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Gill susceptibile against pace while Rinku is a different batter vs spin

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Last updated on 13 Dec 2023 | 02:48 AM
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Gill susceptibile against pace while Rinku is a different batter vs spin

With a washout in the first T20I and a win in the second, South Africa have taken an unassailable lead in the three-match series

The Men in Blue endured a tough start to their 2023/24 tour of South Africa. Defending 152 in 15 overs, India lost the second T20I of the three-match series (the first was washed out) by five wickets and seven balls to spare. 

It was a truncated game that spoke a lot about where India stand in the shortest format. The batters fought their way out of trouble with intent. India batted 19.3 overs before rain arrived. Skipper Suryakumar Yadav continued his brilliant T20 form, scoring 56 off 36 deliveries followed up by Rinku Singh’s maiden fifty in the format - 68* from 39 balls. 

However, the visitors were no match with the ball. As in the home series against Australia, the pacers leaked runs upfront. Surya called in the spinners within the powerplay, but with rain around, the conditions subverted the slower bowlers. Indian fielders continuously used the towel on the ball, but the game kept slipping away. 

From the long-eyed vision of the T20 World Cup, the defeat is only a battle lost for the bigger war. But it has a few takeaways for India they need to address carefully. 

Gill out on an incoming delivery, again

Death, taxes and watching Shubman Gill get out to a delivery seaming in. The 24-year-old is pretty compact with his technique. In probably the only glitch, he is highly susceptible to balls seaming back into him. He has scored against these deliveries at a decent average, but the number of dismissals puts him in the firing line. 

Exactly 50% of his dismissals against pace in his four-year-old career can be accounted to balls tailing in - 25 out of 50 times across formats. He has often been found out defending the ball on the front foot, letting it pass through the gap between his bat and pad. Lizaad Williams exploited the same at St. George’s Park, tailing one into Gill off a good length in his first over. The right-hander was out for a second-ball duck. The gap evoked the cliche, “A truck could have passed through that.” 

With multiple such dismissals, it is time for Gill to pull his socks up and plant his front foot down slightly more without going across and still keeping the off side open. There will be more deliveries seaming in from the South African pacers on this tour, and then England next in the five-match Test series in 2024. Who knows, James Anderson would already be licking his lips in Lancashire. He was among the first few bowlers to exploit Gill on this front back in 2021. 

Rinku Singh - different batters vs pace and wrist spin? 

Rinku Singh is batting in God mode. At present, he doesn’t know failure. In seven T20I innings for India, the left-hander averages 82.7 at a strike rate of 183.7. He is meeting the stiff demands of a finisher. In overs 19 and 20, he has 108 runs off 34 deliveries with 10 sixes and nine fours. When Hardik Pandya returns, it will be difficult to overlook Rinku. 

However, like Gill, Rinku also has one glitch. His numbers against wrist spin are fairly low, bringing him only 19 runs off 23 deliveries in his brief international career. It is the only form of bowling against which Rinku’s strike rate drops below 100. In overall T20s in 2023, the southpaw averages only 19.6 against wrist spin while striking at 104.4. 

During his unbeaten 68 on Tuesday (December 12), Rinku hammered pacers at a strike rate of 220. Against spin, meanwhile, he gathered 24 runs off 19 deliveries, 12 of which came with consecutive sixes against Aiden Markram. Facing the left-arm wrist spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi, the 26-year-old scored only six runs from nine deliveries, trying a plethora of reverse sweeps that didn’t connect. 

Walking out to bat in the sixth over, Rinku was pivotal in carrying India to 180. But his game against wrist spinner is an area to work on. 

Arshdeep off the radar

Arshdeep Singh’s first over, the second of South Africa’s run chase, went for 20 runs and set the tone for the run chase. In his second, he was carted for 11 runs, finishing with figures of 2-0-31-0. 

It was the fifth game in a row when Arshdeep has conceded runs at an economy of 10 or more. He has only four wickets this season, averaging 50.5 at an economy of 11.2. In none of the three phases does the economy come under 10. 

His full-length deliveries have been smashed at an economy of 16.6 during this phase. While there was some swing for him to exploit, Arshdeep either bowled too under the bat or too short or too wide, spraying it all over the track. Anything fuller, he has conceded runs at 18 an over. 

Poor starts from Arshdeep have hurt India given that they have used only five bowling options under Suryakumar Yadav’s captaincy. The fact that he hasn’t been able to come back, barring the last over in Bengaluru against India, has kept India on the back foot while chasing the game. 

The left-arm seamer has got an extended run in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami. With limited T20s at hand, the management might not remain too patient with him for too long. Hence, it is critical for Arshdeep to find his radar to keep himself relevant for the T20 World Cup seven months down the line.

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