All-rounder Washington Sundar, India’s lone spark in defeat to New Zealand at Ranchi, backs teammates Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik ahead of second T20I at Lucknow
India’s Washington Sundar wears a dejected look during the first T20I against New Zealand at the JSCA Stadium in Ranchi on Friday. Pic/PTI
It is obvious that the Test Championship final in England in June and the ICC (50 overs) World Cup to be held in India later this year have taken priority for the Indian team and thus the T20Is have taken a backseat. This has given the selectors and team management an opportunity to try out emerging players under a young captain Hardik Pandya in the ongoing series against New Zealand.
With plenty of young, inexperienced players in the XI there are bound to be setbacks, like the Indian team suffered in the 1st T20I in Ranchi on Friday. No doubt, the team had their moments, but due to inexperience, the young players fumbled in their lines and allowed New Zealand to walk away with the match despite a fighting knock by Washington Sunder.
Death bowling, a concern
There are a few things that the team management will need to sort out when the Men in Blue take on the Kiwis in the 2nd T20I here at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium today. The areas of concern are death bowling and batting upfront. The bowlers, especially Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik leaked runs which helped the Black Caps to put up a strong total and while chasing, the Indian top three could not fire, which left the later batsmen too much to do.
There are not too many options on the bench for head coach Rahul Dravid and Pandya to play with. At the most, they can think of bringing in pace bowler Mukesh Kumar for Malik and Prithvi Shaw for batter Rahul Tripathi. But the bottom line is that the young team have to raise their game in order to keep the series alive till the last game in Ahmedabad on February 1.
Also Read: It was just one-off game: Washington Sundar on loss to NZ in T20I opener
Enough firepower in the XI
There is no doubt that the inexperienced Indian team, without top draws Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, have enough gumption to fight it out like Sundar showed with his superb knock. He was confident of the team emerging stronger by learning from their mistakes. “The team management is very calm and patient, keen as long as we are learning from all the mistakes. That’s an amazing quality. Going forward, we will be a very, very strong side,” he said after India lost at Ranchi.
Defending the poor performance of some players, he said: “It’s a game where anything can happen. We will have to be patient. At the end of the day, it’s a sport where both teams cannot win and all 22 players cannot perform. All of them have done well to get to this stage.”
On Arshdeep Singh’s performance, he said: ”Arsh has taken so many wickets—for India and in the IPL. We are also human beings. When the competition is very high, and the opposition is of the highest quality, such things can happen,” Washington said in support of his teammate.
‘Malik’s an X-factor’
He also went on to defend young paceman Malik. “The way he [Malik] bowled against Sri Lanka and New Zealand [in ODIs] that’s why we all know he’s here... He’s an X-factor, someone who bowls above 150 [kmph] consistently and that’s a rare quality.” It needs to be seen if Dravid and Pandya will ring in a couple of changes or give the players who misfired another chance to prove their mettle.