Riding on blazing performances by Cameron Green and Matthew Wade, Australia on Tuesday chased down 209 against India in 19.2 overs at Mohali to seal the four-wicket win in the first encounter of the three-match series.
This is Australia’s highest successful chase against India in the T20Is. India could not plug their shortcomings even after the Asia Cup debacle and paid a heavy price.
The New Indian looks at three reasons behind India’s defeat:
1) Sloppy catching: Dropping catches at critical junctures seems to be a pestilence which has afflicted India. In the ‘Super Four’ match against Pakistan in Asia Cup, Asif Ali got a reprieve from Arshdeep Singh and made the most of it by finishing the match.
On Tuesday, Indian fielders once again put up an abysmal show and dropped three catches, which ultimately proved decisive. In the 8th over, Axar Patel put down a sitter at deep mid-wicket when Green reeled off a pull against Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder was batting at 42 at that time, and his wicket would have pegged Australia back.
In the next over, KL Rahul at long-off spilled a dolly off Axar’s bowling. Steve Smith was the lucky batter who later played a couple of smashing shots to hurt India’s chances.
The biggest blunder, however, was committed by Harshal Patel who dropped Wade off his own bowling in the 18th over as the left-hander returned a catch. Wade rubbed salt into his wounds by bludgeoning him for three sixes in the over and then sealed the match by remaining unbeaten for 45 off just 21 balls.
2) Atrocious death-overs bowling: In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, India’s death-overs bowling has gone to the dogs. In the Asia Cup, Indian bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar particularly, were plundered for heaps of runs in the death overs against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The same script was repeated on the loop against Australia on Tuesday when they needed 41 runs in the last three overs.
Harshal Patel, who is making a comeback after injury, conceded 22 runs in the 18th over after dropping a return catch of Wade. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was once again carted away as he failed to spear in yorkers consistently. Even his slow cutters were predictable, as his length was highly faulty. Wade belted him for three boundaries and snuffed out India’s hopes. Overall, Bhuvneshwar gave away 52 runs in 4 overs and was a major factor behind India’s loss.
The inability to defend even a mammoth score of 208 is certainly a body blow for India.
3) The emergence of Cameron Green: While Green is acknowledged as a fine all-rounder, he had played only 1 T20I before Tuesday’s match. Indian bowlers had prepared for the likes of Aaron Finch, Steve Smith and Glen Maxwell, but Green’s audacious assault left them gobsmacked.
In the absence of David Warner, Green came out to open with Finch and got into the groove right from the word go. He began by thrashing Umesh Yadav for four boundaries on the trot on the first four balls he faced. He drove, cut and pulled with astonishing authority and did not require run-rate shoot-up. In the 9th over, he whipped out a thunderous slog-sweep against Axar to reach his fifty with a colossal six in just 26 balls.
The 23-year-old wasn’t afraid to hit across the line and swished spinners and seamers with utmost ease over deep square-leg and mid-wicket. After running amok for 10 overs, he perished for a 30-ball 61, but by then Australia were already at 109 in 10 overs.