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Sri Lanka v India, 3rd Test, PSS, Colombo, 3rd day
Sanjay Manjrekar: India's bowling lacked potency
August 10, 2008
Rahul Dravid wages a lone battle as India falter again
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Ajantha Mendis seems to be a born bowler who is at you all the time © AFP
Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar to look back at the action on day three, one which belonged to Sri Lanka.

Just before tea, India looked like they were going to make a match of it at 57 for no loss. But then, a familiar story unfolded. Where do you think the match turned?

Sanjay Manjrekar: The problem that India have had throughout this series is that their bowlers have been out-performed by their Sri Lankan counterparts. India needed to get an early wicket and run through the tail quickly. But they didn't seem to have the bowling attack to do so. They didn't have Ishant Sharma, while Zaheer Khan seems to be dependent on the pitch for creating pressure on the batsmen. Anil Kumble clearly isn't at his best. Harbhajan Singh, we know, is on top when he is getting the ball to spin and bounce; he is most dangerous when he has ripped through the top order.

The Sri Lankan bowling attack looks to be the more potent and that was where India's weakness was shown up in the morning session. The tailenders were able to build substantial partnerships. Prasanna Jayawardene, who has some batting ability, proved to be a difficult batsman to dislodge. Although Kumar Sangakkara was dismissed for 144, India just couldn't wrap up the tail because I don't think they had the potency in their bowling attack do so.

AR:At 57 for no loss, things were looking positive for India. But Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir got out in quick succession. The manner in which they got out would have been a bit disappointing, considering they have been the men in form this series ...

SM: Yes, because if you look at the two deliveries that got Gambhir and Sehwag out, you wouldn't say that they were great deliveries; it was just about Dammika Prasad bowling a fairly good line.

Sehwag's dismissal resulted from one of his stock shots [the cut]. It's just like breathing - you can't stop a guy from breathing and that is the way he plays. That is the shot he plays to a ball on that line and length. He is one batsman that Indian cricket will have to allow to play his natural game even when they are looking to save a game, although he has played differently when he saved a Test for India in Adelaide.

I thought it was Gambhir who let India down more than Sehwag. He has been in good form, he has looked comfortable at the crease and he got a start once again. Knowing that some of his senior colleagues were struggling for form and there was so much uncertainty in that middle order, he should have shown a little more restraint and responsibility. I know he is young, but he has been playing first-class and international cricket for a while. And a man in form has more responsibility to help his team and bail the others out when they aren't in good form. So yes, I am slightly disappointed with the way Gambhir got out in this innings.

AR: India muffed up run-out chances, their fielding was shoddy, we saw what could have been a horrible mix-up between Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid - why do you think the Indians looked so off the boil today?

SM: I think this problem started off with the first innings of this Test series itself. I remember telling you the body language of the senior players wasn't looking good right at the start of the series. You can understand Dravid being uncomfortable because he had been out of form but the others were coming into this series with some runs behind them. I don't know if it was due to the gap between when they last played or if it was the age factor, but they just weren't looking convincing enough as batsmen. And after a couple of failures, they were under pressure.

We saw Sachin Tendulkar padding up to so many deliveries - he has done that in this series as well - and that is very unlike him. So his confidence is down. VVS Laxman's injured ankle further hampered his batting today, but he also hasn't looked comfortable. Ganguly is also feeling the pressure. So these big names weren't looking at their best, but the signs were there right at the start of the series.

AR:Ajantha Mendis has taken the most number of wickets in a three-match debut series. It was said that the more you see him, it would get easier to play him but it seems to have got more difficult for the Indians.

SM: I am amazed at his talent. I hope I am not getting too carried away as there have been other bowlers like [Narendra] Hirwani and L Sivaramakrishnan, who had a great first series. But he has too many things going for him. He has four different deliveries and when was the last time you have seen a bowler who could bowl the googly as well as the offspinner with such great control? He is also hungry for wickets. He seems to be a born bowler who is at you all the time. He just wants to keep bowling and taking wickets like Muttiah Muralitharan. He bowls a great line and has good control as well. He is not also heavily dependent on the pitch. He might have to bowl on some grounds where the pitch is flat, but again, he will be difficult to score off. So he has many things going for him.

The Indians might be starting to pick up his variations a bit better, but his control and the trajectory that he bowls at, is continuing to make things difficult for them. Let's not forget that the Indian middle order wasn't at their best, so they seemed to be struggling even more against him. He didn't look that threatening while bowling to Gambhir or Sehwag.

The problem that India have had throughout this series is that their bowlers have been out-performed by their Sri Lankan counterparts. India needed to get an early wicket and run through the tail quickly. But they didn't seem to have the bowling attack to do so

AR: Finally what did you make of the way Dravid played? And what do you think the approach from him and Laxman should be tomorrow if India are to stay competitive in this game?

SM: Dravid came out looking to be a bit more positive. More than feeling confident, I think he was trying to gain it by the way he played. There seemed to be more purpose and strength in his defending and in every shot that he played. He had decided to be more decisive in everything that he did. Sometime when you are in bad form you think 'if I play this shot I am increasing my chances of getting out.' But today, he came and seemed like he had left everything to fate. When you are pushed to the wall and you have no choice, you can get into this frame of mind. Dravid decided not to bother about what he was doing and he got lucky twice, and that must have just reinforced his belief. He must keep doing that on day four as well.

Laxman was clearly hampered by his ankle and his fitness when it comes to fielding, catching and batting, is not improving. That also can be considered as his weakness. So all we have to hope for is that he feels better tomorrow and is not haunted by too many fitness worries.

AR: Thank you for your views Sanjay. We will hear from you again tomorrow.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. @sanjaymanjrekar

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Posted by David on (August 11, 2008, 7:23 GMT)

Thanks, Nippy, Pradeep11, and Priyantha. its nice to know that I was not the only one that was bothered by the one sided match analysis. I just hope that SM and AR read these comments before they wrap up the test series and the final match analysis this evening.

Posted by Brendan on (August 11, 2008, 7:00 GMT)

'I hate India Losing, I know Indian Players are Much Better then the Australian and Other Foreign Players,'

Nonsense. India supposedly had the better team coming into this series and have been comprehensively outplayed.

I think there are some players who have reached their useby date, namely Dravid and Ganguly. Both are good players, but both are half the players they used to be. It is definitely time for a new Indian team to be brought in. India are in a time of transition much like Australia are adn they need to accept they while they may lose some games and series, they are building towards making a strong team for the next five years or so. They have the building blocks, they just need to take the plunge.

Posted by Suresh on (August 11, 2008, 5:01 GMT)

I totally agree with David Sparrow someone might think only India plays cricket nowadays. When a test series is being covered there should be a two team analysis. The commentatators are the same, the referral system has been castigated by Sanja Manjrekar. When India toured Australia they almost pulled out of the series citing bad umpiring so this is the answer my friend. When the decisions are going against India they bleat but when they look like benefiting from these umpiring errors they have no complaints. Finally its all about one thing, that is winning at any cost. Ganguly should start playing with his bat and stop flapping with his mouth

Well done Sri lanka

Posted by PRIYANTHA on (August 11, 2008, 4:43 GMT)

It is not only SM also Akhila who is conducting the analysis is biased by posing questions on Indian team mostly. When a team wins a test match, there is a tendency to overlook weak areas when selecting the team for the next test. Often this leads to downfall of the winning team in the next match. SL did not look into their pace bowling problems in first test and went with the same team and lost the second test. Now you can see the difference genuine pace can do. India should have introduced at least one young player instead of a "Fab Four" in the third test. Overlooking a player in the squad for a match in a test series does not mean end of the road for him. But playing someone repeatedly failing throughout a series and dropping him afterwards could be end of his international career. Anil Kumble has so far not justfied batting at No. 8. By not being an attacking bowling option and by not contributing with bat he has become a liabaility to the team.

Posted by Perera on (August 11, 2008, 3:58 GMT)

I fully agree with the comments of Davidsparrow. The match analysis has to be more balanced to comment on the performance of the two sides. India was beaten not because Indian greats were out of foorm but Sri Lanka is clearly the better side and Sri Lanka has been the better side consistently against India except during the recent one day series in Australia. The performance of Sri Lankan players has not been acknoledged or commented upon to the same extent as of the Indian players.

Posted by saif on (August 11, 2008, 3:30 GMT)

First of all i don't blame on senior players currently who had not playing well, but the youngsters like Suresh raina, Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa,Yousuf Pathan has the ability to utilize it. Pragyan Ojha is in squad but didn't use yet, Why they picked and not using whats the use of picking the players and not using. I hate India Losing, I know Indian Players are Much Better then the Australian and Other Foreign Players, But they have to show full consistency and best performance. There is no Such Country in the world like India has the crazy about cricket, In India Cricket is like the Holy Game. Please Indian Players Go And Win the Game with Consistency.

Chakde India !!!!

I proud to be An Indian

I love India

Jai Indian Players

Posted by Ashok on (August 11, 2008, 3:11 GMT)

Why the Selectors are not picking Young and run-hungry, Subramaniam Badrinath.who was among the probables for the Champions Trophy, was not named in either of India's squad for the one-day series in Sri Lanka and Champions tropy . The selectors decided to give Virat Kohli. But Badrinath has tremendous record in First-class cricket with the Avarage of 56.49 than the Kohil. At any point of comparison Badhrinath is more experienced person than Virat Kohil. I am advising the Selectors please check his Domestic record and in Overseas(Australia).Please utilize the Skilled persons rathar than inexperienced people like Kohil.

Posted by Vipul on (August 11, 2008, 3:03 GMT)

I do not think that the Indian bowling attack lacks potency. It is the fielding that has let the bowlers down. If half chances are converted regularly than even a mediocre bowling unit looks threatening. The pressure has to be maintained by the fielders at all times. The sad part is that it is not only the seniors who have struggled but also youngsters like Rohit Sharma , Ojha. Clearly Lanka has looked to be the better side throughout this match even with injuries to some Indian players notwithstanding. They deserve to win this match and with it the series. It would only be a miracle if it happens otherwise. But miracles do happen in this game of glorious uncertainties.

Posted by Nipuna on (August 11, 2008, 2:58 GMT)

Hear hear!!! i totally agree with davidsparrow! u hit the nailed seems SM has a disability in talking about the positives sri lanka can take out of this series. its always about making excuses for the indian players shame on you sanjay......typical indian response when ever india seem to be lossing a match....make excuses. I think its time you admitted that india are not all wat they r made out to be....the indian team are not all that good like aus for example. I'm a lankan myself and the indian team are not like the aus team who seems to be able to beat any1 anywhere on a consistant basis! Sanjay u should for once acknowledge that overall sri lanka have been played as a better unit than the ageing indian team. give credit to lanka for making the most of the situation and coming out on top! Mendis and prasad (two rookies) have played admirably to reduce india to what they are now.

Posted by R on (August 11, 2008, 2:57 GMT)

Sanjay get of the back of Sachin. So what if he had one bad series. Anyone who has played cricket upto a decent level can understand from watching the matches that sachin never struggled against mendis or for that matter any other srilankan bowler. He looked comfortable in the middle and its just that he got out. Dravid is in a poor run for sometime but its mostly got to do with his mind more than skill. Laxman has struggled against mendis cos the guy is damn accurate. The series against Ausssies has always sorted out the men from the boys. So all so called baised critics wait till that big series and then pass judgement. And not for every innings and match. Other than Dravid the rest have been in runs and cos most of them are not part of ODI s and people have short memory these stupid criticisms are being raised. Jus look at the last test series these guys played and their record in it.

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