“When the partnership was building, you could feel the drive in Indian team going down” - Zaheer Khan worried over hosts’ inability to close out games

Team India are 0-2 down in the five-match series against South Africa. Pic: BCCI
Team India are 0-2 down in the five-match series against South Africa. Pic: BCCI

Former India pacer Zaheer Khan has expressed concern over Team India’s inability to close out matches in the ongoing T20I series against South Africa. He opined that while the hosts have been in dominating positions in both matches, they have been found out when put under pressure.

India went 0-2 down in the five-match T20I series, losing the second game in Cuttack on Sunday by four wickets. Batting first after losing the toss, the Men in Blue were restricted to 148 for 6.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar then claimed three quick wickets to leave the Proteas reeling at 29 for 3. However, a fourth-wicket stand of 64 between Heinrich Klaasen (81 off 46) and skipper Temba Bavuma (35 off 30) put the South African innings back on track.

Reflecting on Team India’s second loss in a row, Zaheer Khan opined that the hosts’ shoulders dropped rather swiftly during the Klaasen-Bavuma stand. During a discussion on Cricbuzz, he said:

“When the partnership was building (Klaasen-Bavuma), you could feel that the drive in the India team was going down. It was evident on the field. Those are the things Rahul Dravid and Co. need to address and do it quickly because there is only one day in between (before the 3rd T20I). They need to regroup, have some tough conversations, and identify what it is going to take for them to fight for 40 overs.”

Adding that something similar transpired in the first T20I, Zaheer Khan elaborated on Team India’s woes:

“Even in the first match, for 30 overs, you thought India were in the driver’s seat. Today again, they had the ideal start with the ball. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was outstanding but they have not been able to close out games. Some concerns for India going forward in the series and a lot of pressure.”
South Africa win the 2nd T20I by 4 wickets and are now 2-0 up in the five match series.Scorecard - #INDvSA @Paytm

India posted 211 for 4 in the first T20I and then reduced South Africa to 81 for 3. However, Rassie van der Dussen (75* off 46) and David Miller (64* off 31) featured in an unbroken 131-run stand as the Proteas chased down their highest-ever T20I total.

“Bhuvneshwar always keeps things simple” - Zaheer Khan on Team India pacer

While the other Indian bowlers struggled in Cuttack, Bhuvneshwar stood out with figures of 4 for 13. He dismissed Reeza Hendricks (4), Dwaine Pretorius (4) and Rassie van der Dussen (1) cheaply to raise India’s hopes of leveling the series. Praising Bhuvneshwar, former left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan said:

“Bhuvneshwar always keeps things simple. He has the experience of playing at this level. He understands the situations and the conditions. When Pretorius was there, he knew the batter’s role was to up the ante. The use of the knuckle ball was smart. He understands exactly what to use for each player.”
Bhuvi picks up his third wicket as Rassie van der Dussen is bowled for just 1 run.Live - #INDvSA @Paytm

Having lost the first two T20Is, India will have to win the third match in Vizag on Tuesday (June 14) to stay alive in the five-match series.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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