Team India: Performance appraisal
There are just three matches left in the second edition of the ICC T20 World Cup.
And India's campaign has ended with a humiliating 12-run defeat against South Africa on Tuesday.
Actually the defending champions had surrendered their crown in their previous match against hosts England - their second straight Super Eight's defeat after a shocking loss against the West Indies.
The match against the Proteas was a mere formality. Probably a chance to redeem some glory or simply add to the humiliation that the team had already suffered.
Unfortunately, it was the latter.
Team India, that was considered favourite to win the title, has again flattered to deceive.
The tournament started with reports of a rift between Dhoni and Virender Sehwag. The captain labled the fourth estate 'false and irresponsible' and even came out with his entire team on the eve of their opener aggainst Bangladesh in a bid to nullify the reports.
However, Sehwag being ruled out of the tournament subsequently and his admission that he was not fit going into the tour succeeded in only flaring up the controversy.
Besides, it started a cold war between Dhoni and the media, something that continued throughout the tournament.
But the team's disappointing performance was the only thing that mattered eventually.
The aftermath of the three successive defeats has been on expected lines: the players involved have given their share of explanations, the captain (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) has been on an overdrive - trying to give every reason possible, not that anyone is buying it, the critics have done (or are still doing) what they do best and the fans as usual have been left disappointed.
What is left to do is to analyse the performance of each and every player and find out what was their contribution to the team's cause.
And mind you, the term 'contribution' here isn't entirely being used in its negative connotation.
Image: A sign board is left behind after the ICC World Twenty20 cricket super eight match between India and South Africa
Captaincy under fire
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Highest: 30 not out
He is in the line of fire.
Team India's woeful performance at the T20 World Cup has ensured Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have a torrid time in the coming days.
Critics are sparing no opportunity to blame Dhoni's captaincy and poor form as the crucial reasons behind the debacle.
Many of his decisions are being questioned and many believe his luck has run out (remember, he was always labeled the 'lucky' captain).
The captain has to lead from the front, they say.
Dhoni hasn't (in this tournament).
And the passionate Indian fans (even the critics are fans after all) aren't willing to forgive, at least not now - they will if India beats the West Indies later this month.
Flash back to 2007 and Dhoni, who had just recently assumed the mantle of captaincy led India to the inaugural T20 world title in South Africa.
The euphoria that ensued increased with every passing tournament and Dhoni was arguably considered the best leader.
The results validated the argument - the Commonwealth Bank Series triumph Down Under, the series win at home against the Australians, the English, the defeat of the Sri Lankans twice on their home ground and a first series win in New Zealand in 42 years were all feathers in Dhoni's cap.
Even the fact that he, as a skipper, lost three successive finals last year - the IPL final (with Chennai Super Kings), the triangular series decider in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup final - was generously sidelined.
Dhoni's captaincy (the luck factor included) reached glorious heights that none of his predecessors had attained in such a short span.
But every thing that goes up has to come down. And so has Dhoni.
The expectations from Team India are so high at present that even one defeat is hard to digest.
Dhoni's side suffered three straight defeats.
And their failure to even reach the last four stage of a tournament where they were the defending champions has ensured criticisms from every quarters.
This is a passing phase (as was his good phase) but it will be hard for Dhoni while it lasts.
Performance appraisal: 5/10
(As a captain: 5/10)
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
It's difficult sans Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir's 50 in the opener against Bangladesh made him the the first player to record five fifties in Twenty20 Internationals.
The innings also made him the top run-getter in the ICC World Twenty20 (he now aggregates 375 runs in 11 innings).
His next innings, 37 against Ireland, helped him complete 400 runs in Twenty20 Internationals - the first Indian to achieve the feat (he now aggregates 476 runs).
The Delhi southpaw had a good run in the tournament with the bat. But he was supposed to assume more responsibilty.
And it is here that Gambhir failed.
In Virender Sehwag's absence, Gambhir needed to take over as the senior opening partner and give a relatively inexperienced (as an opener) Rohit Sharma confidence to build his innings.
Instead, Gambhir himself seemed uncomfortable in his Delhi teammate's absence.
Performance appraisal: 6/10
Image: Gautam Gambhir
Blame it on inexperience
Highest: 52 not out
Rohit Sharma's elevation to the opener's slot was questioned in various quarters.
However, his whirlwind 80 from 53 balls in the warm-up game against Pakistan was a good answer first up.
The Mumbai player made 36 in the first match against Bangladesh, another good effort.
And registered his career-best innings in the format in the next match against Ireland, an unbeaten 52 off 45 balls which was two runs better than 50 not out off 40 balls against South Africa at Durban in September last year.
However, the youngster failed when it mattered the most.
His scores read 5, 9 and 29 in the three Super 8s matches and with India losing all the three games, questions regarding his elevation cropped up again.
Blame it on inexperience or lack of application, but Rohit Sharma left the examination hall having answered only half the questions.
Performance appraisal: 6/10
Image: Rohit Sharma
Statistics don't lie
Best Bowling: 1/6
The figures above tell the story.
If you want more, it will be suffice to say his scores in the tournaments read 10, 5, 2 and 3.
One of the biggest successes in the second edition of the Indian Premier League (in Chennai Super Kings colours) turned into one of the biggest failures in the second edition of the T20 World Cup.
The fact that he has been dropped (read not considered owing to injury) from the Indian squad for the forthcoming tour of West Indies explains the repurcussions of the failure on arguably one of India's finest talents.
We are at a loss of words to explain his failure in England.
Performance appraisal: 1/10 (and we are being kind)
Image: Suresh Raina
The harbinger of hope
Without doubt, the biggest success for India in the second edition of the T20 World Cup.
He was to this Indian side what Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have been to some previous sides.
Yuvraj Singh's wicket was considered crucial to the rival team's fortunes throughout the tournament and that in itself, is a huge compliment fot any player.
Carrying on with the form that witnessed him hitting six sixes in an over (of Stuart Broad) in the inaugural edition two years back, the left-hander from Punjab displayed his aggression with an amazing regularity in the second edition.
If his whirlwind 41 from 22 balls against Bangladesh in the opener ensured India a winning total as against a competitive one, his 67 against West Indies was yet another touch of class.
His early dismissals, after aggressive starts, against England and South Africa meant an end to India's aspirations as most other batsmen were woefully out of form.
Yuvraj (with an aggregate of 415 runs) is now the second Indian after Gautam Gambhir (476) to complete 400 runs in Twenty20 Internationals.
Performance appraisal: 8/10
Image: Yuvraj Singh
Let down by expectations
Highest: 33 not out
Best Bowling: 1/26
Those who expected him to repeat his Indian Premier League exploits on English tracks perhaps expected a bit too much.
Yusuf Pathan is an asset on the flat tracks of the subcontinent, but somewhat of a liability on faster tracks abroad.
And that he struggled to make most of the opportunities he got gives ample testimony of that.
Most importantly, his inability (Dhoni takes part of the blame) to ensure a win against England despite having enough time to plan his innings (he finished 33 not out eventually) will be criticised for some time to come.
More so by aficionados who expected him to succeed big time, a la IPL.
Performance appraisal: 3/10
Image: Yusuf Pathan
It was a mistake...
Best Bowling: 2/26
Mahendra Singh Dhoni faced a lot of criticism for sending Ravindra Jadeja at no.4, ahead of Yuvraj Singh, in the match against Enngland.
More so because it was Jadeja's first match in the tournament (he didn't feature in India's first three matches).
Jadeja's painstaking 25 off 35 balls played a crucial part in ensuring India's exit.
And Dhoni later admitted that he had made a mistake.
But for all his batting blunders, Jadeja did have a decent outing with the ball.
Performance appraisal: 5/10
Image: Ravindra Jadeja
Economical but not potent
Best Bowling: 3/30
After Anil Kumble's retirement Harbhajan Singh has assumed the mantle of India's strike bowler.
If one considers his figures just as a regular spinner, Harbhajan did everything right, tested the batsmen, checked the flow of runs and got a few wickets in the bargain.
But it is when you analyse Harbhajan in his new role that it appears he has failed to deliver.
The offie did a good containing job but as a strike bowler you are supposed to strike (take wickets) and therein lies Bhajji's failure.
Harbhajan's performance was an encore of his effort in IPL II - where too he had been economical but not potent.
On the positive side, his 3 for 30 against England was his best bowling figures in Twenty20 Internationals, surpassing the 2 for 24 against New Zealand in Johannesburg in the inaugural World Twenty20 and with 16 wickets (along with Irfan Pathan), Harbhajan shares the Indian bowling record for most wickets in Twenty20 Internationals.
Performance appraisal: 4/10
Image: Harbhajan Singh
Consistency was missing
Best Bowling: 4/19
Zaheer Khan's performance in the tournament can be described as the reverse of Harbhajan Singh.
The left-arm seamer managed to take wickets while failing to stem the flow of runs.
After a few doubts pertaining to his participation in the tournament, Zaheer eventually ended up playing in all the five matches.
His best effort came in the second group match against Ireland.
Zaheer's 4 for 19 made him the third Indian bowler, after RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha, to claim four wickets in an innings in Twenty20 Internationals.
The effort also ensured him his first Man of the Match award in this format.
But his lack of consistency ensured most batsman got the better of him.
Performance appraisal: 6/10
Image: Zaheer Khan
Carrying the IPL success forward
Best Bowling: 4/21
Arguably India's best bowler in the tournament.
Pragyan Ojha not only kept a check on the flow of runs but also ensured the fall of wickets.
If the second edition of the IPL had yielded 18 wickets for the left-armer, who was a member of the eventual champions Deccan Chargers, the second edition of T20 world cup saw Ojha take seven wickets in the three matches that he played.
His 4/21 in the opening match against Bangladesh made him the second Indian bowler and the seventh overall to take a four-wicket haul in Twenty20 Internationals.
It also made him only the fifth bowler to take four wickets in an innings on debut in the World Twenty20, joining Pakistan's Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul, New Zealand's Mark Gillespie and Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan.
He picked up three more wickets in the next two matches but was dropped for the final two games.
Performance appraisal: 7/10
Image: Pragyan Ojha
Letting the team down
Best Bowling: 2/34
Ishant Sharma was, without doubt, the biggest failure among all the Indian players.
With batting abilities that would make a Courtney Walsh seem world class in comparison, Ishant was supposed to lead India's bowling attack.
His 2 for 34 in the opening match against Bangaldesh was be the only occasion in the tournament where the wickets column of his statistics needed to be filled up.
In the other matches only the runs conceded and economy rates changed.
In the final match against South Africa he bowled just one over.
Maybe by then Dhoni had lost all hope of him helping the team's cause in any way.
However, despite the failure he has made the cut for the tour to West Indies.
Performance appraisal: 1/10 (And we are being kind again)
Image: Ishant Sharma
A ticket to England but...
Highest: 2 not out
Best Bowling: 1/13
The purple cap in IPL II ensured RP Singh a ticket to England but not a place in the team.
That came after three matches.
And considering that very factor, RP's performance can be termed decent for he never got the time to settle down, find his rhythm etc, etc.
Simply put, RP Singh didn't get enough opportunity and didn't do bad in whatever he got.
Performance appraisal: 4/10
Image: RP Singh
Photographs: Reuben NV
Nothing much to write about
Highest: 11 not out
Best Bowling: 1/9
Irfan Pathan didn't do much in the three matches he played but India won two of them.
And the two matches he didn't feature in, India lost.
We're not saying Irfan was Team India's lucky mascot.
Instead, his not being part of the team during the losses that ensured the exit spares him the blushes.
Since he didn't do much, one can be parsimonious pertaining to his performance appraisal.
Suffice to say that his lone wicket in the tournament took his tally to 16 wickets, something that (along with Harbhajan Singh) makes him the Indian bowler with most wickets in Twenty20 Internationals.
Performance appraisal: 3/10
Image: Irfan Pathan