If misery does indeed love company, then India can console themselves with the fact that they are not alone, at least for now. Having been handed a proper hiding by Australia, India would have noted with some glee that their next opponents, West Indies, suffered similarly at Sri Lanka’s hands. When the two teams are done with their battle on Sunday, one will be closer to a spot in the final four, the other may as well pack their bags.
Captains seldom dwell on losses, and this was true both of M.S. Dhoni and Chris Gayle. If anything, Gayle was forced to think about plans for the next game soon after losing their first Super 8 match. “Yes, we can use the short ball, but we have to be careful at the same time,” said Gayle when asked if he would try and mimic Australia’s tactics. “It’s a small ground and India have quality batsmen to make necessary adjustments.”
Those adjustments, from India’s point of view, are essentially a change in mindset. With the approach of trying to hit themselves out of trouble failing against Australia, a return to a safety-first method cannot be ruled out. “We tried to fight fire with fire but it did not work,” Dhoni conceded. “Sometimes you have to be a bit patient, wait for the ball to get slightly older and then go after the bowling.”
If short-pitched bowling was the lead talking point, India’s decision to put the opposition in wasn’t far behind. It’s another strategy that could be revised, given just how little extra assistance India’s pacers got. Add to this the fact that India played only two quickies, and opened the bowling with the off-spin of Harbhajan Singh and the decision to bowl first seemed ripe for revision.
“Whenever the team is batting second, it’s always going to be a pressure situation. If the team batting first gets 190 and the chasing team loses a couple of early wickets, it automatically gets on the back-foot,” said Gayle. “Teams will be looking at batting first on this sort of wicket. Once you get in, you can definitely play your shots.”
Against Australia, there was no chance to test Gayle’s hypothesis out, as most batsmen were out no sooner had they arrived. While team composition is something Dhoni rarely loses sleep over, he will be pondering the use of an extra seamer, whether that be R. Vinay Kumar, who looks innocuous but has the uncanny knack of picking up wickets in bunches, or Umesh Yadav, whose extra pace will be bonus, remains to be seen.