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Batting reputation takes beating

Millions of Indians who swear by Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s potent mix of prowess and luck have still not given up hope. Sri Lanka’s demolition by Australia has been a shot in the arm. Ravi Shastri writes.

india Updated: May 11, 2010 01:56 IST

Millions of Indians who swear by Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s potent mix of prowess and luck have still not given up hope. Sri Lanka’s demolition by Australia has been a shot in the arm. Further, India is now in the familiar territory of St. Lucia.

I hope the all-clean record at St. Lucia doesn’t encourage Dhoni to field both Ravinder Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan again. One of them must go and Piyush Chawla should be drafted in. Between the two, I would still prefer Pathan, for both the opposition and the venue could work to his advantage. Remember, India need to win by a big margin and Pathan can connect big.

There is no time to dwell on the Barbados disappointment though there are a few lessons to be learnt. First, this theory of part-time bowlers will not do on a true bouncy pitch. India need at least four regular, potent bowlers.

Even among part-timers, I thought Dhoni missed a trick by not remembering Yuvraj Singh’s left-arm spinners.

Besides, the young guns need to sort out their technique against fast bowling. All of them, barring none, looked distinctly unhappy against rising deliveries. India needed an anchoring influence and there wasn’t any forthcoming. Even Gautam Gambhir is going to be targetted with short stuff henceforth. It’s a blessing that the bouncer rule exists.

Young Indians’ batting reputation has taken a beating in the last three days.

Unfortunately, Sri Lanka would take some stopping. If India play Chawla, it could actually help the Lankans, for both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have shared the same dug-out with the UP spinner in the IPL over the last three years. They would know what to expect from him.

Besides, the Sri Lankans are excellent players of the slow stuff. Yet, Chawla is the way forward, for I don’t think Dhoni would risk either Vinay Kumar or Umesh Yadav in such a big game with the conditions that exist in St Lucia.

India, of course, would hope that Australia reserve the same lethal hunger against the West Indies as they had done in Barbados.

India winning big and West Indies losing big can still tilt the balance for India. They still have an outside chance provided they go out and play fearless cricket with an uncluttered mindset. And, above all, not be stubborn in selection.

A word on Rohit Sharma’s dismissal in Sunday’s game: He may have crossed the line by questioning the umpire’s decision, but there was no harm in calling in the third-umpire referral.

Who knows Sharma could have helped India bridge that gap of 14 runs.