When Jasprit Bumrah had a taste of own medicine precisely administered by Tim Southee in the final over of the day in the second ODI, the man at the other end was Umesh Tilak Yadav, and it was the 13th time he had ended up not out in his ODI career. In most of the 13 innings, Yadav either threw his bat at anything that’s hurled at him and was lucky to survive either because the fielder dropped the catch or the ball missed the stumps by a whisker. At other times, he spent his entire time at the non-striker’s end.
Against this uninspiring backdrop, the 18 not out that Yadav patiently scripted at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground on Thursday stands tall, absolving him of the horrible sins he had committed in the past.
Remember the ODI match India played at Canberra in January this year against Australia? The match India lost by 25 runs after almost successfully chasing 349? At Canberra, when Yadav joined Ravindra Jadeja, India had momentum with 311 runs on the board, needing 38 from 27 deliveries. He left the first ball alone, and thereafter it was a horrible display of an utter lack of sense and purpose as he tried to hit the ball out of the ground and missed, ball after ball. Just twice he could connect, and both times the balls went straight up in the air. He was dropped once, but his luck ran out soon. All that in 11 balls and inside 11 minutes.
Over to Delhi. Yadav spent 45 minutes in the middle, faced 23 balls to score 18 runs, hit just one four and seldom tried senseless slogging. In the company of Hardik Pandya he almost took India to victory, and even after Pandya got out the Indians at the ground were hopeful that the man from Nagpur might pull it off. If only Bumrah managed to block the yorker and somehow made it to the non-striker’s end — in which case it was just a matter of six runs off two balls, a perfect time for Yadav to go wild.
New Zealand, on the other hand, deserved the victory. Beaten in the three Tests, and humbled in the first ODI, the visitors needed a pat on the back for their effort and it was good that it came at the right time. One-all, the ODI series now looks interesting.
The Indian problem is pretty simple to understand and quite hard to solve. When one of the openers falls early, or when both openers struggle to be among runs and one of them departs after consuming a good number of overs without beefing up the scoreboard, and if that’s then followed by a quick exit of Virat Kohli, India fail to work up momentum when batting first and lose the plot when chasing.
At Kotla, Rohit Sharma was slow and when he walked back to the dressing room in the eighth over only 21 runs was on the board. Kohli followed him soon, making nine runs, and that was enough to put the spring back in the kiwis’ steps.
It’s time Ajinkya Rahane realized that he didn’t need to prove his manliness when the ball is pitched short. He seems to be obsessed with the idea of pulling every short ball.
He merrily blocks far too many balls which are not short of a length, and this builds up pressure on him as well as his partner, especially when both are struggling for runs. It’s not a bad idea for Rahane to leave alone some of the short balls and, instead, tries to find the gaps and rotate the strike in singles and twos.
MS Dhoni was unlucky in both matches. In the first, he was run out and in the second he was out to a brilliant return catch by Southee, but the innings were marked by embarrassing displays of his never-ending struggle to time the ball.
Anil Kumble said after the Dharamsala match that Dhoni was experienced enough to define himself the role he needed to play, suggesting that the skipper didn’t need batting tips. That’s not completely true — but who in the present set-up could take Dhoni out for a chat over a cup of coffee?
The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman