We should go with five bowlers | india | Hindustan Times
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We should go with five bowlers

This is crunch time, a winner take all situation with an opportunity to take on the Aussies at the Eden Gardens on the 18th. The Indians have to do some serious thinking to get the balance of the team right. The Indian team would be rather down psychologically after having lost the last three matches.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2003 00:37 IST
Arun Lal

This is crunch time, a winner take all situation with an opportunity to take on the Aussies at the Eden Gardens on the 18th. The Indians have to do some serious thinking to get the balance of the team right.

The Indian team would be rather down psychologically after having lost the last three matches. They must take heart from the fact that their major strength, which is batting, has done very well in the previous game while chasing 347.

In fact, they looked good enough to have chased a target of around 300 successfully.

Tendulkar is in vintage form and will, to my mind, be the key factor in the match. The Indians can rally around him. Sehwag was in miserable form to begin proceedings in Bangalore but has spent time out in the middle and in the end was looking to strike the ball like only he can.

Dravid continued to look good while at the crease and surprisingly, Ganguly, after a long lay off, was looking the better for it - the timing was as good as ever.

Laxman at number three is a question mark. He has looked good and in form but has not gone on to make a meaningful contribution. The batting order in a limited over game is absolutely crucial.

The best batsmen must be give the maximum chance to get set. These vital overs in the beginning should be made use of by Ganguly and then Dravid, who once set, can actually change the course of the game.

Having said that, if the choice comes to the number seven slot, then Badani rather than Laxman is the more suitable option as was amply demonstrated in Cuttack. He is also one of the better fielders to boot.

The bowling has been a major worry for the team as the main bowlers have fallen away so drastically after the long lay off that it's affected their confidence.

Salvi has been brought back after injury but can they risk going into this crucial game with him and not Agarkar, who had a morale-boosting four-wicket haul at Mumbai versus the Aussies?

Harbhajan may be fit but can you afford to rest Karthik, the only one who looked like taking a wicket? The team balance is a worry but can Dravid be relied upon to deliver after such an ordinary show in the last two games?

If the answer is yes, as it will be, if I know Sourav and the option available, should you play the fifth bowler in place of the seventh batsman?

These crucial questions will have to be answered successfully by Ganguly as the whole nation will have an opinion with the benefit of hindsight. I for one don't envy him.

The crucial question, as always, boils down to whether to include the seventh batsman? On Indian wickets, I would favour five bowlers, as this would reduce the pressure on the bowlers.

The seventh batsman would invariably be underutilised, especially since the rest of the team is in decent enough form.

The problem is that at the moment its difficult to find four bowlers who are in form, leave aside the fifth. In all probability, Sourav will play with seven batsmen but then it becomes imperative to play accordingly and attack through out the duration of the game.

The fielding let us down in the last game, reflecting the fact that the team had lost confidence. The body language or the lack of it, suggested that some in the team were on their heels and would be the happiest if the ball never came to them.

The Kiwis too are not without a worry or two. The top order has almost disintegrated and if not for Styris and Mcmillan, would have made an early exit from the tournament. To add to their woes, Fleming, is injured too.

Their psyche has taken a pounding and they have pressed into action the services of a sports psychologist, hoping to resurrect themselves. Whatever be the case, the two teams seem to be well matched and given the amount of pressure, the stage is set for the tougher temperament to prevail. It should make for compelling viewing, with my money on India.