World T20: The four that didn't make it – where they must improve

London: All eight teams that made it past the first group stage of the ICC World Twenty20 would have had big hopes of going all the way – after all, a bit of confidence and a sprinkle momentum is a big equaliser in cricket’s shortest format. Unfortunately for India, England, South Africa and New Zealand the journey ends at the second hurdle. So what went wrong for these teams and what should they work on? Let’s look at the evidence.

INDIA

Tournament in a nutshell

Alarm bells should have been ringing very early on when MS Dhoni’s side were held in check for three-quarters of the game against the weakest opponent in the tournament, Afghanistan. That performance was forgotten when Harbhajan Singh destroyed England in Colombo, but when Australia easily beat the India in the first Super Eights match the subsequent wins over Pakistan and South Africa proved to be in vain.

What went wrong?

The formula for winning the 2011 World Cup, which of course worked beautifully, was to pack the side with seven high-quality batsmen and make up the fifth bowler as best they could. This time, they had more bowling options but there remained a vulnerability in that department which could be exploited if the batsmen failed to fire. This is exactly what happened against Australia, where India turned to eight different bowlers in a desperate attempt to defend 140, and failed to exert any pressure at all. Their run rate was badly affected – and that proved crucial.

Alarm bells should have been ringing very early on when MS Dhoni’s side were held in check for three-quarters of the game by Afghanistan. Reuters

Areas to improve on

Too many batsmen, even the excellent Virat Kohli, ticked along at a modest run rate and needed to go quicker. But the fact that Yuvraj Singh emerged as India’s best bowler was the real worry. Management needs to invest resources in coaching young bowlers centrally, rather than relying on the IPL franchises to do that job.

ENGLAND

Tournament in a nutshell

Luke Wright, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann all had excellent tournaments and Stuart Broad did OK. The less said about the others the better. England were rightly castigated for their feeble effort against India, and though they briefly bounced back when Wright took New Zealand’s attack to pieces, they were put back in their place by the wiles of Sri Lanka in no uncertain fashion.

What went wrong?

Team selection was done on a mix-and-match basis, and with so little consistency it appeared to be dreamt up by a bored sous chef at a pizza restaurant. England dropped their wicket-keeper for their final match, and brought back three previously discarded players - but they were continually papering over the cracks, knowing deep down that there was no way they could replace the runs they were missing from Kevin Pietersen. Their batting against high-quality bowling on dry tracks was as suspect as it’s ever been - a pretty lousy defence of their crown.

Areas to improve on

Next time they play a tournament in the sub-continent, England must have better bowling options – an absolute minimum of two specialist spinners for instance. Have a strategy and stick to it – Eoin Morgan should bat in one position, not float anywhere between three and six.

SOUTH AFRICA

Tournament in a nutshell

The win over Sri Lanka in a seven-overs-a-side match should have been ignored as fortuitous; instead it created a mistaken belief that the Proteas were one of the front-runners. The sobering defeat to Pakistan — especially the manner in which it was inflicted (by Umar Gul’s batting!) — punctured the South African bandwagon. They could have bounced back, but they proceeded to lose their next two matches too, and after a long period on the road they return to wonder how the dream evaporated so quickly.

What went wrong?

South Africa’s batting looks far from solid at the moment. On the tour of England, Hashim Amla carried the rest of the batsmen on his shoulders for many weeks and across all formats of the game. It was natural for him to be off form for a change, and nobody picked up the baton. JP Duminy just scraped over 100 runs for the tournament, albeit at a strike rate of 116.48, and was the only man in his side to do so. Gary Kirsten will have some serious concerns about this.

Areas to improve on

There will always be a few reservations about the spinners, but generally speaking Allan Donald’s bowlers remain in good order. It’s those batsmen that need sorting out. There are fresh options to consider: David Miller hit 72 from just 46 balls for Yorkshire in the Twenty20 Cup final in August, and Loots Bosman may be worth another go.

All the seam bowlers had economy rates of 8.00 or worse, and that left too much for Nathan McCullum and Daniel Vettori to compensate.  AFP

NEW ZEALAND

Tournament in a nutshell

They weren’t at their best in the Super Eights contest against England, but either side of that were good enough to take both Sri Lanka and West Indies to final-over eliminators. The first of those was essentially a bowling contest between Tim Southee and Lasith Malinga. Guess who won that... Against West Indies they fluffed their lines – Ross Taylor and Doug Bracewell only needed three off the last two balls to win the match in ordinary time, and that would have avoided the eliminator.

What went wrong?

The Black Caps are routinely hamstrung by their lack of financial resources and small population, but let’s not overdo the sympathy. All the seam bowlers had economy rates of 8.00 or worse, and that left too much for Nathan McCullum and Daniel Vettori to compensate. Brendon McCullum’s 123 against Bangladesh was awesome, but he was less impressive against the better bowlers and although James Franklin hit a fine half-century against England it was the only time he came off as a batsman. If bowling is no longer his primary suit, should he still play?

Areas to improve on

New Zealand need to replace some key figures in the next few years with Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, McCullum and Vettori all building up a lot of miles on the clock. Unlikely to be a threat at either of the next two World Twenty20s, which are also in the subcontinent, so would be advised to start working out a strategy for the 2015 World Cup in Australia.