India may have narrowly taken victory from the jaws of defeat in their first T20 World Cup game in Melbourne against Pakistan, but an ongoing cause for concern reared its head once again during the match. Batting second, India had to chase down 160 in 20 overs against a top-level Pakistan bowling unit.
To do so, especially in T20Is, requires a bolt out of the gates, from the get go. But Indian openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were both unable to get decent starts. Rahul was first, playing on a Naseem Shah ball onto his own stumps and departing after scoring four runs of eight balls. Indian captain Sharma then followed soon after, edging a Haris Rauf-ball to first slip to also depart for four runs of seven balls.
The poor start was compounded further when Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav followed the openers back to the pavilion. At one point, India were 31/4 and looked completely out of the game.
Both Indian openers have been under the spotlight for their poor starts in T20Is. Pakistan’s former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar went on his Youtube channel and felt that India’s opening pairing was under some pressure and were looking scared.
“India openers ki baat karenge, thore dabe lag rahe hai, thode dare-dare lag rahe hai. Rohit Sharma as a captain apne aap ko calm down kare, apni batting gawa raha hai.” (India’s openers are looking a little under pressure and scared. Rohit needs to calm down as a captain, his batting is bearing the brunt of it.)
He also said that KL Rahul is focusing too much and subsequently losing his wicket because of his approach.
“KL Rahul jyada focus karke khudko fasa raha hai, wo na kare.” (KL Rahul is getting trapped because of his extra focused approach, he shouldn’t do so),” said Akhtar on his YouTube channel.
India next face Netherlands and both Sharma and Rahul have the chance to get some runs under their belt before India line-up against South Africa this Sunday at the Optus Stadium in Perth.