January 23, 2002

I have no faith in this Indian bowling attack

The more I watch one-dayers, the more convinced I am that this is a game that revolves how well a side can force the opponents to be on the defensive. 'Pressure' is the keyword, and it plays an important role no matter what the reputation of a player is.

The obvious game plan is to put up a reasonable score on the board and then try to restrict the other side. It was no different in the second one-day international played at Cuttack, which, in my opinion, is best described as a flop show by the Indians.

Nasser Hussain
© AFP
I think England did pretty well to score 250 after being asked to bat first. There was some moisture in the wicket, but the Indian seamers failed to make full use of it. Once again, Nasser Hussain impressed me with his approach to the game. He played a good hand of 46 though he threw away his wicket at the wrong time.

Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood played excellent cricket. They showed the Indian batsmen the importance of taking quick singles and converting the ones into twos. It was the run out of Vaughan that gave the Indians some respite.

The target of 251 runs was never expected to be a tall order for the imposing Indian batting line up. All it needed was for one of the batsmen to play a long innings and India were through. That, however, did not happen, as the three run outs turned out to be crucial in India's defeat.

Sachin Tendulkar
© CricInfo
I must applaud the commitment showed by this English team. Their fielding was brilliant and this meant that the Indian batsmen were constantly under pressure. And once Sachin Tendulkar was unluckily run out, the pressure on other batsmen multiplied manifold and they meekly succumbed to it.

I have written in previous columns that there is nothing to choose between the two teams. Now that the series is tied at 1-1, the remaining matches are bound to be much closer affairs. I can only wish and hope that the Indian batting comes good sooner than later as I have absolutely no faith in the Indian bowling attack.

Nothing seems to be in sync when India is in the field. If the bowlers have to make an impression, they have to get back to the basics. Ganguly, for his part, must back his bowlers with better field placements. The bowlers, meanwhile, will have to remind themselves that it is important that they bowl on one side of the wicket (and to the field set for them) if they are to reap any rewards at the highest level.

Before ending, I must congratulate the England team for their fine allround display which helped them to pull off a remarkable win on Indian soil.