India do not have the bowling!

Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2005, 14:27 [IST]
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It's time for India to address some critical issues. They haven't got the bowling to pull them through, especially in the sub-continent. They could have made a bigger total andstill lost in Ahmedabad.

A good One-day side must have five decent wicket-taking bowlers. It is accepted that out of these five, at least couple of them would be smashed around the park. In the nextmatch, it could be the turn of some other two bowlers. An extra bowler gives you that extra reserve in the tank.

So India made 315 and yet were defensive in the field. They themselves didn't trust their bowling options and ended up doing all the running. The message was evident in the waythe field was set in the middle overs. It was neither defending singles nor stopping boundaries.

To Pakistan's credit, they quickly sized up the Indians and their confused state of mind. India is banking far too much on their part-timers: it would show them up in the ringand stop them from becoming a good One-day side. Inzamam, on the other hand, showed the value of the captain for teams who hail from the sub-continent.

Teams from our region need strong leaders for the rest to play out of their skin. If the captain loses authority, the rest allow themselves to drift without remorse. India at the moment is trying to bury the opposition with the mountain of runs its proven batsmen can plunder. But what happens when they are dismissed for 240? They stand littlechance for they haven't invested in bowlers.

It implies that there is an inherent imbalance in the side and any good opposition only need to build decent partnerships. The science of One-day cricket is exact in its law: it is a game of 100 overs and not 50 and all eleven, rather than just one or two, need to pull their weight. Otherwise, it is a hit-or-miss team.

Sourav Ganguly has already copped enough from the Ahmedabad tie for me to twist the knife further in his wound. But speaking from a larger perspective, he slowed up themomentum for his team while batting. It was a classic case of wretched form intimidating the captain in him. Those 15-20 runs missed at the crease could have panicked Pakistan who have never been successful in chasing a 300-plus total.

It was a critical moment for India, certainly of the match, if not of the finely balanced series. They lost the momentum and possibly a chance to open up a two-matchadvantage over Pakistan.

The shadow of this blight could be as dark and long as the hour of madness India exhibited in the Bangalore Test. Both could cost them from being overwhelmingly superior to nowsharing the podium or even lose in this topsy-turvy series. Inzy's innings was a classic for those youngsters who want to learn the art of One-day batting. He kept one endgoing when the quick dismissals of Yousuf Youhana and Younis Khan had put the skids under Pakistan's feet. The third wicket stand between Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Malik acted at being the foundation of the innings.

Sachin Tendulkar too played an innings which befitted his stature. He batted with composure, style and lot of common sense. He showed the value of singles in One-day cricket.

Yuvraj Singh too rediscovered his touch and that's what Ganguly needs to do at the moment: just free his arm and let his bat connect a few good blows in the country zone. Now that fate has intervened in his case, this enforced break could be a blessing in disguise.

I feel nets and more nets are not the answer to his problem. Nor lot of counseling would do. He just needs to play practice matches to settle his anxiety at the crease. Pakistan's case was exactly reverse to what happened to India in Ahmedabad. They batted well but they were terrible in the field. Endless extras, India too sent down a number of no-balls and wides and dropped chances nearly pushed them out of the game.

Naved-ul-Hasan, after his good work in Jamshedpur, was again pushing the ball down the leg-side in this game. Pakistan too didn't seem keen to take wickets and had a splitfield on either side of the wicket rather than pack one part of the field. Motera is a big ground and is difficult to protect. Somebody should have told the age-old maxim to boththe teams: Attack is the best form of defence.

Australia do it day in and day out!

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