Rohit Sharma and his men were comprehensively outplayed by a Bangladesh side missing key stars, as they fell to a seven-wicket defeat in the first of the three scheduled T20 clashes.
Dropped catches, poor DRS calls and an insipid batting display proved to be India’s undoing in the defeat, which was their first in the format to the Tigers in nine matches.
Both India and Bangladesh will be relieved to bid goodbye to the alarming pollution in New Delhi as they now move on to Rajkot for the second T20I slated to take place on Thursday.
For the hosts, however, there is plenty to mull about from Sunday’s defeat which has thrown up more questions than answers.
Here, we look at the three key takeaways for India after what was a lacklustre performance.
Dube has a mare on debut
While Bangladesh’s Mohammad Naim showed plenty of promising signs on his maiden international outing, the same cannot be said for India debutant Shivam Dube.
The 26-year-old all-rounder was a surprise call-up to the squad with the team management trying to find a like-for-like replacement for the injured Hardik Pandya.
However, Dube’s display on the night was anything resembling that of Pandya with the right-hander struggling with both bat and ball.
Coming in to bat at No6 for the hosts, Dube lasted just four deliveries in his debut outing before he was dismissed for just the one run. Attempting to work Afif Hossain’s delivery towards the leg-side, Dube could only get a leading edge which the Bangladesh youngster plucked out with a one-handed leap on his follow through.
The India man’s bowling display didn’t throw up anything special either, with Rohit throwing the ball to him for the final over of Bangladesh’s innings. His gentle medium pacers were hardly any threat for Mahmudullah who knocked down the required five runs for victory with consummate ease.
With the scores level after Dube’s two deliveries, the Bangladesh skipper thumped the third ball for a huge six to finish off the match in style.
India’s puzzling T20 approach
Following India’s 2-1 victory over South Africa in the preceding T20I series at home, skipper Virat Kohli had talked up India’s new attacking approach to the format. That strategy revolved around taking the game to the opposition bowling attack from the very start and not swaying away from that approach even if early wickets fell.
That was exactly how India started with the bat against the Tigers with Rohit crashing a couple of sumptuous boundaries in the first over of the innings. However, as soon as the stand-in India skipper fell on the last delivery of that over, the hosts changed tactic with Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul opting to play it safe.
By the time Rahul fell in the seventh over, India’s run-rate had dipped well below six with their tactic resembling their ODI approach which has bordered on playing it safe while conserving wickets.
This, despite the hosts packing their side with capable batsmen all the way down to No9 (Deepak Chahar) in the batting order. The lack of impetus from India in the first-half of their innings proved to be costly with the remaining batsmen forced to throw caution to the wind as soon as they arrived at the crease.
The muddled T20 tact is a baffling one and how they approach the remainder of the series will be interesting to see. Most importantly, the team management, including head coach Ravi Shastri, needs to be on the same page as the players with just under a year remaining until the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Khaleel Ahmed fails to turn up once again
The pressure has been rising on Khaleel Ahmed to grow into his shoes in international cricket, with the left-armed seamer being handed countless chances to make his mark at T20I level.
However, the 21-year-old has failed to bring the goods so far with his latest display not earning him any new fans either.
While he did pick up the solitary wicket of Soumya Sarkar, Ahmed once again proved to be highly expensive with his four overs leaking 37 runs. The youngster bore the brunt of Mushfiqur Rahim’s late charge and looked hapless and bereft of ideas as the Bangladesh stalwart upped the ante.
Being unable to contain the flow of runs has been a common theme of the youngster’s displays in an India shirt with his career economy-rate in T20Is now almost touching nine. For a long time, it has looked like the Indian team management has tried to shoehorn him into the side just on the basis of his left-arm variation.
While left-armed pacers are a precious commodity in international cricket, simply being one is not going to push Khaleel’s case. He needs to start showing he has other tools in his armoury soon enough, or else he risks facing the axe in an era where India have been blessed with abundance in the pace department.
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