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When reserves run dry

india Updated: Aug 16, 2011 00:58 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Chris Tremlett was supposed to be the man to turn the heat on the Indian batsmen with his steep bounce. He got injured but there's been no respite for the visitors.

Tim Bresnan came in as replacement and exceeded all expectations, sometimes even outshining the main strike bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad. It's been a great advertisement of the depth in England cricket.

On the other side, it has been the case of India's hopes sinking with the injury to Zaheer Khan. As much as the humiliating defeats, of equal concern for Indian cricket is the total lack of options. It is evident in the selection of Zaheer's replacement. RP Singh has been recalled despite not playing at the international level for almost two years.

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Till now the veterans had served India with such distinction that the shortcomings were conveniently ignored. A rampaging England have exposed chinks in the armour and forced the cricket board's decision-makers to finally get thinking.

Scarce talent
It's not about investments in terms of money; it's about the art of grooming the second rung.

The cricket authorities increased remunerations for the domestic players, ensured there are millions on offer even for the average talent in the Indian Premier League and made the selectors' job a handsomely paid one. But the cupboard lies bare.

The lack of bench-strength is shocking. Amit Mishra came in place of Harbhajan Singh but that made no difference.

When Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag got injured, Rahul Dravid was forced to open.

The experiment with Murali Vijay came to an end with the West Indies series. Abhinav Mukund has shown promise but will have to learn to capitalise on his starts.

The biggest concerns are in the middle-order. The stalwarts are in the twilight of their careers. The question is who after Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman? India just doesn't seem to be ready for the transition.

A lot was expected from Virat Kohli, but he disappointed in the Caribbean, in far more easier conditions and against a less menacing attack. Suresh Raina started brightly but has been found out after the England bowling attack had a look at him.

The signs are ominous for the Oval Test. Another defeat will push India further down the rankings.

Praveen doubtful
Praveen Kumar is a doubt after taking a nasty blow on his right hand at Edgbaston while batting. He is struggling with another injury niggle as well, it is learnt.

Sreesanth looked listless and Ishant Sharma clueless in the third Test but India have no options. Those sitting outside don't evoke much confidence either. Munaf Patel was mediocre in the two tour games he has played, and RP Singh's match fitness is untested.

No spinners for Oval
The Oval wicket is known to assist tweakers. Many touring teams have picked two spinners. Ironically, the team with the richest history in the art is clueless about their choice for the final Test.

Mishra has bowled himself out of the series, failing to make an impact in the third Test and the side games.

No one knows what to expect from left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. He is yet to prove he is a match-winner even in Indian conditions.

For all the glorification of coach Gary Kirsten's tenure, it now seems it only served in achieving short-term results.

No attempt seems to have been made to strengthen the foundation of the ageing team. His mentor Duncan Fletcher has been left to deal with the massive challenge of getting Indian cricket through in the next decade. It's an unenviable task.