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HomeSportsAsia Cup runneth over: India Paks it up

Asia Cup runneth over: India Paks it up

Change is never easy to accept. India have tried to embrace change in two different ways. The first is to use the same personnel and change the approach, which has happened with the batting. The top three of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have said repeatedly that India now want to play a more free and aggressive brand of cricket in Twenty20 cricket, even if this means losing out on consistency. There is, however, not enough evidence that this line of thought has been implemented.

The second sort of change is to give different people opportunities in different roles to see who best can deliver the brand of cricket that the think tank desires. India were successful in trying this out in bilateral series against England and West Indies. Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav opened the batting at different times, and Deepak Hooda was used as a freeflowing batsman who chipped in with a few overs.

But, when it came to the first major tournament, the Asia Cup, India went back to old form.

“We have already got a lot of answers in the last eight to ten months, and this experimentation will continue,” said Rohit, ahead of the Pakistan clash. “Look, we’ve decided we will try things. Some things may work, and some things may not work, but there is no harm in trying. Only if you try things, will you get answers.”

The top three problem came glaringly to the fore on the day. KL Rahul, poking tentatively outside off against Naseem Shah, chopped on.

Kohli appeared to be trying to play fearlessly, but he was more hands than feet, flashing at his second ball, lucky to be dropped at second slip. More than once Kohli mistimed the ball or inside-edged it, and looked decidedly vulnerable. In the middle of all this, he played two imperious shots. An imperious pull off Shahnawaz Dahani brought back memories of the Kohli of old and a whip over midwicket shot to the fence at bullet speed.

But while the innings signalled a return to run-scoring ways for Kohli, it was too early to say he had regained form. Just as he has done in the recent past, Kohli fell once more, not committing fully to a lofted shot off the left-arm spinner, and reached for the ball, chipping it straight to long off on 35. Kohli had tried to play a changed game, but it did not appear as if his heart was in it. Rohit, for his part, had been deprived of the strike early on and when he did get on strike was unable to get the ball away.

One idiosyncratic six over long on notwithstanding, Rohit had gone back to his old self, looking to settle in, play a few balls before going big. His 12 off 18 set India back in their chase of 148. What helped India on the day was that the target was not a massive one and they had enough depth in their batting. And this came on the back of a strong bowling performance, Hardik Pandya performing like a proper bowler, not a part-timer to pick up 3 for 25. A rejuvenated Bhuvneshwar Kumar was on top of his game too, ending with 4 for 26. But, while it might be in vogue to talk about a new approach and change, it was clear that old problems remained and there was many questions still unanswered

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