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'England overdid the short stuff'- Shastri

Dileep Premachandran and Ravi Shastri discuss the first day of the third Test at The Oval (05:07)

August 9, 2007


England v India, 3rd Test, The Oval, 1st day

'England overdid the short stuff'- Shastri

August 9, 2007

Ravi Shastri: "Tendulkar is a great enough player - if you bowl enough of the short stuff he'll get used to it" © Getty Images

Dileep Premachandran: Welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I'm joined by Ravi Shastri on an opening day when fortunes fluctuated but India ultimately finished on top at 316 for 4.

Ravi, looking at the scorecard, 316 for 4, you'd definitely say India's day, but on a pitch as good as this, do you think they need to push on and get at least 500?

Ravi Shastri: I think they should think positively. They should not think too far ahead and I made that point at the start of the day's play as well. They need to take it one day at a time and if any team gives you 300 runs on day one, you'd take it. So think positively, don't try and do anything too different. What you need to do is make sure that you play good, solid cricket in the first hour of play on the second day. The foundation has been laid, the bowlers will be tired, the second new ball will be 20-30 overs old, that's the time where you can cash in. If India bat for a couple of sessions they should be in a very strong position.

DP: If you look at India's famous wins abroad you've always had one monumental innings. If you look at Sydney in 2004 you think of Sachin Tendulkar. How much have you seen of him today to think that he can do something similar tomorrow?

RS: See, he was playing against his natural style of play. There's no doubt about it. But you also knew the importance of him hanging in there.

England had a gameplan but I think they overdid the short stuff. There were opportunities there where the ball was swinging, where they should have drawn Tendulkar forward. For example, after the second new ball was taken there was no third slip. As a captain you should realise what your bowler's strength is. Which, in this case, was swing at pace, that's outswing. And when the ball was new and hard it was likely to do the most. I thought England might have missed a trick in that Tendulkar is a great enough player - if you bowl enough of the short stuff he'll get used to it. He'll know which one to leave, which one to just tuck around the corner. I thought England overdid the short stuff today.

Having said that, what I liked best about the Indian team today was the intent. From the outset they showed positive intent. They showed England, first with the opening partnership and then with the way the captain batted that they were not here to sit on the 1-0 lead and look to draw this game. They were going to look to try and play positive cricket. They were going to look to get 450-500 and bowl England out twice and win the series 2-0.

DP: You spoke of the captain's role, but how important was Dinesh Karthik? In this entire series he's been putting scores on the board ...

RS: He's one of my favourite players in this team. When I was the cricket manager in Bangladesh what I liked best was the refreshing attitude he brought to the dressing room. He treats this position of being asked to open the batting as a challenge, which is the way to do it. If you're a makeshift batsman, asked to open the batting, the only way you'll succeed is by looking the moment in the eye, treating it as a challenge and looking to improve, game after game. He has mentioned in interviews that he has made subtle changes like opening up a bit in his stance. He did that in Lord's after he was dismissed lbw in the first innings. So you know here's a cricketer who is thinking all the time. Today I thought the tempo was good. He took the pressure off [Rahul] Dravid and again got India off to a good start. The more I see of him the more I like it.

DP: What do you think the English bowlers can do differently tomorrow, because they were very disappointing today, especially in the opening session?

RS: They were disappointing, especially since the ball didn't swing much today and the bounce factor really didn't come into play. A bowler is only as good as he is made to look and I thought that the Indian batsmen were very positive - they took the attack to the England bowlers especially in the first session of play and the runs kept flowing. I thought the England bowlers were a little bit on the shorter side and if they've done anything different from what they did at Lord's - where I thought they were brilliant - is that they've lacked the consistency that they showed at Lord's. I thought that every over that [James] Anderson bowled in that first session had a four-ball that was asking to be put away and the Indians did just that. So once they got off to a start and started hitting the boundaries, England were always on the back foot.

DP: Tendulkar and VVS Laxman - two experienced batsmen at the crease - do you think it's up to them now to put the match out of England's reach?

RS: One way to look at it is that you can set out a challenge for your players. You can tell them: 'There's no one [from India] who has got a hundred in this Test series so far - give me one hundred. I don't care if your name is Tendulkar or Laxman or MS Dhoni - just get me one hundred, and I promise you we will be in a position to win this Test match'.

DP: Thank you Ravi, for your views. This is Dileep Premachandran signing off from The Oval.

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