You have to be a hard taskmaster to find faults with India’s show at the World T20 so far, but if there is one chink in the champions’ armour, it has to be bowling at the death.
The figures don’t make for pretty reading. New Zealand scored 55 runs in the last five, Pakistan 52 and Bangladesh 44. Against Ireland, though, it was a better showing, conceding only 39 in the same period.
On the face of it, these are not exactly unheard of returns from the last five overs in a T20 game, but what could worry the Indian think tank is the way the bowlers have seemed to lose the plot after keeping it tight for the best part of the preceding 15 overs.
Dhoni has obviously identified this as one of the areas that could require some major work, opting to keep Praveen Kumar and, perhaps more pertinently, RP Singh out of the XI after their pedestrian performances in the warm-ups. “We’ll take it one game at a time,” Dhoni said on Thursday. “So far we’ve played four games and it has been satisfactory, a little up and down in fielding, an area we can improve. We may not be the best fielding side, but if we can improve in the death overs, it can be an asset,” he added. “Those 15-20 runs in the end can make an impact on the eventual result.”
RP’s sudden loss of form, could be a major blow for the team. The Uttar Pradesh pacer was the highest wicket-taker in the IPL and one of the most effective bowlers for the Deccan Chargers at the death. Sadly, he hasn’t been quite able to translate his club success in South Africa to a berth in the starting line-up for country. He has given 70 runs in the six overs he has bowled in England so far — both in the warm up games — with the bulk of those runs coming in his final spell.
So what is the perfect method to follow while bowling at the death in T20s? “The idea is to keep it full and close as possible to the batsmen,” answered former South African international Andrew Hall, who now plies his trade for the English county side Northamptonshire.
“It is better to err on the fuller side.”