T20 series win is good news, but no revenge for World Cup final defeat

Can coach Rahul Dravid gamble on his young talents in the next World T20?

Savouring the T20 series win against Australia (photo: @BCCI/X)
Savouring the T20 series win against Australia (photo: @BCCI/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

A comprehensive T20I series win (4-1) against Australia can hopefully be the morale booster Indian cricket was looking for after the 50-overs World Cup heartbreak.

The victory has once again underlined the strength of the reserve bench and provided the think tank with a few valuable options for the T20I World Cup in seven months’ time — in Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ravi Bishnoi and, of course, Rinku Singh. 

So far, so good.

The problem, however, lies in the tendency of a certain section of fans on social media who see this as ‘revenge’ for Team India's humbling by the Yellow Shirts in Ahmedabad last month.

That's a knee-jerk, immature assessment of the context of the two competitions, and takes the focus off a major weakness that has been hurting India’s campaigns across major ICC competitions for a decade now. 

There is no doubt that life has to go on after such a shattering defeat. Unlike other cricketing boards in the Indian Subcontinent, the BCCI rightly opted for a policy of continuity at least till the next World T20. But have we seen any transparency in the post-mortem discussing what went wrong on 19 November, when the hosts got the strike after losing the toss? The answer is a big fat ‘no’. 

Going by media reports, both head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma apparently blamed the slow nature of the wicket for their team’s strokemakers failure to get going, as they were dismissed for a sub-par total of 240.

If true, does this argument really wash, given the Indian think tank’s own insistence on playing on well-used wickets — instead of fresh ones — in both the semi-finals and final? In fact, their obsession over the wicket despite such an unstoppable campaign throughout the tournament came in for some sharp criticism by experts of the game. 

Let’s also not forget that the bowlers, even after having Australia by the jugular at 47 for 3, could not go in for the kill. The lack of a sixth bowling option really came back to haunt them, in fact.

What stuck out in the aftermath of the defeat was endless speculation on the white ball future of the Big Two, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and whether Dravid would agree to continue for some more time.

Once again, the fuss was around the stalwarts and not the collective failure to change the trophy luck on the big stage. 

Moving on to the blueprint for the World T20 in the US and West Indies, there is still no departure from a star-oriented approach.

While Indian cricket is actually blessed to have a rather formidable second-string side, with only two members from the last World Cup squad (Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan), all the discussion seems to revolve around whether Rohit will agree to lead the team there and whether Kohli plays another white ball World Cup or not.

What also adds to the dilemma is an observation from someone like former captain Sourav Ganguly, who harped on about the need to have both on board in the upcoming showpiece. 

It may be foolhardy to argue the proposition, but it’s pertinent to remind all of that revolutionary idea from Dravid — then the India captain — that kickstarted India’s journey in this format. Back from a disastrous 50-overs World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007, Dravid dissuaded the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly from playing in the T20 format when the BCCI were planning to string together a team for the inaugural World Cup in the shortest format in South Africa.  

A young Mahendra Singh Dhoni was hence assigned charge of a young team, with a few seniors like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa and Harbhajan Singh — and the rest is history. 

That remains the only World T20 triumph for India in the last 16 years, and that too in pre-IPL days.

Can Dravid bite the bullet again, with a gifted bunch of youngsters at his disposal — or will he too want to fire from the shoulders of the two superstars now?         

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