After a heroic performance against Pakistan, the Indian top-orde witnessed an epic collapse against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2023 Super 4 match. The likes of Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul, all of whom scored more than 50 runs against Pakistan, were dismissed early on Tuesday. It was Sri Lanka’s 20-year-old spinner Dunith Wellalage who dismissed all four of them, picking a 5-wicket-haul in the match. While the performance of the young Sri Lankan was brilliant, former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir rued the ‘soft dismissals’ of the likes of Kohli, Rohit, Rahul, etc.
In a chat on Star Sports after the match, Gambhir highlighted a worrying ‘pattern’ that he has started to witness in the Indian team, particularly against spinners. He even gave the example of a match between India and Australia where spinners ran through Indian batters just like Wellalage.
“This is becoming a pattern. You remember that match against Australia in Chennai when the ball was gripping a bit and India were chasing some 260-odd runs against spinners like Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. And we couldn’t chase it. Whenever the ball grips, we struggle and we don’t even know whether we can take the game deep. This is not a 350-run wicket…it’s of 270. Imagine if in 40 overs you are three down for 160 or 170, then when the ball grips, it is very important for the batters to adjust. Virat Kohli and KL Rahul’s were soft dismissals, but the rest were beaten by the front foot. Rohit Sharma was beaten by pace, Gill by…that was a brilliant ball. You expect better from Indian batters,” he said during the rain interruption after the conclusion of the 47th over of India’s batting.
Getting into the technicalities, Gambhir explained why it is necessary to play certain deliveries on the backfoot and not the front foot in order to be effective in defence.
“As a batsman we often try to play the angle, but if the ball spins from there then things become difficult. If you deliver it closer to the wicket then it becomes easier, but when you deliver it wider from the crease then it becomes difficult. And that is why it is necessary to play it off the backfoot rather than frontfoot, where both the edges are tested. Look at Hardik’s dismissal. And you mentioned (Ajantha) Mendis…he had carrom ball and we did not even know how those deliveries would behave. But these were proper left-arm spin deliveries,” he explained.
“Gill could have defended that ball. You cannot say that it was an unplayable delivery. Look at the bat face, it is towards the leg side… towards mid-on. Against such deliveries, you should always play it towards mid-off or towards the bowler. The moment you go for mid-on you are giving the chance for an outside edge,” he further said.
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