An explosive innings from forgotten man Lendl Simmons saw Windies thump India in the second T20I to level the series, but more crucially, it highlighted what has become a worrying trend for Virat Kohli’s men.
The hosts have many concerns at the moment, not least their fielding woes with two more catches going down in the outfield in Thiruvananthapuram. That makes it a total of seven catches spilled by India’s fielders in the two clashes so far which is an alarming statistic for one of the top sides in the world.
However, the more pressing matter for the Indian team management will be their frailties while batting first in T20Is, a weakness that was fully exploited by West Indies in Sunday’s clash. Skipper Kieron Pollard had no hesitation in opting to bowl first after winning the toss, knowing full well how vulnerable India are when it comes to setting up targets.
India are no doubt one of the best chasers in limited-overs cricket, with Kohli a batsman transformed when it comes to hunting down totals. The India skipper does after all average a staggering 121 and 97 in T20Is and ODIs respectively in successful run chases. That supreme efficiency from the superstar has resulted in India attaining a 14-3 win-loss record in T20s since the turn of 2018 when batting second.
The same, however, does not apply when it comes to setting up first-innings totals, especially in the shortest format of the game. With Sunday’s loss in Thiruvananthapuram, India have now lost six of their last 10 T20I matches while attempting to chase down totals. Since the start of 2018, their win-loss record when batting first is now evenly matched at 8-8.
It is an indication that they are getting worse batting first with each passing series and they have fallen to home defeats against South Africa, Bangladesh and now the West Indies in that fashion.
Though bilateral T20I series are a chance to experiment for the big dance that is next year’s World Cup in Australia, India desperately need to fix this flaw in their game if they are to go all the way.
When losses like Sunday’s become a habit, teams around the world are bound to take notice of this significant chink in India’s armour. The gaps between the top teams in the 20-over format are miniscule and the margins between victory and defeat are thin.
With so many sides shaping up as contenders for the trophy Down Under, India will need to iron out this flaw quickly. They will not always win the toss in the World Cup, and they can be sure already that teams will make them bat first whenever they have the chance.
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