sunil gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar has pointed out a deficiency in Indian batsmen which was evident during the first T20I against West Indies at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. Right-arm pacer Oshane Thomas, making his T20I debut, tested the India batsmen regularly with short deliveries.

Thomas got rid of both India openers cheaply in a fiery spell where he continuously clocked in the late 140s (kph).

“The Indian batsmen’s discomfort when facing short balls at pace was seen as they, like most batsmen in the world, have forgotten the backfoot play ever since the bouncers have been restricted to one per over and helmets have come into play,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for The Times of India. “Still, since a bowler can only bowl four overs in a T20 game and the Windies didn’t have another quickie to support Thomas, the lower order batsmen were able to take India home.”

Praising the promise shown by the 21-year-old Thomas, Gavaskar said his spell was a throwback to the era when West Indies boasted of some of the fearsome fast bowlers in the world. “Oshane Thomas brought back memories of the great fast bowling attack of the Windies with his pace and bounce to trouble the Indian batsmen and Carlos Brathwaite, the Windies skipper, made good use of his height and bowled just the length which forced the Indian batsmen to be on the back foot,” Gavaskar observed.

He continued, “Thomas can be the fast bowler Windies is looking for to let it rip. Shannon Gabriel also has pace but seems a reluctant fast bowler being loathe to use the short ball even in his first spell, but not Thomas, who was happy to give the Indians some chin music and get them to smell the leather.”

West Indies started the defense of a low total admirably, reducing their hosts to 45/4 inside eight overs. However, Dinesh Karthik (31* off 24) and debutant Krunal Pandya (21* off 9) held nerves to see through the chase of 110 with five wickets remaining.

“Dinesh Karthik once again showed his class as he shepherded India to a win in the company of the debutant Krunal Pandya, who showed a great sense of the occasion and looks as if he belongs at this level. He has done similar rescue acts for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and here donning the India blue he looked totally at home,” he wrote.

Lucknow’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Cricket Stadium will be hosting its maiden international match on Tuesday and Gavaskar feels the pitch remains an unknown quantity and so the captains won’t mind losing the toss here. “Mind you, the Eden Gardens pitch had a bit of carry and he may not get similar help in Lucknow. The new venue is not familiar with the Indians too and so both captains may be happy to lose the toss and see how the pitch is playing,” Gavaskar said.