History can comfort us, and at the same the adage goes this way, history repeats. Today, history repeated as New Zealand maintained their 100% record over India in T20’s, the tally moving to five. On the other hand, the defeat is not a setback, as India have come back from such defeats to win the World Cup – it happened in 2007 T20 World Cup against New Zealand and yet again in 2011 World Cup when Team India lost to South Africa.
Indian batsmen struggled at home against the spin trio. It is not completely a surprise, as the new generation of batsmen are well equipped to tackle fast bowling better than quality spin bowling. Having said that, this Indian line-up is still our best bet to win the tournament – and after today’s match, it is evident, they have to be smarter when tackling the chases than worry about techniques.
A total of 127 is moderate by T20 standards. A little over run a ball is comfortable as long as one plays sensibly. Indian batsmen didn’t and 79 as their final score is a testimony to this fact. T20 is a freak show and at times, such losses are part of the game.
I watched the fall of wickets, and it is fair to point fingers squarely at the batsmen. The opening pair were in a hurry and barely India had scored 40, half the side were back in the pavilion. It had a hint of overconfidence in the initial overs followed by slow death midway through the innings and the captain cool had no support.
This brings us to the question, how would India tackle if they encounter an attack of similar quality? The top order is the key as 15 of the last 16 half-centuries posted by India happen to be from the first three batsmen. Their consistency was also the reason the lower order of India being not tested. And when wickets fell quickly, like in Pune against Sri Lanka and in Nagpur, the batting looked out of sorts.
All the teams would have taken notice of India’s performance and would try to field in their best bowlers to get the top batsmen out. India started the tournament as favourites, a defeat in the first match isn’t bad as it exposed their shortcomings on the mindset and the shot selection.
Moving forward, India is placed in a strong group and still to face Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia. India has to defeat all these teams to be in the top two of the group, in order to advance to the semi-finals.
Each match is a knockout and unless India bring in their A-game, it would be disappointing than surprise if they are not in the top four that play the semi-finals.
History has shown in the recent past, India has bounced back from such defeats. However, they have to play in the moment and not rely on history if they are serious about overcoming the three teams in the group stage.