India vs West Indies: Unsettled batting order to second spinner conundrum, some questions that remain unanswered despite T20I series sweep

India would believe that some of its key personnel remained pretty undercooked by the end of the series. They would have preferred KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant and even Dinesh Karthik to have had a lot more runs under their belt.

Vedam Jaishankar, November 13, 2018

For some time now Bhuvneshwar Kumar, alongside Jasprit Bumrah, has been the go-to bowler in limited-overs cricket. His extraordinary control over length, line, swing, change of pace and the uncanny ability to anticipate a batsman's premeditated movement all contributed to his standing as one of the most dependable limited-overs bowlers.

However, his hasty return for the England series after injury had sidelined him earlier, proved to be detrimental. He suffered a relapse and was out of the game for quite a while.

Washington Sundar played in only third T20I for India. AFP

Washington Sundar played in only third T20I for India. AFP

Now on the comeback trail, his two T20 Internationals against Windies were a mixed bag. Even if he bowled well in one of the games (2 for 12 off 4 overs) he was still far from the form that had made him such a brilliant pacer in shorter formats. The final T20I where he was clobbered for 39 runs was worrisome and underscored the need for the bowler to quickly find the rhythm and form of yore.

There were others too whose form was not reassuring through the three-match T20I series against the Windies.

Of course it could be argued that skipper Rohit Sharma and fellow opening batsman Sikhar Dhawan enjoyed such a good run at the top that others scarcely got a proper look in.

But that's exactly what epitomises T20 cricket. In the limited opportunities that a batsman gets at the crease, he is compelled to exhibit fearless cricket and unleash crunching strokes.

In this series, KL Rahul got a few more opportunities than others down the order. But scores of 16, 26 not out and 17 hardly did justice to his potential. He is a talented batsman but needs a few big scores in the immediate future to raise his stock and rediscover his mojo.

His fellow teammate Manish Pandey's best chance of making a statement came in the first encounter, when he walked in to bat at a particularly difficult time. India were 45 for 4 chasing a target of 110 and had he remained unbeaten with 30-odd runs it would have done him a world of good.

However, after battling through a difficult phase he threw it away with his score on 19, even as India cantered to a win. He did not get a hit in the next game and in the final game he came in to bat with just seven runs required. Thus opportunities to make a mark were extremely limited.

The curious case was that of young Rishab Pant. He was supposed to be the successor to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But with his wicket-keeping skills leaving a lot to be desired the team management preferred to resurrect veteran Dinesh Karthik's career. Pant, though, got into the team for his batting, where his fearless hitting was supposed to lend muscle to the finish.

The left-hander, however, had a shoddy time, scoring just 1 and 5 in the first two games before a career-saving 58 in the final T20I lifted his and the team's spirits. His 38-ball knock included a lot of adventurous strokes, just the sort of batting that T20 calls for. It is obvious that Pant and Hardik Pandya, if and when he returns, will be the hard-hitting finishers of the team.

Hardik's brother Krunal made his debut in Kolkata and played all three matches. He looked pretty ordinary in the final game where his left-arm spin bowling was clobbered at will. But in the first two games, his confidence level was higher and he turned out to be pretty useful with the ball. His enterprising unbeaten 21 on debut showed that he could bat with refreshing boldness.

Still, India would believe that some of its key personnel remained pretty undercooked by the end of the series. They would have preferred Rahul, Pandey, Pant and even Karthik to have had a lot more runs under their belt. The dilemma of second spinner too remains.

Yuzvendra Chahal ought to be the first choice spinner for major T20Is. Could Krunal Pandya be the back-up all-rounder on pitches that are spin-friendly? Or would that position go to Washington Sundar who is no slouch with the bat. He used to be an opening batsman for India Under-19 and became a bowler only subsequently.

The T20I series against Windies certainly did not provide satisfactory answers to tough questions. The 3-0 win merely made them redundant!

Updated Date: Nov 13, 2018



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