From KL Rahul at the top to their late game issues with the ball. India has holes to fill in its game.
Despite being a winning juggernaut on either side of a blip at the 2022 Asian Cup, India carried a wave of gloom about them from away until the T20 World Cup in Australia. While India’s bowling attack looked shallow in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, hardly anyone gave them a chance to reclaim the coveted crown.
Two games later, however, they top the Group 2 points standings for the Super 12 round, beating Pakistan in a thriller at the MCG before crushing the Netherlands at the SCG. They are now two wins away from securing a place in the semi-finals in this group, with a game looming against South Africa, but also against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
The victory over Pakistan made it easier for India to make the knockouts significantly. But that doesn’t mean it’s all for them right now, with multiple issues under the scanner threatening to plague the team when they do eventually play that semi-final.
Fearing that they will hold their trumps at the end of the competition, India will have to iron out those flaws in the next three group stage fixtures. Here are four of their lingering worries despite sitting at the top of the leaderboard with back-to-back wins under the bag.
India’s worries at the T20 World Cup
The persistent failures of KL Rahul
Although he is a good pace and rebound player, KL Rahul looked extremely nervous and anxious about the new ball in India’s first two matches. The right-hander was sent off for 4 of 8 against Pakistan and was out for 9 of 12 against the Netherlands.
The problem for Rahul is not so much the movement to the top as the self-imposed chains as he continues to allow the bowler to dictate his terms. That must change with positive intent against South Africa in Perth, perhaps India’s toughest clash of the tournament.
Rohit Sharma’s questionable transition into a top-notch aggressor
It’s admirable for skipper Rohit Sharma to be the standard bearer for the aggressive approach that coach Rahul Dravid has instilled in the Indian system since his arrival last year. But it’s obvious to those watching closely that the approach isn’t quite right for the player entering his late thirties.
Rohit did his best to prepare for the role, rising to SR from 143.18 in the Dravid era. But his average for those 28 games is 29.07. The fear with him is that Rohit is at a stage in his career where he no longer has that extra split second in his sleeves to deal with fast bowling with the new ball, especially when he has to risk his arms early.
Why, despite an obvious effort to hit big from the start, it took him a while to break free against the Netherlands. It was a half-century marked by what Rohit couldn’t do, not by what he did. That is, without risk of being mistaken, India’s biggest worry heading into the second half of their campaign in Australia.
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Axar Patel at No. 6? More no than yes
The presence of Axar Patel at No. 6, playing a crucial role with the bat as the team’s first all-rounder, does not inspire much confidence in Australian conditions where the steep rebound leaves Ravindra Jadeja injured. , a huge failure in this role.
With Jadeja, India could lengthen their stick sending it to No 4 or 5 as a tactical hold. But Axar’s powerful play doesn’t quite give them that luxury.
In the game against Pakistan, Dravid sent Axar down to No.5 to take on their two spinners who turn the ball left-handed. A run-out rained on this plan, before the brilliance of Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav ensured that he did not have to fight against the Netherlands.
Axar needs a shot under his belt fast. If possible, against the South Africans. The last thing India would want is for the southpaw to have to go into a critical knockout feeling low on confidence, with hardly any substantial knocks under his belt.
The Misfortunes of Death Bowling
With Bumrah absent and Harshal Patel not inspiring much confidence on the real surfaces Down Under, the pressure of death bowling rests on the shoulder of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Mohammad Shami.
The trio haven’t really been tested against set hitters in the late game yet, which is a problem ahead of the South African game.
Arshdeep seems to rely on his yorker a bit too much and can be one-dimensional at times. He’s been dispatched by tailenders Shaheen Afridi and Paul Van Meekeran in their respective tournament finals so far, ruining their numbers after encouraging starts with the new ball.
Bhuvneshwar has the smarts and range, but since his yorker accuracy has waned, he can be predictable with hitters hanging to measure his slower balls and line him up on flat hitting surfaces.