Colombo: In the recent past, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has seen Michael Hussey and Faf du Plessis do great things for his IPL team – the Chennai Super Kings. But today, he saw them script India’s exit from the World T20 competition in Sri Lanka.
Hussey played his part by guiding Australia past 112 against Pakistan in the first Super 8 tie of the day. The left-hander crafted an invaluable 54 off 47 balls in difficult conditions against a good Pakistan spin attack. Pakistan won by 32 runs but Australia did enough – as a result of Hussey’s knock – to finish on top of the group according to their net run-rate.
That left India with quite a task on their hands even before the match against South Africa began. They needed to win big – by 31 runs or 24 balls. It was a pressure test that the Indian team had not faced before.
Then, Du Plessis, who was finally picked over Richard Levi, scored 65 off 38 balls (6×4, 2×6) to knock India out of the competition. Dhoni’s side won the match by a run but it was not enough. The SA opener’s half-century allowed South Africa to settle down after they lost Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis early in the innings.
It really makes one wonder whether the IPL is all that good for India. Earlier in the tournament, Shane Watson had spoken about how his time in the IPL had allowed him to get used to the conditions and figure out how the Indian bowlers would look to attack him. The same can be said to be true for Hussey and Du Plessis as well. Is India coming off poorer in this exchange programme?
Earlier, South Africa won the toss and elected to field. It was a decision that seemed odd at first as the track was expected to slow down even more by the time the South Africans would come out to bat. But it worked.
India’s batsmen didn’t ever find a rhythm. Gautam Gambhir fell to the demons of his mind, Virender Sehwag in the quest to show that he will never change, Yuvraj Singh proved he is fit enough but perhaps still lacking match practice and Rohit Sharma still hasn’t figured out what to do with a start.
Suresh Raina hit a vital 45 but in the end, India just didn’t have enough on board. To beat South Africa by 31 runs after putting on 152 was a tough, tough ask.
India made a good start when Zaheer Khan dismissed Amla in the first over and when Kallis was also dismissed a few balls later it seemed like India had a genuine chance. But then Du Plessis played the knock of his life to take the game away from India.
In the end, the realisation for Dhoni and his boys is that they were just not good enough. India’s exit is deserved – their bowling was not good enough and their much-vaunted batting line-up was reduced to a one-man army – namely Virat Kohli. Confusion makes people uncomfortable and the Indian camp had plenty of that through the course of this tournament.