Team India were knocked out of the Asia Cup because they did not take it as a competition that must be won. They used it as a laboratory for running their perennial experiments on various combinations ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia. They paid the penalty for being presumptuous when they needed to focus on putting the best combination available to win matches in the Super Four and qualify for the final.
As a result of failed experiments, Team India find themselves a confused lot now, unable to decide on who are their best bowlers, both spin and pace and whether a sixth bowling option is a must in T20 games. They must pick their best middle order batsmen to support a top order that itself was floundering before a combative Virat Kohli and a more fluent Rohit Sharma found ways to make runs.
With time running out, the team management has to make up its mind decisively on those who would offer the best chance on more sporting Australian pitches on which the ball will come on to the bat and offer more bounce. Will Rishabh Pant fit the T20 bill though he is such an aggressive batsman in Tests and ODIs? Who are the specialist spinners who can deliver the goods Down Under? Will the much vaunted batting line-up ever deliver when it comes to the crunch, which it hasn’t for a decade now in Cup events?
A long term problem has been to sustain the batting in competitive settings. The re-emergence of Hardik Pandya as an all-rounder promised much at the beginning of the Asia Cup but he had poor games later and the team balance was suddenly gone. And yet they would have to keep faith in him as he may perform better in Australian conditions where his back-of-a-length attack may fetch dividends and his batting can be explosive at the finish.
Team India can be a player in the major league if they stop believing in star value and pick a playing XI of cricketers who will give their right hand to play the starring role in victories. The fixation on individual form of the star players must make way for objective judgments on whether they can contribute to the team effort. It takes more than individual form and class for a team of 11 men to perform and win Cup games in do-or-die situations.