West Indies captain Darren Sammy (L) speaks with a television anchor during a practice session at The Holkar Stadium in Indore. AFP Photo
Towards the end of India’s practice at the Holkar Stadium on Wednesday, as the all-rounders and the reserves had a go at the bowlers, India’s top order, sans Parthiv Patel who took a break from the training session, had lined up on the chairs next to each other.
While two of the youngest — Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma — of the five batsmen would be hoping to continue their good run, their three seniors are desperately wishing for a turnaround in their fortunes.
But the form of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina wasn’t the only concern for India’s team management going into Thursday’s fourth ODI. Duncan Fletcher and Co will also have some concerns over the ability of their bowlers to bowl death overs.
Bowling the last 10 overs has for long been India’s weakness. And when it comes to ODIs at home, the crisis becomes even more severe. On most occasions batsmen have covered up the bowler’s poor work at the death by scoring big, but whenever the willow-wielders have failed to compensate, India more or less have faltered.
This was on display at the Motera stadium three nights ago. All Indian bowlers who had been keeping the Windies batsmen in check for the first 40 overs had no answers once the Caribbeans changed gears. As a result, India ended up conceding 72 runs off the last five overs and 106 runs off the last 10.
No wonder then that Abhimanyu Mithun’s — who preferred to take it easy along with Patel, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — good work in his first six overs was undone in the 49th over of the innings, when he conceded 23 runs. And it was followed by Darren Sammy and Andre Russell plundering 20 runs off the last over of the innings bowled by Umesh Yadav.
Despite India’s victory in Visakhapatnam in the second ODI, the death bowling was as bad as it was in Ahmedabad. On paper, conceding 61 runs without dismissing a batsman doesn’t look bad. But when you consider that the last pair was at the crease all through those 10 overs, exposes the frailty of India’s attack.
Onus on batsmen
Perhaps the use of two balls in an ODI has made matters more difficult for India’s bowlers as they are finding it difficult to extract reverse swing.
But if India are to come back strongly after the Motera setback and seal the series, as much as it will be important for the Sehwags, Gambhirs and Rainas to fire, it will be imperative for the Vinays, Aarons, Ashwins and Pathans to come good when the pressure is on at the end.