THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: If you watched the first 20 minutes of the T20 game between India and SA here at Greenfield Stadium on Wednesday, you would have felt that a test match was played in colored clothes under lights.
Arshdeep Singh (3’/32′) and Deepak Chahar (2’/24′) swung the ball like masters of swing under English conditions. And with Harshal Patel (2/26) complementing the efforts of the New Ball duo, the Indian pace attack looked like a potent force as he set up an easy Indian win.
However, it would be presumptuous to expect such conditions in the T20 World Championship Australia. While management would be delighted with the way the young Indian pace attacker took advantage of the conditions, they know not to get carried away.
The pitches for the T20 World Cup are not expected to swing and line as they did on Wednesday. The lanes in Australia can favor batsmen while offering speed and bounce to the fast bowlers. It will present a different challenge than the Indian Close Attack.
The message from Jasper Bumrah Being ruled out of the World Cup with a stress fracture was a huge blow to India’s chances and getting the fast bowling combination right in his absence will be crucial.
In Bumrah’s absence, Bhuvneshwar will be the senior pro who may be asked to lead the pace attack Down Under. Bhuvneshwar, who has been taking a much-needed break from the South African series, has come under scrutiny lately for his poor bowling at the Endovers. Also, the 32-year-old has only played three T20 games in Australia. With conditions in Australia not conducive to swing bowling, Bhuvneshwar’s effectiveness in the tournament remains to be seen.
Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh. (ANI photo)
The hero of India’s victory over the Proteas on Wednesday, Arshdeep Singh, has had almost everything right with the ball in a short 12-game career. The left-hander has excelled in the death overs and showed on Wednesday he can be just as effective with the new ball. More than wickets, it’s his ability to move the ball either way that makes him dangerous. Without Bumrah, Arshdeep should now be a strong contender for a place in the squad.
However, the Punjab boy knows playing in Australia for the first time will be a challenge. “Our main motive is to adapt to the needs of the team, no matter what the situation and conditions. If we go there (Australia) we will see the pitches, the conditions and the dimensions of the ground. We have to adapt to such situations. I hope to do well there,” said the 23-year-old after his performance as Man-of-the-Match in Thiruvananthapuram.
Known as a white ball specialist, Harshal Patel can be effective with the racquet further down. His ability to mess things up has earned him many wickets. But like Arshdeep, the Haryana boy will be on his maiden tour of Australia and it will be interesting to see if his stock deliveries work on the hard and springier courts there.
The big decision now would be to find a replacement for Bumrah. The two standby pacers on the team for the T20 World Cup are Deepak Chahar and Mohammed Shami. Chahar, who can also graze, can be a handful with the new ball. But in many ways his style of bowling is quite similar to Bhuvneshwar’s. That makes the experienced Mohammed Shamiwho last played a T20I at the last T20 World Championship in Dubai, a more suitable option to replace Bumrah.
Not in team management’s plan in recent times, the pacesetter was included in the T20 squad for the series against Australia following the Asian Cup debacle in India.
Unfortunately, he was down with Covid and had to be replaced by Umesh Yadav in the series’ playing XI.
Shami’s Covid-negative result came on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see how the selectors decide considering there are only two T20 games left against South Africa before the World Cup.