Some would say the law of averages caught up with India in Dubai on Sunday night. However, the reality is that a variety of things, as well as the brilliance of Shaheen Afridi and the clinical Pakistan top order, caught them unaware.
Top teams are loath to introspect too much after a first-game defeat in a tournament like this but a glance internally would not hurt India prior to their next game against New Zealand.
Some choice selections might have gone against them in the 10-wicket defeat. Some bowlers looked undercooked. Some batsmen are yet to embrace the team’s new, aggressive T20 philosophy. Some are on the road so much too long. Some uncontrollable too went against them on Sunday.
“We know precisely however the game went and where it went wrong and that we have absolute clarity thereon,” captain Virat Kohli admitted. “If we stick with the processes we follow, we undoubtedly feel we will overcome these mistakes.”
COPING WITH DEW AFTER LOSING THE TOSS
These are the uncontrollables that went against Team India on Sunday. Since these factors are expected to be constant throughout, what can India do to wrestle back the initiative if they lose the toss and are forced to bowl in Dubai?
The IPL, of course, was a pointer and India should have already discovered the contingencies. Of the thirteen IPL matches played in Dubai this season, nine were won by the team batting second, as well as eight in succession between September 27 and October 10th. Of these 9, 7 were won by the side winning the toss.
Once you lose in Dubai, the odds are definitely playing against you. Pick a spin-heavy bowling department and that they would possibly fumble to grip the ball in the late evening dew. Pick a seam-friendly attack and that they will select runs once the ball stops gripping, “More dew came in towards the second half. They were able to rotate strike. We couldn’t even get dot balls in as a result of the pitch providing a bit more pace for the batsmen to work with. The slower balls weren’t holding up. These little factors build a big distinction”, Kohli said. “Toss is going to be a factor if the dew keeps coming in.”
The solution is elegantly easy and Kohli himself offered the answer: “You need those further runs in the half.” Is there a case for the likes of Kohli himself, who anchored the innings with a fifty-seven, to notch up the strike rate from the prevailing 116.32?
MISFIRING NEW-BALL BOWLERS OR MISFIRING SELECTORS?
It currently appears the selectors picked Bhuvneshwar Kumar purely on reputation. The seamer is increasingly looking like just a spent force. An IPL economy rate of 7.97 with only 6 wickets from eleven games might have disguised the extent of his decline however against top opposition his lack of pace (he bowled mostly in the mid-120s vs Pakistan) could be a disadvantage.
Kohli handed the first over to him in the hope that he might find some swing like Afridi did. The first ball did swing however Bhuvi’s lack of pace and an inclination to stray down leg with full deliveries played into Pakistan’s hands. The first over yielded ten and it absolutely was Bumrah who came in for the third over.
Bhuvi went wicketless, at 8.33, from his 3 overs however Kohli’s troubles did not finish there: Muhammad Shami went for forty-three (ER 11.21), bringing us to the elephant in the room: did the selectors err in not picking form bowlers from the IPL? Why wasn’t the IPL’s top wicket-taker Harshal Patel selected? Why not Avesh Khan? Could Arshdeep’s left-arm medium pace and different angle be useful? India still had a 53% chance of winning at the innings break after recovering to post 151/7, therefore the bowling undoubtedly wants a re-look.
THE CASE FOR SHARDUL
This isn’t simply a case for Shardul’s presence with the ball, that is often handy, however with the bat too: with Ravindra Jadeja failing to interrupt the shackles in his 13-ball keep and Hardik Pandya too unable to force the issue, might Shardul have come in to tonk a couple of sixes?
Six-hitting superiority is progressively the process factor: In 2016 India hit six each twenty-seven balls however by 2019 that had come all the way down to sixteen balls, therefore the team recognises this need. Maybe this explains Pandya’s presence in the team as a pure batter, however is not the tail too long without Shardul in the mix?
TOP-ORDER CAPITULATION NOT SO RARE IN ICC EVENTS?
Kohli got irritable with a journalist once asked if the inform Kishan could have somehow been included in the mix up of the order, asking if there was “any way” Rohit Sharma could have been dropped Once India were reduced to 1/1 with Sharma’s golden duck, then 6/2 then 31/3 with Suryakumar’s dismissal, Pakistan had the psychological edge.
In the 2017 Champions Trophy final too, India had been reduced to 33/3, with Rohit falling for a three-ball duck to a similar vicious inswinger from Mohammad Amir. And what of the 2019 World Cup semi against New Zealand, where India was reduced to 5/3?
Sunday was also the tenth time India lost three wickets in the Powerplay since the last T20 World cup. They have \ lost on seven of these occasions. “I simply wish that they (critics) might put on a cricket kit and enter the field and understand what pressure is”, Kohli said.