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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014
Team India need specialists to solve Test woes
Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, September 05, 2014
First Published: 09:57 IST(5/9/2014)
Last Updated: 12:29 IST(5/9/2014)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (L) and Varun Aaron watch the presentation of the trophy to England after the visitors lost the final Test and series at The Oval in London. (AFP Photo)

England must be at their wits end trying to decipher how two-faced MS Dhoni's team is. Unable to score, bowl or catch in Tests, India played like champions in one-dayers.

Most striking has been how badly both sides have played in the two formats despite having almost the same personnel (except for Suresh Raina, India largely have the same batting line-up). While there are other reasons too, this contrast in performance highlights how skill sets and approach needed for the two formats are vastly different.

England too retained most members of the dominant Test side. But even their best in Tests - Joe Root and James Anderson - found it tough to adjust in ODIs.

As Indian cricket searches for answers to the Test debacle, a line of thought of whether the BCCI should groom a core group of specialists for Tests is emerging.

Batting in Tests is about survival. For limited overs, it's about attacking. Especially in conditions favourable to swing bowling, it's mainly about batsmen avoiding mistakes, leaving the ball and consolidating. In ODIs, it's about making the most of every delivery. For a bowler, it's the opposite. He has to attack in Tests and contain in limited-over matches.

The naturally gifted can adapt, while some learn with experience and develop mechanisms to deal with it like Rahul Dravid.

But this is a young side and hence it was surprising that Murali Vijay, among the few successes of the Test series, was asked to join the one-day side. Vijay had spent hours on the tour to work on leaving deliveries. Suddenly, included in the ODIs, he is required to immediately abandon that.

Gundappa Viswanath feels there is scope for grooming specialists. "There are players who can adapt to all formats - Dhoni, Virat, Rahane and Shikhar. Players like Vijay, Pujara, Ishant and Bhuvneshwar can focus on Tests," he told HT.

"Bhuvneshwar can take early wickets in ODIs but has little to offer in slog overs. Why do you want him when there are options like Mohammad Shami, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav? They have the pace and are not regulars in Tests."

Pointing out where our batsmen went wrong he said: "After playing a few dot balls, they are overcome by an urge to play shots. They feel they can clear the field, but it's not so easy. In Tests, the mental approach is key and technique has to be strong. In one-dayers, you can even survive a perfect ball because there are no slips. In Tests, most edges will be pouched," he said.

The main challenge that the BCCI could face is to restrict players to Tests only knowing they would lose out monetarily. Glenn McGrath, had told HT recently, to ensure their focus the Board will have to compensate the players suitably.


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