I don’t think our batting failure in the loss to Australia can be blamed on fatigue or IPL overkill. India had a four-day break before this. What caught us on the wrong foot was that old bogeyman — short-pitched fast bowling.
We have this strange approach to tackling a problem that hasn’t been solved with that same approach: Our batsmen seem to be dead sure that if they try and hit a fast ball as hard as they can, their problems will mysteriously vanish with the imagined six. It was the same in England in the World T20 last year and what happened? West Indies came and bumped India, England did it and we still went after their bowling.
But no one can do anything if the batsmen stay in denial mode or allow their egos to get the better of them. Nobody wants to face consistent short-pitched bowling. It will leave you somewhat uneasy, wondering whether the next one will have you ducking or clumsily protecting your ribs.
If you accept that you’ll need to wait this out, instead of trying to smash the guy who’s bowling in your face for 15 runs in that over, it will pass.
Once you play out 10-15 balls, fast bowlers stop bowling that way. And whatever people say about T20 cricket being a super-fast game, there's still time. In a Test, tiding over that awkward period can be 12-13 overs, in a one-day game, it could be six overs, in T20s, it could well be six balls. All it takes is just a little patience.
Are we missing Sehwag? Well, he’s someone you’ll always want in your team. Having said that, India in the Caribbean are quite capable of winning with or without anyone. They have quality players right through. It’s just a question of hanging in there, like Rohit Sharma did on Friday night.
Australia, with three pacemen who can bowl consistently in the mid-140s, were always going to pepper India. But likewise, to counter that, you needed more Rohit-like innings.
Here India could learn from Friday’s second game; how Sangakkara and Jayawardene played. Mahela has shown the naysayers that orthodoxy has its place in what is a very non-conventional format of the game. He’s been on a roll ever since he got pushed to the top of the order in the IPL. India would do well to learn from him.