Relaxed India get back to the basics
How did India react to an unexpected loss to Zimbabwe on Saturday? By unwinding.
Mandeep Singh said the team concentrated on not putting additional pressure on themselves: "A few boys went to see a movie yesterday, we played FIFA, so we had quite a relaxed day yesterday, and obviously we discussed quite a lot about the previous game, and I think we played really well today."
Perhaps that helped India regain some freshness ahead of the second match, for they bossed it from start to finish. They lost the toss and were asked to chase on a used pitch, which showed hints of uneven bounce, and it could have been a decisive factor had the target posed a challenge. But India kept Zimbabwe to a mere 99 for 9 and secured a ten-wicket victory with nearly seven overs to spare.
Mandeep struck the winning runs - a fierce square cut over the infield to record his maiden T20I fifty. An excellent return considering he had not "been able to sleep" on the eve of the match. "Call it pressure or nervousness, whatever you want," he said. "But when you go in to bat, it becomes a little easier, at least for me. At that time I just thought, the target is 100, how do I achieve that.
"Once I'm inside these things don't bother me, that the selectors are watching, that this series is very important. Before the match these things do play on my mind, this series is obviously very important [for me], but honestly once I go in, it's only I have to bat and win the match, and obviously [things like] reading the wicket, what is the situation. So it's a good thing that I forget [all the pressure] once I'm in."
Much of the work for India's victory was done by the bowlers though. Barinder Sran picked up 4 for 10, the best figures by an Indian on T20I debut and Jasprit Bumrah chipped in with 3 for 11 to become the highest wicket-taker in the format in 2016.
At times, it seemed that all of India's wickets on Monday had come rather easily, like they were still playing a computer game. The Zimbabwe batsmen slogged at good-length balls and lost their stumps, pressure mounted and their release shots invariably found the fielders. No one could manage a strike-rate of 100.
Bumrah told bcci.tv that strangling the opposition formed a key part of his process: "Whenever I try to take a wicket, I never get a wicket. So I always try to hit the correct areas and try to contain the batsmen. So that gives me the best opportunity to take a wicket. That's the only thing I do."
Sran's "dream debut" - he took three wickets in an over - was set up by his ability to pick up on the batsman's intentions.
"The big thing is to handle pressure and utilise ideas for T20 cricket," he said. "You have to read the batsman quickly. When the batsman is trying to hit you, you have to vary your pace and length. Ashish Nehra and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have given me a lot of these ideas. Bhuvneshwar has also helped me with tips on swing and seam position."
Bumrah rounded up the tail and produced a top-class inswinger to topple Elton Chigumbura's middle stump in the 17th over and dismiss him for 8 off 19 balls. Chigumbura had been Zimbabwe's match-winner on Saturday and taking him out early pleased Bumrah greatly. "All the wickets were satisfying, but my favourite wicket was Chigumbura's because he could have taken the game away from us."