India's starting problems in T20s come to fore
NEW DELHI: As Indian cricket gets desperate by the day to form a solid middle-order in limited-overs cricket, there's a nagging problem growing at the top of the order in the T20 format. It's the amount of time taken by the openers to take off. Shikhar Dhawan's stuttering knock of 42-ball 41 on Sunday only magnified the issue. Historically, Rohit Sharma too has been a slow starter against the new ball.
For all their awe-inspiring as an ODI partnership, the duo has struggled to take the team off to a flier in T20 cricket. Rohit generally makes up for lost time but Dhawan's inability to consistently bat in fifth gear glares up at your face.
At the top of the home season, new batting coach Vikram Rathour had conceded that the flat starts up the order could peg the team back in the run up to the T20 World Cup next year. Hence, the team management has been harping on getting capable batsmen in till No. 10. “Yes, we would want to be more aggressive in the Powerplay. That's why we want a long batting lineup so that the players can play freely up the order,” Rathour had said before the second T20I against South Africa in Mohali in September.
However, the ploy seems to be taking longer to grow on Dhawan. He has been his cautious self all this while. And more so on Sunday. It could be the fact that he lost Rohit up front in the innings. It could be that he was factoring Virat Kohli's absence which makes him the lone seasoned batsmen in the lineup. But the sheer number of dot balls played out by him can't dodge the dissection. He may have been playing the guide but struggled to pace the innings as well as Kohli would. That again highlights the significance of Kohli in the middle.
Dhawan has played enough cricket at the Ferozeshah Kotla to know the variables in the pitch. He even spent one entire season with Delhi Capitals this year. Yet, his inability to pace the innings puts doesn't leave any wiggle room for the young middle-order which consists of players who are all battling to cement their spots.
On Saturday, Rohit had emphasized how the youngsters coming in need to adjust to batting at different numbers. "These boys bat high up for their IPL franchise. They need to understand that when they play international cricket, they won't get their batting positions. Batting for IPL franchise and in international cricket is very different," Rohit remarked.
Rohit also claimed that a lot of strategizing needs to go in to form a winning combination in T20 cricket. He emphatically claimed that India need to do a lot of work to go higher than No. 5 in T20I rankings. Setting solid totals to defend is one thing that the team management has identified as a primary problem. Perhaps, it's time India's most experienced batsmen took the onus on itself set the foundation for the boys to cash in.