Kohli’s entertaining but short-lived storm
Virat Kohli batted like a storm that came out of nowhere in the second T20I, did some legitimate destruction, and disappeared away as quickly as it came. And all you could do after its passing was sit and reminisce about the sheer energy that everyone experienced.
Kohli isn’t the quickest starter against spin. Everyone knows that. Maybe for that reason, Ibrahim Zadran brought Mujeeb Ur Rahman to the bowling crease as soon as Kohli arrived to bat. But what happened wasn’t what Zadran would have expected.
Kohli hit 11 runs in the first over of Mujeeb, including two sumptuous fours on both sides of the wicket. This newfound intent was further affirmed when Kohli almost slogged the second four, and we all know that slogs aren’t his forte. In the next over, Kohli lofted Naveen ul Haq straight over his head with a straight bat. The way he batted, it felt like he wouldn’t get out only today.
But he did get out! He might have scored only 29, but his intent, combined with Rohit’s lack of form, can bolster the probability of the Indian team management trying him as an opener along with Jaiswal. Since 2022, Rohit Sharma has crossed the power play only five times out of 17. Hence, the stats are also backing the chances of Kohli opening the innings in T20s.
Regardless, if there’s one thing that this small cameo ensured with certainty is that no one will question the place of Virat Kohli in India’s T20I setup.
Is Ibrahim Zadran proving a burden for Afghanistan?
Since 2022, Ibrahim Zadran has the lowest strike rate (105.3) for a batter from a top 10 team who has played 500 balls or more.
The misery of these statistics should sum up why Zadran shouldn’t be opening for Afghanistan’s T20I side. Not only is he opening the innings, but he is also the side's skipper in Rashid Khan’s absence.
Zadran, in this period, boasts an average of 50 against spinners (with a strike rate of 102.88). But today, he was easily flummoxed by Axar Patel’s change of pace and couldn’t manage to cover the ball's turn. Even though the turn wasn’t much, Zadran’s bat was nowhere near it, and his stumps were shattered.
With Afghanistan’s batting lineup not boasting a lot of power hitters except Gurbaz, Gulbadin and Nabi (who comes down the order), the team needs Zadran to bring a new gear to his batting. Otherwise, Afghanistan might really find it hard to score above-par scores in the upcoming T20 World Cup, where the pitches won’t be the best to bat in the world.
Indian pacers need to step up
Post the 2022 T20 WC, among the Indian pacers who have bowled five plus overs, only Bhuvneshwar Kumar (5.3) and Mohammed Siraj (5.7) have conceded less than 7.5 runs/over in the first six overs.
In this period, Prasidh Krishna and Mukesh Kumar are leaking more than nine runs/over. One doesn’t need to see further stats to deduce that India’s second line of pacers hasn’t been able to create an impact with their performances.
Even today, Mukesh Kumar and Arshdeep Singh gave away 20 runs in the first two overs. Thankfully, Rohit bowled Mukesh for just one more over in the powerplay, but even there, he leaked ten runs.
This lack of wickets at the top of the order has created immense pressure on the spinners to follow, as the likes of Ravi Bishnoi and Axar Patel would have to bowl in the powerplay, contain runs, and pick up the wickets. It’s leaving too much on their plate.
Jasprit Bumrah won’t always be there to serve India. The second line of attack for India needs to be as strong as the first. Otherwise, what’s even the point of all that resource depth?
Bishnoi needs his sink repaired. It’s leaking!
Ravi Bishnoi has picked up a wicket in his first over 14 out of 35 times. That’s as much as 40% of his total wickets. Now, that tells you that he is a strike bowler.
Even today, when he came to bowl in the third over, India had leaked 20 in the first two overs. Gurbaz had hit 14 out of those 20 runs. And what does Bishnoi do when he sees him? He bowls a flighted one full and wide of off, and Gurbaz ends up mistiming the hit, which didn’t gain the required elevation, and he was caught at mid on.
It was a courageous wicket. But courage, which isn’t followed by discipline, is just recklessness. After that was over, Bishnoi bowled a half-tracker, followed it with two full deliveries, and gave away 14 runs in just three deliveries. He later came for his third over in the 15th of the innings and got Mohd. Nabi caught at mid-on. But in his fourth over, he gave away 17 courtesy of two sixes of fuller deliveries and a four on a wide one.
Even in the last T20I, he gave 35 runs in his four overs. Bishnoi is a mercurial bowler, and his upsides are truly impactful for India. However, it’s his leaking sink that he needs to look after.
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