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Missing 300-run mark, don’t panic yet

Buried in the relief of India's win against the West Indies at Ferozshah Kotla was the statistic that they have not gone past 300 in nine completed Test innings before chasing down 276 with five wickets to spare on Wednesday. Nikhilesh Bhattacharya reports.

cricket Updated: Nov 11, 2011 11:52 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
VVS-Laxman-plays-a-shot-on-the-fourth-day-of-the-first-of-the-three-cricket-test-match-series-between-India-and-West-Indies-in-New-Delhi

Buried in the relief of India's win against the West Indies at Ferozshah Kotla was the statistic that they have not gone past 300 in nine completed Test innings before chasing down 276 with five wickets to spare on Wednesday.

They scored 347 in the first innings of the drawn third and final Test in the West Indies in mid-year, the only time they crossed 300 on that tour. Their best effort since has been exactly 300 at the Oval in England in the final Test of a four-match series that they lost 0-4.

In the first innings in Delhi, they were bowled out for 209, conceding a 95-run lead. India’s opponents are well aware of the statistics. “Had we scored another hundred, knowing that India hasn't scored more than 300 runs in their last nine innings, it could have been a different ball game,” West Indies captain Darren Sammy said.

India’s bowling is forever under scrutiny, but the batting failures have contributed significantly to the loss of the No. 1 Test spot. Indian batsmen have been guilty of not converting starts to big scores. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are the only two Indian batsmen to have actually scored a Test century in 2011.

Tendulkar scored his 51st Test century, and 99th in the drawn third Test in South Africa at the beginning of the year. Dravid scored a hundred in the first Test in the West Indies before scoring three in losing causes in England.

Injuries didn’t help
Injuries and illnesses have not helped. Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh missed the West Indies tour, where fringe players such as M Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and Virat Kohli were thrown into the deep end. Gambhir, Sehwag and Yuvraj also missed parts of the England series because of injuries. Captain MS Dhoni's form slump has made matters worse. His Test average for 2011 is 22.64 with three fifties in nine matches as against a career average of 37.69 over 62 games.

Former India batsman Praveen Amre, however, believes it is not yet time to panic. “I think the way India batted in second innings was a positive. The wicket was not exactly a batting paradise, but they got the job done.”

The selectors do not have much choice either because the fringe batsmen have not grabbed the few chances they've got to push the seniors. But Amre, who has coached India-A, says people need to be patient.