The start to the second season was everything we could have hoped for but what followed has undoubtedly been disappointing. But then, that’s the way the game goes.
In the matches against Chennai and Deccan Chargers, we were done in the first five overs by two old foes of mine, both Australians and now retired. What Hayden and Gilly used to do oppositions as a pair, they have now taken to doing as individuals for different teams and it was just our bad luck that we had to play against such stalwarts in successive matches.
The showing of the two left-handers shows the emerging characteristics of T20. While like any other format, it is the day’s performance that counts, it is the individual(s) who set the tone rather than it being a team effort. There is little time for a team effort actually, thus putting the onus on the individual.
What is also clear is the importance of opening stands, not necessarily by the openers but at the beginning of the innings. The impact needs to be made then and there. If that comes about, then as it happened against us for the Chargers, the middle overs can be used for consolidation. Our starts, of course, have hit us bad. In all the three matches we have lost wickets in the first over without a run on the board. This is an issue we will have to address.
We also need to improve our fielding, the catching in particular. What rankles is that we have worked really hard on that aspect in the run-up to the tournament.
As far as my own bowling is concerned, it is another case of dealing adequately with the good and bad. My last over in the match against the Chargers was not an ideal one and Rohit Sharma’s assault took the game away from us.
Perhaps, I need to take a cue from Muralitharan, who was simply brilliant against us. The pitch at Port Elizabeth for the match against Chennai was so much flatter than in our opener in Cape Town but it didn’t make any difference to Murali.
What we can take heart from is that even in the two losses, there was one stark difference. While we did not put up a fight against Chennai, we came back well against the Chargers.