Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Sunday, June 13, 1999 Published at 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK

India's post mortem begins

Shattered: Ganguly's stumps go AWOL, along with India's World Cup dream

They may have been able to boast the most exciting batting in the World Cup, but it was not enough.

India are heading for home, after their elimination from the tournament at the Super Six stage.

Now the inquest will begin and there will be no shortage of opinions in a cricket-mad nation.

The tearing of hair has started, with Indians eager to find scapegoats for their side's failure to reach the semi-finals.

Coach, captain, even the team physiotherapist - all are being blamed in one quarter or another for the early exit.

Batting heroics

But three players who will be excused from the backlash are Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and Ajay Jadeja.

Together they contributed 1,125 runs to the Indian cause, while master batsman Sachin Tendulkar added another 235 - despite missing the middle of the tournament following his father's death.

[ image: Head-scratching: India's failure has perplexed skipper Azharuddin]
Head-scratching: India's failure has perplexed skipper Azharuddin
Between them, this quartet have scored five of the eight centuries compiled in the World Cup to date.

The trouble has been, though, that while the runs flowed in the Indian innings, they came at an even faster rate when the opposition were batting.

Their bowlers conceded hefty scores and frequently strayed into waywardness - most damagingly in the three-run defeat by Zimbabwe, the match that effectively sealed India's fate, when they gave away 37 runs in wides and no-balls.

Theories abound as to why India's dazzling array of batting talent was let down.

Mental exhaustion

Team coach Anshuman Gaekwad - himself the target of some barbs back home - believes his players are suffering from playing too much cricket.

"We just weren't consistent," he bemoaned. "When we played well, we were exceptionally good... but we failed to keep the momentum going.

[ image: Going home: Seamer Debashish Mohanty makes his frustration clear]
Going home: Seamer Debashish Mohanty makes his frustration clear
"Physically you might get attuned to it but the mental fatigue takes its toll on the performance.

"We've played a lot of one-dayers in the last three years."

However, Gaekwad's analysis of the team's failings may not prevent him from losing his job - particularly as a possible replacement is already in place.

While there would be widespread opposition among supporters to the idea of using a foreign coach, Australia's Bobby Simpson is already being used as team consultant.

"Simpson is a great thinker of the game," said Raj Singh Dungarpur, head of the Indian Cricket Board.

Azhar under fire

Another likely candidate to collect his cards in the wake of the World Cup is captain Mohammad Azharuddin.

He struggled with the bat and has been criticised for his low-key leadership style, which was in stark contrast to the successful World Cup captains, such as Wasim Akram and Hansie Cronje, who prefer a more gung-ho approach.

[ image: Paceman Venkatesh Prasad characterised India's inconsistency]
Paceman Venkatesh Prasad characterised India's inconsistency
Azharuddin has received the dreaded vote of confidence - which in the football world, at least, is traditionally the signal of an imminent sacking.

"I don't think there is anything wrong with Azhar's captaincy," Dungarpur said.

"Azhar has done great service for the country for so many years. He has always been an introvert, why should that be put against him?

"Anyway the decision to keep him as captain is in the hands of the selectors, not the Board."

The captain himself is determined to fight for his job.

"I'd like to stay on," he said after India bowed out with defeat to New Zealand on Saturday.

"I've enjoyed the job and enjoyed the responsibility. Iit's been good."

Jadeja stands by

But if he fails to convince the selectors of his merits, Jadeja is waiting.

The vice-captain, who at 26 is 10 years Azharrudin's junior, has consolidated his place in the Test side and, with Tendulkar unlikely to want a job that affected his batting in the past, is favourite to take over.

But the first head to roll in the Indian camp was not that of Azharuddin nor Gaekwad, but the relatively obscure figure of Andrew Kokinos, the squad's physiotherapist.

"Kokinos is out, he has not been much of a help to the players." was the frank assessment of the Indian cricket board.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

BBC Cricket World Cup Homepage
Team Homepages
 -  Live Audio
 -  Teams
 -  Schedule
 -  Results
 -  League Tables
 -  Features
 -  Grounds
 -  Competition
 -  Learn To Play
 -  Feedback

Relevant Stories

12 Jun 99 | General News
Kiwis charge into semi-finals

09 Jun 99 | General News
India triumph in Pakistan Cup clash

05 Jun 99 | General News
Crushing win for Aussies

31 May 99 | General News
England crash out

27 May 99 | General News
Indian record-breakers crush holders

19 May 99 | General News
Indians throw thriller away

15 May 99 | General News
Earpiece row mars South Africa win