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T20 WORLD CUP: INDIA STARING AT EARLY EXIT

Two defeats leave India trailing Pakistan, Afghanistan, New Zealand and Namibia in Group 2 of the Super 12 at the ICC T20 World Cup.

The schedule of the 2020 T20 World Cup has meant the Indian cricket team is almost on the brink of elimination after having played only two matches with three more to go in. While Group 1 was labeled as the ‘Group of Death’, the other group in which India was featuring seemed to be a slightly easier one.

India’s road to the semi-finals was never a question because of the teams in their group and also the record against arch-rivals Pakistan in ICC events. In a matter of a week, India have lost both their matches against possibly the two strong contenders to progress further in the tournament.

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It was the manner of defeat against New Zealand that would have hurt the former players and fans alike. The men in blue just didn’t turn up for this crucial contest. So where did India go wrong against Kane Williamson’s New Zealand?

Got the team combination wrong

One of the reasons why India struggled in the first match against Pakistan was the lack of another bowling option. Virat Kohli decided to go into this game once again with the same combination.

 

Virat Kohli T20 captaincy
Virat Kohli looks on as India keep subsiding versus New Zealand. (Credit: ICC)

If a team has at least four quality bowlers who are wicket-takers, it can manage somehow with only five bowling options. But apart from Jasprit Bumrah and maybe Varun Chakravarthy to an extent, there wasn’t any other bowler who was a genuine wicket-takers. Yes, Shardul Thakur gets wickets for CSK, but he always has the cushion of extra runs when he is bowling in yellow.

Rohit Sharma did not open

If I was Williamson, I would have been overjoyed to see the two Indian batsmen coming out to open the batting. It was KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan. One of the best openers in white-ball cricket for a number of years, Rohit Sharma was not to be seen. That was such a tactical blunder in a big game. It was a move as bad as dropping him from the team.

The move also meant Kohli had to bat at number four, which is not an ideal position for someone like him. Just a few months before the World Cup, the captain had said he would open the batting but here he is batting at four in the middle overs of a crucial game.

Jadeja’s role in the team

On current form, one of the best T20 batsmen in this team has to be the left-handed Ravindra Jadeja. Not only he has the ability to score big hits, but also runs incredibly fast between wickets.

But India are using him as a bowling allrounder. His roles need to be reversed as he has now become a proper batsman who has the ability to bowl a few overs and not vice versa as he used to be.

Jadeja can surely be in the top six and India can afford to play another bowler in order to strengthen their bowling attack. This also gives more time in the middle with the bat for the left-hander.

No effort to keep the ball down

India’s batting effort was shocking to see. All the wickets except Rishabh Pant were caught out on the boundary. It was strange to see their intent of scoring only maximums but were not keen to find the gaps all along the carpet.

The intent is a keyword in T20 batting but it’s not only about six-hitting. India’s strength has always been timing the ball through the gaps. But they went with the option of bludgeoning the ball that led to their downfall.

It was surprising to see Kohli too taking that route as early as 11th over. In an ideal world, he would have rotated the strike for a bit longer in order to forge a partnership and then press the accelerator at the end.

Defensive with the field placements

Yes, India had a very low total to defend. But the only way of making a match out of that was by picking up early wickets.

But Kohli’s field placements suggested they had given up even before the first ball was bowled. There were not enough slips for Bumrah or Varun when they opened the bowling. Virat could have even gone for a bat-pad under the helmet in order to make the batsman feel that they are coming to pick their wickets. Instead, the fielders were at the edge of the 30-yard circle thinking about their batting performance, maybe.

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