On a batting paradise like Wankhede, India’s below par score doomed them more than the no balls.
For me, the biggest disappointment of the India vs West Indies semi final wasn’t India’s bowling or the no balls. It was the way India approached their innings with the bat.
Everyone knows that chasing is easy at the Wankhede stadium. The pitch is flat and has almost nothing for the bowlers. The boundaries are small and sixes galore are on offer at this ground. India strengthened their batting by going in with a specialist batsman instead of an all rounder in place of injured Yuvraj Singh.
The move to replace Dhawan with Rahane was understandable, but the way in which Rahane was allowed to play was shambolic. Having witnessed the match from inside the stadium, I saw how India had sent a 12th man with a bottle after almost every over. Rohit Sharma played a lot of dot balls but made up for it to an extent by hitting six boundaries (3 fours, 3 sixes).
It wasn’t as if Rahane was playing slowly all by himself. There was no urgency shown from the team management to push him to score quickly. Rahane also did not try to hit sixes or go after boundaries, he was happy to just rotate the strike. He hit just two boundaries (both fours) in his innings which lasted 35 deliveries. At Wankhede, that’s criminal.
With Dhoni, Raina, Manish Pandey, Pandya, Jadeja and Ashwin left to bat, this attitude cost India dearly. The boundaries were few and far between and India had scored just 128 runs with just 27 deliveries left to go by the time Rahane got out. An innings of 40 runs in 35 deliveries is a match losing knock at Wankhede. The team management needs to be blamed for allowing him to score at such a slow pace on the batting paradise at Wankhede.
All this meant that India was destined to score a below par total at this ground. A par score, considering the depth and explosive nature of the West Indies batting line up and the batting paradise that was the ground, would have been 210. India fell considerably short of that.
The results of the previous Day Night games during this WT20 should also have been a lesson for the team management, the bowlers and especially the spinners find it difficult to grip the ball at night. English spinners struggled against Gayle and South Africa weren’t able to defend 229 at this ground. Anyone who has seen IPL matches at Wankhede will also know that how easy it is to chase and even a required Run rate of 12 is achieved easily in the last 10 overs if a team has wickets in hand. Even if Indian bowlers did not bowl any no balls, it would be wishful thinking to imagine that Indian bowlers with a wet ball would have been able to defend 193 against the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Carlos Braithwaite etc. What the West Indies batsmen did was that they never let the required run rate creep up above 13. That meant that if they scored a Six an over they would be good, and they did that pretty easily.
This post was originally published on holdingwilley.com and can be read here