1. In the build-up to the T20 World Cup, there was a lot of talk about new approach. It was repeatedly mentioned that India would start to attack from the word go and try and make the best use of the powerplay. However, what we witnessed was a restrained, conservative approach. In six matches, India could get more than 40 runs in a powerplay only once. What baffles even more is that on most occasions India didn’t lose more than one wicket up front. And yet there was no real attempt to make use of the field restrictions and push the scoring rate. This rather conservative approach was a feature of India’s campaign. Why weren’t the Indian batters more proactive in the powerplay even when they had wickets in hand?
2. For a good part of the last 18 months, Yuzvendra Chahal was India’s go-to bowler in the middle overs. And yet in Australia he did not get a single game. Axar Patel was preferred for his batting, again a sign of a defensive mindset. Legspinners have done well in this tournament and the question is did India miss a trick by not playing Chahal? Was it rigidity or conservatism that explains the decision to leave the leggie out?
3. Did India use Rishabh Pant well? In the semi-final, for example, all of the top five batters were right handers. Pant was the only left hander in the mix and could have been used as a floater to upset Adil Rashid, who bowled a four over spell for just 20 runs. By the time Pant came in, there was hardly anything left for him to do. Could he have opened as a surprise move or even batted three in an attempt to throw England off gear?
4. It is believed that the Indians play spin well, but recent evidence indicates otherwise. Whether it is the Adil Rashid spell in the semi-final or the Shadab Khan spell in their opening game, Indians have found spin difficult to hit. For batters who have grown up playing spin at home, what explains this inability to push the accelerator against spinners?
5. The mystery of optional practice: For a team coached by the legendary Rahul Dravid this is almost impossible to understand. Dravid’s work ethic is still talked about and yet on more than half the days in Australia, the Indians opted for optional training. It wasn’t as if the team was playing every alternate day and the travel times between cities was hardly ever more than an hour, except Perth. While it is understandable for the fast bowlers to have optional training, for the rest of the squad to do so time and again raises serious questions.
6. Workload management: We hear of workload management all the time. India have used 10 openers in the T20Is this year alone. The question is if anyone can settle in using this formula. Every second tour players were rested and some of the players travelled to Australia with very little white-ball cricket under their belt in the last one year.
7. The role of Paddy Upton: There is little debate India lost the battle in the mind. KL Rahul, for example, has some of the most exquisite shots in his repertoire. And yet he was conservative right through the competition. It was as if he was desperate not to fail. Did the fear of failure push him to being defensive? This is something that should have been addressed by Upton. The fact that it went on right through the tournament raises serious questions on Upton’s contribution.
8. Accountability of the selection committee: While changes in the team are around the corner, selectors need to be questioned on some of their selections. Could India have gone with more aggressive batters than they did? Should someone like a Sanju Samson, who scores at a fast clip, have got a look in? Did we fall back on experience rather than trying to be bold and adopting a look ahead approach?
9. Celebrating individual performances more than team wins: We in the media are also guilty of this. Nowhere in the world are individual performances lauded as much as in India. When you are playing a team sport, individual efforts mean little unless the team wins.
10. One of the features of the Dravid-Rohit regime is to give players a long rope. The question is: did they overdo it in Australia? India played the same bowling line-up in almost all the games and there was an element of rigidity to the thinking. Could Chahal and Harshal Patel have made a difference is a question we will never have an answer to.
Answers to some of these could well define how India go ahead in playing the format in the next 24 months leading to the 2024 T20 World Cup.