Is Agarkar fit to bowl in slog overs?

Written by: Suresh Parekh
Published: Monday, October 9, 2000, 15:45 [IST]
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Rajkot: India no doubt produced the kind of result that made the entire nation proud. The win against any World Champion is always special and so was the victory against Australia.

But, those who watched the match with different interests may come out with different perceptions. One such thought is about the choice of bowlers required to bowl during the slog especially when India are defending.

A match can be won or lost because of the choice of bowlers. The role of the bowler is all the more important in close and crunch matches as in the World Cup match that India played against South Africa.

When India took on South Africa in the first match of the World Cup last year, the chances for the both the teams were 50-50. India were off to a flying start and produced the kind of total, which could be threatening.

South Africa, however, began their chase by making quick runs. Towards the end, the match was evenly poised and could have gone either way. It is at such stages of a match that a true leader brings the best bowler or bowlers may be in pairs into the attack. But instead of Prasad and Srinath, Azhar opted for Agarkar, who was hammered with disdain in his first and second spells.

The moment Agarkar took the ball in his hand, the match was lost. Needless to say the cherry was sent to the ropes five times in quick succession and that too at the hands of Jonty Rhodes and Jacques Kallis.

The story was no different in the match against Zimbabwe in the same World Cup and it was these two losses that cost India very dear. Even in the Asia Cup, which took place a few months ago in Bangladesh, Agarkar, Kumaran and newcomer Amit Bhandari bowled a line and length, which was to the delight of the Sri Lankan and Pakistani batsmen.

Thus one question that seriously needs to be asked, "Is Agarkar the right type to bowl the last few overs?" After his initial achievement when he became the quickest bowler to complete 50 wickets, Agarkar seems to have lost his way and lost the power of taking wickets.

His second spells in his initial career used to be as deadly as the first. He also had a very accurate and lethal yorker. Ever since he suffered a foot injury, he is not the kind of bowler that he used to be. He has lost his rhythm and bit of a confidence too.

Now when he comes for the second spell, he is carried away and out of six balls at least one or two will be dispatched to where ever the batsmen want. He hardly bowls the yorker and when he attempts one, it lands as a juicy full toss much to the delight of the batsmen.

Agarkar once again got hammered in the last match against Australia when everything was sailing smoothly for India. He almost pushed the panic button for India as Jason Gillispie, whom Ian Chappell had just described as good defensive bat, hit couple of boundaries and that over cost India 14 runs.

Fortunately, it was the last pair and Prasad had the last laugh. But the writing on the wall is very clear. Saurav Ganguly and Aunshuman Gaekwad will have to think about the problem and should chalk out a plan so that Agarkar completes his spell well before the slog. India can't afford to lose the match by such silly mistakes.

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