When Mahendra Singh Dhoni addressed the media on the eve of India's first Test against Sri Lanka, he tried his best to support a mediocre bowling attack. However, even he couldn't help out when the matter of excessive no-balls in India's practice game was pointed out.
During their three-day game against Sri Lanka President's XI, the Indian bowlers bowled a whopping 36 no-balls.
What was startling was that 25 of those came from spinners. While Amit Mishra was the biggest culprit for crossing the line 17 times, Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha improved in the second innings by bowling one and two no-balls as compared to the count of 10 and five in the first.
“That's definitely a big worry because if you get a wicket in Test matches, especially on flat tracks, and that's a no-ball, you have only yourself to blame,” said Dhoni.
“Hopefully we can reduce the number. If we can get it down to zero, that's the best we can do but we bowled quite a few. And surprisingly even the spinners bowled a lot of no-balls.”
Dhoni was also keen that Harbhajan recover sufficiently from a bacterial infection to play the Test.
“He's a bit weak and that's what happens when you come out of the flu,” said Dhoni. “He spent some time bowling today and he is batting right now as we speak, so we are hoping that he will be 100 per cent fit for the game,” Dhoni said.
With India missing two key bowlers for the series, Dhoni was prepared to spend more time with bowlers during the game.
“With someone as experienced as Zaheer Khan around, you don't have to give much input. The bowler comes up with 'this session I want to do this' and you have to set the field accordingly,” said Dhoni.
“But with the younger bowlers coming in, you have to give more inputs. You also have to be careful about not flowing too much information at the same time.”