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Gaikwad has arrived, but Arshdeep is threatening to fade away

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Last updated on 28 Nov 2023 | 08:16 PM
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Gaikwad has arrived, but Arshdeep is threatening to fade away

A look at the major talking points from the third T20I between India and Australia in Guwahati

Ruturaj Gaikwad gets his breakthrough knock in international cricket 

Ruturaj Gaikwad entered Tuesday’s clash in Guwahati as an IPL behemoth and a gold-medal-winning captain, but one thing was missing from his CV: a breakthrough knock in international cricket; an innings where he proved that he is indeed him.

India might have slipped to defeat at the Barsapara cricket stadium but Gaikwad got his moment. And, in the long run, that might just prove to be far more valuable than a victory in what is, let’s be honest, a series of little consequence.

On the night, Gaikwad posted the second-highest score by an Indian batter in T20Is, ending up with 123* off 57 balls. While the knock certainly was as explosive as his strike rate of 215.79 suggests, what was extraordinary was his acceleration.

At the halfway point of the innings, the right-hander was batting on 21 off 21 balls and, at one stage, was at the serious risk of digging a deep hole for both himself and his side. Till the 13th over, at the start of which he was 32* off 26 balls, Gaikwad was batting in second gear. 

But in one of the most stupendous accelerations of all time, the 26-year-old amassed 90 runs off his last 30 balls. The last 13 balls he faced yielded 52 runs, with him going 6 6 4 0 6 2 1 6 4 1 6 6 4.

Batting in T20 cricket is all about picking the right bowlers to target and maximizing the damage in those overs and on Tuesday, Gaikwad tore into greenhorns Tanveer Sangha and Aaron Hardie, while smashing the off-spin off Glenn Maxwell to smithereens. 

The 26-year-old faced 33 balls against the aforementioned bowlers and scored a mind-boggling 99 runs (80% of his total runs) off the said deliveries. An injury to Kane Richardson meant that Maxwell had to bowl the final over and Gaikwad ripped the off-spinner into shreds, taking 30 runs off the ill-fated final over.

To Gaikwad’s dismay, the onslaught wasn’t enough to take India over the line but the century that’s long-eluded him in international cricket is here, and this could just end up opening the floodgates. 

It’s taken a while, but Ruturaj Gaikwad has finally arrived at the international level.

What’s happened to Arshdeep Singh’s death bowling?

A year and a half ago, Arshdeep Singh broke into the national side and waltzed his way into the first XI due to his astonishing ability to choke batters at the death by nailing the yorkers. 

He finished IPL 2022 with an economy rate of 7.9 in the 16-20 phase and seamlessly replicated the same at the international level, maintaining an E.R of 7.2 at the death across his first 9 matches.

18 months on, that particular version of Arshdeep is a distant memory. For, the left-armer has now turned into a run-machine at the death and is no longer the captain’s go-to bowler for the crunch overs.

This year, Arshdeep has sent down 25.4 overs in the 16-20 phase in T20Is and has conceded runs at an eye-watering economy of 11.1. Quite unbelievably, in the 16 games in which he’s bowled at the death, he’s leaked runs at an E.R over 11.0 in nine of them (56.25% of the time). 

Tonight in Guwahati, the left-armer was tasked with bowling the 17th over, with the equation tilted in his favour (Australia needed 65 off 4) but he leaked 16 runs off it to let the Kangaroos back into the contest. He delivered juicy half-volleys in the first two balls he bowled and Maxwell, who was in the zone, took full toll. 

What’s obvious to see is that Arshdeep is no longer able to bowl or execute yorkers seamlessly. Either that, or he’s changed up his tactics and has shifted away from trying to hit the blockhole. Whatever the reason might be, his numbers have suffered as a result.

In the 157 balls Arshdeep bowled at the death in T20Is in 2022, 34 were yorkers. That’s nearly 22% of the deliveries. This year, this figure has dropped to 11.03% (17/154). 

The bigger concern is the amount of ‘slot’ deliveries he’s bowling at the death. 

The left-armer has bowled nearly twice as many ‘slot’ deliveries this year at the death compared to 2022, despite bowling fewer balls in the 16-20 phase overall, in the calendar year. 

As we can see from the pitch map above, this year, it’s in the ‘slot’ region that he’s bowled the most. On Tuesday, both the deliveries in the 17th over that Maxwell dispatched for six were right in the hitting zone. 

To his credit, Arshdeep has continued being a solid bowler with the new ball — 9 wickets @ E.R 7.2 so far this year — but, as it stands, his underperformance at the death is unfortunately outweighing the impact he’s creating up-front.

The next two matches of this series might not mean a lot in the grand scheme of things, but Arshdeep has all to play for. His spot in the XI might just be on the line. 

Jason Behrendorff is bowling his way into Australia’s T20WC squad

Until 2 months ago, Jason Behrendorff had not played a single T20I in over 2 years.

Fast forward to November, he is now arguably a front-runner to make Australia’s T20 WC squad.

Registering figures of 4-1-12-1 in any T20 match is outrageous enough, but on Tuesday, Behrendorff returned these figures in a game in which a total of 447 runs were scored (!!). 

In the powerplay in the third T20I, there was a 16-ball stretch in which the left-armer bowled 14 dots; he came agonizingly close to bowling not one, not two, but three maidens in a row. 

That wasn’t to be, but the 33-year-old’s spell eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides. It was a spell so good that it enabled Australia to win despite the Kangaroos conceding 67 off the last 3 overs.

So far in this series, Behrendorff has been in a league of his own when it comes to seam bowling. 

In a series in which no pacer that’s sent down 4+ overs has managed to maintain an economy under 9.0, the Western Australian has gone at 4.6 RPO while averaging 18.5. He’s managed to keep every Indian batter, including Suryakumar Yadav and Yashasvi Jasiwal, quiet.

After finding his way back into the Australian T20I set-up on the back of a sensational BBL 2022/23 — where he took 21 wickets @ an E.R of 6.69 — Behrendorff is starting to make a serious claim to be a part of the Aussies’ T20WC squad in the Caribbean and United States.

If he can stay injury-free, maintain this consistency and have a solid BBL season, he will almost certainly seal his spot in the fifteen despite the presence of Mitchell Starc.

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