Ahmedabad, March 13 (IANS) England’s bowling strategy of opening with spinner Adil Rashid and then unleashing genuinely quick bowlers caught India by surprise as they failed to cope with it and stuttered to just 124/7 in their 20 overs. The 125-run target was easy meat for England who won the first T20 International by eight wickets and with 4.3 overs to spare.
As against England’s two quick bowlers — Jofra Archer and Mark Wood — who combined to take four wickets and conceded an aggregate of just 43 runs in their eight overs together, the India pace bowlers were a poor match.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur and Hardik Pandya bowled two overs each without making impact as they are barely medium pace and can’t rush the batsmen.
Former India left-arm pace bowler Irfan Pathan pointed out that pace made the difference.
“What was the reason India lost the first t20 vs England? I think PACE was the difference,” tweeted the former India pacer.
While leg-spinner Rashid took the important wicket of skipper Kohli, the pace bowlers wreaked havoc with Archer and Wood removing the openers. Stokes then got rid of the dangerous Rishabh Pant, who managed to manufacture a six through a ramp shot. However, the pace bowling was so tight that neither No. 4 Pant nor No. 6 Hardik Pandya could manage a strike rate of 100. Pant’s rate was restricted 91.3 during his knock of 21 whereas Pandya’s was restricted to 90.48 in his 19-run knock.
Pandya was particularly struggling against genuine pacers who did not let him free his arms.
Pathan added in his tweet, “I think Hardik’s issue is facing genuine pace. I hope he gets better at it.”
India are missing Jasprit Bumrah, who can ramp up the pace. The right-arm fast bowler is sitting out of the series as he is getting married to TV presenter Sanjana Ganesan in Goa on Sunday and Monday.
India’s pace bowling options are left-arm pace bowler T Natarajan and right-armers Navdeep Saini and Deepak Chahar. India may pick Saini or Natarajan or both to add some zing or pace to their attack on a surface that is supposed to be unfriendly to medium-pace bowlers.
It is will be interesting to see if India will feature three-pronged spin attack.
None of the spin bowlers were effective just like the medium-pacers, although the bowling failure could also be because of the low total the batsmen had set up.
India batsman Shreyas Iyer said that the team’s plan is to play maximum spinners.
“In the practice wickets, the ball was turning and the spinners were bowling [a lot]. It was very similar to the wicket we played [Friday’s game] on. But our plan is obviously to play maxiumum spinners. That is our strength. So we backed them,” said Iyer.