Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan plays a shot(PTI)
Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan plays a shot(PTI)

India vs South Africa: India’s tactical test plans fail to pay off

India’s top order failed to fire against South Africa and this came back to haunt to side in the 3rd T20I in Bengaluru.
Bengaluru | By Devarchit Varma
UPDATED ON SEP 23, 2019 09:17 AM IST

The issue of lack of runs beyond the top trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli hurt India in the ICC World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. The same weakness returned to haunt India as South Africa notched up a T20 series-levelling at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.

The nine-wicket defeat left India somewhat in a similar position they were in entering this series. India had aimed to begin their buildup for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia with a series win at home, but had to settle for a draw after being outplayed at Bengaluru.

The third-ranked India will also rue the washed out first T20 in Dharamsala, a venue where they would have tested their new bowling as well as the batting depth in the revamped line-up. Instead, a seven-wicket win at Mohali powered by Shikhar Dhawan (40) and Virat Kohli (72*) did not necessitate the tests they had planned. India eventually arrived here—a venue with short boundaries and known for its batting-friendly pitch.

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India though slipped from 68/3 in 8.3 overs to 134/9 on a wicket where South Africa lost only one wicket in their innings lasting 16.5 overs. The failure with the bat was followed by a drab show with the ball. Kohli pointed out that the team missed some of its premier bowlers.

“These kind of games will keep happening as long as we are (found) wanting to come out of our comfort zone as a team and putting ourselves in situations which could be the case in a big game in a big tournament,” he said after the match.

India may also rethink on the latest bowling line-up they have put together. From the glimpse they provided, there is not much promise of containment or wickets that are given with the attack involving Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

“We will have to be a bit more patient with the combination which we are playing at the moment. We will have to strengthen one or two things along the way but as a batting unit, people batting till No. 9 give you a lot of confidence. We are taking in the best balance at the moment, and when the big guns come in—like when Bhuvneshwar (Kumar) and Bumrah will be available—it will be interesting to see who along with them makes the combination of the team,” Kohli said.

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Beyond the top three, India have thrown their support behind Rishabh Pant, who did not produce any score in this series to warrant a batting spot ahead of Shreyas Iyer, who is more technically sound than the aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman, who is currently dealing with issues of shot selection and execution. While at Mohali Iyer was able to finish the game, he was stumped off a wide delivery here, which further shook India’s position.

As the debate for the right No 4 rages on, the team avoided some embarrassment due to lack of ‘communication’ on Sunday when Iyer and Pant both looked set to walk in after the dismissal of Shikhar Dhawan.

“I think there was a miscommunication,” said Kohli, with a smile. “The batting coach had a word with both, and there was a misunderstanding over who was to go in at what stage of the game. It was a little funny as well; they both wanted to walk in. It would have been very funny had both walked in, with three batsmen in the playing field.

“We had planned it according to phases, so after 10 overs we decided Rishabh would walk in. Before that Shreyas had to walk in … but I think both got confused,” Kohli said.

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