A pitch that offers bounce and movement. Overcast conditions. A new white ball. Dhoni wins the toss and chooses to bowl first. Pakistan race away to 59 for no loss after 10 overs and were 88 for no loss after 15 overs.
In favourable conditions and in front of a large home crowd, India’s seamers wasted the new ball. Encouraged by the bounce, all three of them were guilty of bowling too short – Ashok Dinda in particular – and Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez took full toll.
Dinda worked up a good pace – bowling in the low 140s – but was so short that the umpires twice called wides because the ball flew so far over the batsman’s head. It was a senseless strategy, made worse because the ball was stopping on this wicket, so pitching it short meant it simply sat up and asked to be hit.
Yet, Dinda persisted with the strategy even after the ball had lost its shine. In the 27th over, Jamshed emphasised the foolishness of such tactics by pulling Dinda for six in front of square. Bhuvneshwar Kumar too was guilty of bowling too short and there was no sign of the prodigious swing that stunned Pakistan in the first T20.
There was, surprisingly, also no attempt by either the captain or anyone else, to go up to the bowler and tell him to pitch it up. Despite the lack of success, despite Pakistan’s good start, nobody thought of changing tack.
The spinners, led by Ravindra Jadeja, dragged India back into the match as Pakistan ended up wasting the platform their openers gave them. Ishant Sharma also looked a completely different bowler with the old ball as he started to pitch it up and concentrate on bowling on or outside the off stump. Suddenly the batsman were playing and missing.
In the end, Ishant grabbed three late wickets and Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up one as well as Pakistan folded for 250. But both Dinda and Kumar went for over six an over and once again demonstrated that India’s seamers are lacking a leader without Zaheer Khan.