Same old story

SANJAY RAJAN & S. RAM MAHESH

A NEW team management, the same old story. The failure of the much-vaunted batting line-up cost India dear — it lost all three matches against Sri Lanka.

Rahul Dravid's captaincy was inventive, but even his decision of sacrificing a batsman for a bowler in the final couldn't find the right balance.

Here's an assessment of how each player performed:

Virender Sehwag: The blaster from Najafgarh reduced an imposing target in the final to an achievable one with a blitzkrieg (48, 22b, 9x4, 1x6), but departed when the side needed him to stay a little longer. India suffered because he couldn't fire in the early stages of the tournament. Score: 3/10.

Sourav Ganguly: Did not live up to the hype surrounding his late arrival. The left-hander became the third batsman to reach the 10,000 ODI run mark with a patchy half-century, but did little else. He did not pull his weight when it mattered — the final. Score: 2/10.

Rahul Dravid: The Indian captain stressed that it was imperative for an established batsman to stay till the end for a team to win. Sadly, he didn't in the crucial match. Nevertheless, The Wall was by far the most consistent batsman in a shaky Indian top-order. He didn't allow the cares of captaincy to affect his batting. Score: 6/10.

Yuvraj Singh: Indian cricket's prodigal son redeemed himself with a century to help the team reach the final. But the burly left-hander's dismissal with the side needing 96 off 90 deliveries with eight wickets in hand saw Sri Lanka come right back.Score: 5/10.

Md. Kaif: The eternal bridesmaid. While the Uttar Pradesh lad showed that he is capable of playing support cast, it is time he began leading the charge. The move up the order gave him an opportunity to prove that he is more than just a finisher. He didn't do enough. Score: 3/10.

M. S. Dhoni: His keeping through the tournament was ragged and his miss of Jayasuriya in the final proved costly. Dravid said the man from Jharkhand has the makings of an ideal number seven, but he needs to hold his place as a 'keeper first. Score: 2/10.

Irfan Pathan: He began the tournament impressively with both bat and ball. All that came to naught in the final when he was collared for 59 in nine overs. Dravid's move to use Sehwag despite the presence of five regular bowlers was an indictment of how expensive Kumble and he were. Score: 5/10.

Harbhajan Singh: A poor match against Sri Lanka in the league phase saw him make way for Anil Kumble in the must-win clash against the West Indies. However, the Turbanator will remain the first choice spinner, as his spell — none for 40 off 10 overs — against the host showed. Score: 4/10.

Zaheer Khan: Five wides and one no ball in his first spell of two overs isn't the start that one expects from a strike bowler in the final. He pulled it back well, but remains a pale shadow of the man who burst onto the international scene in 2001. Though steady, he didn't look like he could rip open a line-up. Score: 4/10.

Anil Kumble: Excelled against the inexperienced West Indian line-up, before Sri Lanka proved to be his bugbear. Will he do a Warne to extend his Test career? Score: 3/10.

Ashish Nehra: Easily India's bowler of the tournament. A nerveless last over against the West Indies and a six-for against Sri Lanka in the final weren't enough. Score: 7/10.

V. V. S. Laxman: Injured and then dropped, without doing anything of note in between. The Hyderabadi's woes in the shorter version continue. Score: 1/10.

Suresh Raina: Had the misfortune of facing his first delivery in ODIs from Muralitharan. Displayed glimpses of his batting potential, courtesy West Indian butter fingers. For someone touted to be an all-rounder, he bowled just 4.2 overs in three matches. Score: 2/10.

Venugopala Rao: Showed promise in the only match he batted. Held up a tottering India with Dravid. Score: 3/10.

L. Balaji: Had Kumara Sangakkara is a spot of bother in the only match that he played. Provides variation from the monotony of three left-arm pacemen, but has not been first choice in the abridged version of late. Score: 2/10.

J. P. Yadav: Despite a professional team management that insisted on flexibility and was keen to provide an opportunity to all, he was the customary tourist in any Indian line-up. Score: N/A.