An unsurprising thing happened at the Adelaide Oval: England’s T20 specialists flattened an Indian Test match eleven. In his post-match remarks, Rohit Sharma threw his bowlers under the bus with the rear-shielding reflex that’s the hallmark of the desi leader: they hadn’t turned up, he said.
The problem wasn’t that India’s bowlers hadn’t turned up; the problem was that its opening batsmen had. It has been apparent for a while now that India’s top order is a triumvirate of cricketing uncles, batsmen who play T20 cricket like a speeded-up version of the five-day game.
If Sunil Gavaskar had abandoned his commentary post and walked out to open, no one at the Adelaide Oval would have been able to tell the difference. Like Gavaskar, Sharma and KL Rahul do things by the book: they suss out the conditions, minimize risk, work the ball around, hit the loose ball, give the first half hour to the bowlers and…never get it back.
To be fair to the Indians, the Pakistanis play the T20 game the same way, with Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan settling in for the duration. That didn’t stop them from making the final. But Pakistan needed a miracle which was duly supplied by the Dutch and it’s hard to do miracles on demand.
India lost because its batting order is designed to achieve par scores in the hope that the infirmities of the other team’s batting will see India through. Rahul, Sharma and Kohli are better Test batsmen than Jos Buttler and Alex Hales but in a T20 fantasy league, swappin