Indian quartet must fire for team to be competitive

The more one thinks about it, the more one is convinced that the middle-order failures hurt India more than the lack of discipline among the new ball bowlers on the opening day of the first Test match against England at Lord’s. The attack came back quite well and only Kevin Pietersen’s brilliance in the second innings stopped it from doing better.

You can keep pointing out that only skipper Rahul Dravid ‘failed’ with scores of 2 and 9 while Sachin Tendulkar made 37 and 16, Sourav Ganguly 34 and 40 and VVS Laxman 15 and 39. But the fact is that none of then got even a half-century. With the quartet which has scored around 30,000 runs, you would expect at least one of them to make a big score and two others to play supporting roles.
Dravid did not have the chance of getting into a meaningful partnership while Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman each had one partnership of some note in the two innings. If India is to be more competitive in the other two Tests, these senior batsmen must put their hands up and be counted.
Perhaps, Dravid should consider elevating Laxman in the order. The Hyderabadi was all at sea when faced with the task of having to hold the lower order together in the first innings. Dravid himself will get the time to focus on his own batsmanship and make a bigger contribution to the team’s cause.
It was quite sad to see the tail-enders come and perish in the second innings, attempting to play shots rather than fall back on defensive methods when it was clear that rain was on the way. Zaheer Khan was out, gloving a catch down the leg side when he sought to pull a short delivery from Chris Tremlett. RP Singh was a leg before victim to Monty Panesar’s guile, seeking a wild swipe against a tossed up delivery.
And if Steve Bucknor – God bless him – had ruled S Sreesanth out leg before to Panesar less than couple of overs before play was halted, India would well have conceded a 1-0 lead to England, leaving itself the task of finding a win at Trent Bridge or the Oval. And rain saved India from a certain defeat but not the blushes.
Of course, India was left clutching at some straws from the match. Let us take a look at these. The opening batsmen Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Kaarthick managed a half-century each as did Mahender Singh Dhoni that not only helped him save his place in the side but also perhaps the Test match for India.
Zaheer Khan left behind a poor opening day to turn in a decent showing in the second innings but RP Singh’s bowling was a revelation, even though the young man had shown in the one-day series against South Africa in Ireland that he could be a handy bowler. He surprised Paul Collingwood in the second innings with a bouncer that the Indian batsmen are more accustomed to facing.
Above everything else, I liked the way Ganguly helped Kaarthick calm down when he nearly became a victim of gamesmanship. I reckon wicket-keeper Matt Prior kept needling the Indian opener by calling him Dhoni. It was a blatant attempt to get Kaarthick to lose his concentration. The little Indian ignored that for a long time but eventually, it got to him.
He pulled away a couple of times when Prior started chatting away. Fortunately for Kaarthick, Ganguly lost no time in walking down the track and tell Kaarthick to pay no attention to Prior’s chatter. He did not delay the intervention and succeeded in getting the younger batsman to resume his single-minded focus to such an extent that, going into the final day of the Test, India could fancy its chances of making a match of it.
Ganguly seems to have settled down to the role of a senior pro in this team quite comfortably. If he has any aspirations for captaincy, he has buried them deep. But even he will be forced to agree that he was a part of quartet that all but let India down in the opening Test at Lord’s.

3 comments for “Indian quartet must fire for team to be competitive

  1. mumbaibull
    August 11, 2007 at 12:23 am

    Hope they have done it in the third test althogh the show is stolen by Karthik, Dhoni and offcource the leader Kumble.

    Ananda Kumar
    http://www.cricket11.com

  2. G Rajaraman
    August 13, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Ananda,
    Thanks for your comment here. I agree that the blokes batted better (till the second innings of the third test raised questions again) but Ganguly has been magical through the series.
    Keep writing in!
    Cheers
    Raj

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