Monday, June 15, 2009

The bug of Lord's bites Dhoni and men

The bug of Lord's hit defending champions India who crashed out of the ICC World Twenty20 by suffering a three-run loss to England in a Super Eight clash here on Sunday. For the third successive occasion at Lord's, Indians came out the second best in the park. They had lost to New Zealand in the first warm-up game. Thereafter it was two successive defeat at the hands of West Indies and now England which shut the door on them in this tournament. India were asked to chase 154 under lights but made a hash of the target despite a back-to-walls run sixth wicket stand between skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (30) and Yusuf Pathan (33). India needed 19 runs from the final over, bowled by Ryan Sidebottom, but managed only 15, including a six by Yusuf Pathan and a final-ball boundary from Dhoni. The damage to the Indian cause was done earlier in the day when it fielded badly and gave away too many extras in England innings. Indians conceded at least 15-20 runs extra in the field and then gave away 16 extras which helped England's cause immensely. Indians then batted horribly and nobody stayed on to give the side a fighting chance. Gautam Gambhir (26) and Yuvraj Singh (17) departed at wrong moments for the defending champions while Rohit Sharma (9) and Suresh Raina (2) once again were disappointing failures.

England's tactics to bounce Indians with short-pitched deliveries worked wonderfully well. India's top order was distinctly uncomfortable and after two wickets fell by the fourth over, with 24 on the board, Indians were fighting a losing battle. Yuvraj Singh slammed the first delivery he faced for a six and followed it up with another but was out to a smart stumping by James Foster off Graeme Swann after he had aimed an expensive drive against the off-spinner and momentarily lifted his back leg, allowing the stumper to do the rest. Dhoni's tactics of allowing Ravinder Jadeja to come in at number four was also questionable as the left-hander faced 35 balls for his 25 runs and retarded the rate of slowing. Earlier, England made a fighting 153 for 7 in their 20 overs thanks to Kevin Pietersen's 46 off 27 balls and shared a 71-run second wicket stand with Ravi Bopara (37 off 37 balls). Dimitri Mascrenhas made an unbeaten 25 in the middle order which helped England reach a fighting total. Harbhajan Singh took three for 30 from his four overs while Jadeja claimed two for 26 in his four overs. However, Dhoni might have erred in letting Ishant Sharma bowl his four overs and allowing RP Singh only three overs. RP Singh, playing his first game, was brilliant and took 1 for 13 from his three overs.

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