There was a Virat Kohli press conference before the Virat Kohli press conference. Kohli was asked if Rohit sharma should be left out for Ishan Kishan. Kohli, speaking from a seat of power, laughed at him at the mere thought. The reporter did not shout at a counter. Social networks have gone crazy. King Kohli had “bodied” an ignoramus. Fire emojis. Gave him a lesson. Gangsta memes. What “self-control” on the part of the skipper not to attack the gentleman harder.
The joke, however, concerns anyone in 2021 who thinks it’s profanity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, a T20 XI isn’t big enough for Rohit and Kohli. They are both anchors that have had an ordinary record against T20 cricket spin in recent years. If they beat together, the two ends can get stuck. They work for their IPL teams because they’re the only one of those hitters in their XIs. Kohli has AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell to score quick points. The whole range of Rohit is dynamic. Rohit and Kohli are important for an XI to guard against slumps and difficult throws, but two of them are a luxury and a danger if they end up fighting together.
To be fair to them India is not about to be wiped out because of them, but the fact that it is a crime to even question their presence in a T20 XI does tell you about the Indian squad structure and attitude towards T20I.
India has been lucky this year, however. If there ever was a World Cup where their anchor heavy structure could work, it was this one. It was a team built for games where 150 is par. They had the bowlers for the UAE’s slow throws and the hitters for a risk-free build. That’s why they were among the favorites.
Ironically, India found itself in the group of sudden death, on grounds that drastically changed character during the match. These terrains were already widely used during the IPL, but the start of 6pm in October in desert conditions gives the pursuers a huge advantage with a heavy dew setting in after the first rounds. By the time India lost to New Zealand, 13 of the 16 Super 12 games have been won by pursuers. Of the three successful defenses, two came against Namibia and Scotland, and the third against Bangladesh was won by three points by the West Indies.
In a group with three clear contenders battling for two places in the semi-finals, and where these three teams face off at the start, there is no room for error or bad luck. If you lose a game early in the other group, you can hope other teams will help you. Here you would need a major upheaval to get such help.
Bowler from India on approaching batting and missing R Ashwin
Beating first in the T20s is considered a tough task, but when the conditions are such you have to do amazing things to stay in the competition. Even the West Indies – which have a better team structure and understanding of the format than India – were unable to compete, winning one in three matches after losing the draw. Their victory over Bangladesh came in an afternoon game, a possible equalizer that India did not have access to as all of their matches are played in prime time.
Ignoring the role of luck in such a short format will be unfair to teams. Against New Zealand, India tried, within its limits, to do what it could to counter the loss of the toss. They knew 140 weren’t going to be enough, so they were willing to risk 110 by looking for 170. They opened with Kishan to smash the two right-handed hitters that allowed Pakistan to throw two left-handed bowlers ahead. Just as Pakistan had Shaheen Shah Afridi and Imad Wasim, New Zealand had a similar combination of Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner who could tie up right-handed hitters. Also, India wanted quick powerplay runs because they knew how difficult it could be in the intermediate overs.
It didn’t work, but there was a clear attack intent. Kishan and KL Rahul had a bit of bad luck finding the only limit runner on the side of the leg, but Rohit and Kohli played unusual innings to try to balance the disadvantage of the throw. Rohit, who likes to come in before playing big shots, tried to hit a first six. Kohli, who barely attacked the spinners in the middle of the entire UAE portion of the IPL, tapped the sixth ball he faced and continued to seek through the covers as opposed to his usual approach of taking singles without risk.
The two eventually came out trying to hit six, indicating noble intention, but with their struggle it was also evident that they were playing unknown roles, beating in a way they would otherwise only reserve for the worst. scenarios. India’s team structure is not designed for these scenarios. The terrain made things even more difficult.
The biggest partnership of the round was between Hardik pandya and Ravindra Jadeja, but when the coaches picked this team they were hoping for a different kind of partnership between the two. They were hoping that they would regularly split four overs between them, thus sparing each other unfavorable confrontations. This does not happen.
Jadeja has made a remarkable comeback in India’s white ball teams, but she is probably being asked too much in this lineup. In his last 16 games for the Chennai Super Kings, he’s only played 49 overs, as one of six bowling options in their XI. Having these options allows Super Kings to use it when matches are favorable. Due to the mystery surrounding Pandya’s physical form, however, India played Jadeja as a full-fledged fifth pitcher. This leaves them with a fine attack that can make any captain look ordinary on the pitch.
BCCI must investigate why coaches believed Pandya was fit for four wins in every game when they announced the squad, and why the Mumbai Indians weren’t too excited about his form . Did Pandya pass her NCA fitness tests like everyone else does when they come back from injury? Did Pandya’s IPL team tell BCCI if it was a new injury or a relapse?
Not that India had full options for knocking on the door once it found out Pandya wasn’t going bowling, however. The breeders had to choose between hedging their bets with a less than ideal allrounder and betting on Pandya’s main skill, which is to strike death. They went with the latter, which in the circumstances was not unreasonable.
In any case, no selection or structure can guarantee you success against the odds that the teams that beat first in this tournament have faced. You can only hope to be able to compete if you are asked to strike first. That India has not been able to compete is not due to lack of courage, as Kohli said, but a lack of role clarity. The Super Kings and Mumbai Indians T20 empires operate on the basic formula of identifying the right roles for their players and then letting them play that role over and over again, not to mention early failures.
The post-Kohli T20 Indian leadership will have to do the same. They’ll also need to make sure they don’t pick too many hitters who fill similar roles on their IPL teams, leaving them wondering where to hit them. They’ll need to make it rewarding to do well in the middle order, although it may not result in numbers as sexy as the openers produce. They will need to re-evaluate how much their hitters value their wickets. Finding allrounders, extreme rhythm and a left arm swing is all about luck, but they have Jasprit Bumrah and spinners to build on; can they harness the potential of someone like Umran Malik?
All in all, the reality is that India is heading for its first failure in the semi-finals of an ICC event since 2012. But it is not a disaster for Indian cricket. It’s a year in which they’ve done some amazing things in white. While mentioning the lack of an ICC title since 2013, note that winning ICC trophies involves more luck than winning bilateral rounds of four tests away from home. That’s not to say that a restructuring of Indian T20 cricket wasn’t long overdue, but only early tournament exits tend to facilitate such a change.