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More weather woes ahead of the decider

cricket Updated: Nov 19, 2010 23:20 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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Thwarted by New Zealand's resoluteness in the first two Tests, India's plans for victory in the third and final match, beginning here on Saturday, have run into bad weather.

Dark clouds followed the hosts to the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Jamtha for the second day running before a sharp shower on Friday afternoon forced Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team off the field after mild knocking and stretching.

This means India will go into the decider without having batted or bowled properly after the second Test, which ended on Tuesday. “Lack of practice can be a blessing in disguise at times, considering the volume of cricket we play these days. At times, it's better not to practice,” said Dhoni.

The rain left puddles on the outfield and given that the boundary area at the pavilion end was soft even before Friday's shower, chances of a timely start look slim.

But India can focus only on what they can do and that is, be more assertive for longer periods than they were in the first two Tests.

The pitches too didn't help India's spinners and on that front, there is some good news. Despite moisture in the air, Dhoni found the surface to be dry, usually an encouraging sign for spinners Harbhajan, Ojha and Raina have accounted for 16 of the 29 New Zealand wickets so far, but India's slower bowlers haven't been able to put batsmen under sustained spells of pressure.

For all the talk about unresponsive pitches, this is an area where India have failed. Disconcertingly for them, there have been too many New Zealand players who have performed in tight situations.

This is more visible in batting, but India must also remember that Vettori is the most successful bowler in this series with 11 wickets. And however much they glorify Harbhajan Singh's efforts with the bat, his back-to-back hundreds also magnify the fact that India have not got enough runs from specialist batsman. Add to it the bowlers' struggle for wickets and its clear that improvement is needed in both departments.