Team India’s first ICC 2012 T20 official outing against one of the most popular minnow cricketing nations, demonstrated that the term ‘minnow’ is highly subjective. For most of the match, it was hard to distinguish who the real minnow was, and to say that Afghanistan fought a spirited battle would be selling them short.
Nevertheless, Team India scraped through with a win. The last time they looked so unconvincing against a minnow was back in the 2003 World Cup when they were bowled out against Holland for 203. They went on to reach the final. So this could be the beginning of a good run. Here is a report card of the 11 players that took the field, dressed in Blue, hoping to emulate their 2007 World Cup Win:
Shapoor Zadran dismisses the Delhi Openers
Usually gritty in the awesome twosome at the top, this is yet another worrying failure for the Delhi opener. Seems to have acquired the habit of hitting the ball consistently onto his stumps, like Dravid did on his last tour. We all know how that ended. Needs to shore up his technique against the more challenging English bowling line-up if he has to hold onto his place.
The same could be said for Sehwag. Just replace the hitting onto stumps part with a nonchalant waff outside off stump for every innings. Seems to care lesser and lesser about what his critics are saying, but even his stellar record against minnows is taking a beating now. Above all, looks unfit.
Another top innings by the machine. Fails to understand the meaning of ‘failure’, in stark contrast to his colleagues around him. For once, a half century in a winning situation- which could have very easily gone wrong. He’d have liked to go on batting, but that would have only put Dhoni’s 7-batsmen strategy into deeper waters. If not for Kohli, you’d have to wonder if the batting line-up would be able to put up half-decent scores. His energy on the field is catchy too.
The pie chucker is back. 3 wickets on the slowest of slow wickets, with the slowest of deliveries. His batting still looks a bit rusty, but he is getting good practice ahead of the England game. Always looks two strikes away from top form- and was responsible for the shot of the day with his beautiful golf swing six off their fastest bowler.
Return of the Candyman
Played his usual good cameo, but profited from some shoddy fielding and catching by the Afghan players. Still looks ugly when he gets castled in the latter overs, but spreads a good vibe on the field with Kohli and Sharma.
Not much to do, except panic a bit with his captaincy after Zaheer was whacked all over the park. Promoted himself above Sharma to do some batting damage, once again. His team was run close, and a loss here would have certainly resulted in drastic career changes for him.
Not much opportunity to prove himself again. Seems to be playing for his place all the time, but demoted to 7 after Raina and Kohli made the innings their own. Will struggle to make an impact if he isn’t promoted up the order. Will be the first casualty if Dhoni changes his 7-4 combination.
Wasn’t as effective with the ball as he would have liked, on an off day for the pacers. Balaji doesn’t count as one of them anymore, with Pathan struggling to partner Zaheer and give the team a good start. Still provides stability to the team with his all-around abilities.
His wicket of Mohammed Nabi proved to be the turning point of the match- that could have otherwise resulted in great humiliation. He is once again proving to be India’s go-to man on these turning pitches, and could prove to be the difference in an otherwise weak bowling attack for his team.
The weakest, yet most experienced link in the bowling line-up. He was smashed all over by Nabi, and didn’t even finish his quota of 4 overs. Seems like Dhoni has included him in the team only to make the other bowlers feel good about their own form.
His slow-medium Clint McKay kind of pace could work on these pitches, with him cleaning up tail-enders in Kumble style. Dinda might not get a look-in after all.