Michael Vaughan has led a damning analysis of India, calling it the “most underperforming white ball team in history” after a 10-wicket drubbing against England on Thursday night.
India was taught a brutal lesson in how to play 20-over cricket away from home at the Adelaide Oval where England rollicked to a big win with four overs to spare.
The loss serves as bitter, yet familiar, disappointment for India, who entered the tournament ranked as the world’s No.1 T20 team, and had hoped to book a dream final against Pakistan at the MCG.
Vaughan did not hold back after the match in his column for The Telegraph, saying that India has done “nothing” since winning the ODI World Cup in 2011.
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“Every player in the world who goes to the Indian Premier League says how it improves their game but what have India ever delivered?” Vaughan wrote.
He criticised the team for playing an outdated style of cricket, where batters are not aggressive enough in the powerplay, and there’s a lack of versatility in bowling options.
“I’m just staggered by how they play T20 cricket for the talent they have,” Vaughan wrote. “They have the players, but just do not have the right process in place. They have to go for it. Why do they give the opposition bowlers the first five overs to bed in?”
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The former England captain also called out India’s use of Rishabh Pant, who, for all his power and flamboyance, struggles to hold onto a spot in the middle-order.
“How they have not maximised someone like Rishabh Pant is incredible. In this era, put him up the top to launch it,” Vaughan wrote.
He added: “India have to be honest now … Nobody wants to criticise them because you get hammered on social media and pundits worry about losing work in India one day. But it is time to tell it straight.”
Another former England captain, Nasser Hussain, expressed similar sentiments in his own column for the Daily Mail, saying India is “old-fashioned” and “way too timid”.
As a result, India copped an “absolute walloping”, he wrote.
“India must have known they would need to get an above par score against this England batting line-up yet they plodded along and if it was not for Hardik at the end they would have been way below par,” Hussain wrote.
“It’s not India’s personnel. It’s their mindset.
“You are talking about an array of world-class talent and there is no way that batting line-up should have been 66 for two at the halfway mark of a T20 innings in a semi-final.”
India had been noted as being conservative inside the powerplay throughout the tournament. Some saw it as a potential weakness, but coach Rahul Dravid said that when India arrived at a “180-190 pitch”, his team would adapt.
Nonetheless, his team didn’t in Adelaide — although it should be said being sent in to bat first was no small factor in India’s destruction.
The Adelaide Oval wicket has proven to be tacky early on at this World Cup, but has generally improved as the game has gone on.
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It was therefore little surprise that Jos Buttler elected to bowl first having won the toss.
The most curious element, however, was the fact that India captain Rohit Sharma said he would’ve picked to bat first anyway.
Dravid said the team looked at previous World Cup matches at Adelaide Oval but put extra weight into a runs-on-the-board approach for a high-pressure semi-final.
But a middling total proved to be no pressure at all for Alex Hales and Jos Buttler, who Dravid was eager to note have a wealth of experience playing in the BBL — which his cricketers don’t.
“There’s no doubt about it the fact that England — a lot of their players have come here and played. In this tournament, it certainly showed. It’s tough,” Dravid said.
Writing for ESPNCricinfo, writer Sidharth Monga said India was nonetheless guilty of a shortsighted approach.
“This is a question only they can answer: in the pursuit of results – a tight win against Pakistan which was no vindication of conservative batting, a defeat against South Africa, a scare from Bangladesh, two facile wins against Netherlands and Zimbabwe – did they lose sight of the process?” he wrote.
“Did they fall back into the bad old ways where the default was to take the conservative option in thinking a score on board will bring pressure in a knockout match? Rahul didn’t once try to hit out of a lean patch. Kohli didn’t attack spin. Did they try enough to fight the conditions?”
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He added: “The larger question perhaps is, can they completely change their approach with the same set of batters?
“Whenever (Dravid), Rohit and selectors sit down to review this tournament, that question will stare them right in the eye.”
Meanwhile, Cricbuzz’s senior editor Kaushik Rangarajan called Dravid’s talk about finally attacking on a good pitch as nothing but “bluster”.
“All that bluster, though, came to nought and India’s top-order reverted to type, batting with the handbrake on,” Rangarajan wrote.
“It was like deja vu all over again for India. It is a harsh pill to swallow, especially to lose this way after seemingly fixing the problem over the last year.
“Standing still is moving backwards. Opposition get used to you and work out strategies to counter you. That’s why the best teams, even in league cricket, who aspire to build a dynasty, exist in a state of permanent evolution.”