Sixteen deliveries was all it took for India to claim the first victim in their quest to remain the number one T20 team in the world, but for the best part of the rest of the New Zealand innings, it was MS Dhoni’s team that came off worse.
The Indian skipper, however, did not read too much into the loss, attributing it to a combination of “a few ideas not working out as planned. We have seen a few teams opting for length deliveries instead of yorkers at the death, and thought we’d give it a try too,” said Dhoni. It was an experiment that went fatally wrong for India, with the Kiwis plundering 31 runs off the last two overs. “We are not too worried about this loss, we know we can always go back to the basics,” Dhoni added.
One player, however, who doesn’t have to change a thing about his cricket at the moment, is Rohit Sharma. Promoted to open the innings in the absence of the injured Virender Sehwag, Rohit continued his purple patch, playing some breathtaking shots in his 20-ball 39. Blessed with tons of natural talent, Sharma possesses this innate ability of making batting look ridiculously simple.
“Rohit is in very good form and we thought he would be the best choice to open. He is striking the ball well and showed that today as well,” the skipper said.
Finally, some joy
If the IPL was the catalyst that made the likes of Rohit and Suresh Raina believe they were cut out for the big league, it probably sowed seeds of doubt in Ishant Sharma. Torrid would be a mild word to describe the Knight Riders’, and Ishant’s IPL experience.
On Monday, however, the Delhi bowler went quite a way in exorcising the ghosts of the IPL, bowling with pace and panache to end up with figures of 4/25 from four overs.
“I think this will give Ishant a great deal of confidence,” Dhoni said. “We wanted him to bowl in the middle of the innings, when the batsmen are not throwing their bat at every ball, but also looking to score 6-7 an over.”
A nine-run loss in a warm-up game does not, by any stretch of the imagination, warrant alarm bells, more so with two of the big bats missing out. But Dhoni knows he can ill-afford another slip-up. More so, with the next opponents being a Pakistan.