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India?s bull-headed experiments go on

The think-tank sure has a sort of bull-headedness, else why would Pathan still be coming at No. 3, asks Ravi Shastri.
None | By Ravi Shastri
PUBLISHED ON OCT 17, 2006 12:57 PM IST

You would know the Indians are on the move when Irfan Pathan starts to swing, Munaf Patel hits perfect length, and Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar turn things around with their spin.

That India still sport a hangdog expression is due to their pretty ordinary batting in Jaipur on Sunday, when there was more fumbling than purpose.

The think-tank sure has a sort of bull-headedness, else why would Pathan still be coming at No. 3? He is an option India should use as a surprise commodity. After losing Sehwag early, India should have sent in Yuvraj or Suresh Raina instead of Pathan.

At number five, Rahul Dravid is the glue that binds the team. I wonder if his lack of consistency in the recent times — scores of 11, 0, 15, 18, 9, 26, 6, 0, 7 and 4 in the last 10 innings — could be put down to reshuffles in the batting order.

However, it would be prudent to remember that Indian pitches at this time of the year are likely to yield only 230-240 runs an innings. The monsoon has lingered long enough to hamper pitch preparations. Tall pace bowlers are likely to prosper, for low bounce on inconsistent pitches would catch batsmen in front of the stumps. With the possible exception of Mohali, batsmen are likely to come into their own only in the final week of the competition.

India have an effective bowling bench. There is no spearhead but they would do all right. It's not better than what Australia, Sri Lanka or Pakistan possess, but it is handy enough. What they lack in penetration, they can make up in accuracy. Harbhajan would walk straight into a world XI right now. He is fiercely competitive and proves the adage that spinners mature late. He was one of Sourav Ganguly's favourites and is now emerging as the lynchpin of Dravid's attack. His transition from one regime to another has been phenomenal.

From his outburst at the height of the Ganguly sidelining affair to now buckling down to serve Team India, Bhajji has only grown in my esteem. He is also proving a pretty effective bat late in the order.

(Press Trust of India)

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