Monday 7 April 2014 

Analysis - Don't Blame Yuvraj, Credit Sri Lanka

Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj Singh has received criticism for his innings, but have Sri Lanka been given enough credit?
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

First and foremost, congratulations to the Sri Lankan cricket team on winning the ICC World Twenty20 2014 as they beat India by six wickets with 13 balls to spare.

They can breathe easy after breaking the jinx of losing the finals of ICC tournaments; at last they got that monkey off their back.

Of late they have been in the wrong end of the finals many times (losing the 2007 and 2011 ODI World Cup and in 2009 and 2012, the World T20) and a win in this tournament might see a change of fortunes for them in the years to come.

It was the perfect farewell Sri Lanka would have wanted for their two warriors, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. The smiles on their faces showed how relieved they were after winning this final.

Chasing a modest total of 131 runs to win, Sri Lanka were under a bit of pressure at 78 for four in 12.3 overs but Sangakkara stood his ground at one end to make sure they don’t lose this one.

It is unfair to blame Yuvraj Singh alone for the loss of momentum during the death overs.

Let’s go through some stats - in the last four overs this is how the Indian batsmen fared: Kohli seven in eight balls (SR 87.50), Yuvraj four in nine (SR 44.44), Dhoni four in seven (SR 57.14) and four extras, so why only blame Yuvraj?

Let’s face it, Sri Lanka were the better side and credit should be given to them.

Right from the start Sri Lanka exerted pressure on the Indian batting and they never let the batsmen off the hook.

Angelo Mathews bowled a very impressive opening spell and the spinners bowled a very tight line. With the pressure mounting on India from every possible direction, Virat Kohli showed his class once again with his controlled aggression.

However, things started to go wrong during the end of India's innings when they could score only 19 off the final four overs but full marks to the Sri Lankan bowlers. They bowled just brilliantly during the death overs and the dangerous Indian batting line-up could only look at each other in disbelief.

The plan of bowling wide yorker-length balls paid dividends as the batsmen failed to get under the ball.

The Islanders were well aware that anything on the stumps (even toe-crushing yorkers) will be smacked, especially by Kohli and MS Dhoni who uses the depth of the crease to great effect, but those balls never came their way.

It is unfair to blame Yuvraj Singh alone for the loss of momentum during the death overs. Let’s go through some stats - in the last four overs this is how the Indian batsmen fared: Kohli seven in eight balls (SR 87.50), Yuvraj four in nine (SR 44.44), Dhoni four in seven (SR 57.14) and four extras, so why only blame Yuvraj?

Let’s face it, Sri Lanka were the better side and credit should be given to them.

Yes, Yuvraj was struggling to rotate the strike but once you choose your playing XI you back them to win the match for you. India should have dropped Yuvraj during the group stages after a string of failures, dropping him during the knockout stages would have been a tactical error as there was nobody to replace him at that stage.

The news that Indian fans started pelting stones at Yuvraj’s house after the defeat is a real shame; these people have such a short memory that they cannot remember Yuvraj’s role during the last two World Cup wins (2007 and 2011).

Nobody would have felt more gutted than Yuvraj himself after the match but that is unfortunately how Indian fans have reacted over the years to such defeats.

Talking of India's bowling, Ravichandran Ashwin looked to be the only bowler who can grab some wickets for India while others looked quite flat and ineffective.

Ravindra Jadega had a bad tournament with the ball and Amit Mishra started bowling faster than usual during the knockout stages which made him easy to score off.

A lack of death bowling options meant Dhoni could not use all of Ashwin's over at the start itself which gave Sri Lanka some time to settle down. They played Ashwin quite sensibly and scored heavily against the rest.

Looking back, a target of 131 was never going to be enough and India needed some exceptional bowling performances from at least two bowlers to defend the small total which unfortunately didn’t happen.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, bowled superbly as a unit while Sangakkara sailed them past India.

India should hold their head high as they played quite brilliantly throughout the tournament but unfortunately failed when it mattered the most.

© Cricket World 2014