Even without their key T20 players—Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, India almost pulled it off at Old Trafford.
Despite a better performance, India have now lost five matches on the trot, which is something players and fans are not accustomed to, and pressure will be mounting on them. India failed to drive home the advantage after an excellent partnership between Rahul Dravid and newcomer Ajinkya Rahane, with clumsy batting in the middle overs.
In England, T20 is not a hit-and-miss affair, as it can be on the dead pitches of the sub-continent, where a batsman can put his front foot out and try and heave every ball to the boundary. Twenty overs can be a long affair, and batsmen have to ensure their side bats all.
The star for India was Rahane, who played a fantastic knock. It bodes well for India that there are players of Rahane’s abilities waiting in the wings. I was pleased to see Suresh Raina hit the ball cleanly. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma should have got their eye in before going for their shots. MS Dhoni too should have stayed on until the end. India were 20 runs short of what would have been a winning score.
Dhoni marshalled his bowlers well. His move to bring in Virat in the middle overs and Munaf Patel at the death almost worked for India.
His keeping was better too. On the field, this was a better performance from India thanks to Raina, Virat and Rohit, though there were some sloppy moments as well.