, it will be fun if the West Indies can beat England and we have another version of the 'Champion' dance and this time the entire team. Although my mind says England is a better team. May be the English can present another version of the 'Sprinkler' dance. One way or the other we are in for some fun.

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