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Batting has been India’s mainstay across formats. Ahead of the ICC World T20 opener against Pakistan, Gaurav Joshi calls for innovative approach from batsmen at the top.
Ever since India’s triumph at the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in England, the Indian bowling has had a same predictable pattern, conceding over six runs an over regardless of the opposition or the conditions. Now it seems the batting innings generally developing a trend as well.
It generally involves a conservative start from Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma that is followed up with a sparkling innings of red hot Virat Kolhi and then MS Dhoni adding the finishing touches with a cameo that only captain can play.
The strategy has proved successful on many instances but its foundations are largely focused on the ability of Kohli to add the impetus to an innings and to bat for a substantial period of time. While Kohli continues with his purple patch, it works as a treat but on the rare occasions Kohli he has failed, it has meant the link players between Dhoni and Kohli have to burden dual responsibilities. One aspect is occupying the crease and the other is accelerating the innings at an alarming rate.
While the likes of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh are likely to play one of these remarkable innings that can fill the void left from an early dismissal of Kholi, it is also means Indian is putting all eggs in one basket. It is a gamble in theory, it worked to an extent in the second warm-up match with Raina cameo but he was once again supported by the clinical Kholi.
To be successful in the upcoming T20 World Cup, India needs to change his tactics ever so slightly. The most feasible option is for Dhawan and Rohit to more aggressively at the top. If the pair can provide more thrust at the start of the innings, it will ease the pressure of the middle order in case Kohli fails. The openers so far have been content in providing solid starts than give a flying start.
From indications in the Asia cup, it seems Rohit was given dedicated instructions to get off to a flyer against Pakistan and he obliged with a run a ball fifty. Heading into the T20 World Cup, Rohit needs to take the attack to the bowlers, hit through the line and not just wait for the back of length ball to be pulled through the on-side. Dhawan on the other end while attacking needs to be slightly more expansive and innovative.
Since the pair’s success at the Champions Trophy, the opposition bowlers had worked out plans on how to negate both players. The start of the T20 World Cup in an opportunity to change their styles ever so slightly to provide the early thrust that India desperately need if they are to be a force in this World Cup.
(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)
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