World Twenty20 2012 September 21, 2012

Sehwag, Gambhir need to cut out the big risks


When Twenty20 cricket first came around, everyone thought that it was just going to be a slog-fest. To be fair, such expectations weren't without reason, because the same batsmen who could easily bat 50 overs in an ODI were asked to finish their job in 120 balls. The new playing conditions also meant that it was absolutely fine to lose a wicket every two overs. In Tests and ODIs, the price-tag on every wicket would match high-street prices, but in T20, wickets are on discount sales.

But as the format evolved, a few patterns have emerged, quite similar to the patterns in 50-overs cricket. For instance, the first six overs of Powerplay and the last six overs - the death overs - yield the most runs and, even with the frantic pace of T20 cricket, there's a relatively quiet period from overs seven to 14. The patterns also show that the teams which lose more than two wickets in the Powerplay end up losing more games. So, while it's imperative to score at a fair clip in the first six, it's equally important to not lose too many wickets. Hence, both the opening and the death overs make the difference between winning and losing.

Though the talk around India always concerns the lack of teeth in their bowling, it seems their shortcomings in that department have become an accepted fact and the team has made peace with it. MS Dhoni has made it very clear that he believes that it's their depth and strength in batting that is likely to win them the World T20, and hence it's better to play an extra batsman. But at the moment, India's strength is also India's weakness, for the openers haven't been firing for quite some time. While India's batting line-up boasts of many match-winners, it's invariably Virat Kohli who's saving the day for the team these days. The law of averages is likely to catch up with him soon, and hence it's imperative that the openers find some form by then.

Gautam Gambhir, irrespective of the format, has been guilty of poking at everything that is outside the off-stump. Even though he plays every stroke in the book to all parts of the ground (except, perhaps, the hook or sweep), for some strange reason, recently, he has been looking to dab everything down to the third-man region. The moment you get into such a mindset, the bat comes down at an angle and then either you nick the ball to the wicketkeeper or drag the ball back onto the stumps.

Another problem with looking to score in the third-man region is that you stop getting to the pitch of the ball, which spells doom. He, or someone else, needs to remind him that he's a much better player when he's looking to hit the ball in front of the wickets. It may not be a bad idea for Gambhir to go back to the basics, mark his scoring areas (in front of the stumps) and try to be around till the seventh over; he's too good a player to not make up for lost time later.

For the last one year, [Sehwag's] consistency has dropped alarmingly. This can happen to players who back their eye and quick hands to work the ball away without using their feet. The moment the eyes lose a bit of sharpness or the hands slow down a fraction, the movements go out of sync

The same is the case with Virender Sehwag, who's also playing a shot-a-ball right from the beginning. There was a time, about three to four years ago, when he could do it successfully, innings after innings. But for the last one year, that consistency has dropped alarmingly. This can happen to players who back their eye and quick hands to work the ball away without using their feet. The moment the eyes lose a bit of sharpness or the hands slow down a fraction, the movements go out of sync. Sehwag's prolonged below-par performances should encourage him to discover a new method of operating.

Just like Gambhir, it may not be a bad idea for Sehwag to cut down on high-risk shots for the first few overs and, more importantly, he must also try to make it count when he gets in. Chris Gayle does it very well in T20. He bides his time initially, and more than makes up for it once he gets set. Sehwag also has the potential to do the same, provided he allows himself a quiet start. All good batsmen, at some stage of their career, need to rethink and rediscover their modus operandi. Since India is in the middle of a transitional phase, it's imperative that Sehwag delivers.

However, it's a lot easier said than done, for unlike 50-overs cricket, the paucity of time in T20 cricket doesn't give you the luxury of finding form by biding your time. You must look for other ways of achieving the same goal. But if India are to make a real attempt at reclaiming the trophy they lifted in 2007, both openers need to start firing more often, or Dhoni must find an opening combination that does.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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  • Dummy4 on September 23, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    Well. Intresting observation of us, the Indian fans. Lets start from our last Englad tour where we lost 4/0. In England Suresh Raina was on radar, after England in Australia in first two tests Virat Kohli was on radar, After Aussie in Sri Lanka Rohit Sharma was on radar, After Lanka against New Zeland Sachin Tendulkar was on radae. Andnow in T20 World Cup our three big names Virendra Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir & Zahir Khan are facing heat................. We Indians are like that. We want our heros to perform each and every match. We always forget the efforts they took to reach these levels. Number of years and series they performed to reach the place. But we remove them frim our heart after mere one failure. It is only we to decide it wheather its correct or wrong.

  • ragin on September 23, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    with this bowling attack we fetched two 50 over world cups and one twenty twenty world cup

  • Dummy4 on September 23, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    @Muhammad Nabil Khan : Well said , Well said....This type of bowler r there on ur street... N from d street they directly go to jail...(Aamir,Asif)....

  • Dummy4 on September 23, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    drop shewag and take in tiwary.....Kohli and Gambhir should open

  • Senthil on September 23, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    NO! Absolutely no conservation at the top for India! What is the point of having 7 batsmen who can hit sixers if the top two have to score less in order to conserve their wickets? India can and should afford to go after every ball, no question about that. Doesn't mean they should play stupid shots at the top, but it definitely doesn't mean Gambhir and Sehwag should play safe in order to play a longer innings. They should go at 140 strike rate.

  • Randolph on September 23, 2012, 3:18 GMT

    The two most overrated teams in World cricket. Miles behind the likes of South Africa and Australia when it comes to cricketing success.

  • Kaustav on September 22, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    Drop Sehwag, Gambhir, Zaheer & bring in Tiwary, Bhajji & Dinda. I would send Yuvraj or Tiwary to open with Kohli.

  • sheraz on September 22, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    india and bangladesh are over rated team india got only batting blowers are as average as bangladesh team only perform once in 2 years , only by luck not with talent , while on other hand indian batting is good but they can't win every time with batting.....

  • PRAMOD on September 22, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    I feel indian bowling is concern ..i have never seen any indian side which has atleast decent attack , kapil and amarnath to some extent ,the last best bowling fast medium pair was J srinath and venkatesh prasad spinners palyed theit bit but thats not good enough too!!! in T20's indian team doesnot have somebody like saeed ajmal who is consistent and clever ....i am not moaning about only T20 here ,India's bowling has never been great in any format .with the current bowling line up no chance ,as somebody said street bowlers are much better than indian bowlers currently .India has been winning mathces cuz of their batting , its better they concentrate on their strength(batting) rather than on weakness specially after entering the tournament.

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    Cut out risk in a 20-20 game? Even Amla is playing cross bat shots.

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