Virat Kohli defied the law of averages by losing the toss yet again – don’t let that man near a casino! – but who needs the advantage of a toss win when you captain a team as good as India? As they aptly demonstrated in the final two matches of the T20I series against England, overturning a 2-1 deficit into a memorable 3-2 win, they are just as capable of setting a massive target and defending it successfully.
Especially when they have bowlers who play with guile and variation, essential in a white ball format weighed heavily in the batsman’s favour. And finally, an Indian bowler’s crucial contribution to the winning cause was recognised when Bhuvneshwar Kumar was awarded man-of-the-match. Hallelujah!
Bhuvi (pictured above) not only took out the dangerous Jos Buttler, who was threatening to spearhead a miraculous England win, but posted an astonishing economy rate of 3.75 in a match where almost 400 runs were scored. Proof once again, if any one doubts it was the bowlers who won the series for India, was that up until Bhuvi struck in over 13, England were comfortably in touch with India’s massive total, and even ahead till the 12th over.
Conversely for England, it was their poor bowling that ultimately cost them dear. England have always prided themselves on being able to chase down any total, but the fallacy of such a one-dimensional approach was exposed when facing a team that can do both. England have relied heavily on the two-pronged pace attack of Wood and Archer, with much success, but on a fast, flat pitch, they were smashed around the ground by the fearsome Indian attack, which included Kohli (pictured above), who promoted himself to opener.
England appeared to have neither the imagination, nor flexibility, to change tack – slow balls, anyone?! – and their lack of depth was illustrated by support bowlers Chris Jordan having another shocker (worldie catches notwithstanding) and Sam Curran not being trusted to bowl more than one over. Conceding a mammoth 224 runs, around 35 runs too many, to a team which does have clever, imaginative bowlers – see Shardul Thakur’s knuckle ball that bowled Dawid Malan – meant England’s task was always going to be insurmountable, even with their powerful batting line up.
To exacerbate matters for England comes the sorry news that Jofra Archer will miss the upcoming ODI series and the start of the IPL due to an ongoing elbow injury. England will be praying that Archer’s fitness issue is resolved by the time the World Cup comes around, as without their talisman bowler, it is hard to see them succeeding in India come October.
India, though, have the opposite problem: an embarrassment of riches. Their greatest difficulty is going to be figuring who to leave out! This was a series won by ‘second string’ bowlers, a team without Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami. But then it was their reserve team that won in Australia, so maybe the India B team – and even the C team – is better than their A team!
With such strength in depth, perhaps it’s only fair that they give the opposition a sporting chance by allowing them to win the toss.