There is something that might bug India all series, irrespective of its outcome — the lack of part-time bowlers. Due to injuries and partial recovery, they are short on this count at the moment.
Even if Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag open the innings, they can’t render the other service that adds value to the team’s bowling efforts. Making things worse in the first ODI was the absence of Yuvraj Singh and his valuable ‘left-arm nothing’.
Any XI without a genuine all-rounder has to rely on at least a couple of its batsmen to chip in with a few overs. If they take wickets, they come as bonus but also upset the plans. With M.S. Dhoni not showing this faith in Suresh Raina, India struggled in the midway stage of the Australian innings.
This problem is felt most when the regular bowlers fail to take wickets because a team like India depends on spinners to do bulk of the job in the middle overs. If one of them fails, like Harbhajan Singh did, the captain has to hand over the ball to one of his batsmen, which Dhoni couldn’t barring giving a solitary over to Raina.
Avoiding a direct reply, Dhoni said: “In India, there isn’t much for spinners in the first half when there are no footmarks on the pitch. It’s quite different from bowling in the second half.”
With Tendulkar’s body being unable to carry this extra load and Sehwag’s right shoulder still not strong enough to toss up, India have suddenly been found wanting in this department.
Apart from some standout performances by the regular bowlers, a factor behind the success of Dhoni’s ODI team was these utility service providers.
As long as Yuvraj isn’t back and bowling, India can’t exercise this ‘slow-poisoning’ option. This is not to say having him would be enough.