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World T20: Bowlers turning a corner after bumpy ride

After repeated failures in the South Africa and New Zealand series and even during the Asia Cup, India bowlers had come in for criticism. But the two matches at the Sher-e Bangla National stadium have seen the bowlers turn a new leaf.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2014 00:29 IST
Nilankur Das

India play all their group league matches in the late evening slot. It is an advantage to a certain extent, but bringing in the maximum revenue to the ICC coffers, it hardly makes sense not to let them play during prime time. The conditions drastically change here depending on the timing of the match. And playing the second match of the day means the wicket has already lost its freshness and it gets considerably slower till the late evening dew sets and helps the ball come on to the bat a touch better.

In both matches, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had won the toss and opted to bowl first. This ensured the bowlers got the best conditions to exploit. Under the lights, the ball does a bit initially and there is seam movement. There is also some spongy bounce and lateral movement for spinners.

Back in groove
After repeated failures in the South Africa and New Zealand series and even during the Asia Cup, India bowlers had come in for criticism not just from outside but also from the captain, who harped on how they failed to apply their mind.

But the two matches at the Sher-e Bangla National stadium here have seen the bowlers turn a new leaf. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had bowled 16 dot balls in his three overs against the West Indies pair of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith, giving away just three runs in the Powerplay.

Letting it rip
Leg spinner Amit Mishra, back in the team after long periods in oblivion, has picked up back-to-back Man-of-the-Match awards, not afraid to give the ball air and getting the ball to turn square. R Ashwin has regained confidence in the T20 format that had catapulted him to limelight, his round the wicket off break with an occasional carom ball or leg-break sneaked in has kept batsmen guessing and hesitant to give him the charge. Ravindra Jadeja has managed to capitalise on the pressure created by his teammates and has picked up wickets when batsmen have tried to score quickly off him. Even Suresh Raina has been handy with his wicket to wicket off-spin.

"As far as bowling is concerned, I am really happy how they have performed. Yes, there is a bit of help for them but at the same time you need to execute your plans well," Dhoni said. "I was really happy our spinners along with part-timers and the fast bowlers have done really well. Still, there's a long way to go in the tournament, there are two matches left in the league."

West Indies skipper Darren Sammy acknowledged that it was the Indian bowlers who took the match away. "I guess India just bowled well. Normally, whether you bat or bowl first, the start is very important and in the games we have played, we have got good starts from Chris and Smith at the top. In this game, we didn't get the best of games, both bowling and batting, and we were always behind India. If you let a spinner settle, he will get his line and length and variation of his pace. In both games, they settled into a nice rhythm. They are controlling the pace of the innings from there," Sammy said.