India had the right intent when Rohit Sharma won the toss by batting first and going hard in the powerplay as this is an area where India has struggled when batting first and not capitalized enough when the field is up when setting up a target. India, at the end of six overs, were 66 and what was important was that they hit nine boundaries and two sixes.
The matter of concern, however, for me is 14 dot balls is quite high when you get 36 balls in the powerplay and every dot ball is like gold in the shortest format.
Even though England kept striking with wickets at regular intervals, Indian batsmen like Deepak Hooda and Suryakumar Yadav kept going hard and the boundaries kept coming and India were going at above 10 runs per over. When Surya fell in the 12th over with India’s score reading 126 and Hardik Pandya well set, the need of the hour was to keep the momentum going but for some strange reason they sent Axar Patel instead of Dinesh Karthik, at number six with eight overs to go.
Yes, Karthik has been doing the finishing job in the IPL of late and also in the recently T20 concluded series against South Africa and done well coming in at the back end of the innings around the 15th over. But is there a thumb rule that Karthik can only score runs after 15 overs and can’t come two three overs before and get his eye in. In the end, the veteran just played seven balls and could have played a maximum of 11 deliveries had he batted till the end of 20th over.
It makes no sense that you are stubborn about using a player of Karthik’s capabilities, who has a higher strike rate to bat lower down the order, and send Axar Patel ahead of him. India had done this earlier in the India-South Africa series as well and the legendary Sunil Gavaskar was mad at such defensive tactics of holding back a player of Karthik’s calibre.
India needs to get their act right before the T20 World Cup coming up in Australia and identity players and their roles before the mega event. This T20 is a game of thin margins and every run counts and matches are lost because of errors made by teams not getting their act right.
- Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice Chairman of Danube Group