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HindustanTimes Mon,20 Oct 2014

Cricket Columns

Youngsters have made seniors' job tough
Ian Botham, Hindustan Times
October 18, 2011
First Published: 23:41 IST(18/10/2011)
Last Updated: 23:57 IST(19/10/2011)

India have played better cricket and deserve to be leading the series. England need to improvise a lot more and think on their feet on how they can get better in this series. India has dominated the series thus far and England has a lot of work to do.

India have chosen a strong young side which has ensured that the absence of their major players is not felt. I am wondering how difficult it would be for the senior players to get back into the side. These youngsters have looked very impressive and so far have done everything asked of them.

The biggest difference in my view between the India in England and the team here has been on the field. The Indian fielding has been exceptional. There has been enthusiasm on the field, a buzz around the field. I think Duncan Fletcher and MS Dhoni will feel that a lot of boxes have been ticked with this turnaround.

You may wonder if England were done in by the conditions. That's not been the case. The conditions were conducive for big scores, but they have not put them up. You have got to score big runs on surfaces like this.

England batsmen have been making 30s and 40s but that's not good enough. They will have to think of something and shake things up. One of the options could be of Bairstow keeping wickets. That will allow Bell to open with captain Cook.

In the bowling, may be, they could look at the leg-spinner Borthwick, who picked up five wickets in the warm-up game. So, there are a few options available. It is up to the think-tank to exercise those options now.

I was not surprised that Bell did not play the first two games. England had a plan and it did not work. But, now, it is time to take the next step. Bairstow keeping will not weaken the team, but add an extra dimension to team.

This will be an opportunity to see what Bairstow has got. At the end of the day, with your side down 0-2 in a five-match series, you have got to make changes to change fortunes.

The doubters may have assumed that India's bowling was a problem in the absence of Zaheer Khan, but that's not been the story so far. I think Vinay Kumar picked up four wickets in Delhi with good line and length. I think Ashwin is a real find and he is a very good off-spin bowler. He is tall and extremely talented. The young quickie, Umesh Yadav, too has been impressive with his pace.

Despite the results on the field, I am just too glad to be back in India. I feel very much like an Indian citizen. I will be back next here for the four Tests before Christmas and for the one-day series after it.

The writer is former England captain and now a tv commentator with sky sports.


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