Having been stunned in the opening T20 of the series against Zimbabwe on Saturday, India will now go into the second match of the three series under pressure, needing a win to stay alive. Not many would have predicted such a situation, especially after India blasted the Zimbabweans 3-0 in the recently concluded one-day series. Having said that, one shouldn’t forget that T20 is a completely different format with varied skills. Also, Zimbabwe had beaten India the last time these two teams met in a T20. So their victory in the opening match shouldn’t be seen as a one-off.
Both India’s bowlers and batsmen were disappointing in the match on Saturday. Perhaps, they were not prepared for Zimbabwe’s onslaught, and were caught off guard. The match provided an opportunity for some of the bowlers untried in the one-dayers to make their presence felt. Unfortunately, they failed and Zimbabwe took full took of the struggling Indian bowling. Jaydev Unadkat and Rishi Dhawan were chosen to open the bowling ahead of Dhawal Kulkarni and Barinder Sran, and both went in excess of 10 runs an over. India found it difficult to recover from that setback.
What would be interesting to see is whether MS Dhoni sticks to the same combination or goes back to the tried and tested pair of opening bowlers. Jasprit Bumrah again was the best bowler in the team with 2 for 24, but he too was found out when the Zimbabweans went for the final flourish. India have been heavily dependent on Yuzvendra Chahal to get them crucial breakthroughs in the series. But, he had an off-day in the first match, and that definitely hurt India. In fact, apart from Axar Patel and Bumrah, no one really made an impact with their bowling.
India’s batsmen will also need to raise their game in comparison to the first match. Lokesh Rahul tasted his first failure of the series, falling first ball. He will be looking to come back strongly in the second game. Manish Pandey batted confidently for his 48. What was most disappointing about India’s performance in the game though was that a number of them got starts, but did not carry on. Mandeep Singh got 31 opening the innings, while Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav fell for 19. Yet again, MS Dhoni failed to take India past the finish line.
As for Zimbabwe, they now have an opportunity to beat India in the T20 series. If they can manage to come up with another impressive effort, they could shock India yet again. Elton Chigumbura came up with a scintillating effort on Saturday, and his whirlwind half-century went a long way in Zimbabwe gaining the upper hand. With the ball, Neville Madziva was too good for India, with even Dhoni failing to come up with the big hits against him. More will be expected of the likes of Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza in the batting department. India will come hard though.
--By A Cricket Analyst