At Adelaide, it was a fortuitous road for India to the semi-final: Australian conditions, cricket in an untimely season, seemed to load the dice in favour of Indians. Batsmen didn’t have to extend themselves, they could just play the situation. The conditions helped the bowlers, who needed some assistance to do well. But once the clouds cleared up, India began to be found out: Against South Africa, and against Bangladesh, who choked else that would have been a lost cause too. Even against the Netherlands, the first ten overs were drab — they would play out 35 dot balls in that game. A Pakistan team can aim for a 150-160 run total and let their wondrous pack of bowlers defend; India cannot afford to do the same.
The T20 format had long moved on, but India caged themselves. There was talk this year of changing the brand of cricket — but it was just some batsmen extending themselves a bit, not the needed influx of new players who naturally play a different game. Instead, old horses tried to learn new tricks. Under pressure, unsurprisingly, it didn’t work. They were hacking around in the semi-final on what was actually a subcontinental track. Would there be any other team that would bunch together KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli at the top?
A team led by Rahul Dravid and Rohit showed a lack of vision and daring. With all good teams possessing an attacking quickish leg-spinner, India first chose not to pick Ravi Bishnoi and then didn’t trust the slower version, Chahal, benching him throughout. You cannot leave Mohammad Shami in the cold for a year, and then hang your hopes on him. Spinners Axar Patel and R Ashwin were both restrictive (Ashwin in the T20 format is a different version from the Test player) and that says much about their lack of courage. Without dash and risk-taking, world cups can’t be won.