What could be India’s template to negate Pakistan’s formidable pace attack in tough batting conditions?

Rishabh Pant vs Ireland with his reverse scoop
Rishabh Pant vs Ireland with his reverse scoop (PC: BCCI/X)

In the T20 World Cup game against South Africa, the Netherlands bowled the right lengths and attacked the stumps a little more on a track that had enough variable bounce. The Netherlands were rewarded also for their honest efforts. But they couldn’t out one player and that was David Miller. His unbeaten 59 turned out to be the difference between the two sides on a lottery wicket as South Africa emerged victorious with just seven balls to spare. 

Ahead of the India versus Pakistan game at the same ground, Miller’s innings serves as a cue as to how to chisel out a way in some tough conditions for batting. The first rule of the axiom in such conditions is you need your share of luck alongside some pluck. 

Just to gather some evidence, pore through the 8th over of South Africa’s innings. Bas de Leede got one to slant back into the left-handed batter from round the wicket and beat him on the inside-half of the edge. And the next offering reared up from back of a length and smashed into Miller’s gloves. It is true that Miller did well to take his bottom-hand off the handle, but on both occasions, he needed a bit of a rub of the green to survive. 

So, was his innings all about the luck factor? No is the answer. When Paul van Meekeren pushed it too full, Miller cracked the drive. He also chanced his arm by attempting the hook shot. The resultant outcome was a top-edge as it scurried away to the fence, but on a track that had its share of variable/spongy bounce, it was pertinent for the batter to take a few more risks.

India’s Rishabh Pant, batting at No. 3, also put on a masterclass in the game versus Ireland. Despite taking a few blows on his arm, Pant seemed to somehow believe in his mind that it was a normal wicket. He was prepared to play with a sense of chutzpah as he brought out cross-batted shots, pulls and even the reverse-scoop to put his opponents under severe pressure. Rohit Sharma, his captain, also was ready to take a gamble or two in order to tame the pitch menace.

Rohit spelt out his strategy to counter the likely conditions that Team India are set to face: “It’s tough but that’s why I would like to highlight the experience we have. The blows count for nothing. When you play in places like South Africa and Australia, we have to overcome the challenges. The Gabba Test is one big example. We thrive in these difficult moments. It’s the World Cup, so nothing can get bigger than this.”

In tricky conditions, there is always a feeling that a brute of a delivery could get the wicket of even a set batter. In such an environment, the essence of Miller or even more so Pant’s batting template was to play with positive intent. And that serves as a framework for India’s batters to negate the threat of Pakistan’s formidable pace attack at the Nassau County International Stadium in New York.