India’s captain Rohit Sharma
Disappointed: India’s captain Rohit Sharma shakes hands with teammate Hardik Pandya, following the T20 World Cup cricket semifinal loss to England in Adelaide, Australia, on November 10, 2022. England defeated India by ten wickets. Image Credit: AP

What was that? A rout, trouncing, thrashing or humiliation? Whatever it was, India were blown away in the T20 World Cup semifinal. England gave India such a hiding that it looked like no score was big enough for the blazing blades of Jos Buttler and Alex Hales.

England were too good. I accept that. But India’s capitulation was unacceptable. There was absolutely no fight in them. The batting totally lacked intent, and the bowling devoid of skill and potency. That makes the loss a painful one.

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I wouldn’t have cringed if India had gone down fighting. Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya showed some steel, but that wasn’t enough. It is a team game. India scored 62/2 in 10 overs, while England were 63/0 in 6 overs: that reflected the gulf between the two sides.

Now, don’t blame the toss. Captain Rohit Sharma said he would have batted, had he won the toss. Batting first, we know, is less stressful than a chase, although a target makes it easier. But teams know to size up a winning total, based on the wicket and the conditions.

Adelaide’s short square boundaries, long straights and hard pitch make it tricky for bowlers. Commentators were already bracing for a high-scoring game. It’s just that the Indian batters were unaware of it.

India powerless in the powerplay

The early loss of KL Rahul must have turned India’s positive approach into a cautious one. No positivity was evident as two of India’s best batters, Sharma and Kohli, struggled so much that there was no power in the powerplay.

The dismissals of Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav made it worse as leg-spinner Adil Rashid came away with flattering figures of 4-0-20-1, and Liam Livingstone bowled three overs for 21. These were the bowlers who should have yielded the big overs. Kohli and Pandya played as if chasing a target. Barring Sam Curran and Chris Jordan, who bowled in the slog overs, all other England bowlers conceded less than 9 per over. And it reflected India’s inability to target bowlers ahead of the slog.

If it were not for Pandya’s brilliance at the end, India would have finished at less than 150. A total of 168 is sub-par on this pitch, and the only hope was to take early wickets. But after Buttler grabbed those early boundaries, India were looking down the barrel.

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Not a single bowler could take a wicket or arrest the flow of runs, which speaks volumes about the batsmanship. But in a high-risk game like T20, it also reflects the lack of ideas in bowling. How we missed Yuzvendra Chahal? He must have been rubbing his hands at the sight of Rashid getting some bite and turn to induce a catch from Yadav.

England are a strong team with batters running down to No 9. But Sri Lanka showed us that the most potent batting line-up is susceptible under pressure. Times without number, we have seen that happen in the Indian Premier League, where mighty teams collapse under pressure.

Jos Buttler and Alex Hales
England’s skipper Jos Buttler (left) and Alex Hales celebrate after the T20 World Cup cricket semifinal win against India in Adelaide, Australia, on November 10, 2022. England defeated India by ten wickets. Image Credit: AP

IPL is India’s playground. A cauldron where its T20 cricketers are forged. None of those high-octane clashes seemed to have prepared India for the England storm. It’s alright to brag about the sheer size of the talent pool, but that counts for nothing if India doesn’t win ICC trophies.

The last win in an International Cricket Tournament dates back to 2011, in the 50-over event. India’s lone T20 World Cup came in the inaugural edition in 2007. These wins were helmed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Since then, India have been chasing shadows. They didn’t even make the semis last year, so this year has been an improvement.

The 50-over World Cup comes to India next year. As usual, expectations will loom high. A dose of reality will help avoid disappointments. That’s too much to ask in a cricket-crazy country.