If not for the spells of Ravi Bishnoi and Axar Patel, Australia could well have been leading 2-1 in the ongoing T20I series.
The batters have done their job quite well while leg-spinner Bishnoi, with his timely strikes, and Axar being economical with his left-arm spin have played the supporting act to keep India ahead in this five-match series. The quicks, on the other hand, just haven’t been able to deliver yet.
Mukesh Kumar, leaving ahead of Tuesday’s T20I for his wedding, had put in a decent effort though in the series opener in Visakhapatnam, which too was a close encounter. In Guwahati, Avesh Khan, coming in for Mukesh, wasn’t really sloppy and also removed Travis Head with a well-directed slower short-pitched stuff when the left-hander had already begun to cut loose.
Prasidh Krishna. File photo
But if one talks about Arshdeep Singh and Prasidh Krishna, what comes under the spotlight is their economy rate. With only two wickets from the three games so far, left-arm quick Arshdeep’s economy rate reads 10.91. Prasidh has two more scalps to show in the wickets column, but his economy rate (13.25) is something neither he nor the Indian team management would like to have a look at.
Agreed, against a Glenn Maxwell onslaught, even well-established bowlers will find the going to be tough. Dew, too, has been a factor in the last two games. But on Tuesday in particular, Australia had 118 to get in the last 10 overs and 78 off the last 30 balls. That certainly was quite a cushion for the bowlers.
Yet, Australia could have their way as the Indian bowlers, especially Prasidh and Arshdeep, kept on faltering in line and length while Maxwell, and later Matthew Wade too, kept putting them away. Even 21 off the final over couldn’t be defended as Prasidh seemed clueless about the length he needed to bowl.
Avesh Khan. Getty Images
Besides, these conditions aren’t new to these pacers who have all had their share of IPL experience.
Arshdeep, courtesy his variations, may get a lifeline and feature in the squad for the South Africa T20Is next month, which is expected to be announced very soon. But Prasidh should consider himself lucky if he finds a place in that squad.
In fact, he will be quite fortunate if he continues to feature in the XI for the last two T20Is on Friday and Sunday in Raipur and Bangalore, respectively. As for Avesh, he does deserve another chance in the current series.
The absence of Maxwell and several other regulars in the next two matches, however, presents the quicks with the perfect opportunity to buck up and register better figures.
“The way Prasidh and Arshdeep have bowled so far obviously doesn’t bode well. But the selectors may still be a bit patient with them as they are playing international cricket after quite some time,” a BCCI insider said.
There’s still some time left for next year’s T20 World Cup beginning on June 4. But finding an ideal new-ball partner for Jasprit Bumrah on the batsmen-friendly tracks in the Caribbean and the United States is imperative for India, and they need to sort it out fast.
Deepak Chahar’s addition to the squad for the ongoing Australia T20Is is one indication that he could be in the reckoning. Chahar, whose career has been plagued by injuries, recently fared well with both bat and ball for Rajasthan in this season’s Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, taking 10 wickets from five matches and aggregating 67 runs at an average of 33.50.
In the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, Chahar has hit an unbeaten 66 and taken 6/41. It may not be a bad idea to include him in the XI in at least one of the two remaining Australia matches.