India will have to rectify a few flaws in order to challenge New Zealand in the second T20I here on Sunday.
The Indian pacers failed to adjust to a spin-friendly track at Ranchi in the first T20I on Friday, leading to a 21-run win for the Kiwis.
The very first ball delivered by off-spinner Washington Sundar, brought into the attack in the third over, should have provided a big clue. From a good length, Sundar got the ball to grip the surface and turn in sharply, catching a surprised Finn Allen on the thigh. It should have been clear that the pitch offered spongy bounce, but this tell was ignored by speedsters Hardik Pandya, Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik.
Instead of sticking to cutters and slower balls, the trio bowled full and wide at full tilt. The New Zealand batters were happy to sit back and swing for the fences. Arshdeep, in particular, will look to get the yorkers right, having conceded 27 runs in a wayward final over.
The all-round performance of Washington came as a silver lining. The Tamil Nadu cricketer kept a hard length with his flat trajectory, tying up the batters in knots. He excelled with the bat as well, striking a few clean hits in a 28-ball 50. Washington may have got his chance only because Ravindra Jadeja is out injured and Axar Patel is on a personal break, but he is certainly making it count.
From starting his career primarily as a top-order batter, Washington has evolved into a frontline spinner who can also operate as a lower middle-order finisher. “Growing up, I always used to bat up the order - open or bat at number three - but this shift happened ever since I started to play a lot of T20 practice. If you practice any skillset really hard, you will eventually get it,” Washington said in the post-match press conference at Ranchi.
In T20Is, the Indian batting relies heavily on Suryakumar Yadav. This was evidenced in the first outing, when the home team’s chase was derailed when Suryakumar departed for 47. The likes of Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan and Rahul Tripathi - all dismissed for single-digit scores - will have to do their part and share the burden with Suryakumar.
India: Hardik Pandya (Captain), Suryakumar Yadav (vice-captain), Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Jitesh Sharma, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, Prithvi Shaw, and Mukesh Kumar.
New Zealand: Mitchell Santner (Captain), Finn Allen, Michael Bracewell, Mark Chapman, Dane Cleaver, Devon Conway, Jacob Duffy, Lockie Ferguson, Ben Lister, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Michael Rippon, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, and Blair Tickner.
(Match starts at 7 p.m.)