Spin onslaught leaves India with more questions than answers

India vs Bangladesh t20India produced another underwhelming batting performance to end up with 102 for nine after opting to bat. (Twitter/Bangladesh Cricket)

None of India’s pacers bowled an over in the game; their Bangladesh counterparts mustered just three, as the latter took a four-wicket consolation win over India on Thursday. The visitors had won the previous two T20Is earlier this week to wrap up the series, but this was only the third victory Bangladesh had managed over India in 16 previous T20s.

The dry track in Mirpur hosted all three T20s – and will host the three upcoming ODIs starting Sunday – was not conducive to pace or classic T20 cricket. On Thursday, more of the same spin and uneven bounce was exploited by Bangladesh’s spin attack, who, aided by India’s middle-order collapse, kept the visitors to a meagre 102 and avoided a hiccup like on Tuesday, when they failed to chase 96, to round out the chase with 10 balls to spare. Shamima Sultana was out in the middle from start to finish, getting the job done through her unbeaten 46-ball 42.

The loss was inconsequential for India, who had already wrapped up the series win on Tuesday, but end their first international series since the semifinal exit in the T20 World Cup in February with more questions than answers.

India’s much-tinkered squad for this tour meant there was an opportunity to freshen things up and address concerns of a lack of batting depth and finisher. Those concerns would only have multiplied as they have not only shown a lack of solidity in their middle order, but also a lack of nous to play spin.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur is the only batswoman that looked at ease playing on the turner, able to manipulate fields and exploit loose balls. While oozing with stroke-making ability at the top of the order, in recent times, early wickets are becoming a weakness for India with a lack of a middle order that can stabilize an innings, or a finisher that can give them the additional 15-20 runs that wins matches.

On Thursday, India won the toss and put themselves into bat once again. Two days prior, Harmanpreet had spoken about targeting a 150-odd score before succumbing to a sub-100 total, but after Jemimah Rodrigues and her stabilised the innings with a 45-run partnership in the middle overs, India looked more assured.

Dramatic collapse

But after Harmanpreet’s valiant 41-ball 40 came to an end, as India stood 91-4 midway through the 17th over, history repeated itself. India would go on to lose six wickets for 11 runs over the next 22 balls.

India left out lower-order hitters like Shreyanka Patil and Sneh Rana for this series altogether, seemingly to promote the all-round abilities of the likes of Amanjot Kaur, Pooja Vastrakar, and Deepti Sharma as finishers. Wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh had been dropped to give Yastika Bhatia the gloves and try her at no. 5. Those moves have not looked like they are close to coming together over these three matches

Struggles with the bat against spin, especially after losing early wickets, does not bode well for India’s preparations for upcoming home series’ against South Africa, New Zealand, England, and Australia over the next six to eight months.

India’s spinners have given an especially good account of themselves over this series. Deepti Sharma has been up to her wily best while Minnu Mani, Anusha Bareddy, and Rashi Kanojiya have all looked solid on debut. Mani, in particular, has impressed – her two early wickets on Thursday promised to make a match of yet another low first-innings Indian total before Shamima dropped anchor and glued the run chase together.

But if their batting cannot cope, rank turners at home could prove just as tricky for India as they could for visitors. And tracks conducive to fast bowling will pose challenges of their own, given India’s lack of depth in that area.

Renuka Singh’s injury and spin-friendly conditions led to Harmanpreet not showing much confidence in pace. Selectors leaving Shikha Pandey out of the squad meant that Vastrakar and Amanjot were the only pacers used in this series, bowling a total of seven overs in three matches between them, and none in the last.

Brief Scores: India 102 for 9 (Harmanpreet 40, Rodrigues 28, Rabeya 3-16, Sultana 2-17) lost to Bangladesh 103 for 6 (Shamima 42, Nigar 14, Vaidya 2-16, Mani 2-28) by four wickets.

First published on: 13-07-2023 at 17:13 IST

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