As we inch closer to the T20 World Cup, the wheels seem to have fallen off slightly for Team India. With a third defeat in four T20 internationals, cracks are beginning to appear in the planning, with rising concerns over India’s death bowling in particular. India just haven’t been able to defend targets lately, first losing to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup Super-4 and then going down to Australia by four wickets in a run-fest. That India failed to defend 208 against Australia with the experience of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the wily-skills of Harshal Patel will increase their worries as the team management allowed the returning Jasprit Bumrah to cool his heals just a little longer.
In fact, during last year’s T20 World Cup, India’s defeats against Pakistan and New Zealand, which virtually knocked them out of the tournament, came batting first. And one year later, the problem has existed. In fact, if India legend Sunil Gavaskar is to be believed, this issue has persisted in Indian cricket for the last few years, and if India are to start winning big tournaments, the issues need to be found and fixed immediately.
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“This is India’s weakness. This isn’t a new problem. It has existed for a few years now that when they are defending, they find it difficult without Bumrah. When he is there, the score can be defended but without him, they give away even 200-plus totals. Having said that, we need to look at the solution for it. Else, going forward, it may hurt them,” Gavaskar said on Sports Tak.
India clearly missed the services of Bumrah, who is coming back after a back injury which led to the pacer missing the Asia Cup. Bumrah seems to be the missing link to India’s death-bowling woes, but the bigger question is where are the list of promising young Indian pacers, whose stock until a year ago, looked rich. Mohammed Siraj is playing county, Prasidh Krishna is injured, while Mohammed Shami is out with Covid and Deepak Chahar has surprisingly not been picked in the current squad. Suddenly, the list has become so short that India had to revert to Umesh Yadav, which is sure to ring alarm bells.
“About his (Bumrah’s) fitness, I feel that since he is such an important member of the team, the management wants him to be entirely fit and only then he be picked in India’s XI. Maybe he plays in Nagpur, or maybe he doesn’t ‘t. But here is the thing. When the Indian team is chasing a target, they win matches. But it’s the opposite the other way around. The bowling that is needed between Overs 16 and 20, they still don’t have it, Gavaskar pointed out.