Big day beckons India, Windies

Men in blue in a must-win situation in their second Super Eights match

Big day beckons India, Windies

Rohit Sharma bats during a Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match with Australia in Bridgetown, Barbados on Friday. APIt was an abject surrender that was further confounded by the way most of the Indian batsmen went about their job while chasing a stiff target.
Admittedly the required run-rate was a steep one from the word go but the top-order’s approach against a quality pace attack left a lot to be desired.
Cross-batted shots and ill-advised pulls against a well-directed rising ball coming at over 145 kmph are a strict no, but rush of blood prevailed over prudence. Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson made merry as batsman after batsman perished to familiar mode of dismissal. Only Rohit Sharma came out unscathed with a stunning counter attack.

It was Chris Gayle’s men who had exposed India’s perennial failing in the last World T20 under less testing conditions in England. After watching what Australia put India through on Friday, West Indies too will be looking to exploit this chink on pitches that are definitely more bouncy, though they are not exactly lightening quick surfaces.  

Of course, the Windies attack is nowhere near Australia’s and hence they will have to be judicious while using the short ball. Gayle admitted to as much. “Yes, we can use the short ball, but we have to be careful at the same time. It’s a small ground and India have quality batsmen to make necessary adjustments. But we will plan something and put it up, let’s see how it comes out,” he noted after his team’s loss to Sri Lanka.

It’s not just the hosts’ bowlers that are to be careful, Indian batsmen too need to show some restraint as Dhoni pointed out. “If somebody bowls 150 kmph short stuff then you have to be really good at pulling which isn't our natural strength. Most players from India are very good at cutting the ball, but only a few are good pullers against the new ball. Maybe we could have played through the first few overs because we saw as the ball got a bit older it didn't come on as quickly,” he remarked.   

Barring England’s win against Pakistan, no team batting second here has managed to chase the target successfully and it was a bit surprising to see Dhoni opt to bowl first. The team combination, eight batsmen and only four specialist bowlers, may have forced his decision but still it was a move fraught with danger.

“The teams sure will be looking at batting first on this sort of wicket. It’s a good surface to bat on and once you get in, you can definitely play your shots,” Gayle thought.

To be fair to Dhoni, it was those two overs by Ravindra Jadeja that turned his calculations upside down. Spin has played an important role on these tracks so far, but pace has had the last laugh invariably. And India’s problems stem from the fact that their pace department isn’t exactly brimming with talent. There are three pacemen in the squad right now and out of which Zaheer Khan has been off-colour while R Vinay Kumar is yet to be tested at this level. Only Ashish Nehra has looked good in patches and Praveen Kumar’s replacement, Umesh Yadav, is expected to join the squad only on Saturday.

Not a pretty picture, but India know if they are to travel to St Lucia for their last Super Eights match with their hopes intact, nothing less than a victory is going to save them.

Teams (from): India: MS Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Kaarthick, Piyush Chawla, R Vinay Kumar. 

West Indies: Chris Gayle (capt), Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Andre Fletcher, Dwayne Bravo, Keiron Pollard, Narasingh Deonarine, Denesh Ramadin, Darren Sammy, Nikita Miller, Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul, Sulieman Benn, Wavell Hinds.

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