December 16, 2001

Indian batsmen will have to put up a much-improved display at Bangalore

The decision of Nasser Hussain to allow his team to bat on during the fourth afternoon has drawn criticism from some quarters but he took the best possible decision after weighing the circumstances. In fact, most captains would have taken the same course. Hussain is aware of the inexperience of his team and also the fact that the home team has enough batting to pull off victories if given a gettable target. It was no surprise, then, that he ensured the target was out of reach for the hosts. The only factor he had to take into account was the time available for his bowlers to bowl India out. With just two finger spinners in his ranks, Hussain only had the option of going for a win if England got early wickets.


Harbhajan Singh was not at his best in the first innings and one gets the feeling that he is too reliant on the doosra. He must understand that the doosra will fetch him success provided he bowls the stock delivery consistently well. On the other hand if he over bowls his doosra there is every chance of him losing the ability to spin the off-spinners. The way he bowled in the second innings indicated that he took stock of his bowling and bowled the way he normally does.
The Indian openers Shiv Sunder Das and Deep Dasgupta gave a slow but solid start and they were only separated after a century partnership and that also due to a misunderstanding. The pace at which India scored the runs and the tactics of Hussain made the game a trifle tedious towards the fifth afternoon. Hussain though cannot be faulted as he was trying to keep his side in contention at least to square the series at Bangalore.

There can be no doubt that the visiting captain would have been mightily pleased with the result and he may feel that his side has scored a moral victory over the Indians. The pitch at Motera played contrary to expectations and played true enough over the entire five days. It was a strange sort of surface where neither the bowlers could run through a side nor the batsmen could play shots freely.

On reflection, the Indians need to realise that they played well below par even after providing allowance for the determined effort from the visitors. The medium-pacers did not get enough rewards for their hard work due to lack of support from the fielders and the wicket-keeper, Dasgupta.

Harbhajan Singh was not at his best in the first innings and one gets the feeling that he is too reliant on the doosra. He must understand that the doosra will fetch him success provided he bowls the stock delivery consistently well. On the other hand if he over bowls his doosra there is every chance of him losing the ability to spin the off-spinners. The way he bowled in the second innings indicated that he took stock of his bowling and bowled the way he normally does.

The Indians would do well to accept that they are not batting at their best and except for Tendulkar there is a lot of indecisiveness among the batsmen. In terms of averages and experience, the Indian batting is as good as one could get and that is the reason why they should be dominating the current inexperienced English attack. Agreed the visitors are bowling to a plan that may not be termed as positive but the Indian batsmen have to come up with something to counter Hussain's ploy.

The third Test at Bangalore may throw a result as the surface helps the spinners normally but the Indians still have to play better to win the Test, as the morale of the English team will be high. The visitors have gained a lot in confidence after the draw at Motera and they will go for broke. The young side under Hussain will be considered as heroes either way because this tour is dubbed as an educational one by the former English players and also by the media.

All things considered there will be one major interest at Bangalore with the local lad Anil Kumble set to reach another milestone in his glittering career. He will be the first Indian spinner and only the second Indian bowler to reach the 300-wicket mark. The crowd at Bangalore would hope that Kumble goes on to bowl India to victory after achieving his personal milestone.