Playing attacking cricket, a very determined England XI brought the Team India juggernaut to a shuddering halt. The passivity seen in defeat — with the Indians so defensive in the first 10 overs and in the last five when Dhoni seemed to be batting to preserve the net run rate — was emblematic of tactically poor cricket.
Had they gone down with guns blazing till the end, the team may have learnt something about chasing big targets. A target of 338 hasn’t ever been met in a World Cup because the intensity of competition can be higher than in regular ODIs. The public anger against M.S. Dhoni may be getting fiercer. The fear is not about the law of diminishing returns catching up but that sentimental attachments don’t produce runs under pressure.
There shouldn’t be any anxiety on qualifying for the knockouts as Team India has two games in hand and just one win will suffice. A win should be eminently possible against Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, whose bowling isn’t as intense as England’s was with the new ball. England prospered in the fearlessly attacking batting methods of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, but the greater concern was that they took the Indian spin challenge apart.
There’s work to be done on the drawing board and by the think tank caucus if the juggernaut must recover its stride and move ahead with greater commitment to attacking play: the very foundation of limited-overs cricket. The game isn’t about too clever net run rate strategy. To unleash all the power at your disposal in the matches left should be the aim. We know Team India has it, but it’s time to walk the talk....