Jagaul.com Gaming India aim to finish strong in last match before T20 World Cup | Cricket

India aim to finish strong in last match before T20 World Cup | Cricket

Wednesday’s dead rubber also happens to be India’s last international T20 match before the T20 World Cup in West Indies. Afghanistan are yet to win against India. And chances of that happening don’t look good at Bengaluru’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium, where it rains sixes. It only provides a further impetus for India to test out their batting riches. Shivam Dube and Yashasvi Jaiswal have been exceptional. Rinku Singh shows he belongs at this level. Shubman Gill and Tilak Varma all have done what was expected of them.

India’s captain Rohit Sharma with head coach Rahul Dravid during a practice session (PTI)

But more heartening has been Virat Kohli’s intent. A self-imposed hiatus from T20Is since the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final defeat to England has evidently hardened Kohli’s resolve to get India across the line in an ICC event. He hasn’t let the narrative go down a predictable path. He isn’t taking time to settle in, not trying to keep his shots down and neither is he satisfied with boundaries anymore.

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Particularly satisfying was the way he tried to cut Mujeeb Ur Rahman—Afghanistan’s best spinner—to size. These are unprecedented times when you also consider Rohit Sharma has wholeheartedly committed to this high-risk, high-rewards batting approach. If this sticks, India can really turn it on.

Parallely, the emergence of Dube as the middle-overs enforcer has also been a relief, considering how often India have slowed down in this phase in the past. In Jaiswal, India have probably found an all-format opener who backs his instinct irrespective of the settings. The batting, as a result, seems to have picked up pace in only a matter of two matches.

Key to this improvement, as Jaiswal said after the second T20I, is the emphasis on maintaining a high strike rate. “I was trying to punish the loose balls, and was focused to give my team a good start. I was trying to bat as deep as I can. I was trying to keep my strike rate good. I wanted to keep batting with a good strike rate.”

All this augurs very well for a side that is expecting Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya to join the ranks once declared fit. And even though Washington Sundar and Axar Patel haven’t batted, the No 1-7 batting finally looks more potent. There are bound to be selection problems going ahead but it’s a conundrum the selectors would be happy to embrace.

What may be of a little concern is how India keep leaking big runs. And at a ground like Chinnaswamy that promises a run fest, it’s doubly important for the bowlers to score a few brownie points collectively before they go off to their respective franchises for the Indian Premier League. Arshdeep Singh, India’s most economical fast bowler in this series, believes there is scope to learn even though this is a dead rubber.

“Mindset as a team doesn’t work on the series scoreline and what happened in the last matches,” said Arshdeep in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “The main motive is to get used to the ground, adapt quickly. We can look at improving and developing match skills.”

With the short boundaries and the quick outfield, Chinnaswamy can be particularly difficult for faster bowlers but Arshdeep believes it ultimately works to their advantage. “We feel there is nothing to lose here. Batsmen are under pressure because of the feeling that they have to score more boundaries and that is where as a bowler you are in the game. You can get more wickets.”

The management could be tempted in giving a game to Avesh Khan, who has been travelling with the team since South Africa. In that case, Mukesh Kumar—who conceded 21 runs in two overs in the second T20I—could be benched. Kuldeep Yadav, a clear frontrunner when the World Cup arrives, too could benefit from a match replacing either Ravi Bishnoi or Washington Sundar. Jitesh Sharma has been a regular fixture for some time now but if the management wants to keep Sanju Samson in the loop, this is the last opportunity to test him out.

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