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Indian batsmen are a terrified lot
November 30, 2006
The time for niceties is out and some plain talking must take place now. India is not showing the stomach to fight and that's worrying. Too many soft dismissals are queering their pitch. It's only a matter of time before bowlers too would lose heart.
I could detect some keenness in the field but poor batting is letting everyone down.
Some of the decisions concerning batting don't go past me.
I would never put Sachin Tendulkar at number three and I very much doubt if he too prefers stepping down from the opening slot. Tendulkar could set the tone of the innings and the opposition know it. Only the Indians themselves appear keen to downplay their trump card.
I also can't understand why Dinesh Mongia and Suresh Raina haven't got a look-in again after the Durban match. It was a pitch on which even the best could have floundered.
There was no shame if it so happened to a few young middle order guys. Ignoring them and bringing on the second wicketkeeper-batsman, irrespective of how talented he might be, is certain to dent the confidence of those who were chosen to shore-up the middle order in the first place.
Further, India haven't bothered to bring in at least one left-hander at the top of the order. There is same routine-ness about right-handers and consequently the South African bowlers are not really stretched into making adjustment in their line and length. That's why somebody like Sourav Ganguly or Yuvraj Singh could have been of invaluable help. I would rather have India look at this issue closely.
All is not lost yet but Indians are getting there quickly.
It was vitally important for them to show some gumption in Port Elizabeth for they were chasing a relatively easier target on a pitch of their liking. Time and again they appeared as somebody who would rather be in the confines of dressing room. Fast bowling is all about striking terror in the hearts of batsmen and Indians at the moment are a terrified lot.
Still it would be a mistake if India decide to go for wholesome changes. It simply wouldn't work and you only would be stirring more trouble. I would rather have these boys get the message loud and clear and be in a shape to win in alien conditions. That's your best bet.
I met Rahul Dravid before the start of the game and he looked deflated. He seemed very unhappy with the situation in which his team is in. But he is a very determined young man and it would be a mistake to make light of his resolve.
Dravid is very focussed and wouldn't take such defeats lightly. I still feel Indians can turn things around in this series as South Africa's batting too is their Achilles' heel.
But for that to happen, the batsmen would have to shoulder responsibility and look to survive the initial spells. It simply wouldn't do that they have a crack at the red cherry for an over or two before putting themselves out of equation. They must count.
The worry is that there was ample opportunity for younger boys to make an impression.
A few soft dismissals at critical moments seem to be hurting them the most. This when South African pacemen themselves are not bowling as good as they can. They are bowling too short but Indians are unable to take a heavy toll of it. They went into the game with four medium-pacers and here too they were not quite well managed.
If Indians had negotiated the opening overs well, the lower order could have found its feet especially with dew making an appearance under lights at St. George's Park. They can make excuses like it was the third time they lost the toss and were put to chase a total in the series. The simple fact is they are not showing the basic courage, which is required to prevail in such conditions.
The nightmare is unfolding and Indians collectively need to put a stop to it.
India's tour of South Africa 2006: The Complete Coverage
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