Ten questions that need to be asked to Shastri, Kohli, Prasad

The BCCI and the Committee of Administrators (CoA) are expected to do a comprehensive post-mortem of the India’s campaign in the World Cup. Filter Kaapi lists out ten questions they should ask the men who took the decisions in England. 

1. The big question : Who took the call to send MS Dhoni so low down in the order? Ravi Shastri has said it was a team decision but seeing how Dhoni had struggled to pierce the inner circle and his inability to rotate the strike, it was obvious he is not the finisher of old. He needed time in the middle. It was a bad decision not to react to the top order collapse. 

And it is not as if the team management was not flexible with the batting order. Hardik Pandya had been sent in at number 4 in previous matches. Did the decision to drop Dhoni down the order indicate a trust deficit despite all the glowing words Shastri and Virat Kohli say about him in interviews and press conferences?

2. Dinesh Karthik’s role was clearly marked at number 7. Why was he sent ahead of MS Dhoni then in the semifinal against New Zealand? Even when DK got out, Hardik Pandya was sent in which meant two players of the same bang-bang mould were at the crease when the need was to build a partnership, steady the boat. The man who could have done that with his experience was cooling his heels in the dressing room

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3. Why were Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav who had a good series against New Zealand earlier this year and would have enjoyed a psychological edge had they played, left out of the team on 9 July? Even if you rule out Yadav whose form has not been great in the World Cup, Shami has been among the wickets, including a hat-trick. Why wasn’t he played? Sourav Ganguly went on record to express his surprise at the omission.

4. The confusion over the number 4 slot. VVS Laxman reveals 13 batsmen have been tried out at the position. How is it that in a country like India, no specialist middle order batsman was found good and instead an iffy all-rounder like Vijay Shankar was penciled in for the role? What was wrong with Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane? 

5. Why was Mayank Agarwal chosen ahead of Ambati Rayudu when it was known that the Hyderabad batsman was the reserve player. What changed between the announcement of the team and asking for Mayank. Who took the call – the selectors or the team management? And why Mayank in the World Cup when he has not even played a single ODI? 

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6. How much of a role did IPL play in the selection of the World Cup team? Was Rayudu dropped because his form in IPL was patchy? Or were there non-cricketing reasons?

7. When the team was selected, it was announced that Dinesh Karthik would play only if MS Dhoni was injured. Yet you had a situation where three wicket keepers (and four, if you count KL Rahul who keeps in the IPL) were in the playing eleven. It meant Kedar Jadhav had not delivered as a batsman. And for some reason, the team management did not have confidence in Ravinder Jadeja’s batting abilities, delaying his first match in the World Cup to the last league match against Sri Lanka. When he finally came good, the management would have been as surprised as Sanjay Manjrekar. 

8. The role for KL Rahul. Before India left for England, he was meant to be the reserve opener, yet he was chosen over Vijay Shankar at the number 4 slot in the initial matches. When Shikhar Dhawan got injured, he was moved up the order to open the innings. Yet, when Shankar got injured, an opener Mayank Agarwal was chosen as a replacement, suggesting total confusion over selection matters. Except the match against Lanka, he was unable to convert the starts to big scores and did not look completely assured at the top. 

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9. While the Indian pace attack was spot on during the tournament, the spinners were patchy and did not show the kind of guile, sharpness and precision the spin twins have been known for. Did India miss a spin bowling coach to take specific care of Chahal and Yadav?

10. What do the selectors now think about the way forward? Will it now look closely at effecting a generational shift in the team and give more opportunities to youngsters like Shubman Gill, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Khaleel Yadav, Navdeep Saini? 

Should the CoA also look at a Chairman of Selectors who has a better CV so that he can assert himself with the captain and the coach? Why shouldn’t Rahul Dravid as the head of the National Cricket Academy not be a defacto member of the Selection committee who sits on meetings and gives his inputs? Indian cricket needs a man of Dravid’s stature. 

(With inputs from SK Anand)

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