The problem with natural aggression is that it can’t be curbed overnight. This India team hardly has a batsman who can hold back his shots. Maybe except Ajinkya Rahane, besides Virat Kohli, who anchors the innings.
After their batting debacle against New Zealand in the opening World T20 tie on Tuesday, India may want to revisit their approach, especially at the Eden Gardens where there is every chance of the batsmen getting carried away by a flat pitch.
Rahane, Suresh Raina and young all-rounder Pawan Negi were the only India players to come for the optional practice at the Eden Gardens on Thursday. Under the supervision of batting coach Sanjay Bangar, the trio mainly focused on running between the wickets and took throwdowns for almost two hours. Rahane attending the nets doesn’t necessarily mean he will play on Saturday, but he didn’t want to miss out.
“My job is to give it my all in practice. I take a lot of pride in that,” Rahane had said in a media interaction before the tournament. A stickler for getting the basics right, Rahane had also spoken about the need to focus on rotating the strike besides playing big shots, something India forgot to do against New Zealand a few days back.
Who could Rahane replace? Currently, Yuvraj Singh is possibly the weakest link in this line-up. It’s not entirely his fault. He had last scored a half-century, a match-winning 60, against Australia, in the 2014 World Twenty20. He was sidelined after the tournament final against Sri Lanka, until he got a call-up for the January tour of Australia.
His batting wasn’t required in some matches but in the ones he got, Yuvraj’s highest score has been an 18-ball 35, against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup. Apart from that, Yuvraj doesn’t have an impressive strike rate against any of the big teams. His soft dismissal against New Zealand --- caught and bowled off a flighted delivery --- doesn’t do him any good.
Rahane has a far more tempered approach to batting. “In T20, one or two overs can change the game so we have to give 100% throughout the 40 overs. We know the conditions. But we have to respect the conditions and also the opposition,” Rahane had said.
In Nagpur, there was a collective failure to respect the turning track and play accordingly. The Eden pitch is expected to play better but in such a high stakes match, someone will have to play the holding role along with Virat.
What could go against Rahane is his dismissal, beaten and trapped leg before by a viciously swinging delivery from Mohammad Amir in India’s last match against Pakistan. But he might be a risk worth taking.