Javagal Srinath, up there right at the top shelf when it comes to the fast bowling greats from India, sees reasons to worry when he looks ahead at India’s tour of Australia, and the men who must fight the best cricketers in the world, at their own terms and playing conditions.
The injuries to the prime pace bowlers, the lack of depth in the talent pool, bothers him most. Then, the uncertainty over of the opening batting combination is worrisome. According to him, how you start in Australia will determine how you finish.
He says that to do well in Australia, the openers need to have the right technique, patience — and also the instinct to get the runs when they’re available. He says you can’t afford to be over-attacking and over-defensive.
Srinath examines the case of the four openers in the list of 24 probables for Australia, though he says, firmly, that he won’t say who will be the three he would pick up if he were a selector:
He looks a class apart, and he can adapt to different conditions. A backfoot player, he should do well on the Australian pitches. But he has too many strokes, and he must try to curb his attacking instincts a bit. The problem with him is that when he's in the groove, he plays too many strokes. He should pace his innings better. Maybe a chat with Rahul (Dravid) will help. He must make sure that he handles the responsibility well.
He’s solid, has patience and all kinds of strokes. I would say that he’s better than Jaffer. Gambhir is a natural strokeplayer. His success in T20 and ODI cricket have given him confidence. But he is a compulsive puller, and for Australia, he needs to be prepared to handle the short stuff well. That’s one area he would be targeted in. If he sticks around, after handling the initial part, he should score a lot of runs.
He made lots of runs this year, and that’s keeping him going. My worry about him is that he has failed to replicate his England show in this series against Pakistan. He has the technique, he looks good as long as he’s at the wicket, but we haven’t seen him play long in recent times. Balls outside the off stump are a problem right now. He lives on scoring runs, and once his scoring is curbed, the problems arise. For Australia, you need to have patience.
He’s been there in Australia before, and he can block the ball well, but he was over-defensive, which is something he has realised. Maybe, if he gets an opportunity this time, he has to correct that aspect of his batting. He has a tight technique, which is essential for an opener. But there are too many openers in the fray right now, and one must see how it goes for him.