England v India, ICC World Twenty20, Lord's June 14, 2009

Pace barrage leaves India ducking out

India's weakness against the short ball on a lively pitch was exposed by West Indies a couple of days ago at Lord's and England exploited it to the hilt to send the defending champions crashing out of the ICC World Twenty20

India's weakness against the short ball on a lively pitch was exposed by West Indies a couple of days ago at Lord's and England exploited it to the hilt to send the defending champions crashing out of the ICC World Twenty20. England's fast bowlers sent down a volley of bouncers and back-of-a-length deliveries, aimed at head, neck and chest, rendering India's top-order batsmen helpless during their Powerplay, a period in which the game was won and lost.

A succession of bowlers, from Ryan Sidebottom to Luke Wright, concentrated on not giving the batsmen anything in their half of the pitch and got the ball to rear off the surface. And no one, from Gautam Gambhir to Ravindra Jadeja, could counter the barrage effectively. It was startling to watch batsmen with formidable Twenty20 reputations hop, jump and fend, make futile attempts to pull and hook, and eventually perish to the short ball. They could do little else, for balls full enough to drive, wide enough to cut, and straight enough to glance were a rarity.

Rohit Sharma fell while pulling for the second time in a row: against West Indies he skied a short ball from Fidel Edwards while today he played Sidebottom on to his stumps. Gambhir hit boundaries - a drive and a flick off James Anderson - when the ball was pitched up but his attempts to pull barely cleared the infield. Suresh Raina kept transferring his weight on to the front foot, only to struggle for time and space as the short ball hurried on to him. He looked a pale shadow of the hard-hitting batsman on show during the IPL in South Africa and eventually top-edged a bouncer from Sidebottom.

Jadeja, who India gambled on by sending him at No. 4, was painfully out of his depth, the quality of fast bowling far superior to any of the IPL attacks he succeeded against. India hobbled to 36 for 2 after the Powerplay and the struggle against the short ball did not ease up even after the field restrictions were lifted.

India were one of the favourites going into the tournament, a billing based largely on the strength of their batsmen, rich in Twenty20 experience and renowned for smashing the ball into the stands. The majority of those reputations, though, were acquired on the flat pitches of the subcontinent, the stamp-sized grounds in New Zealand, and on South African surfaces that were slower during the winter.

Those who observed Raina batting in New Zealand, for instance, would have watched several mis-timed pulls and hooks clear the small boundaries. And Yusuf Pathan, who carried Rajasthan to victory during the initial stages of the 2009 IPL, was seen to struggle against the short ball later in the tournament. Even Yuvraj Singh, who has success against most medium-pacers, irrespective of the length they bowl, struggles when the really quick ones bounce him.

"It's not the first the first time it is happening to us," Dhoni said. "Even if you see in the last World Twenty20 in South Africa, the wickets were lively. The bouncer was used [then as well] but we adapted pretty well last time. Whenever you go out of the subcontinent, you play fast bowlers who bowl bouncers against you.

"They [England] bowled the bouncer really well. They used the short balls and mixed them with slower bouncers. There are quite a few lessons to be learnt from this, hopefully during the time we have off from here, we can really look to work on this area."

India were deprived of the one batsman who had worked on his weakness against the short ball. Virender Sehwag used to succumb when bowlers targeted his body with the short-pitched delivery - England have used that ploy against him - but in recent series he's added the hook and the flick off his hips to his repertoire of shots. And few other Indian batsmen have Sehwag's hand-eye coordination and gumption to send a slightly wider short ball sailing over the backward point and third man boundaries with a rapier like slash.

The Indian team that was beaten today barely resembled the six-hitting, world-beating, brimming-with-confidence team they were talked up to be. England came at them with one plan and it succeeded: the Indian challenge was bounced out. South Africa will have been watching and India, with nothing more than pride to play for, can expect more of the same from Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell at Trent Bridge.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kapil on June 15, 2009, 15:38 GMT

    Its not that by loosing out in this tournament, the world ends here. India will have to learn to adopt to the conditions. The same strategy won't work all the time. Dhoni always had luck with newcomers be it Praveen Kumar, Yusuf Pathan etc. This is probably the 1st time he sent Jadeja to do what he expects his newcomers to do, and he couldn't deliver. Spare a pity for the poor fellow... I hope they learn and show a better performance against South Africa

  • dfg on June 15, 2009, 13:59 GMT

    it was so very disappointing to see india lose.i really feel for yusuf and yuvraj who showed a lot of character yesterday.spare a thought for the most hyped cricket team in the world.hope they'll come good in west indies next year.

  • Deepak on June 15, 2009, 13:37 GMT

    Contd from previous post...It was their worst day and yet the result show it was a close game. Even on their worst day, they were a match to England's best show, that says it all. On their best day, any team can win a match but very few of them can give a fight even on their worst day. That says something about the character of this team. This defeat is only going to help the team get stronger. Watch out for their future matches!!!

  • Deepak on June 15, 2009, 13:33 GMT

    Whenever India wins, people keep praising them and the moment they loose, that's it, all hell breaks out. Every team have good series and bad series. India did not have a good one. They looked out of sorts, but there is no doubt about the talent. Everybody is just blasting Jadeja. Clearly he was under pressure and could not make it up this time. It is character building for all these youngsters. He is only 20 and has a long way to go. This is not the end of anything for the Indian team. We have one of the best captains in Dhoni and the team has the capacity to turn things around for themselves. England were good only in their bouncers but their batting was also not all that great. If not for Harbajan's 10 extra runs by 4 wides twice, their total would have looked below par. And even with this struggling touch, India fell short of only 3 runs. Contd... in the next post

  • Aneesh on June 15, 2009, 13:27 GMT

    @msusmani, that's a very harsh thing to say about indian fans. We have supported our team India through thick and thin hence reaching this far. Frankly, England don't deserve too much credit for their performance - I don't see too much talent in their side apart from KP. Just look back to England's performance in India - not a hint of a fight or anything of the sorts.. A 5-0 drubbing (if not more!) followed by a comfortable test victory for us. If a singular T20 victory gives you great satisfaction, then live in your small world. When India play England again in the future, they wouldn't know what hit them..

  • shuvo on June 15, 2009, 12:46 GMT

    @ msusmani Stop taking cheap shots at anything related to Indian cricket, be it the BCCI, the IPL, the Indian team and its supporters, to make up for your travails caused by the inadequacies of your country. Give one factual evidence where a losing side did not focus on where it went astray to give any credence to your accusations. Criticizing one's national team for perceived lack of application or abilities does not come at the expense of being disrespectful towards the opponent. I didn't see a single poster discrediting England below, but all told, 153 is not a mammoth score and India reached 150 despite being shoddy against short-pitched bowling. There wasn't anything spectacular in England's display either. A lot remains inexplicable to the Indian fan in terms of planning and application in yesterday's match and he has every right to give expression to that. Your logic in calling it irrational and so forth is outright juvenile and if I may add, reeks of jealous opportunism.

  • Aravindhan on June 15, 2009, 12:39 GMT

    England played better cricket and they won the match. Period! Not all games can be won by the favorites. In fact the once illustrious Aussies were bade adieu even before the super eights. But for people talking about India's hype, I'd like to remind them that the most hyped up cricketing team in the world is England despite the fact that they almost played an 'away' match at home yesterday. We need to remember the fact that even after deploying their heavy 'short ball' studded plan, they managed to win the game only by 3 runs, thanks to some great ball consuming techniques by the Indian batsmen. On the planning front, agreed, RP Singh should've finished his full quota of 4 overs but promoting Jadeja to no 4 was a test plan that failed. All those blaming Dhoni now would be sitting in the other side of the court if it had clicked. Anyways, many congrats to the English team for winning the match but they could just be hours away before Windies show them the exit door.

  • Him on June 15, 2009, 12:06 GMT

    The way India have lost in the last 2 games could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the long-term benefit of Indian cricket (batting in particular). I'm sure all young Indian batsmen (including Rohit and Raina, who still remain 2 super-talented cricketers) will now work doubly hard on their backfoot techniques. In defence and in attack. These were T20 matches, and yet they showed that good technique against quick short bowling is always going to be paramount. And bowlers around the world are going to keep reminding young Indian batsmen about this even more from now on!

  • Satya on June 15, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    India should change back to their traditional colour of dress MEN IN BLUE rather than faded grey.. which is faded their changes to claim world cup again..

  • M. Saleem on June 15, 2009, 11:13 GMT

    It's fun to see so many big mouthed Indian supporters like that....they loose their sense of rationality and respect for others when they win.....but man....aren't their team and supporters are so bad losers....they could have given the credit to England so easily but they just kept on their old stance...India is the world...so it has to win...now that India is out....should we call the tournament ....."Out of this World Cup T-20"?

    Well played England.....excellent show of T20 cricket.

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