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India have seldom inspired so little hope

India wouldn't mind rain in this Test. On a pitch that is increasingly taking turn, it's not easy to come to terms with a huge total and a smiling assassin in wait.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2010 23:44 IST
Ravi Shastri

India wouldn't mind rain in this Test. On a pitch that is increasingly taking turn, it's not easy to come to terms with a huge total and a smiling assassin in wait.

India can come out unscathed but they're still not out of the woods. Three-and-a-half days-if one includes the extra hour on the remaining days-are still feasible.

Sri Lanka will look to press on the pedal and their bowlers will not be as amateurish as the Indians were on the first day.

India bowled short and wide which is hara-kiri in any format. It wasn't pleasing to see Pragyan Ojha being given a 7-2 field. It didn't reflect well on the young left-arm spinner or on the amount of confidence the skipper had in him. For some strange reason, he looked to bowl on the pads of the left-handers. It was a defensive ploy. Such tactics are fine if you want to attack with one bowler at one end in helpful conditions where every run is priceless. However, careers in Test cricket are not built on economy rate.

Harbhajan Singh was undercooked for the first day's exertions. How MS Dhoni would have liked to win the toss and allow an extra day for the off-spinner to recover his poise.

Bhajji was economical but not menacing and that just about summed up India. Fielding too wasn't up to a scratch. Two possible chances were let off. It's an ominous sign in back-to-back Tests. India's bowling has rarely looked as pedestrian or inspired so little hope.

I read with interest coach Gary Kirsten's view that 15 or 16 young pace hopefuls haven't grabbed their moments in recent times. Places in the XI are up for grabs for anyone who has fire in the belly.

Worryingly, the spinners' block too doesn't look populated. The hope for a genuine all-rounder can only be viewed as wishful. The scenario will test the team management to the fullest in the coming weeks. Australia, New Zealand will be paying a visit followed by a trip to South Africa. Then, the World Cup will descend on the sub-continent.

May Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma return to full fitness and form or a young talent emerges out of nowhere.

Surely, Dhoni will be having a prayer on his lips.