The combination of surfaces with bounce and the old failing against precise short-pitched bowling from pacemen haunted defending champion India’s campaign in the 2009 edition of ICC World Twenty20 in England.
The West Indies and England came up with the strategy of attacking the Indian batsmen with testing deliveries that were not above shoulder height, but climbed into the chest of the batsmen. Given the quickness with which these balls rose from the surface — the juicy pitch at Lord’s justified this tactic — and the control with which they were bowled, the Indians were pegged back.
To put it simply, the Indian batsmen were not able to score off these deliveries. And with each ball, the pressure mounted. The pull shot is often an effective counter against these lifting deliveries but the Indian batsmen could not get themselves into the right position to execute the shot. On the occasions the stroke was attempted, the ball ballooned up for catches to be held.
India overcame Bangladesh and Ireland in the early group phase at Nottingham but stumbled in the Super Eight stage. The side was shaken up by the pace and fury of West Indies’ Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards on a buzzing Lord’s surface.
Dhoni’s men were 29 for three in little time and despite a battling 67 from Yuvraj Singh, India only managed a total of 153 for seven. Dwayne Bravo, who had reaped the rewards with clever seam and swing bowling to scalp four after Taylor and Edwards had dented the Indians psychologically, tore into the Indian bowling to remain unbeaten with 66. The Caribbeans romped home by seven wickets.
Then, the English pacemen, led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad, knocked the Indians out of the competition with similar tactics. The mixing of the length — the barrage of lifting deliveries was followed by a fuller length ball to disrupt the footwork of the batsmen — worked again at Lord’s as England’s total of 153 proved a match-winning one. This was also a competition where the lack of transparency about Virender Sehwag’s shoulder injury did not help the team’s cause.
In the next edition of the tournament in the West Indies in 2010, the Indians breezed past South Africa on a sluggish surface at St. Lucia — Suresh Raina produced a strokeful 101 — but ran into rough weather on a much quicker track in Bridgetown, Barbados.
India was not undone just by the short-pitched stuff again — Australia and the West Indies employed it with telling success — but also suffered because of bizarre tactics in the Super Eight phase. In both matches, against Australia and the Caribbeans on a fast wicket, the Indians fielded just two pacemen.
The tactic backfired and Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin went for 38 runs in two overs against the Aussies. Indeed, the lack of balance in the bowling on a very non-subcontinental pitch hurt India. Once again, the side missed a semifinal slot by a mile.
Keywords: 2012 world twenty20