Nidahas Trophy: Inexperienced Indian Bowling Crumbles Under Pressure
India couldn't defend 175.
Yes, this is the total number of T20 International (T20I) matches the five Indian bowlers — Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Vijay Shankar and Yuzvendra Chahal — had played before Tuesday’s opening encounter of the Nidahas Trophy against Sri Lanka. Well, amongst those 26, Chahal himself had played 16, which means the rest of the attack had a collective experience of just 10 international matches before going into the series opener.
And they couldn’t defend 175.
Yes, the wicket was an easy paced one. But 175 was certainly defendable, even the stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma admits that.
“Our bowlers tried everything they could, but sometimes it doesn't come off the way you want it to. I felt we have enough experience in our bowling line-ups. Yes, they are new in the scene, but they've put in performances. I had a lot of confidence going into the game. Yes, the execution wasn't upto the mark but we can learn from our mistakes,” he said after Sri Lanka reached the target with nine balls and five wickets to spare. In T20 standards, this can be termed as a comfortable winning margin.
Despite losing Kusal Mendis in the second over of the run-chase, Sri Lanka managed to upset the high-flying Indian, only because of a blistering 37-ball 66 by No. 3 Kusal Perara. He just single-handedly destroyed the morale of the Indian attack took the game away from India during the powerplay overs.
Right from his second ball, when he slog-swept Sundar out of the park, the southpaw made his intentions crystal clear.
However, the next over — the third of the innings — bowled by Shardul Thakur, turned out to be the turning point of this game. Perera thumped the first ball casually over midwicket for a four, the second one he placed behind point and it raced to the fence, the third one went to the cover boundary, and the fourth - a slower delivery - was lifted over the long-on boundary. Next one was a no-ball - a chest-high full toss – and Perera sent to the cover fence. Another four was scored when the legitimate fifth ball went down the ground smoked down the ground. Only in the last ball, Thakur managed to bowl a dot ball.
27 runs were scored off that over it gave Sri Lanka the momentum, they were looking for.
Rohit, the stand-in skipper for this series, looked completely clueless. He didn’t seem to have a ‘Plan B’, or probably he did not have the bowlers, to implement his backup plans.
Amidst all this chaos, young off-spinner Sunder bowled three decent overs in the powerplay. But from the other end runs were licking. After the first six overs, the hosts reached 75/2, well ahead of the requirements of the asking rate.
There was no alarming amount of dew on the surface, but still, Indian bowlers were bowling those odd full-tosses and long hops. Perera and Co. made the full use of those. The Indian bowlers were not sure about the line and length. Apart from Sundar, no other bowler including the experienced Chahal, managed to build enough pressure on the Lankans so that they were forced to make a mistake. It was a clear sign of the inexperienced Indian bowler were put under pressure and they crumbled. It was a clear sign of the inexperienced Indian bowler were put under pressure and they crumbled.
Towards the end, when Perera got out in the 13th over (the home team needed 48 more to win), the visitors pull things back a bit, but that was too little too late as experienced Thisara Perera along with young Dasun Shanaka took the spirited Sri Lanka home, quite comfortably.
Overall it was a forgettable day at the office for the Indian bowling department.
Let’s hope they will learn from their mistakes and will come out with a different gameplan on Thursday against Bangladesh as on that true Premadasa surface some serious skills-sets are required from the bowlers to tame the opposition batting unit.