India vs Bangladesh: Why India need to rethink their batting approach in T20Is
Within 12 minutes of start of play on Sunday, normalcy was restored at New Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium. The discussions about smog were replaced by frail talks about the pitch on offer as the ball started keeping low as early as the third over of the match. By the time India finished their innings after being sent in by Bangladesh, even the pitch-talks had faded away somewhere in the hazy night sky of New Delhi. India’s approach or the lack of it had taken centrestage. It became more prominent an hour and a half later as Bangladesh registered their first ever T20I win over India in their 9th attempt.
Yes, the pitch was on the slower side. Yes there was something in it for the spinners and even for the seamers if they rolled their fingers over the ball and varied their lengths but isn’t that normal in Kotla? It still remains one of the few Indian grounds where the average first innings total is well-below 150. And to be fair to India they did get to 148 at the end of their 20 overs and Bangladesh too had their fair share of troubles in the second innings, taking 19.3 overs to chase it down then what’s the fuss? The problem was with India’s confused way of dealing with a T20 innings, especially when batting first.
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It was as if they wanted to break free, shed the tag of being slow finishers even after getting off fliers but did not know how to. India handed debut to big hitter Shivam Dube, stuck with Shikhar Dhawan as a T20 opener despite his not so impressive strike rate. There was no problem with this. It however became one when Rohit Sharma was trapped by a Shafiul Islam in-dipper in the first over and KL Rahul was done in by the slowness of the pitch in 7th over. Dhawan had no option but to go back to his ODI-style batting of nudging singles. The problems compounded in the middle period when Shreyas Iyer batted like Rishabh Pant and Pant like Iyer. This sure wouldn’t have happened without proper instructions from the team management.
Iyer came out to bat at No.4 with only one motive – to hit everything out of the park. If that was the idea, then Rishabh Pant or even debutant Shivam Dube were definitely better choices. Perhaps it would have been just the push that Pant needed to get his confidence back on track. But that wasn’t to be.
Iyer, for his part, did his best to justify the job of a dasher. He hit Aminul Islam for two big sixes, whooshed and waft before top edging one – which incidentally was his third miss hit in his13-ball stay – to long off. After his 22-run cameo, it seemed as if India had a plan. It was simple, let Dhawan bat through at his own pace and instruct the others to go about the Iyer-way. But something happened in the 20 seconds between Iyer’s walking back to the pavilion and Pant coming in. India once again fell back to their trusted formula of keeping wickets in hand till the end. As if the Iyer innings never took place. Both Dhawan and Pant started to milk the bowlers.
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The Bangladesh spinners led by the off spin and leg spin combo of Afif Hossain and Aminul Islam Biplob did a great job in varying their lengths. India scored only 25 runs in 27 balls in that period and the idea of posting a 160+ total was buried deep.
That Dhawan doesn’t have an acceleration game like a Rohit does is evident by now. Only for once in his 41-run innings did his strike rate touched 100 and that too after he had hit a straight six off Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah. In the same over however, he was run out due to a mix-up.
Debutant Shivam Dube (4 off 1), again sent in without a proper directive, chipped it back at Afif, who took a brilliant one-handed catch. India were tottering at 102 for 5 in 16 overs.
Pant’s confusion-filled 27 off 26 came to an end when he mistimed one in the second ball of 19th over. In the next 10 balls, India scored 28 runs without the loss of a wicket as Washington Sundar and Krunal Pandya hit three sixes and more importantly showed what might have been the situation had someone else apart from Iyer had some clarity about their role at the top.