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Bowlers day at Jodhpur

In a series so totally dominated by batsmen that plus 300 scores become a routine, it was time for bowlers to flex their muscles and extract some turn in the beautiful Barkatullaha Khan Stadium.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2002 09:35 IST

In a series so totally dominated by batsmen that plus 300 scores become a routine, it was time for bowlers to flex their muscles and extract some turn in the beautiful Barkatullaha Khan Stadium in the dusty western Rajasthan city of Jodhpur.

Maybe it was time to show that not all Indian pitches are made for batsmen. Though one-day cricket is made for batsmen and often proves to be a deadend for bowlers, there was thrill aplenty when bowlers finally asserted their long-lost might here in the Jodhpur ground overlooked by the 15th century Mehrangarh Fort.

In a series of big scores, 201 looks embarassingly low. But the West Indian bowlers,inspired by the Indian bowlers made the reputed Indian batting line-up struggle and gasp their way to the meagre total.

When Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh were picking up gaps in the field and looked set for a match-winning partnership, Hooper must have rued the dropping of a spinner like Nagamootoo who hasn’t got a long bowl in India.

If he had been persisted with,it might have been a different picture at Jodhpur. And Merv Dillon too was not there but Pedro Collins and Corey Collymore bowled with menace.

Pedro is more of a clever bowler than a fast bowler. He slants the ball across the right hander and as we have seen have consistently troubled the Indian top order here as well as earlier in West Indies, even getting out Sachin Tendulkar thrice in West Indies.

Today in Jodghpur he angled one across Laxman which was glided elegantly to the boundary but a few balls later the same ball was glided the same way but this time Chris Gayle was there to snatch the ball from its way to the boundary for an amazing catch.

India now has batters till number ten and in situations like today’s, the line-up comes in handy. Few captains have the luxury of batsmen like Mohammed Kaif and Sanjay Bangar batting at 7 and 8 down. But that is no excuse for almost making a hash of chasing 201.

After a long time this season it was ofcourse heartening to see a spinner fox batsmen. Murli Karthik, determined to make his stay in the team longer than it was in earlier occasions, bowled superbly for his three-wicket haul giving away just 36 runs.He made the ball turn both ways and confused even the in-form Chris Gayle with his turn.

Ajit Agarkar too got a chance to mock at the selectors, as he has done earlier too.The Brijesh Patel led team seems to be guided these days more by whim rather than reason and logic.After being dropped for one match, much to the consternation of Sourav Ganguly himself, Agarkar returned to take three wickets in nine overs giving away only 24 runs.

It is time that the Indian selectors relaxed a bit and give up their hyperactive sackings and recallings. There was no reason, for instance, to call in Tamil Nadu’s Balaji for the last match and then dump him without giving him a second chance. He did not impress with his bowling of course but one more match he deserved like any mortal young cricketer.

The selectors committee job is also not to destroy young cricketers but draw up long term plans for the youngsters. In any case the World Cup is not too far away and it might be a good idea if the selectors send out a message saying that their experimentation is over and they have a winner’s pack with them.

John Wright talking to the press, was not unduly concerned with the number of runs his bowlers had given away in the series up till now and said that it was the all-rounders position which was being looked at seriously.

Reetinder Sodhi did not get a bowl today and then what was the point in taking him at the expense of Harbhajan Singh, unless of course it was yet another pre-World Cup trial. The smile on Wright’s face however suggested that he was confident at having a strong team with him. Today’s win showed that once again.

First Published: Nov 21, 2002 19:53 IST