Indian batsmen: Bamboozled by spin in T20s?

So far the Indian batsmen have fallen to spinners 99 times, with the orthodox spinners taking 72 wickets and wrist spinners taking 27.

Virat Kohli tried to steer the Indian innings out of trouble but the Kiwi spinners had the final say.   -  Reuters

If numbers are an index to a team’s performance and hence a tool to hazard a prediction, India’s eight losses against seven wins in 15 home matches, before the match against New Zealand, should not have a surprised any, even the team's dearest fan.

Tuesday’s 47-run drubbing on a palpable turning track went further to trust the number-rationale even as New Zealand made it 5-0 against the host, starting from the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007. Conversely, India has a splendid 35 win–17 loss record in the 53 matches it has played overseas. One match was abandoned.

The latest debacle raises the question of the Indian batsmen’s proficiency against the turning ball and also playing according to the demands of the situation. Off-spinner Nathan McCullum (57 wickets at 22.32), left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner (11 at 10.27) and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (nine at 16.00) have stacked up after the big match against India.

Even with no great experience, the scholarly-looking Santner conjured up magic for a career-best four for 11 to be declared the man-of-the match. He was not collared in matches played at Old Trafford, Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington while playing against England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

It can be construed that the curator here may have been a little friendly with the home team, not for the first time though. He had done his job when India beat South Africa here last November in three days. Did India underestimate the skills of the New Zealand spinners? The fact remains that a poor ‘dry wicket’ tactic backfired as the bamboozled Indians were jolted and jettisoned from the middle with 15 balls to spare.

If the regimented wicket-to-wicket line of attack from McCullum coaxed Shikhar Dhawan to employ a fatal sweep in the first over, the circumstances should have advised Rohit Sharma not to come down the pitch and eliminate one mode of dismissal. Before this match, he had been out stumped two times in 56 matches. Dhoni’s 30 off 30 balls said a lot about his ability to adjust and Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin tried to work out a plan. But the New Zealand spinners had the final say.

So far Indian batsmen have fallen to orthodox spinners 72 times and to wrist spinners 27 times. So there is a bright chance of the 100 mark being recorded against Pakistan at Kolkata on March 19.

In India, India and Pakistan have played twice (both in 2012) — Bengaluru (Pakistan won by 5 wkts.) and Ahmedabad (India won by 11 runs) and the host has beaten Australia twice (Brabourne Stadium in 2007 and Rajkot in 2013). India and Bangladesh have not played a match in India.