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Batting slip-up cost India Cuttack match

In one-day cricket, batting is so dominant, that any slip up in the bowling department can be covered up with a better batting approach, writes veteran Indian paceman Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2003 13:42 IST

A batting debacle can never win a match as India proved by losing the Cuttack one-dayer to New Zealand. In one-day cricket, batting is so dominant, that any slip up in the bowling department can be covered up with a better batting approach.

In Cuttack, Darryl Tuffey and Kyle Mills, Scott Styris and Daniel Vettori bowled well in pairs. Tuffey is reinforcing his value with each outing and Vettori now is clearly relishing Indian wickets. Kiwis, after losing in Pune, have made good strides in this game to keep themselves afloat.

Styris is an interesting cricketer. He bowls a good line and length and with wicketkeeper standing up to him, the batsmen are not disposed towards taking him on. He is your proverbial man with the golden arm. As if this was not enough, he batted with the right balance of aggression and caution. Such are the cricketers who are their captain's favourites.

Craig McMillan too stood up to the test. He is a determined performer on this tour. His lusty hitting with forceful square cuts and powerful sweeps never allowed the spinners to settle down. He has gained in confidence against the Indian attack because of his success.

He is one man who is holding India up in its victory charge. He did it in the Ahmedabad Test last month and he has done it again in Cuttack. In between, there was that forceful hundred in Mohali. A busy character, McMillan once again underlined his value for the New Zealand side.

As happens in defeat, every issue with the Indian team is being looked at critically. Hindsight, as they say, is a 20:20 sight. I thought Indians did well to ask VVS Laxman to open the innings.
Afterall in two previous games, he had walked into bat in the very first over! So it wasn't any materially different yesterday. Besides, he has looked in splendid touch this season. It is always advised to keep your best men in front when engaged in battle against crafty opponents as New Zealand certainly are.

Though there were patches of recovery from Mohammad Kaif and Hemang Badani, Indians still finished at least 35 runs short of a winning total. Kaif did well enough to redeem himself and Badani too had his moments but Yuvraj's dismissal came at a wrong time for the Indians. The dashing batsman was too early on to Vettori's flighted delivery and was easily held in the outfield.

I am not too critical of our spinners as it was impossible to bowl under lights because of dew factor. Harbhajan Singh has been economical which is what a bowler strives for in one-day cricket. Two other bowlers returning to international cricket, Murali Kartik and Sairaj Bahutule, would look back at the match with contrasting feelings.

Kartik, being a finger spinner, could negate the effect of dew while Bahutule's wrist work for his leg-spin was hampered by the conditions.

The wicket, when Indians were batting, was stopping a bit and did promise a lot of spin and grip off the wicket for our bowlers. But the dew, as said, was an important factor. Indeed, the wicket appeared firm and at its best under the lights. As for the ground, it didn't look any good for a game of cricket in the later half.

Indians are pushed to the wall with very little option but to win the next two games to find a place in the final. I am sure the team will be keen to have the services of a fit Sourav Ganguly along with Virender Sehwag for the Bangalore tie. It would be wise if Ashish Nehra gets a game. He has had a long lay off and it is imperative he gets a game or two before he embarks on tour Down Under.

Finally, bereaved leg spinner Anil Kumble needs to be applauded for his commitment to the side. His ailing father, under critical condition, was admitted in the hospital a few weeks ago. In spite of such tragic circumstances he has shown lot of maturity and commitment to the game. I hope he comes back strongly as soon as is possible.

First Published: Nov 07, 2003 13:42 IST