World Cup 2019: 3 key lessons for India after Afghanistan clash
India's weak links were exposed by winless Afghanistan.
Updated - Jan 22, 2020 9:00 pm
It was supposed to be a canter, it was supposed to be easy, it was supposed to be dominating, it was supposed to be a walk in the park for India when they took on Afghanistan, but it was anything but it.
Afghanistan gave India a kind of scare that they did not think they will get especially after dominating performances against the likes of South Africa, Australia and their arch-rivals Pakistan.
It is fair to say that for more than half of the match, it was Afghanistan who were in a slightly better position than India and if Mohammad Nabi would have connected that delivery better on which he was caught on the boundary ropes off Mohammed Shami by Hardik Pandya, the result perhaps would have been the biggest upset in the history of cricket world cups since its inception in 1975.
In the end, it was India who emerged victoriously, but it wasn’t the kind of result that Virat Kohli would have hoped for, but it did teach India a few key lessons, Let’s look at the 3 key lessons for India to learn from their match against Afghanistan.
1. Reliance on Rohit
In the 3 innings before the Afghanistan match, Rohit Sharma had scored 2 match winning centuries against South Africa and Pakistan and a well-supporting half-century against Australia and India won all the 3 games convincingly because of the solid starts given by Rohit.
Against Afghanistan, he failed to score big as he was back in the pavilion after adding just 1 run to the team total off 10 balls. He was deceived by Mujeeb-ur-Rahman’s unplayable delivery. With his experienced opening partner Shikhar Dhawan ruled out due to a thumb injury, there was tremendous pressure on the lucky-go-happy KL Rahul, who was not even in the squad when selectors first announced the 15-man to travel England. India’s so far untested middle order.
For India’s batting to succeed, it is important that the openers don’t shake up the tremors in the early phase of the batting innings. Rohit and KL Rahul should put up a modest first Powerplay partnership so that the middle-order can give a thrust to the team total in the middle overs and keep the scoreboard ticking.
2. Strike rotation in the middle overs
India’s batsman were guilty of playing out too many dot balls against Afghanistan’s spinners. Barring Virat Kohli, who was easily getting the singles, none of the other batsmen were able to rotate the strike easily and that just kept piling up the misery on the India bowlers.
It’s an old notion that Indian batsmen are the best players of spin but might be partially true now. All of India’s current batsman prefer pace over spin because they like the ball coming on to the bat and their game relies more on power hitting rather than deft touches and wrist work.
So going ahead in the tournament, India will have to work on playing the middle overs better and focus on rotating the strike more.
3. MS Dhoni’s struggle against spin
It is well known across the cricketing world that MS Dhoni struggles against spin early on in his innings particularly against wrist spin and left-arm orthodox spinners. Opposition captains deploy attacking fields against him with multiple slips and some fielders in catching position while bowling spin to him early on.
This weakness was bought to fore against Afghanistan who perhaps has the best spin bowling attack in the world right now. Dhoni really struggled to hit the ball off the square and wasn’t even able to pick any boundaries against Afghan spinners. Even after the 40th over which are the slog overs and Hardik Pandya sitting in the dugout, Dhoni just couldn’t attack the spinners and eventually was stumped after scoring mere 28 off 52 balls.
It was just the second time in his entire ODI Carrer that he was stumped. For India to do go all the way in this tournament, Dhoni is an absolute key and he has to find a way to negotiate the spinners.
Written by Parth Parekh