First, the most obvious pain-point. India bowled precisely one well-directed yorker all innings, and it resulted in the wicket of Patrick Cummins. Why aren’t they bowling more? Stonehenge might be an easier mystery to crack. True to the trend, India’s wayward seamers lost their radar straightaway as Australia came hard at them. MS Dhoni bowled five seamers today. Of them, only Umesh Yadav had an economy of less than six. Their top spin option, Ravindra Jadeja worryingly bowled only two overs and got smashed for 19 while Ravichandran Ashwin overcame a poor start to do a good holding job against David Warner and George Bailey. Stuart Binny with the new ball may trouble lesser teams in pace-friendly conditions. But teams like South Africa (who open with Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock) would relish his dibbly-dobblies. This is a set of bowlers that is consistently failing to get its basics right. It can neither take wickets in a bunch, nor can it build pressure through dot balls. And as I've argued in the past, getting your basics right is vital to winning the World Cup.
After a torrid Test series, Shikhar Dhawan hit pretty much everything off the middle of his bat today – a welcome sign of improving form. Rohit Sharma wasn’t in the worst nick playing his first game in three weeks, and it was great to see Virat Kohli back at No. 3. Ajinkya Rahane proved he can absorb pressure and score quickly at No. 4. India’s top four has more or less fallen into place. But...
THE INEVITABLE COLLAPSE
After the Dhawan-Rahane partnership of 104, India went from 157-2 to 185-7. The collapse has been a recurring feature of India’s batting abroad. In the recent tri-series, they lost 3-59 and 4-25 in Melbourne, 5-67 and 4-16 in Perth, and 8-97 in Sydney. Many of these collapses have stemmed from poor shot selection, which hints at poor match awareness, and the inability of some batsmen to absorb pressure and build partnerships. What is the team management doing about this recurring problem? This inability to keep partnerships going would hurt India at the knockouts.
MORE FORM & FITNESS PROBLEMS
India’s list of fitness problems is growing by the day. Rohit, Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are making their comebacks from injury. Ishant Sharma has already been lost. Today, Dhoni and Mohammad Shami took hits to their hands. Shami had to seek treatment for what looked like a webbing injury. In terms of form and fitness, India couldn’t be in a worse position for their title defence.