An animated farewell to India's dull T20 World Cup campaign

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09 Nov 2021 | 02:58 AM
authorSandipan Banerjee

An animated farewell to India's dull T20 World Cup campaign

With India's exit from the T20 World Cup, they bid farewell to the much-celebrated Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri era

Ever since New Zealand hit the winning run against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi, the game against Namibia had become a mere formality for a bio-bubble fatigued Team India. Yet on Monday evening they came out with full intensity and fielded the strongest XI for their first inconsequential league game in an ICC event since the 1992 World Cup.  

As expected, Namibia were a no match for this Indian team. 

Led by the half-centuries from Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul (third consecutive one him), to back up three-for by the spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the Indians comfortably chased down the required 133 with 28 balls and nine wickets to spare in front of 5,000 odd fans present at the stands of the Dubai International stadium.  

And with that triumph, they bid farewell to the much-celebrated Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri era. 

Ever since India's arrival to the venue for this fixture, emotions ran high in their camp. It was the final game for Kohli as the T20I skipper (most likely as a full-time white-ball captain too) and the last assignment for the successful coaching trio of head-coach Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and the fielding coach R Sridhar with these boys. 

Hence, despite the dejection of a failed World Cup campaign, the body language of the Indian players had a different sort of intensity, which was clearly visible from the press box.

Even before the start of the play, there were quite a few handshakes and hugging on the field, mostly involving Shastri, who looked quite proactive throughout the evening. The skipper, after winning his second toss in the competition, chose to field straightway instead of showing any intention of prolonging the game by batting first.  

He had an intense and animated chat with the boys as they came out onto the field. The selection of Rahul Chahar and the promotion of Suryakumar Yadav in the batting order also conveyed the positive thought process of the management even on this dead rubber.

They not only just wanted to play this game with utmost ruthlessness and provide their captain and coaching staff a fitting farewell, but the planning for the future had also already begun out there.

The next T20 World Cup in Australia is less than a year away and it seemed that the Indian team had already begun their preparations for that.

Following the match, Kohli was quick to admit his team’s mistakes in this competition. “You talk about two overs of cricket with intent in the first two games and things could have been different,” he said in the post-match presentation. “We were not brave enough as I said. We are not a team that will give excuse of tosses.”

Shastri too came in support of his boys in his final press conference as the head coach of the team. Without offering any excuse for India’s poor show at this T20 World Cup he said that the bubble life could be mentally draining. “When you're six months in a bubble, this team, there are a lot of players on this team who play all three formats of the game. In the last 24 months, they've been home for 25 days.

“You are not switched on as you should be [because of bubble fatigue]. This is not an excuse. Because in trying to win, you will lose a game. Here we didn’t try to win, because the x-factor – the players were mentally and physically drained – wasn’t there,” he explained.

To him, a life in a bubble could have affected even the great Don Bradman. “I don’t read too much into Virat’s form. I don’t care who the player is. If you put even Don Bradman in the bubble, his average will come down because you're human.”

As the disheartened Team India signed off from this T20 World Cup, it is perhaps high time for the cricket boards around the world to look into these observations of Shastri and Kohli seriously and prepare such an itinerary that is less mentally and physically taxing for the players, especially amid this pandemic.

If not, then as Shastri mentioned, “eventually, the bubble will burst.” 

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India vs NamibiaICC World Twenty20, 2021IndiaVirat KohliRavi Shastri

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