Australia v India, World T20 2012, Super Eights, Colombo

India fail to adapt

Three Indian specialist spinners taking a combined 0 for 66 in 6.5 overs in Colombo? How did that happen?

Abhishek Purohit in Colombo

September 29, 2012

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson was in blistering form, Australia v India, World T20 2012, Colombo, September, 28, 2012
Australia's openers faced Indian spin from the start, despite a damp ball © AFP

Take a glance at the scorecard, without looking at the venue, for the Super Eights game between India and Australia and you might say it was played anywhere but on the subcontinent.

India's batsmen struggling against pace and bounce, losing all their wickets to Australia's quicks. India's three specialist spinners being thrashed by the power duo of Shane Watson and David Warner. Then you notice the venue, the Premadasa Stadium. Three specialist spinners taking a combined 0 for 66 in 6.5 overs in Colombo? How did that happen?

Through a mix of Watson and Warner being Watson and Warner, poor Indian bowling made atrocious by rain, and some questionable decisions from MS Dhoni - leaving out Virender Sehwag not being one of them.

Given the way Watson and Warner batted, it might not have made much difference had India bowled better or had Dhoni taken better calls. But they would have given themselves a chance, and if it hadn't worked, there would have been no shame in losing to probably the most destructive pairing currently in limited-overs cricket.

Dhoni had watched Pakistan's and South Africa's spinners take turns in choking each other's batsmen on the same pitch earlier during the evening. Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and Irfan Pathan had dismissed England for 80 on the same ground on Sunday. Dhoni had no choice but to keep Sehwag out. The logic going into the game was overwhelmingly in favour of playing the extra spinner.

But Dhoni erred by giving Ashwin as many as three successive overs at the start and holding back Irfan till the 10th over. Before England began to capitulate to spin, it was Irfan who had struck in consecutive overs at the start. If Irfan is in the side, he has to get the new ball, unless someone else who opens the bowling strikes immediately. Irfan becomes easier to hit as the innings progresses, and by the time he came on, Australia had charged to 81 in nine overs. He didn't help by bowling short of good length at his gentle pace, and was taken for 19 in six balls. That was to be the only over he would get.

Dhoni said he wanted early wickets, so had opened with Ashwin and Zaheer Khan. "If you see Zak has been bowling well for us and his record against both the openers has been really good," Dhoni said. "So we thought of bowling Ashwin from one end and Zaheer from the other end. The Australian openers are the ones who have been scoring most of the runs for them so it was important that we get an early breakthrough. There were close calls but it didn't go our way but that was one of the main reasons why we decided Zaheer should open from one end and Ashwin from the other."

Ashwin's opening over, interrupted by the short rain break, included consecutive fours by Warner. It had already been drizzling for some overs towards the end of Australia's innings. Dhoni spoke later of how the wet ball had rendered his spinners ineffective. Given the evidence of Ashwin's opening over, Dhoni could have gone for Irfan, but he gave Ashwin a third over, which went for 16 after Watson pulled a couple of long hops for sixes. That India had an issue with the ball was clear when Ashwin was seen wiping it with a towel.

Still, Dhoni bowled Harbhajan and Piyush Chawla before Irfan. Chawla started with a long hop and a half-volley and was carted for 14 in his opening over. Harbhajan tried flighting the ball in his second over. By then, Australia were on top. Warner slog-swept Harbhajan for consecutive sixes.

And India's spinners just fell apart. It does not help that, for a legspinner, Chawla has little heart. It did not help that Ashwin's reaction to being hit was to bowl an overdose of carom balls. Harbhajan is making a comeback after a year outside the side. It seems he is making an extra effort to flight the ball, something the man who replaced him, Ashwin, usually does, and something he has been accused of not doing much.

The result was that in a game in which he said he made one of his toughest calls to be able to play five bowlers, Dhoni ended up having his part-timers bowl four overs by the time Australia reached the target in the 15th.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Johnny_129 on (October 1, 2012, 16:10 GMT)

It was TENDULKAR'S FAULT!!! Hahahahahaha

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

Mr. Purohit the title of the article could have been like this, "Enough is enough for inconsistent India". U may try another another one titling this!

Posted by street_smart on (September 29, 2012, 21:19 GMT)

It's 100% Dhoni to be blamed for this loss though the team selection was 90% correct. Irfan openIng the batting & not bowling is the prime reason. Dhoni dont have any guts to drop seniors. I have asked this question many time & will again ask again what he heck of a problem Dhoni has with Manoj Tiwary? A bad nexus between Srinvasan & Dhoni is ruining Indian cricket

Posted by CricketFanIndUS on (September 29, 2012, 16:57 GMT)

IPL is helping players improve their skills playing in the sub continent conditions, playing spin and in T20Is in general. England did not heed to KP's take on this in the spring. Australia look like they will do well in this series thanks in part to their presence in the IPL while England will have difficulty with spin.

Posted by CricketFanIndUS on (September 29, 2012, 15:30 GMT)

This article misses to point out the main reasons for the poor performance. It is the preparation for the opponent and your disposition. Australia looked like they did their homework and India looked lost in both batting and bowling. Our players seemed like they were over confident coming in and you know with our team that has a major effect. They relied too heavily on the spin factor without perhaps doing due diligence in preparation. Also, in T20 if both opening batsmen click like that it becomes very difficult to be beaten. I agree on the tactical mistakes made with Irfan, he should have opened with Zaheer especially since the rain started towards the end of our batting. But this may not have changed the outcome or the manner in which our team lost. wabeaten.

Posted by Humdingers on (September 29, 2012, 14:18 GMT)

Is it just me, or is it time to send both Dohni & Fletcher out?

Posted by Suresh_Joseph on (September 29, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

It was for TRPs that all matches involving India were scheduled for the 7.30 pm slot. And now, with moisture and rain seen later in the day, and with spin being India's weapon, the team's going to pay for it.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 12:02 GMT)

@harmske SEHWAG CONTRIBUTED IN THE 2ND T20 IN AUS IN 2012. Only played 3 T20s this year , wonder how can be someone be out of form by just playing thrice this year and scoring an important 50 score in one of those.

Posted by Meety on (September 29, 2012, 11:50 GMT)

@sachin_vvsfan on (September 29 2012, 11:09 AM GMT) - I'm not a member of the Kohli fan-club, in reference to "...We need 5-6 kholis to claim that we are the best team in the world..." dunno if that would make you #1 (need bowlers for that), but gee it would be a brilliant batting line up & the best Indian fielding side ever!

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (September 29, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

while IPL destroyed IND cricket it played its part in improving other players career (in shorter formats.) Ex watson who wasn't a regular back in 2007/8 with lot of fitness issues became a permanent in his squad. Same goes to kallis who was dropped in 2007 T20 cup.

On the other hand IPL gave us Jadejas, Rohit sharmas and tiwary. Now indian fans want to try tiwary who is not even good for IPL. Please guys no more regional bashing here. He is simply not international material. We need 5-6 kholis to claim that we are the best team in the world.

And dhoni OMG why is he giving excuses . warner and watson could have chased down 170-180. Time to think about alternative keeper?

Posted by annys on (September 29, 2012, 11:00 GMT)

Why are umesh yadav,awana,Vinay kumar not in the team? Current best bowling line up Zaheer,irfan,ashwin,Bhajji,chawla

If players were selected with some sense


Posted by harmske on (September 29, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

honestly, ppl bagging dhoni for dropping sehwag - it had to be done! when was the last time viru contributed something meaningful to the side??? you can't just keep playing him on reputation.

Posted by Afsalk on (September 29, 2012, 9:51 GMT)

please don't blame the bowlers the Aussie Openers showing the Top class batting and I am sure team India comeback to the next match

Posted by Meety on (September 29, 2012, 7:57 GMT)

@ravi_hari on (September 29 2012, 06:30 AM GMT) -great gracious comment. Keep the neutral comments flowing, they are at times rare from your part of the world, good stuff!

Posted by Djoker319 on (September 29, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

Viru or no Viru, wouldnt have made a big difference...but picking chawla?? Esp. when there is rain prediction. What was team management thinking? That Eng batsmen and Australian batsmen are of same calibre against spin??? How can u compare a Warnetr. Watson, Hussy, White with Hales, Kieswetter, Wright and Bairstow??? Plus Aus have IPL advantage.... Stupid Team selection....Bizzare batting order....

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 7:07 GMT)

It is forecasted before play that there would be rain. Why would Dhoni winning the toss and opting to Bat? Over confidence with your bowling option. Never forget shewag can swing his arms with the ball. AND the FEAR FACTOR as Sunny Gavaskar mentioned it..... Leaving Ausies the target of 140 - looking into the conditions of the ground being wet, why you did not open the bowling with Ifran- who is very good in swinging the new ball and giving us the break through.

Hope India wins all the remaining matches to qualify...God ....

Posted by ravi_hari on (September 29, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

Saturday evening was most disappointing for the staunch Indian supporter but made a true Cricket lover happy. The way Aussies mauled Indian bowling showed what the team is capable of. They have so far never won consecutive T20 matches as much. They never looked comfortable in this format whoever was in the team. Here they are looking very much the Aussies we know. Only time will tell whether they will continue playing that well, but it is heartening to see them win with vengence. India first got their XI wrong. With Yuvraj, Raina and Rohit in the ranks there is no need for the 3rd spinner. Instead a Tiwari or Sehwag would have helped. Secondly, I dont think Dhoni looked focussed in this tournament. His batting and captaincy both looked below par. Its time India nurtures Kohli into this role. Thanks to Ashwin India reached 140 otherwise they would have ended much lower and W&W would have mauled it in 10 overs. Hope India improves and reaches the Semis. Aussies are on top as of now.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 6:23 GMT)

A shorter, more accurate article title would have been "India Fail".

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

A fair appraisal would be that our batsman were too complacent and we made a sub par score. Zaheer really bowled his heart out and had both the openers in trouble and there were two very close calls but umpire Kettleborough's decisions seemed doubtful on the replays! I agree that Irfan should have opened the bowling as he o would have swung the ball. But the criticism of the spinners was justified in that they bowled too many long hops for sixes. I accept Dhoini's assessment that the wet pitch and wet outfield made it difficult for them to spin the ball. The delay in bringing the covers over the outfield by the umpires could have saved the situation to some extent. The balance of the team was upset with three spinners rendered ineffective with a wet ball. The Australian openers took full advantage of the situation and thrashed us. An early wicket or two on a dry pitch could have made a difference. But in cricket there are no ifs and buts and we have to face the result!

Posted by msb27 on (September 29, 2012, 5:43 GMT)

@BrisVegan: I think you might be onto something, but then again, wouldn't take all the fun out of endless special pleading that seems to be the prerogative of certain teams and their fans? Never take any responsibility - there's always something or someone else to blame!

Posted by gameover786 on (September 29, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

there was a little rain during the second inning but indian bowling was really very bad, and it did'nt matter if there was rain or not and to not give irfan pathan the new ball was the biggest blunder fron dhoni.

Posted by androyuvi on (September 29, 2012, 3:52 GMT)

come on.. what about the batting that failed? when kohli fails, everyone fails. Sehwag had to be there to make people believe that if you hit the ball, hit the ball hard, whatever pitch you are in but the ball will race to boundary.. Sehwag should have been there instead of Chawla.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 3:41 GMT)

Sitting out SEHWAG, poor decision from DHONI.....

Posted by prakash_mishra on (September 29, 2012, 2:51 GMT)

Indian team broke hearts yesterday.All the weakness was exposed to the core.I will still blame selection panel more than the players for selecting the players not on the basis of recent performances. I don't understand How IPL has not helped Team India???Not even in this format.If we remember 2007 WC, It was a young side and we don't need experienced and overaged players for T20.Some selections are so pathetic,like Yuvraj.I am not sure if he is 100% fit.So why to select someone who hasn't proved his fitness(match fitness).Rohit Sharma has one of the worst attitudes.Your no.1 choice opener is now burden to you.hahaha...Team india is nothing but a joke at the moment.I am not at all hopeful that they can turn things from here and qualify for knock-outs.That would require lot of hearts and skill.and sadly at this point of time,Team India lacks both.

Posted by BrisVegan on (September 29, 2012, 1:53 GMT)

First Dhoni and now Cricinfo editorial staff making a big deal about the rain. Please.. "poor Indian bowling made atrocious by rain" - how about just "poor Indian bowling", poor captaincy plus great batting from Australia, and leave it at that.

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