India's weaker bowling links are being exploited

Written by: Arjuna Ranatunga
Published: Thursday, August 4, 2005, 14:46 [IST]
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I suspect India will have too many issues to ponder at the end of their triangular series match against Sri Lanka.

They started well and then lost the plot in batting. The same happened when they bowled. Sri Lankans were just a whistle away from being blown away. Such lordliness from a team trying to take fresh roots would hardly be funny to the new coach Greg Chappell.

It is stating the obvious that a lot of good starts were not built upon. India was 20-30 runs short in the end. Sourav Ganguly would have little complaints though he got out at the wrong time for India. Virender Sehwag did not make use of the chances but he deserves sympathy because the wicket was too slow.

It has not been a good bunch of One-day strips in the middle of the Dambulla stadium. Tilakaratne Dilshan is a part-time bowler in the Aravinda de Silva mould. He is thekind of bowler, who relies on batsmen to make mistakes. Mistakes sure did the Indians make. They played bad shots and a great platform was lost.

Dilshan was the last man you expected to wreak such damage. He is a half-bowler in the mould of Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya. Given the pitches in the 2007 World Cup in Caribbean would be similar to what we have at home in Sri Lanka, Dilshan could inspire hope for the captain.

The other star for Sri Lanka was Mahela Jayawardene. He is the kind of player who always relishes Indian bowling. There were concerns about his form and about the manner in which he got out in the first two games, missing straight deliveries while attempting to drive in the front.

But yesterday it bode good for him as he was able to flick deliveries to fine-leg from the off and middle stump from the word go. The only regret for Mahela must be the run out of Marvan Atapattu in the game. This is the third time running when the two have been involved in harakiris and Atapattu has been at the receiving end.

It seemed to have had a decisive impact on the game when Sri Lanka were six down with less than hundred on the board in next to no time. But, Mahela himself in the end retrieved the situation. Running between the wickets is a matter of trust and understanding. A little nod of head and gesture from eyes is all you need. It becomes doubly a matter of concern when two senior players have been involved in more than one run out.

India struggled once their fast bowlers were through with their spells and it has been a feature for them throughout the tournament. Three matches is a long time for an alternative or a change in plan to emerge. The opposition waits for weaker bowler to emerge out of shadow and as Indian batsmen have not made big totals in the first place, the weaker links in bowling are being exploited to the full.

India played extra batsman and shortened their bowling once again. It is the more disappointing that batsmen still have not been able to justify the trust in them.

V V S Laxman made a forgettable return to one-day cricket. His face was a giveaway as it showed him extremely uptight. Laxman is a slow starter in One-day cricket and there is no emergency in his batting, a faculty, which was badly required after the openers had given a solid start.

He has been given a berth in the team in the absence of seniors and if he cannot make use of this divine intervention, he can as well bid goodbye to the next World Cup.

Irfan Pathan raises hope for India as an all-rounder in the making. He made some clean, whistling hits. He has good batting technique and if a fast bowler can contribute 30-40runs in dominating style, it could be extremely useful to the batting team.

I would not fault Rahul Dravid for India's embarrassing loss as it was the batsmen and bowlers who were guilty. Dravid himself did not make any contribution but the leg before wicket verdict was debatable.

First, his batsmen wasted a good start and then bowlers drifted too much down the leg side. It was strange to see even Harbhajan Singh not being able to control his spin whichfetched quite a number of wides and fours down the leg-side to the Sri Lankan pair of Mahela and Upul Chandana.

He and the fifth bowler duo of Ganguly and Sehwag let the pressure off which was so splendidly built by the fast bowlers. I am afraid it is increasingly looking the oldfamiliar tale for the Indians in Sri Lanka.

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