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India has to work out the short ball
by Ian Pont
Jun 15, 2009
Ian Pont

One of the most disappointing things about the T20 World Cup is India's exit from it. And not just because they are defending champions. What makes their demise at the hands of the 'winner takes all' head to head with England so surprising, is they fell victim to the tactic of short pitched bowling from opposition bowlers yet again.

West Indies employed this aggressive theory against the top order in the previous match and pulled off a surprise victory. But the England win against India was more surprising in many ways - not the least of which was that the same tactics were obviously going to be employed. This short pitched, 'at the batsman' attack is almost unheard of in T20 cricket where those deliveries get regularly smacked into the crowd by the vast majority of top order players, even those from associate countries.

For India to have lost by 3 runs must be galling. Jadeja, widely heralded as a batting find in the IPL, was a liability to be frank. His poor innings didn't help. For an international batsman not to be able to score at least at a run-a-ball is dire. And his inability to rotate the stroke when it was needed was a factor in the Indian defeat. Yet the one man capable of winning the match on his own, Yuvraj Singh, watched from the dug out as his team dug themselves into a deeper hole. By the time he got in, it was 'get on with it or get out.' A case of too little, too late.

The wider problem here for India is that the lessons from the excellent IPL need to be learned fast. They have the best domestic T20 competition in the world but need to be flexible on who they bring in to bat at the top of the order perhaps. Sehwag is clearly missed and makes a big difference to the team. But a big hitting batter who can pull, cut and hook, would be useful. Jadeja had done well in the IPL so his selection in the middle order was warranted. However, adapting quickly to different deliveries is on the world's stage is a more sought after skill particularly where bowlers seem to learn faster than batsmen.

In this T20 World Cup, we've seen upper cuts, hits over the wicket keepers head, inside out drives, flamingo shots, switch hits and a variety of amazingly creative batting. Batsman have premeditated, moved about the crease and even swept the fast bowlers. Just now and again though, the ability to play short balls properly and keep the singles going would serve India well. In the same way both Pakistan and England have learned from mistakes, India mustn't be complacent. Others see a perceived weakness and go for it. India's weakness right now is short, fast bowling and the lack of a fresh plan if things go wrong. Add to this questions over Ishant Sharma as a leading T20 bowler who can stem the flow of runs or take wickets and India has an achilles heel or two.

For me the T20 is a worse off competition without India in it. But I'm sure they will learn and come roaring back. As with any wounded predator, the rest of the world better watch out.
 
More Views by Ian Pont
  Dale Steyn could develop into the most effective fast bowler of all time - Ian Pont
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