India are out of the 2019 ICC World Cup after they suffered a shock defeat to New Zealand on 10 July and lost by 18 runs. India were favourites going into the semi-final as they finished on top of the points table and were playing the Kiwis who were fourth on the points table and on paper the weaker side when compared to England and Australia.
Middle Order Let India Down
The bowlers did a good job in keeping New Zealand to 239 and it was up to the powerful Indian batting line-up to take India into the finals. R Sharma has been brilliant throughout the tournament hitting 5 centuries but he was dismissed for 1. Kohli who has had an average tournament by his standards followed soon after for 1. KL Rahul who hit a century in the last game also followed for 1.
The three quick dismissals exposed the middle-order which has been India’s biggest weakness for the last 2 years. R Pant who played at 4 showed his inexperience and was dismissed for 32. D Karthik who was promoted ahead of H Pandya and MS Dhoni failed once again with the bat and got out for 6.
The fightback by H Pandya, MS Dhoni and R Jadeja kept India in the game but MS Dhoni’s inability to rotate the strike put too much pressure on the lower order and it cost them in the end.
What Is Ravi Shastri Doing?
While the average cricket fan will blame the likes of D Karthik, MS Dhoni and R Pant for the semi-final loss, one has to ask questions of head coach Ravi Shastri. It is his job to ensure that India has a successful strategy to win matches and in that area Shastri has failed because he hasn’t been able to fix India’s biggest weakness for the last 2 years.
While he can make excuses and say that KL Rahul was forced to move up due to S Dhawan’s injury or V Shankar was out due to a toe injury, the fact of the matter is that India had never settled on their number 4 and 5 leading into the World Cup and it cost them.
Ravi Shastri needs to take responsibility and be held accountable for failing to plug India’s biggest weakness. Shastri has failed to fix a problem that has been evident for the last two years. Given the amount of batting talent in India, that is a lack of planning, management and communication – all three areas that he should answer for!