M A I N   N E W S

Indian batting must stand up and be counted

Sunil Gavaskar Indiaís ranking as the number one team in Test cricket is in danger as they prepare to take on a super confident England team in the third Test at Birmingham. Before the series started, nobody in England would have believed that the hosts would win the first two Tests of the series.

Indiaís strong batting line-up was expected to pile on plenty of runs even if its bowling was not going to cause too many problems for the English batting. The bowling has done remarkably well, even though itís been handicapped by the absence through injury of two of its major bowlers and thus unable to finish off the late order English batting. With both of them now out of the series India has a major problem in getting 20 wickets on one of the best batting pitches in England.

Praveen Kumar and Ishant have bowled their hearts out as has Sreesanth but their inexperience is obvious as they struggle to bowl the line needed for lesser batsmen. There are areas which bowlers know top-order batsmen dislike and so they can bowl there, but for the lower order batsmen, with technique not as good as the top-order, the line and length and deliveries have to be slightly different.

Top-order batsmen are vulnerable to the ball that leaves them while lower order batsmen will happily play and miss those. They donít like the one that cuts back into them since it hits them on the body, however protected it may be.

India may think of going in with an all-seam attack, but that would not be a wise thing as thereís really not that much variety there and it will not help the over-rate. Amit Mishra has not held a regular place in the team and that has not helped his confidence, but he may be just the bowler needed to tackle the lower-order batsmen.

However, it is Indiaís batting that needs to stand up and be counted. They have just not got the start that a team is looking for and not having a reserve opening batsman in the squad was not exactly a wise decision. Poor Rahul Dravid had to open the batting and he did a magnificent job once more for the team.

With Sehwag back in the team and Gambhir fit for the Test, India will be back to its tried and trusted pair and if they provide the platform then the batting could show its might. However itís the tentativeness that is worrying, for look at the dismissals of the main batsmen and you will find that they have not been able to pick which way the ball is going to move off the pitch. Unless India are able to pile a big total they will struggle to stay in the series. ó PMG





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