World T20: This is India’s best chance to beat the Aussies
For me, the best part of Holi is not the colours but hitting my ‘targets’ with those water balloons. It is so much fun although I exercise caution not to hit anyone driving or kids. So, my usual soft targets are neighbours, neighbourhood friends and acquaintances, my cousins and even my father’s office staff. Here, my hit percentage is quite high. And when I am feeling like a gallant warrior, I even target my wife and in-laws. Well, here my hit percentage is quite low.
Cricketers may present a titanium exterior and play brilliant and memorable innings in the final of tournaments like World Cup but sometimes the pressure to hit bulls eye can be enormous.
And I can feel what my former team-mates would be thinking as they go into today’s game against Australia, which is a lot more challenging than targeting your in-laws with water balloons! A slip here would mean the end of the tournament. Being a land that gave the world IPL, it will be disheartening trying to justify why our last World T20 title goes back to 2007.
India and Australia haven’t produced their top game so far. There have been sporadic, individual shows from both sides but not any professional all-round performance to announce their presence in the tournament and warm the hearts of their followers.
This is where India should feel confident. If ever there was a time to grab the Aussies in a marquee tournament, it is now. While Usman Khawaja is batting like a dream, pushing David Warner to the middle-order advertises lack of sound thinking. Why will you prevent one of the most destructive batsmen from using the field restrictions? In bowling, they are decent but not threatening.
Going by what I saw in Nagpur and Kolkata, we could be in for another turner. Therefore, R Ashwin and his fellow spinners become crucial. So, somewhere a micro-battle is brewing between Indian spinners and Aussie batsmen. I am not a great believer in statistics. But this one has got me thinking.
In the league games so far, Asian spinners have averaged nearly 29 runs per wicket compared to 10.48 by non-Asians. Even the economy rate of the ‘home growns’ is higher — 7.43 to 5.57. One part of me says may be the likes of New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner or Aussie Adam Zampa are a mystery to the world compared to the Jadejas and Afridis. Asian seamers too are averaging 41.58 to non-Asians’ 25.92.
With West Indies and New Zealand already in the semis and England finally waking up to life beyond Tests, are we looking at an all non-Asian line-up? If this happens it will be a bit like Mr Bachchan’s epic Holi song from the film Silsila, “Bela chameli ka saej sajaya....sovey gori ka yaar.....balam tarsey.....rang barse”. The context here is India’s pre-mature exit from the tournament will be a bit like a party sans the hosts.
By the way, “Rang Barse” is my favourite Holi song and “Balam Pichkaari” from “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani” a distant second. Happy belated Holi to all of you.
Hawkeye Communications/Dinesh Chopra media
The writer is a former India opener.