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World T20 semi: What India need to do against West Indies

Individuals carrying their teams to glory almost single-handedly is rare. Only a very few such as Diego Maradona for Argentina in the 1986 Fifa World Cup and Shahbaz Ahmed for Pakistan in the 1994 hockey World Cup have done that. Kohli is just two knocks away from emulating them. But India better give him some support.

cricket Updated: Mar 31, 2016 10:43 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times
World T20,India,West Indies
Ajinkya Rahane takes a close look at the pitch as skipper MS Dhoni and team director Ravi Shastri observe from a distance at a practice session ahead of the ICC World T20 semifinal match against the West Indies in Mumbai on Wednesday.(PTI)

Dismiss Gayle early, simple as that

The world knows what happens when Chris Gayle gets the shackles off. India must prevent that, one way or the other. Gayle likes the ball coming on to his bat. If he isn’t given that privilege, a shot of frustration could follow. R Ashwin is the best candidate to engineer that frustration. India must also remember that Gayle doesn’t like running between the wickets. If West Indies chase, Gayle will be under pressure to keep up with the run rate and it could lead to a run out.

Got ideas to tame him? Chris Gayle is the single biggest threat to India’s ambition to reach the World T20 final. (PTI)

Press West Indies in the last 5 overs

Irrespective of how Gayle bats, West Indies are not the best accumulators in the last five overs. Remember their loss to Afghanistan, where they averaged 6.6 in the last five overs? India must look to exploit that weakness. Get in Ravindra Jadeja, Ashwin and maybe even Suresh Raina to bowl wider in the death overs. And put most of the fielders on the boundaries. Singles won’t hurt.

R Ashwin (left) and Ravindra Jadeja are best placed to contain West Indies in the death overs. (Hindustan Times/Vipin Kumar)

Exploit the Powerplay

India average 5.66 in the Powerplay overs, lowest of any team in the Super 10. That is also because their openers have played the entire quota of Powerplay just once in four matches. If there is any stage to reform, it must be here, at the semi-finals. Rohit Sharma must pace his innings at his home ground. For a change, the pitch too should suit his style of play but Sharma must not get carried away.

Get in Ajinkya Rahane

Whether in place of Shikhar Dhawan or Yuvraj Singh, India must field Ajinkya Rahane simply because it’s unfair to ask Virat Kohli to bail out the team all the time. Rahane has a cool head and is a very good fielder. But his asset is the ability to judge a situation very well and adapt to it quickly. Good at running between the wickets, Rahane is also proficient in playing all the T20 shots.

Virat Kohli can’t bail out India every time. India need to bring in Ajinkya Rahane, a cool customer of the game, either in place of Yuvraj Singh or Shikhar Dhawan. (AFP FILE)

Promote MS Dhoni

Someone, perhaps team director Ravi Shastri, has to ask MS Dhoni to promote himself up the order, to at least No 5 if not No 4. Dhoni’s mind is like a computer but it doesn’t help India’s cause if he comes in too late when they bat, either while chasing or setting a target. Dhoni is the most accomplished assessor of any situation and perhaps it’s time he demotes good friend Raina to ensure that No 4 position is utilised well.

First Published: Mar 31, 2016 10:38 IST