There is still room for improvement in the Indian fielding, writes Steve Waugh.
As the ICC Twenty20 enters the second stage, teams are starting to find their bearings.
Players have realised that like in the other forms of the game, good cricket is what will win you matches. The wild, all-out attack that we saw in the preliminary stages has been replaced with a greater percentage of normal cricket shots. Batsmen are keeping their heads still and better balanced, while the captains have begun to plan rather than just hope.
The Australians looked in ominous form against Bangladesh on Sunday. Clearly, they are getting better with every game, after the loss against Zimbabwe. Bangladesh needs to deliver consistently if they want to beat the top class sides more often. At present, they are too dependent on that one great innings to help them create the odd upset.
Win more regularly
It takes the occasional knock from somebody like Mohammed Ashraful to get Bangladesh a rare win, but they need to do more than that. It’s been a long time since the world has been praising their potential and now it’s time they begin to translate that potential into results more consistently.
Ricky Ponting and his men will now meet Pakistan, and they will begin as favourites. Pakistan’s main strength is their quality pace attack. I was very impressed with both Mohammed Asif and Umar Gul. The latter reminds me of Glenn McGrath, with his wrist position and relaxed, economical run-up.
The battle that will have an impact on Tuesday’s game will be the one between Australian opening batsmen and Pakistan’s new ball bowlers. Playing out a bowler’s spell is not an option in Twenty20 cricket, so it will be interesting to see how Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden approach the early overs, and who will take on the enforcer’s role.
Doing Vettori good
Among the other sides that are looking good at the moment is New Zealand. They did well to come back strongly after being beaten by Sri Lanka just the day before. Daniel Vettori has always been a class bowler, and captaincy might be good for him.
A change at the helm is often a good thing. No matter how good you are as a captain, staleness and fatigue can set in. There is no denying Stephen Fleming was a great captain for his side, but the New Zealand board probably got it right by looking ahead.
The Indians fought hard, but I still feel that they are suspect under pressure. Bowlers lose their nerve and catches go down at crucial stages. There is still, room for improvement in the fielding, which continues to be a concern.
Sri Lanka and South Africa are other form teams, who look like they will make it to the next round if they keep up this tempo.
The Indian players as well as their supporters will be keeping an eye on the meeting on Tuesday, which will select the captain for the packed domestic season ahead. As I mentioned in my last article, the Indians need to find a captain who is looking ahead to the job and has the ambition to do it well.