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Cricket news - All that glitters is not gold
KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan added 121 off 136 for the second wicket. But there's a catch.
India's move to go in with all three opening batsmen at the top, which forced Virat Kohli to move down to number-four, did not yield the best results despite a century partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul.
Dhawan and Rahul got together in the fifth over and their stand lasted until the 28th over when the latter was dismissed. They added 121 runs off 136 deliveries, which at first glance is not a bad effort considering the partnership's strike rate was close to 90, with as many as 13 fours and a six coming during their association. But a closer inspection would reveal where the Indians faltered and ended up with a sub-par total of 255.
In the days of aggressive top-order batting and frequent 350-plus totals, minimising the dot-ball percentage is something the batsmen are conscious of, as they try to rotate the strike if the boundary-scoring avenues are cut off. However, India's second wicket pair was guilty of not keeping the scorecard ticking, which added to the pressure and eventually had a domino effect.
Out of the 91 balls that Dhawan faced for his knock of 74, 51 were dot deliveries - which means he wasn't able to score runs off 56.04 percent of the deliveries he faced. A few shots that Dhawan played went straight to the fielders while he also struggled initially to put bat to ball. There were plenty of defensive shots and shouldering arms from the left-hander, whose approach was to take toll of anything that was in his zone while staying out of harm's way for the rest when the pacemen were operating. He also wasn't able to find the gaps against the spinners and was sometimes getting cramped for room in what was a scratchy innings.
Rahul too was kept in check, playing out 28 dots off the 61 he faced for his score of 47 - a dot-ball percentage of 45.9. But he was slightly better in terms of rotating the strike, with 29 off his 33 scoring deliveries being singles or twos. Together, Dhawan and Rahul weren't able to score off 79 deliveries - which translates into 65 percent of a T20 innings - and managed only 55 singles.
Pat Cummins and Ashton Agar were especially effective in keeping Dhawan quiet. As many as 18 of Cummins's deliveries to Dhawan were dots while Agar sneaked in 11 dots out of the 21 be bowled to the left-hander. With Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa also doing a good job at their ends, India were kept in check right through the partnership which provided the hosts only a false sense of security - with things falling apart soon after the duo fell in successive overs.
When KL got out, that was the time we had planned to accelerate: Shikhar Dhawan
On a wicket that didn't seem the best for stroke-play, it was a contest of patience in which the Australian bowlers excelled. Bowling disciplined line and lengths, they waited as they tried to suck the life out of India's innings. The rewards followed in the form of a collapse as India lost four wickets inside six overs which prevented them from posting a competitive total. "We didn't get enough runs. I thought we were too respectful at certain phases and it cost us. Can't do that against a team like Australia," said Kohli after the game, admitting that India should have tried to force the pace.
Dhawan, meanwhile, mentioned that were looking to time the acceleration but Rahul's wicket shackled their plans. "When KL got out, that was the time we had planned to accelerate but those four wickets that we lost...that's where we lost the momentum. We were targeting (in excess) of 300 but we lost wickets and ended up scoring less," said Dhawan.
"At that time (when the spinners were in action) we wanted to hold wickets in hand, that's why we were not taking extra chances at that particular phase. Still we were having a run-rate of four to five. I knew that in a few overs we would have gone for it. I started going for it three-four overs before KL got out. I started accelerating and that was the plan. Unfortunately KL got out. I feel that if we were there for another five-six overs we would have got the run-rate much higher."
For argument's sake, the Australian openers faced more dot deliveries than India's second wicket pair. As many as 118 of the 226 deliveries David Warner and Aaron Finch faced together yielded no runs - a dot ball percentage of 52.21. But they also scored more singles (60), more twos/threes (13), more fours (30) and more sixes (5), which eventually resulted in the highest partnership for any wicket against India and Australia handing India their first 10-wicket loss in ODIs since 2005.
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