Legendary India batter Sunil Gavaskar stated that senior pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar being taken for plenty of runs at the death overs is "an area of concern" for India, with the Men's T20 World Cup to begin in Australia from next month.
In their last three T20Is where India have looked to defend and failed to do so, Bhuvneshwar has conceded 16, 14 and 19 runs (in Tuesday's four-wicket loss to Australia in first T20I) in the 19th overs, enabling the visitors to pull off a chase of 209 with four balls to spare. In the penultimate over in T20Is this year, Bhuvneshwar has leaked 97 runs at an economy rate of 12.12.
"Somebody like a Bhuvneshwar Kumar is going for so many runs every single time, when he is expected. In 18 deliveries he has bowled in three matches which Indian have lost against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and now Australia, he has given away 49 runs.
It is almost three runs per ball. Somebody with his experience and calibre, you expect he will maybe give 35-36 runs in those 18 deliveries. That has not happened and now that really is an area of concern," said on 'Sports Today' after the match ended.
Gavaskar felt that the return of pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who didn't play in first T20I, may help ease India's death-bowling concerns. "What we have seen in the last few years is that it has been one of the areas where India has suffered. They have not been able to defend good scores.
"Maybe when Bumrah comes in, it might be a completely different situation because he gets wickets at the top. India didn't get those either as Australia got off to a flying start. Having said that, it's only the first match. Don't forget, Australia are world champions. They are expected to do extraordinary things."
Gavaskar refused to signal out dew as one of the reasons for India's loss in Mohali. "I don't think there was too much dew. We didn't see the fielders or bowlers trying to use the towel to try and dry their fingers. That's not an excuse at all. It's just that we didn't actually bowl that well. For example, that 19th over (in bowling), that's now a real concern."
In India's batting, though Hardik Pandya smacked a sensational 71 and KL Rahul got an aggressive fifty, captain Rohit Sharma had taken a six and four off Pat Cummins before falling to Josh Hazlewood for 11. Gavaskar urged Rohit to take some time in before bringing out his expansive range of shots.
"With Rohit Sharma, the range of shot that he has, he doesn't really have to do what he is looking to do over here, that is step down the pitch even before the bowler has released the ball. The way he has been playing T20 cricket before that, his scoring and strike rate has been phenomenal. It's been absolutely terrific. He hasn't tried to do anything more."
"Over here, in the last few matches, it just seems to me that he is looking to do a little bit more and, in the process, getting out. The white ball might move as much as the red ball. But there is just that slight movement which can be the difference between the ball hitting the middle of the bat and the ball taking the edge of the bat."
"So it means it could be hitting the ball up in the air rather than into the stands. I do believe that Rohit needs to give himself that little more time, he has got all the shots in the book. Even if he gets off to a slow start, he can triple it by the time his innings is over."
With India now 1-0 behind in the three-match series, they will next face Australia in the second T20I at VCA Stadium, Nagpur on Friday.