Freddie Wilde analyses the strategies and tactics that shaped the first T20 international.
ENGLAND COUNTER ATTACK v CHAHAL
As illustrated by the Captaincy Grid – which takes into account batsman data for bowler-types, bowler data for batsman-hand and batsman v bowler head-to-head data, Yuzvendra Chahal was a key weapon for Virat Kohli to target England’s opening pair Jos Buttler and Jason Roy. In particular Roy has struggled against Chahal through his career, having been dismissed by him three times in 27 balls before this match.
When Chahal was introduced England counter-attacked, Roy bravely reverse swept a four off the third ball of the over before Buttler hit a six and a four to take 16 off the over. Bowling Chahal was the right decision but England were bold and took on a key bowler at a key moment.
PERFECT TIME TO STRIKE
The timing of the wicket of Roy, off the last ball of the fifth over with England 50 for 0, was significant – especially with Buttler on-strike for the first ball of the sixth over which was to be bowled by Hardik, the weakest link in India’s attack. Had Roy not got out, Buttler would almost certainly have targeted the sixth over but as it was he had to be more cautious so he didn’t destabilise the innings just before the field dropped back and India’s spinners were deployed. Buttler didn’t attack a single delivery in Hardik’s over and it cost just three runs – stifling the momentum of what had been a bright start for England.
CHAHAL FIGHTS BACK
After a chastening first over that was hit for 16 Chahal responded brilliantly in his last three overs, conceding just 18 runs from his remaining 18 balls. He did this by hiding the ball wide outside off stump and giving the ball more air than in his first over when he had bowled straighter and flatter. By bowling wide outside off stump Chahal forced England’s right-handers to hit towards the bigger off side boundary where had covering fielders.
HALES COSTS ENGLAND
Chahal’s tactics played a part in stifling Alex Hales who laboured to 8 off 18 balls – an innings which Match Impact assessed as having cost England 13.4 runs. Although Hales simply looked in bad touch – edging, missing or mis-timing nine of his 18 balls, part of his struggles can be explained by his position in the batting order and the timing of his entry to the crease. Hales is an exceptionally strong batsman in the Powerplay when the field is up, boasting an average Match Impact of +4.5 runs per match, however outside the Powerplay his average Match Impact is -2.9 runs per match. In this innings he faced his first ball with just four deliveries remaining in the Powerplay and was forced to start his innings with five men outside the ring, limiting his boundary options. The problem for England is that a swap in the batting order with Roy isn’t straightforward because Roy displays exactly the same tendencies.
KULDEEP’S GUILEFUL GOOGLIES
In an era when wrist spinners, led by Rashid Khan and Shadab Khan, are bowling faster and shorter than ever, Kuldeep Yadav is a throwback to old-school wrist spinners who bowl slowly, toss the ball up and bowl full.
Across his career Kuldeep bowls 33% googlies (20% v left-handers and 42% v right-handers). In Manchester Kuldeep bowled 72% googlies – comfortably the highest proportion of his career. The combination of Kuldeep’s slow, loopy pace and unexpected direction of spin was too much for England’s middle order who have struggled against spin since the last World T20 and they subsided dramatically. Kuldeep’s figures of 5 for 24 are the equal second best figures for India in a T20 match.
After a wayward start from England’s pace bowlers India were 52 for 1 at the end of the Powerplay and the only thing standing between India and a comfortable victory was England’s spin duo Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali. It quickly became apparent that India – and particularly Rahul – are far more adept at playing spin than Australia, who were tied in knots by Rashid and Moeen in the recent limited overs series.
Rahul is a masterful player of spin and he unfurled his full range in this innings: with fine leg up in the circle he played two superb reverse sweeps and one beautiful late cut – each one of them beating the man and racing away for four; then when England’s spinners responded by bowling more slowly and tossing the ball up he skipped down the track, twice dispatching sixes over long on. Rahul faced 16 balls from the spinners – he didn’t miss or edge a single shot and scored 36 runs. With classy, intelligent batting he dissected England’s main threat and the game was as good as won.
Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz. @fwildecricket