India face South Africa in a must win game tomorrow at Visakhapatnam. They are 2-0 down and need to win the last three matches to win the five-match series.
India’s biggest problem is that when they are put in to bat they are not able to defend totals. More often than not India lose if they are put in by the opposition team.
Let’s go back to the 2014 World Cup where India dominated and won almost all their games batting second with Virat Kohli being the chase master. They fell at the final hurdle when they were put in to bat first and lost to eventual winners Sri Lanka who chased down the target of 130 and deny India it’s second title.
Similarly in 2016 World Cup, India lost to West Indies in the semifinals in Mumbai. Inspite of posting 190 they were knocked out, bringing tears to the eyes of billions of fans who felt this was their chance to win.
In the last World Cup in the UAE too, India’s two big games were against Pakistan and New Zealand and in both games India lost the toss and were unable to post good scores and it ended their campaign as they could not make it to the knockouts.
Australia, who were the eventual champions last year in UAE, won all their six games chasing and the only game they lost was to England when they were put in first.
Most of the times batters complain that the wicket is a bit tricky batting first and they are not able to get going and there is no clarity as to what score would be good enough for the team to defend. From the 2014 World Cup in Bangladesh eight of the nine knockout matches have been won by the team batting second.
But it’s time Indian batsman found a way and won matches when put in to bat first. They play enough T20 matches in the IPL and they should play the right brand of cricket when batting first to win games. Yes it’s easy to chase as you have the target in mind and batters can plan their chase accordingly. But it’s time to stop using this as an excuse for losing a game if you lose the toss. Can Rishabh Pant change this pattern and make India bounce back? Time will tell.