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Suffering from middle-over crisis

To me, the Indian plan of going in with seven batsmen on sub-continental wickets seems a luxury, writes Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2004 00:40 IST

To me, the Indian plan of going in with seven batsmen on sub-continental wickets seems a luxury. The problem with the current Indian team is that they do not have have an experienced fifth regular bowler, nor can they rely on the current crop of bowlers. While Murali Kartik is hardly inspiring, newcomer Ramesh Powar's off spin is not in the same league of Harbhajan Singh.

The composition of any team begins with four regular bowlers while a few non-regular bowlers mostly take the fifth bowler’s slot. It is always a big risk if one or two of the regular bowlers concede a few extra runs.

Ideally, the four main bowlers should bowl really well in order to give that extra cushion to the fifth one. As it is, domination of batsmen in one-dayers these days has put bowlers under enormous pressure. When the regulars are struggling to keep the batsmen quiet, the role of the non-regular bowlers can only add to the situation.

The absence of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan has multiplied the bowling worries not only in the fifth bowler's slot but also with the place of the fourth bowler. The opponents straightaway get 20 easy overs. And if one of the three fast bowlers concede too many runs, then the entire bowling looks pathetic.

When Pakistan were struggling at 65 for four on Friday, a regular bowler running in to get wickets would have been more purposeful than Sachin or Sourav chancing their arms. India lost the game as they missed out on regular bowlers.

Let me also tell you this is not the first time such a thing has happened. We have lost so many games in the recent past because of non-regular bowlers.

Only a bowling department, working independently within the team, can find solutions to these problems.

Shoaib Akthar's action once again became a point of discussion after the Indian captain made some comments on it. But then, Ganguly was only answering a question put to him by the media. This topic, perhaps, will be debated forever. Sourav also is well aware of the cricketing authorities who have given Shoaib a clean chit after he had come under scrutiny a few years ago.

Moin Khan kept his cool and allowed Abdul Razzaq to be aggressive. Moin's experience took the game away from India, who fought back so well at one point of time. The wicket had something in it for both bowlers and the batsmen.

After the fall of Younis Khan's wicket, the Indians should have applied pressure by operating through Zaheer or Balaji. Ganguly relied a lot on Sachin. It only took the pressure away.

Ganguly will have to rethink about Powar's inclusion. Powar was not able to bowl his full quota of overs in both matches. Although he has shown fighting spirit overall, he has to contribute more with his bowling.

Ganguly is not converting his initial 20s to big ones. In my opinion he should come at No. 3.

Having opened the innings successfully for long, Ganguly coming in at No.3 can create problems for the Pakistan bowlers in finding the right length and line for the right-left combination.

With the Indians trailing in the series, it is time to level it first and then go for the kill.

Chivach Sports

First Published: Mar 21, 2004 00:40 IST