Miller, Van Der Dussen-inspired Indian defeat stern reminder of defending troubles ahead of T20 WC

Akash Saini

Akash Saini

Author| Jun 10, 1:28 PM

PC: Twitter/OfficialCSA
PC: Twitter/OfficialCSA

South African middle-order batters David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen handed out a harsh reminder to the Indian team in front of a full-packed Delhi crowd this Thursday (June 9). Just like the thunder brought down by these two batters, the message was loud and clear: TEAM INDIA NEED TO STRENGTHEN ITS DEFENCES!

Despite charting an authoritative 211-4 off 20 overs, courtesy of Ishan Kishan's blistering 48-ball 76 and Pant-Pandya's powering cameos, the Men in Blue catastrophically failed to defend the total. To make matters worse, the hosts actually held a firm grip over the game until the first half of South Africa's response, restraining them down the mat at 86-3.

All hell broke loose thereafter as Miller and van der Dussen faced just 67 deliveries to share an unbeaten 131-run stand, including thumping 126 runs off the last ten overs and still leaving five balls behind.

Yesterday's result marked India's twelfth defeat while defending a total in their last 28 games.

Team India and the chronicles of defending blunders

Ever since the Australians visited India back in February 2019, Men in Blue seemed to have lost entirely footing in matches fielding second. What started out as identical defeats to the men from Down Under, India's repeated failures to defend totals saw a tumultuous pattern, one that continues to haunt the team today.

Notably, India's failure to handle first-innings pressure was also the root cause of their disastrous 2021 T20 World Cup campaign. Not only did they lost to Pakistan in their tournament opener by batting first, but they also fell, slipped and dragged themselves to a mere 110-7 against New Zealand in their subsequent must-win encounter.

In 46 T20I matches since February 2019, the Asian giants have won 33 games and lost 13. Out of the 46, the Indians were put to bat first in 28 of them, losing 12 and winning 14, excluding two additional wins staged in the Super Overs segment of the two tied affairs. 

India's chasing, however, requires no course correction. In the remaining 18 fixtures during the same time frame, the team won 17 and lost a solitary game to Australia in December 2020.

The poor defending record comes as a surprise to many, considering almost all Indian bowlers participate in two-month-long IPL tournaments every year, where even the moderate first-innings scores are defended on multiple occasions.

India's impressive chasing record since February 2019 indicates the problem lies with the mindset. Either the batters are confused to determine a good first-innings total, or the bowlers succumb to pressure at a mere hint of an incoming onslaught in the match's second half.

Whatever the problem may be, Rohit Sharma's troops need to rectify their defending blunders if the Men in Blue are to win the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. As one never knows for certain, Sharma and co. might be asked to bat first in a crunch game, much like the twin instances against Pakistan and New Zealand as occurred in the tourney last year. 

  • David Miller
  • Rassie van der Dussen
  • IND
  • SA
  • PAK
  • NZ
  • T20 WC 2021
  • T20 WC 2022

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