India need extra bowler to win in WI: Gavaskar

Published: Friday, June 16, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Former batting great Sunil Gavaskar has blamed India's team selection for missing out on two successive Test victories on their tour of the West Indies.

"India missed the extra bowler for the second consecutive match. Hopefully, it's not for a personal reason, but a cricketing one," former India captain Gavaskar wrote in his column in the Hindustan Times on Friday.

India, seeking their first Test series win in the Caribbean since 1971, had to settle for draws from a position of strength in the first two matches of the current four-Test series while playing with four bowlers.

India went into the matches with three seamers and one spinner, only to fall one wicket short of victory in the opening Test at Antigua and three short in the rain-hit second game at St Lucia on Wednesday.

The West Indies finished at 298-9 while chasing 392 in the first Test and were 294-7 in the second match after conceding a 373-run lead.

"Rahul Dravid (captain) will know more than anyone else that in both the Tests he has been thwarted by the lack of an extra bowler who could have turned the tide for India," said Gavaskar.

He felt off-spinner Harbhajan Singh could have made the difference.

"True, (part-timer Virender) Sehwag has done an admirable job with his off-spinners but if he is causing problems, then just imagine how much Harbhajan could trouble the many left-handers in the West Indies side," he said.

Harbhajan, with 227 wickets in 55 Tests, was not named in the playing eleven for the first two Tests as India relied on lone spinner Anil Kumble.

"Any batsman will tell you that it's the ball which leaves that causes the most problems, be it seam or spin," said Gavaskar, the first batsman to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket.

"And with (Chris) Gayle, (Brian) Lara and (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul in the top order being all left-handers, there is a strong case for including an off-spinner in the team.

"Of course, the problem of who to leave out will be a taxing one, but if India have to win, they have to seriously consider going in with five bowlers in their (playing) eleven."

The third Test begins at St Kitts on June 22.

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