India v Afghanistan, World T20 2012, Colombo September 20, 2012

India with much work to do - Kohli


In the end, India defeated Afghanistan by a comfortable margin. In the end, India had to answer questions about the performance of their bowlers and their openers, while Afghanistan basked in the satisfaction of having given a top team a bit of a fright. It was that kind of game for India. They were expected to win it, and they did, but the manner in which victory was achieved was bound to be questioned.

Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag failed again, leaving run-scoring responsibilities chiefly to Virat Kohli. India's middle order needed Afghanistan to drop four catches to be able to go past 150. Afghanistan then built a solid base to the chase at 52 for 1 in seven overs. India had to rely on part-timer Yuvraj Singh - it possibly is incorrect to call him part-timer anymore - to bring them back. Mohammad Nabi then carted Zaheer Khan for 16 runs in the 16th over to increase MS Dhoni's stress levels before Afghanistan finally ran out of steam.

Kohli said he didn't think India could have lost the game at any stage but admitted they could have won by a bigger margin. He "hoped" the bowling issues were solely due to India coming up against a side that had nothing to lose and came hard at them.

"You are always in doubt [that] if they start scoring in a few overs then things could slip away very quickly," Kohli said. "I am hoping that against a bigger opposition we will turn out in a more positive way as far as our bowling is concerned. Be more aggressive, execute our plans properly and be more geared-up for stronger oppositions. I am hoping that we will put up a better bowling show."

"In Twenty20, if your batting or bowling is not up to the mark then the poor run stretches to two-three games. You need one innings or one spell to change things. But I think we could have done better with the new ball. The wicket was good, there wasn't much swing but I think we could have bowled in better areas and could have won the match with a bigger margin."

The worrying thing was that India needed three successive strikes from Yuvraj to dent Afghanistan's chase. Kohli was asked whether the performance of frontline bowlers such as Zaheer Khan was a concern but said the malaise was largely restricted to bowling at the death.

"Our initial bowling hasn't been that bad. I think that we started well. Even against New Zealand [in the recent T20I in Chennai] we started well. If someone is getting hit in the last over you can't just say that he is not bowling well at all. I think he [Zaheer] is bowling well with the new ball. I think our bowlers need to work a bit more on bowling in the death overs which has been a concern till now and I hope that we can pull our socks up and be ready for the stronger opposition and execute our plans much better than we did in this game."

All is not well on the batting front as well. MS Dhoni has maintained India rely a lot on starts provided by their top three batsman and at the moment, the first two are not weighing in. Kohli ruled out rotating the openers as a solution, and backed Gambhir and Sehwag.

"I believe that in T20 if you play with a settled team composition then the team benefits. If you change the composition and it doesn't work than it leaves a negative impact on the team especially in the batting department. In the bowling department you can experiment in T20. A batting order is set. If the top three score well then you can change the batting order lower down in the innings but changing the combination otherwise is not good. Besides, in T20 you don't need an 80-90 run opening stand. You need a start of 40-45 runs. Only one match has been played so far and the kind of openers we have they are capable of giving us good start at a good pace when they click."

Despite the shortcomings, India did what they had to do. It helped that Afghanistan fluffed simple catches when they had the opportunity to put serious pressure on the India batsmen. Kohli said that was part of the game. "We ended up getting 160-odd and that is what the scoreboard shows. Catches do get dropped and you do get inside edges that pass by the stumps. It is part and parcel of the game. You can't just say that had the catches been taken we would have lost the game. We have won the game and the scorecard shows that. We have to come out and play positively against England and put in a better performance."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Leslie on September 21, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    @sachinkhairnar5983: Completely agree with you mate. I saw today that Yadav had picked up 5 wickets in a domestic first class match, why isn't he in the side? It's ludicrous to think that Balaji (and increasingly due to his fitness - Zaheer) can pose a threat to any top-class batsmen, regardless of the wicket. Though it takes guile as well as pace to beat a top batter, you at least need SOME pace! Aaron, Yadav and Awana are the only bowlers from the domestic scene that have this asset, and how will the ever learn the 'guile' required to succeed at international level, if they are never picked for the India side? The time for a change really is now!

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    @ sachinkhairnar5983 on (September 20 2012, 16:34 PM GMT). You may blame Dhoni for many things; but NOT for selection for the World cup. The selectors don't consult him. And Dhoni stopped complaining long ago.

  • Purnendu on September 21, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Really cant understand why there is so much fuss about Afghanistan's batting performance. Seeing their batting I realise they cannot perform well in 50 over format. They were unable to read the pace of the Indian bowlers. Slogging every ball can see you through in T20s not in longer versions of the game

  • Manesh on September 21, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    @Muhammad Nabil Khan. And that's why your team got all out in 20 overs! so cool!

  • Ashok on September 21, 2012, 1:14 GMT

    @jose puliampatta: Yes indeed where are the 5 Bowlers? Dhoni keeps talking about 4 "Regular" bowlers + part timers. The so called regular bowlers, ZAK & Balaji - do they really deserve a chance in the XI? They both bowled consistently poorly - Balaji was lucky to pick up 2 wkts. in 2 balls to finish the Afghanistan innings. Any major Nations's batting will hit these 2 at >8 runs/over. The other 3 bowlers Ashwin, Irfan & Yuvraj are all All Rounders. Why does India need 9 batsmen when the 2 "Specialist/Regular" bowlers - ZAK & Balaji- both so pathetic. Strangely enough the 2 all rounders, Yuvraj & Ashwin have been taking wkts!. They saved India from being beaten by "Minnows Afghanistan". India has Murali Kartik & Rahul Sharma - 2 fine T-20 specialists amongst the spinners. Replace Harbhajan & Chawla with these 2. Replace Balaji & ZAK with 2 of Praveen, Munaf or D.Kulkarni - all good T-20 players. India may crawl into Super 8, then eliminated with set of toothless "Regular" Bowlers!.

  • V.L on September 20, 2012, 18:30 GMT

    Pakistan's batting is not better than Zim. Zim scored 93 against SA and Pakistan scored the same vs Eng.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    Mr. Kohli it was obvious that u all were scared from both batting and bowling of the opponent. The day was urs; but don't forget u were near to lose against great Afghanistan. Don't be that much proud by throwing such words.

    Love u Afghan team, love ur each member. Future is ursssssssss

  • Sachin on September 20, 2012, 16:34 GMT

    If India needs to baalnce the side its time to drop both not-in-form openers as they are just coming on the crease to show there presence in Batting order India should go with different batting order that will surprise the opponents: Like Kohli, Pathan, Raina, Rohit, Yuvraj, Tiwary, Dhoni, Bhajji, Ashwin, Dinda and Zaheer/Bala (But both are waste in team-poor fielding). India made mistake they should have Brought new bowling attack of Yadav, Aaroon, Awana and with allrounder Pathan. It would have definatley help us as most of the batsmen are not aware of them and Yadav, Aaroon and Awana's pace and yorkers would have surprise the opposition. I may say that now time has come that all three should get chance form now onwards to make a team for 2015 world cup as well as t-20 2014 and 2016. See Australia have brought Cummins and Starch who have just debuted within this year, but Dhoni doesnt show trust in our New bowlers he just want his personal relations to maintain.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 15:54 GMT

    Indian bowling is not better than zimbabwe's....

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    Nampally -You have hit the nail.Balaji seems to be in the team due to Chennai lobby (in the hindsight).But having seen Dhoni's out of the world captaincy,he prefers vinay kumar,Balaji kind of bowlers who can bowl line,length and slower deliveries.Such a pathetic captain who is hailed as the best one.Even a kid can marshall a team better than him.Dinda with some pace,atleast can provide variety.Right now that is nil.Selection of Piyush Chawla in ODI wc as well as now is baffling.Rahul sharma should have been there.Moreover what is that Chika wanted to achieve by selecting Bhajji.Cleary he is not in Dhoni's scheme of things.With his current form he is logically ruled out of Eng tour.If India does anything commendable in this WC ,it would be due to there awesome middle order batsmen including Dhoni.But the team has lot of flaws.Poor bowlers,far too many slow fielders,confused openers and a horrendous captain.

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