India vs Sri Lanka 4th T20I Talking Points | Manish Pandey's scintillating form and Washington Sundar's immense potential

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India vs Sri Lanka 4th T20I Talking Points | Manish Pandey's scintillating form and Washington Sundar's immense potential

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Faizan Qadiri


India got back to winning ways against Sri Lanka, who had beaten them a week ago, with some exceptional performances from Manish Pandey and Washington Sundar. However, the grass might not be as green as it appears for the Men in Blue with Yuzvendra Chahal’s struggles with the wet ball continuing.

Washington Sundar could be the real deal

When a 17-year-old Washington Sundar was called up as a replacement for R Ashwin by the Rising Pune Supergiant last season not many would have predicted that he would play 11 games for the team that made it all the way to the finals. The numbers that usually attract the masses, ie, wickets, might not have been too impressive. With just 8 wickets to his name, Sundar did not impress in that department but where he did, was the economy rate column. He gave away just 6.16 runs an over in his matches and there was no surprise that this time around,  RCB came in and paid 3.2 crores for his services. 

So when India decided to send their reserve side for the Nidahas Trophy, it came as a surprise to no one that Sundar was on the list. And how the youngster has impressed again. He has claimed four wickets in three matches but that isn’t really his forte now, is it? He has given away runs at just an average of a run a ball. What makes those numbers sound even more impressive is the fact that he bowls at least two overs in the powerplay of a series where the average powerplay run rate has been close to 12 runs an over. It is very rare that a youngster bowls with such maturity and if he can keep it up, Ashwin might not be the Tamil Nadu spinner who finds himself in England come the World Cup next year.

And the answer to the No.4 problem is…..MANISH PANDEY

There are very few players who have divided opinions in Indian cricket like Manish Pandey. The now 28-year old came into the mainstream limelight with a century in the IPL in 2009. However, it was almost a decade before his name appeared in the newspapers again. His century against Australia in Sydney was supposed to be a watershed moment for the youngster. But it was not meant to be. He never got an extended run in the side and with the few chances that he did get, it is fair to say that he underperformed. But that seems to have changed now.

He was given a chance in the T20I series against South Africa and boy did he take it this time. In three innings, he put up scores of 29*, 79*, and 13. He was honest enough to admit after the series that he wanted to play at the No. 4 spot and that he wasn’t too comfortable batting lower down the order. He would have thought that the Nidahas Trophy would afford him that chance but he was left disappointed again as Suresh Raina was handed the coveted spot. But with three consecutive innings of 37, 27*, and 42*, the final two coming in winning causes, he does deserve a promotion, particularly with Suresh Raina and KL Rahul not in the best of form. The ease with which he controlled the innings against Sri Lanka, admittedly not a world beater, was a great sight to see. With a fresh start in the IPL on the horizon, his destiny remains in his hands. If he can perform in the messy and tiring cauldron that is the Indian Premier League, Pandey has a real shot at the questionable No.4 position in the Indian national team.

India need to realize wet outfield and wrist spinners don’t mix

The current Indian team is arguably one of the best that has been assembled in cricket for quite a while. And it’s not just the playing XI. The reserve squad also has some players who would waltz into the teams that India are playing in the Nidahas Trophy. However, the tactics that India have deployed recently leave a lot more to be desired. The biggest strength of the side is the leg-spinning duo available at their disposal. However, the same turns into a huge problem when the outfield is wet. In the limited overs series against South Africa, India lost just two matches and there was an obvious reason for that - a wet outfield due to rain. While Chahal conceded at 12.36 in his overs, Kuldeep leaked runs at 8.5 runs an over. In the T20 game, Chahal was expensive again with an economy rate of 16.

Today was no different, even if the final numbers suggest otherwise. While Chahal might have finished his quota of overs with an economy of 8.50, his blushes were saved as Sri Lanka suffered a mid-innings collapse. In his first two overs, the RCB man conceded an incredible 27 runs and the simple reason was the fact that he was struggling to grip the ball properly. India need to have a contingency in place if the weather conditions make it obvious that a wrist spinner will struggle. It might have cost them games that don’t really account for too much but once the World Cup, that is being played in England of all places, arrives, it could be a big big problem.

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