Five bowlers and introspection can work wonders for India | india | Hindustan Times
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Five bowlers and introspection can work wonders for India

The stats are revealing: Sri Lanka post a colossal 520/8 after being reduced to 393/7. India, on the other hand, lose last 5 wickets for just 26 runs in the 1st innings.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2010 23:31 IST
Aakash Chopra

The stats are revealing: Sri Lanka post a colossal 520/8 after being reduced to 393/7. India, on the other hand, lose last 5 wickets for just 26 runs in the 1st innings. Once again, five middle-order wickets pack up in 36 runs in the second dig–appalling figures that sum up the Indian tragedy at Galle.

Did the Indian batting fail twice in Galle or did the bowling allow Lanka to post a mammoth total or, perhaps both? What was the reason behind India’s dismal show? While armchair criticism is rampant at this time, a bit of introspection would do us a world of good.

We started the Test on the wrong foot. A team’s endeavour, especially if you’re No. 1, should be to win, regardless of the toss and the conditions. Since you need 20 wickets to win a Test, it’s imperative to strengthen the bowling. While picking the playing XI, one must take into account the track and the possibility of losing the toss (which means bowling first). Did we have the bowling to dismiss the Lankans twice?

If the honest answer is no, it rests the issue. We hoped that we would win the toss, bat first and post a huge total, make Lanka bat twice and ‘perhaps’ win the Test. But Tests are not won on presumptions.

Take a look at how the match panned out. The bowling looked listless. You don’t expect an attack comprising of a debutant, a rookie and a bowler making a comeback of sorts to run riot. Even the senior bowler was under the weather and wasn’t 100% fit. Just to add to India’s woes the track was flat and Dhoni called incorrectly. While the fast bowlers redeemed themselves somewhat and brought India back into the game, their slower counterparts failed. The Lankan lower order made merry and No. 8 and No. 9 batsmen notched up their highest first-class scores.

Yes, the famed batting line-up failed twice in Galle, but had the Lankan tail not wagged as much, we wouldn’t have fallen short of the follow-on mark. No, I’m not trying to defend the batting breakdown, but only saying that even if India batted better, we could have only salvaged a draw. For batting can either set up or save a Test but rarely win it.

Despite the twin failure, our strength lies in batting. India must play bowlers who can take 20 wickets and if four bowlers don’t, there’s no harm in playing five. In any case, Dhoni at No. 6 is as good a batsman as you could ever get at that position. By sacrificing one batsman you’d put some real pressure on the batting and undoubtedly they’d respond positively.