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India’s allround defeat

cricket Updated: Aug 23, 2007 00:56 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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There was something amiss with the Indian line-up on Tuesday. The team lacked a genuine all-rounder and that, as the tourists found out, cost them dearly.

The combination of seven specialist batsmen and four bowlers didn't seem to give the necessary balance to the team. And by the time the teams returned to their hotel late at night after England registered an overwhelming victory, it was evident that the Indians would have to do a lot of thinking ahead of Friday's second game at

Bristol. "Yes, it's a bit of an issue for us because we lack a genuine all-rounder and it is a case of mix and match here," Dravid admitted after the defeat.

The absence of an all-rounder was felt badly on Tuesday, especially with the ball, as England plundered 79 runs off the 13 overs bowled by Ganguly, Sachin and Yuvraj.

So, did the decision to go ahead with four bowlers prove costly? "We thought the cloudy and overcast conditions would be good for Sachin and Sourav," Dravid said. "It was too cold for spinners to grab the ball so we played one spinner.

"In some cases we play five bowlers and in some cases we play four. It was too cold for the spinners to grab the ball and we thought retaining one spinner and giving the ball to Sachin and Sourav is the way to go. In these conditions, we thought Yuvi, Sourav and Sachin could do the job for us, but when you end up giving nearly 290, sometimes you can think like that," the captain added.

Off day for bowlers

Assessing the overall bowling performance, Dravid said, "We didn't take wickets upfront, conceded a lot of runs in the middle overs… But full credit to England." Since the bowlers seemed to have an off day, it was up to the fielders to raise their games and that too did not happen.

That brings us to the batting. How many times have we seen the star-studded batting line-up crumble under pressure? On Tuesday, again, none of the top-six, sans Dravid, could put up any resistance.

When the top six cannot do the job, as India were reduced to 34 for four in the 12th over with Ganguly, Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj back in the pavilion, the seventh man in the batting order can hardly see a team through. "The score England had made, nearly 290, was very good. If you want to chase such a big total you need a good start and we lost four wickets early on to make things difficult for us," Dravid said. Gambhir's batting at No. 3 defies logic. It's the spot for the best in the team, but Gambhir is a batsman whose place in the order is not fixed and who has hardly batted one-down even in domestic cricket.

Dravid had said on the eve of the match that Yuvraj would be given more opportunities to bat up in the order, to give him as many overs to bat as possible. But on Tuesday, what was the logic behind Dravid going out to bat before Yuvraj?

Time for reassessment

After the loss, Dravid said they would reassess the batting order before the second ODI. "We will keep thinking about it," Dravid said. "See, when you don't perform well and when you don't get the result as you like, you need to look at your side and think how to improve your performance. We will rethink our side, combination, batting order and everything."

The Indians are traditionally slow starters. In a seven-match series, one defeat shouldn't concern India too much, but the margin and manner of the loss should worry the team.