What can India change to get back to winning ways?
Following India’s dismal start to the five-match T20I series, a few tactical tweaks are likely ahead of the second T20I at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. After losing the toss, the home team set a big total of 211 in 20 overs, led by Ishan Kishan’s 76 off 48 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi. Hardik Pandya hit an unbeaten 12-ball 31 to provide the winning run, but Ruturaj Gaikwad and Shreyas Iyer failed to convert excellent beginnings into significant scores.
Chasing a massive total, India appeared to have the upper hand, with David Miller (64*) the only one who threatened to take the game away from the Proteas until the final five overs. Rassie van der Dussen (75*), who battled in the early part of his innings, made up for it by cutting loose in the finish. The Indian spinners had no answers for the South African duo’s assault, and it was a thrilling conclusion from both hitters.
India had a lot of positives, starting with an excellent powerplay and building on that by going after the spinners in the middle overs. They were able to enhance some of the areas they had been working on in the previous series, but the bowling department looked toothless in the previous game.
Let’s take a look at what India can do to get back to winning ways.
Number 1. Replacing Axar Patel with Ravi Bishnoi
Despite taking Quinton de Kock’s wicket and giving 40 runs in four overs, Axar Patel did not appear to have an effect in the previous game. The left-arm seamer wasn’t needed with the bat, and David Miller took him to the cleaners during his bowling exhibition.
In the dugout, India has Ravi Bishnoi, who was fairly impressive in his first international series against the West Indies and has also been a wicket-taking option in the IPL. With two-leg spinners operating in the middle overs, the captain has the option of stifling the opponent’s run rate while also going for the wickets.
Although Bishnoi’s presence may not provide batting depth, it will be more about having faith in the six hitters and going in with five pure bowlers, with Hardik Pandya as the sixth option. If Harshal Patel has recovered from his niggle, he can play at number seven, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar can bat at number eight if Bishnoi is needed to replace all-rounder Axar.
Number 2. Utilizing Yuzvendra Chahal’s quota better
One of the primary reasons for India’s defeat in the previous game against South Africa was Yuzvendra Chahal’s underutilization. Despite his ability to turn games around with important wickets, the leg spinner bowled only two overs in the opening T20 International. He scored 26 runs in 2.1 overs and had no significant impact on the game.
Chahal concluded the IPL 2022 season as the leading wicket-taker, and he has been in excellent form. He could have been a lot more effective if he finished his quota and got his name in the wickets column more often, even if he goes for runs. When bringing Chahal into the game for the second T20I, skipper Rishabh Pant must be wiser.
The 31-year-old will also seek to capitalize on the circumstances in Cuttack, where the pitch has traditionally been sluggish. He can get those wide loopy deliveries outside the off-stump and enjoys the challenge, especially against right-handers.
Number 3. Introduce Umran Malik into the lineup
Despite not taking any wickets, Avesh Khan’s medium pace appeared the most dangerous among the Indian bowlers, and he almost caught Rassie van der Dussen when the chance was dropped by Shreyas Iyer. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel took wickets but never seemed like they were going to settle in and gave a lot of boundaries.
Umran Malik’s sheer pace will always be devastating, and he has yet to make his international debut. The right-arm fast can consistently hit speeds of more than 150 kmph, and he might replace one of the seamers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Harshal Patel (given his niggle). The 22-year-old could be the X-Factor India needs in their bowling lineup for the second game.
Also, with the T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia, it will be critical for the team to give Malik enough playing time, as he can make a significant difference. He can hit toe-crushing yorkers and had a tremendous IPL season with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, where he worked with the likes of Dale Steyn in the coaching setup.