Australia’s four-goal win is also another reminder that Team India needs to work on several areas of concern as they count down to the T20 World Cup later this year. Having enough time is a million dollar question.
The final version in 2021 is the one that Men in Blue won’t want to have any memory of, as the team, one of the favorites to claim the title, was eliminated in the group stage, marks the first time the team has not played the semi-final of an ICC event in nine years.
If one takes the first T20I between India and Australia on Tuesday as a case study of what needs improvement Rohit Sharma and co., an area that stands out as sore thumbs is death bowling.
Consider this: Australia needed 55 runs to win the last 4 passes after the 16th game was bowling. The required run rate is 13.75. The Australian at the time was running at 9.62. Now, although modern times have beat themselves to getting runs like this in a few passes, it’s not an easy task. The men though yellow, and in particular Matthew Wade, making it look pretty easy. So much so that the match was pretty much over by the end of the 19th, at which stage the travelers only needed 2 runs in the last 6 balls. And that’s what will hurt Rohit and his team more than actually lost the game – in fact it didn’t go bad, after India returned to the game with a couple of quick goals. Their death in bowling disappointed them and allowed the reigning T20 World champions to win, with 4 serves remaining.
First T20I: Green, Surfing guides Australia to victory over India
Let’s take a look at how the last four curators have gone down in Mohali and what are the big areas of interest as Team India:
17 on: Bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Running conceded: 15 (3 wide and 2 four)
Wickets did: 0
Equation before ending this: 55 need 24 . reduction
Equation after finishing: 40 need to reduce 18
The good thing here is that Bhuvi got his length right, but his transmission was skewed. Up to three yards wide at a time when India needed to screw up screws. Matthew Wade hit him twice in this match – the first hit through the slot and the second after the point. Both deliverers were given pitches as potential yorks, but failed and Wade managed to open his clubface and find the boundary. Bhuvi’s thought process was absolutely right – tried for the yorks, but the implementation was unsuccessful.
18 on: Provided by Harshal Patel
Running conceded: 22 (3 six)
Wickets did: 0
Equation before ending this: 40 need to reduce 18
Equation after finishing: 18 need to reduce 12
The situation turned the tide completely. Up to 22 runs were recorded, with Matthew Wade beating 2 sixs and Tim David one of the Harshal Patel. The surprising thing here is that the previous match Harshal bowling (16th) only had 6 runs. How many 3-dot balls does he throw at it and give away a single touchline. Wade faced 5 of 6 balls in this match, but could not shoot out. Harshal tried another variation here for almost every delivery.
But the way down to the 18th will be a real concern for India. Harshal is considered an expert on death – someone who has many variations, beats slower cutters and plays well on slower bouncing machines. In this, however, his deliveries are mostly short-ball or long-ball. The third ball that David hit for a 6 ball in the deep midwicket was hit into the slot to hit. No flour worth his salt would miss that. The danger is back after a break and it’s never easy to straighten your belt. What we have seen, however, is that Harshal struggles during this crucial 18th, ironically with the varieties he is able to produce. In Australia, when he once again has to hit the ball on really bouncy courts, he will need varieties that can fool hitters. He has no rudimentary speed and so he will have to rely on guile. He will have to work on these in the upcoming matches. Let’s hope he gets to play as close to the Australian players as possible to better hone his skills, especially as he will also be playing the role of specialist mortality monitor in Australia at the World Cup.
The second serve of this serve was hit by Wade straight back to the bowler, but Harshal couldn’t keep it. It’s considered a drop, but to be fair these either stick or don’t stick. This is not.
Things went awry but it was Australia who won the first #INDvAUS T20I. # TeamIndia will find a way back… https://t.co/4WCyqedYwj
– BCCI (@BCCI) 1663694050000
19 more: Bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Running conceded: 16 (3 feet, 1 foot wide and 1 foot goodbye)
Wickets did: 0
Equation before ending this: 18 need to reduce 12
Equation after finishing: 2 switch off 6
By this time Matthew Wade knew exactly what he had to do and exactly what Indian archers would make. Bhuvi’s plan doesn’t really change here. He kept looking for builders, and when that didn’t work, he switched to shorter deliveries. Bhuvneshwar has never been so fast and he won’t have a hard time with Wade, who has played shots like this in the past and has now shown his ability to find space with ease. The last three deliveries of the 19th were – one low full throw off the stump and then two short deliveries – all three sent to the boundary by Wade, who showed once again why. why he found a spot on the Aussie team for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
The big concern here is that this is becoming a trend. A pattern seems to be emerging. Bhuvneshwar is one of India’s best death archers of the past. But in the last three T20I matches he has played and thrown the ball for the 19th team, he has given away 19, 14 and 16 respectively (vs Pak in Asia Cup, vs SL in Asia Cup and vs. Aus at T20I first in Mohali). This is probably the area that Rohit Sharma is most interested in. Once Jasipino Bumrah back with the combo (everyone will have to get their fingers crossed for him to fully recover soon), Rohit will see him as first choice to score his 19th goal, which in a race Tight pursuit is always the most important factor in the end. But Bhuvi will also have to play a big part in the deadly process, and with no pace to back down, he’ll need to find more variations to ensure he can stay one step ahead of the beaters.
20th on: Provided by Yuzvendra Chahal
Running conceded: 4 (1 four)
Wickets did: first
Equation before ending this: 2 switch off 6
The match was over and was brushed aside by the time the last match rolled away. Rohit’s options here are Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal and he went with Chahal’s spinning leg. The first serve actually took a hit, with Tim David falling to 18th after being caught by Hardik at the long game. But the new man in Pat Cumminswho is no match for the bat at all (just ask Rohit Sharma and the Mumbai Indians against whom he smashes 15 56 balls and equals the record for fastest 50 balls in the IPL earlier this year) defeated Chahal for a match-boundary victory through point coverage.
In general, Indians have had a bad day in the office. The only standout bowler is Axar Patel, who has a 3/17 rating in his 4 passes. All other 5 bowlers have an economy of over 11.
The contrast in quality will always point out the team’s weakness. And the Australian has pointed to one area of concern for Team India right now – the bowling game of death.
“I don’t think we’re bowling well…. the pitcher(s) weren’t quite there” – Rohit Sharma’s statement after the game is hopefully an indication of the Indian team’s leadership Degrees will be looking to get back to the drawing board, especially in regards to their fatal bowling scheme. Tactics vary according to given conditions, opponents, etc., but considering this is an undefendable first 208, let’s hope Team India soon have a plan B and C. 5 T20Is left before the World Cup where the team will have to fine-tune their death bowling match.