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Opening day alarm: Will India wake up?

cricket Updated: Jul 14, 2010 00:28 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

They say you should begin as you mean to go on. India will dearly hope that this aphorism does not hold true in all cases, for the opening day's play of India's warm-up tie against Sri Lanka President's XI suggested the bowlers were in for a gruelling month on the little island.

On a typical opening-day Sri Lankan track — with hardly anything in it for pacers and little for spinners — the home side's fringe batsmen made India's attack look mediocre.

The absence of both the first-choice new-ball bowlers —Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth, who have been ruled out of the series with injury — was felt at on Tuesday. Harbhajan Singh, temporarily laid low by a bacterial infection, was missed just as much.

While Ishant Sharma was unlucky not to have struck with the new ball, Abhimanyu Mithun could do little with Kookaburra. Had Ishant been successful in seeing the back of a couple of batsmen early on, the rookie might have been more effective.

But the day underlined the fact that India's bench strength, especially in the bowling department, is far from what it should be for a team that wants to stay on top of the Test rankings.

In the last two years India have used only four medium pacers — Zaheer, Ishant, Sreesanth and Munaf Patel. With two of them having broken down at the same time, the frailty of the bowling department has been exposed.

Skipper MS Dhoni agreed that there was a “bit of concern” when it came to bench strength in the pace department. “There is concern that we are missing fast bowlers quite regularly. But the good thing is that somehow we have been able to do well in all the series because someone else from the bowling department has taken the responsibility,” Dhoni said on Monday.

“It has gone well so far. I will look at the positives rather than the negatives. Hopefully, we will be able to have bench strength of five to six bowlers who are available and ready to perform whenever needed.”

The spin bowling scenario is only mildly better. Although Harbhajan has done his best to fill the void created by Anil Kumble's retirement, neither Amit Mishra nor Pragyan Ojha seem capable of leading the charge in case Harbhajan is absent. Neither could stem the flow of runs on Tuesday, a must to build pressure in order to get wickets in the longer versions of the game.

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