IND vs WI: India surmounts bat-first barrier, fielding a worry

Both India and West Indies will have plenty to be encouraged about from their performances in the T20 series.

The biggest gain for India was the manner in which it shed its confusing approach while batting first in the decider at Wankhede Stadium.   -  Vivek Bendre

India may have run away with the series by raising its standard when it mattered the most but the manner in which the T20I series versus West Indies panned out over the last week, both the camps will have plenty of positives to take from three games.

Despite losing the series, West Indies would be a happy bunch going into the ODI series which starts at Chepauk on Sunday. Captain Kieron Pollard admitted that some of the individuals — especially the likes of Kesrick Williams, Hayden Walsh, Shimron Hetmeyer, Lendl Simmons, besides himself — have ensured that the Windies build-up for the T20 World Cup in Australia next October is on the right track.

Mixed bag

India, on the other hand, should treat the series win as yet another mixed bag. The biggest gain was the manner in which India shed its confusing approach while batting first in the decider at Wankhede Stadium. All through 2019, as captain Virat Kohli described it, India has been “too tight and hesitant” while batting first. It resulted in the batting unit falling short of par score — as was the case in the second match in Thiruvananthapuram.

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It was incredible to witness the manner in which Rohit Sharma, K. L. Rahul and Kohli unleashed themselves from the word go. They may not get such batting-friendly conditions over the next year, but if the troika can sustain the confidence it earned from the blitzkrieg, it would definitely augur well for India going into the global extravaganza.

It was heartening to see Rahul coming good and make the most of his opportunity to open the innings in the absence of an injured Shikhar Dhawan. His performances will give the selectors a headache when they sit down to finalise the combination for the forthcoming contests.

Dube delivers

While Rishabh Pant’s inability to transcend ability into success will continue to be a concern for now, the Indian camp must have been delighted to see Shivam Dube deliver under pressure. The all-rounder — being tried out as a back-up option for the injured Hardik Pandya — scored a classy fifty in Thiruvananthapuram after being promoted to No. 3. Dube, though, has to work harder on his bowling.

Fielding, especially catching, emerged as the biggest concern for the Indian team. Photo: AP

 

The bowling unit, meanwhile, continues to be far from stable. With Jasprit Bumrah continuing to be sidelined due to a stress fracture in the lower back, the selectors and the team management have been trying out multiple options. Deepak Chahar has been impressive, not just with the new ball but even at the death as he showed in the series. It was heartening to see a fully fit Bhuvneshwar Kumar back in the blues but he was obviously rusty. It would be unfair to judge Mohammed Shami based on one outing.

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Even in the spin department, India tried out all the four options at its disposal. But it seems the team management is still trying out options before settling on what would potentially be a winning combination in Australia next October.

Fielding a concern

Fielding, especially catching, emerged as the biggest concern for the team as Indian fielders dropped almost a dozen catches in three matches. The butter-finger syndrome trickled down to ground fielding as well, with even the likes of Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja misfielding.