T20 World Cup 2022: I don’t think in T20 cricket you can go into the game being conservative: Anil Kumble on India's ultra-attacking approach ahead of the mega clash against Pakistan 

Pakistan v India - DP World Asia Cup
Pakistan v India - DP World Asia Cup

Team India are all set to square off against arch-rivals Pakistan in a highly anticipated contest in the T20 World Cup contest at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on October 23rd (Sunday).

Ahead of the mega clash, former Indian skipper and coach Anil Kumble reflected on what India's approach should be against a particular Shaheen Afridi who wreaked havoc when the two teams met each other at the last World Cup in UAE.

The winner of the @Nissan Play of the Tournament from the 2021 ICC Men's #T20WorldCup is:Shaheen Afridi's blistering opening spell against India 🔥

Kumble is of the opinion that the approach doesn’t need to change much. The inswinging deliveries of Shaheen Afridi could be a threat early on but he wants the Indian team to not think of the battering they received at the hands of Pakistan in last year’s World Cup.

I don't think the approach needs to change. Yes, we need to see whether there is any swing upfront. If there is a bit of swing you need to be aware of that and bat accordingly,” Kumble was quoted as saying during an ESPN Cricinfo pre-match show.

Anil Kumble backs KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma to come good

KL Rahul looked in great touch during the warm-up clash against Australia, scoring a fluent half-century. Rohit Sharma has adopted a positive approach and has taken the onus on himself to hit the big shots in the powerplay.

Inswinging deliveries against left-arm pacers has been Rohit Sharma’s concern over the years and Kumble felt that he needs to to take his time early on against Shaheen.

“Rahul has been batting brilliantly in the two practice games. He has been in good form. Rohit obviously has to take his time with his left-arm seamer coming back in. You have to play with what happens on the day rather than what happened last time,” Kumble added.

Ever since India’s shocking group stage exit from the UAE World Cup last year, they have employed an ultra-aggressive approach, especially in the powerplay. The tactic has worked for India in bilateral series, but whether they continue with the same approach in the World Cup remains to be seen.

Two goats 🐐 in a single pic. Rohit Sharma 🤝 Rahul Dravid.

Mentioning Finn Allen, who played a pivotal role in New Zealand’s victory over Australia in the first Super 12 game, Kumble said that it was important for the openers to stamp their authority on the opposition by getting off to a flying start if there is an opportunity.

“Yes the positive approach has to be there. I don’t think in T20 cricket you can go into the game being conservative. Yes you need to adapt to the conditions but at the same time you need to back yourself getting what you need to do in the first six overs.
We saw in the game between New Zealand and Australia where Finn Allen took the game on right from the first over. If you have that opportunity you need to stamp the authority on the opposition up front,” Kumble said.

Stephen Fleming has his say on the blockbuster contest

Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming, who was also present during the show, felt that it was important for the batters to maintain a positive frame of mind rather than pondering the prospect of top-class left-arm bowlers swinging the ball everywhere.

Fleming was also of the opinion that the batters need to analyze the conditions after facing the first one or two deliveries and bat accordingly.

“So you have to gain as much information from a couple of balls you face. If the ball is swinging, you need to be more circumspect and go and put that in the computer.
You can have a sort of a mental want whether you want to be dominant when you walk out and to take on two or three best left-armers we are talking about,” quipped Fleming.

The World Cup Super 12 stage got underway on Saturday, and the Kiwis thrashed hosts Australia by a whopping 89 runs to make themselves a strong contender to go through to the semi-finals.

The match was set up brilliantly by Finn Allen, who took on Mitchell Starc by the scruff of the neck straightaway, belting him for 14 runs in the first over.

The carnage continued as he raced off to 42 off a mere 16 deliveries to set New Zealand up for a mammoth total. There was hardly any swing on offer from any of the Australian fast bowlers and Allen took full toll. Fleming feels that it opens up options for the batters when there is no swing on offer.

“Finn Allen last night played a blinder but there was no swing on offer. If there is no swing then you have a chance of having a lot more options as a batter. So there is an element of the caution but you have to have a mindset that you want to be positive. You don’t want to be defensive. You have to be positive, but a bit realistic as well,” Fleming said.

A fascinating battle on our hands

India have a significantly better head-to-head record in T20Is against Pakistan, having won 8 out of 11 matches. However, Pakistan will be confident of replicating their performance from UAE last year.

Pakistan defeated India for the first time in a World Cup game last year courtesy of a special bowling effort from Shaheen Afridi and an incredible opening stand between Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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