Pune: Three pace bowlers with the experience of four international T20 games between them. A lively pitch with some grass, and good pace and bounce. Still it shouldn’t have been the most difficult game for the star-studded Indian batting line-up. But as it turned out, it was an absolute disaster with MS Dhoni’s boys being bowled out for 101 in less than 19 overs.
It was a combination of a difficult pitch, some excellent pace bowling and some over-ambitious batting. No doubt the likes of Kasun Rajitha, Dasun Shanaka and Dushmantha Chameera bowled quick, got the ball to seam off the track, and used the shot ball to great effect. The visitors were consistently clocking above 140 kmph mark, which was impressive, and credit should be given to them for that.
Sri Lanka’s debutant pace bowler Kasun Rajitha celebrates the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane as Shikhar Dhawan looks on in Pune yesterday. Pic/PTI
Faltering at home
But what was disappointing was the home team’s lack of respect for the conditions. Rohit Sharma’s dismissal, off the second ball of the innings, was a perfect example of that. The Mumbai lad, who didn’t put a foot wrong in Australia, played a typical lazy drive that neither had any elevation, nor any timing. The fact that the mid-off fielder dived to his right to catch it at waist height was proof of that.
Shikhar Dhawan’s cross-batted slog was even more disappointing, as the left-hander had faced 13 balls, and knew the conditions were tough. Yuvraj Singh being terribly late in an attempted pull further showed that Dhoni’s men didn’t have a plan ‘B’ in place.
It’s fine to say it wasn’t the most ideal T20 wicket, not by the sub-continental standards anyway. But India’s inability to adapt to the conditions is equally to be blamed. A score in the range of 130 was definitely possible, as R Ashwin showed later with some very sensible batting. Ashwin didn’t try any wild slogs, didn’t try to pull length balls, and managed to score more than 30 per cent of the team’s runs. If only he had found one able partner at the other end, India could have given their bowlers at least some total to defend.