The task gets doubly difficult for bowlers on a highway-like pitch. But that said, a bowling attack with a fair amount of experience should be able to defend a 200- plus target irrespective of how batsmen-friendly the pitch is.
Put in to bat, India led by Hardik Pandya’s splendid 71 not out off 30 balls, after KL Rahul (55) and Suryakumar Yadav (46) laid the foundation, powered their way to 208 for 6 at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Tuesday. But their bowlers made a mess of the imposing target as Australia, led by the young and robust Cameron Green (61 off 30 balls) and the crafty Matthew Wade (45 not out off 21 balls), took full advantage of their poor showing to win the first T20I by four wickets.
Barring left-arm spinner Axar Patel (3/17), the other Indian bowlers were pedestrian, getting their lines and lengths completely wrong. Australia and particularly Green, in his second T20I appearance and opening for the first time in international cricket, couldn’t have asked for anything better. The three quick wickets in the middle overs too couldn’t quite dent Australia’s progress.
With the Indian bowlers continuing to dish out freebies at regular intervals and Wade focusing on his strengths, Australia were able to knock off 55 needed off the last four overs, cantering home with four balls remaining. Just as he had done in the crunch games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, Bhuvneshwar Kumar fluffed once again in the penultimate over. He conceded as many as 16 runs with Wade clubbing him for three boundaries.
Australia then had just two more to get off the last six balls. It’s time the team management identifies an alternative to bowl the 19th over. Even the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel (returning after injury) were mediocre. Agreed, the Aussie bowlers also got smoked by Pandya, Rahul and Suryakumar earlier, but it was on the same wicket 27-year-old Nathan Ellis finished with figures of 3/30 in his four overs. Ellis’ three scalps included one of Virat Kohli, who seemed to be in some sort of a fix after being tied down by Adam Zampa. Not just poor bowling, India also dropped three catches with one of them being that of Green, who was on 42 then.
The team management preferred to extend Jasprit Bumrah’s rest, but the reason to include Umesh Yadav, especially when he’s not even among the standbys of India’s T20 World Cup squad, was baffling. Wouldn’t Deepak Chahar or Arshdeep Singh have been a more appropriate choice? In the end, one can only feel for Pandya as his brilliant strokeplay, which was about timing, placement and power, went in vain. It included three consecutive sixes in the final over.

By admin