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Last-over blues haunt India

India bowlers have struggled to keep rival batsmen guessing in crunch situations in the end, resulting in two successive defeats. Subhash Rajta reports.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2012 02:12 IST
Subhash Rajta

For a while, Ashok Dinda stood in the middle of the wicket, watching the scattered stumps. A scorching yorker had just kissed the bottom of Yuvraj Singh's swinging bat and crashed into them.

The left-hander nodded in approval, looked at the pacer and a wry smile crept across their faces. Only if, they must have wished, the bowler could have unleashed a similar delivery to keep Eoin Morgan from smashing the last ball for a six to win the second T20 game for England in Mumbai.

It would have made Ravindra Jadeja, watching from a distance, too, think about the ball that Shoaib Malik deposited into the stands on Tuesday to win the game for Pakistan.

These two straight losses, that too by conceding sixes in the last overs, suggest that India bowlers either lack the mental strength or the skills to restrict batsmen from going for big shots in a crunch situation.

While only the bowlers would know their own state of mind under extreme pressure, the current India attack certainly looks short on the most effective weapon - yorker. Ishant Sharma is not known to bowl yorkers, Dinda too can't summon it up as and when required.

Gulf In Skills
"I don't understand why our fast bowlers can't bowl yorkers. It's the most lethal weapon when batsmen are looking to hit out. And I can tell you it's not too difficult to bowl it with the white ball, especially when it's about 15 overs old. All it needs is some intense practice in the nets," said a former pace bowler.

India bowlers just have to look at the opposition camp to see Umar Gul, one of the finest practitioners of in-swinging toe-crushers, to see how it's done. Well, Ishant himself fell to Gul's yorker in the last game.

The clever use of change of pace and slower bouncers are other weapons to get the better of batsmen in crunch situations.

Out Of Form
What's hurting India is R Ashwin's loss of form. Apart from being a very fine bowler when the field restrictions are on, he had enough variations and the mental strength to be effective in do-or-die situations. Unlike Jadeja, whose predictable offerings are easy pickings for the batsmen.

Worryingly, the last-over blues isn't the only issue for India as they take the field for the second T20 on Friday. Their batting, a relative strong point, collapsed in the first game, raising concerns.

The question is whether it was just one bad day in office or they found this Pakistan attack too hot to handle.