Arch-rivals, India and Pakistan are all set to battle it out in the fourth match of the ongoing Asia Cup T20 on a super Saturday at Mirpur in Dhaka. Keeping the pace and bounce at the Sher-e-Bangla track in mind, many term this game as a contest between Indian batting vs Pakistan bowling. READ ALSO: India expects stiff challenge from arch-rival Pakistan
With the likes of Mohamed Irfan, Mohammed Sami, Wahab Riaz and comeback boy Mohammad Aamir on their ranks, Pakistan will field a formidable pace attack in this much-anticipated encounter. On helpful conditions, this attack will test the skills of India batting, which of late have been playing mostly on batting beauties. And when they got a challenging wicket in a T20I at Pune, the inexperience Sri Lankan bowlers exposed the susceptibility of Indian batsmen against pace.READ ALSO: Statistics ahead of the India-Pakistan clash
This raises the question, is Indian batting vulnerable? Well, certainly not on paper but on the field, there are some grey areas in this batting line-up.
In limited-overs cricket, especially in T20s, this batting line-up depends too much on the top three – Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. Their recent statistics proves this fact as well. India has played nine T20Is in last 12 months in which the top three have done the bulk of the scoring with 1,071 runs. Amongst these three Rohit (Averages 45.55 in last nine games) and Virat (Averages 62.50 in last six matches) have been the top performers, whereas Dhawan has had some patchy form. His highest score is 51 in last nine games.
Thus, the Pakistan pacers can certainly target Dhawan initially. They can explore his problems against the moving ball. If they can get rid of this southpaw early, they will get a chance to expose the ‘not so confident’, middle-order early in this innings.
So, what are the problems at the middle-order, which has the likes of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh?
Both of them are making a comeback and despite of their experience on a big game the performance pressure can get the better of them, like it did the last World T20 final. Though recently this pair won India a T20I against Australia in Sydney from a difficult situation, but they not yet fully settled after their comeback. Against quality pace, both these left-handers can be a little bit shaky starters.
Now let’s talk about the finishers. Skipper MS Dhoni along with Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja have been trusted for this role in this Indian side.
In international T20 cricket, Dhoni has always remained an underachieved batsman. He is yet to score a half-century in this format. The Jharkhand lad comes way down the batting order. Even now a days he is sending young Pandya above him. So, despite all the reputations and Indian Premier League (IPL) heroics, Dhoni’s batting is certainly not a big factor for India in this format. Besides this, with age MSD is losing his hitting skills, which he used to possess.
Pandya on the other hand has been quite impressive of late but he is too inexperienced to be expected to do the job every time. Jadeja is also yet to prove his worth as a proper batsman.
So all is not well with this so called ‘strong’ Indian batting line-up.
Traditionally India always has had an upper-hand against Pakistan in multi-team events. But on Saturday they need to be at their best to keep this reputation intact.
(Sandipan Banerjee is a Senior Correspondent at Cricwizz.com)