India’s T20 woes continue against South Africa

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The Indian T20 team is a middle of the table side in international T20 cricket.

The South African team showed in the first T20 match in Delhi why the Indian T20 team lags behind the other T20 powers.

Despite having the most lucrative T20 league in the world, India cannot string together a solid world-beating combination for international cricket.

Over the past 14 years, the underwhelming results in T20 world cups stand testament to this fact.

Why is this the case?

Bowling
Indian bowlers seem to have lost the ability to pick up wickets during the powerplay. Even the great Jasprit Bumrah has not picked up wickets regularly in the power play.

This inability to pick wickets early has often resulted in the opposition team getting off to good starts, whether chasing or setting a target.

No wonder India suffered a no wicket loss to Pakistan in Dubai and followed it up with another miserable performance against NZ with only a couple of wickets to show. In today’s match against South Africa, India managed to take only three wickets.

Taking wickets at regular intervals against top teams in T20 is the only way to stop them. Indian bowling has been sub-par against the major nations.
What can be done here?
India needs a left-arm fast bowler, a tear-away quick, or both in this unit.

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The team that played South Africa in Delhi had just one fast bowler, Avesh Khan.

The other bowlers are slow medium bowlers like Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel and Hardik Pandya. David Miller and Rassie Van der Dussen lined these bowlers up and sent them to the cleaners.

Inability to defend a score of 211 is a show of incompetence and nothing else. India can’t keep playing Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, hoping he will return to his best international form of the past.

It has been a while since Kumar delivered on the international stage, particularly against strong teams. India needs variety and a lot more spice in its fast bowling.

Jasprit Bumrah, Avesh Khan/Umran Malik, and Arshdeep Singh should be the first-choice fast bowlers for the Indian team for the T20 World cup in Australia. Arshdeep is not an express fast bowler but will bring in the left-handed variation to the unit.

Batting

India did well to score 211 in Delhi. However, if you had seen only the power play where Ruturaj Gaekwad and Ishan Kishan struggled to hit big, you would have been surprised to find India reached 211 at the end of 20 overs.

This Indian middle-order has serious power and can regularly take India to big scores.

They can do so only if the top order sets the tempo early and uses the deliveries efficiently. The Indian top order for this match and the one likely to play the World cup would be filled with anchor players.

When the team returns to full strength, it will have Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli starting the Indian top order. In strict T20 requirements, India can afford only one of these three players to play in the team at the top of the order.

Rohit Sharma (Photo: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP via Getty Images)

In the T20 World cup, India needs to push rapid scoring players like Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, and Dinesh Karthik higher to help them play as many deliveries as they can to help India score big every time.

But our selectors will go by the names and keep all three of them in the playing XI. India can’t afford to have these Top 3 score an elegant 50 of 45 deliveries each in the World cup matches.

India will end up woefully short of runs to defend or will be unable to chase a big score with this kind of top order. A great player need not feel diminished to be dropped from the T20 team. Only one of Rohit, Rahul and Virat can play in the current form. India needs to free more places to fit in its hitters.

One cannot blame the Indian batting for the loss today in Delhi. However, the lack of hitting power at the top stands out like a sore thumb when looking for areas to improve in each department.

In conclusion, the Indian team’s unbeaten run in T20 internationals was an illusion that came against weak or tired teams. The problems that have plagued the T20 team in the 2021 World cup remain firmly intact.

The solutions for these problems lie in a change of mindset and personnel. I am unsure of the former, which ultimately will limit the latter.

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