England v India, 2nd ODI, Rose Bowl September 5, 2011

Parthiv to keep playing his shots


Parthiv Patel is looking the world in the eye. He's gone eyeball to eyeball with any bowler glowering on the follow through. In Chester-le-Street, he was happy to enter a staring contest when taunted by England fast bowler James Anderson. It may have looked ugly at first, but Parthiv used England's aggressive tactics to his advantage. Unfortunately, he fell five runs short of what would have been his first one-day century, but it was still his career-best score and helped India to what appeared to be a winning total before rain forced the match to be abandoned.

As they have done all through their successful summer, England's fast bowlers fired in the short-pitched stuff at Parthiv. The previous afternoon, in the nets at Durham, Parthiv had trained facing the hard new ball against such a line of attack.

In the three tour games prior to the Twenty20, Parthiv had batted in a desperate fashion. In the T20 in Manchester, he once again went charging at everything but mostly in vain. In contrast, Ajinkya Rahane showed him what a combination of a straight bat, a straight elbow and a straight head could do. Rahane finished with a scintillating 61 in his debut match, which India lost narrowly. Parthiv had departed early for 10.

In Durham, Rahane once again batted purposefully until he went chasing a short delivery from Stuart Broad. Parthiv was again watching and applauding his partner's fluent strokes, but he had realised that the pitch was on the slower side and even though it had good bounce, he had time to play his shots. So when Anderson, bowling from around the stumps, pitched short but outside the off stump, Parthiv upper cut him for four. When Anderson repeated the same delivery, Parthiv this time opened the full face of the bat at the last minute to glide it to the third man boundary.

Of his 95 runs, 75 came against the four-pronged England pace attack. Eventually, he went chasing a fuller delivery wide outside the off stump from Anderson, and the bottom edge carried to Craig Kieswetter behind the stumps. Anderson let out a laugh. Parthiv threw back his head in disgust.

"Obviously they will come hard at me with the short balls. But I've worked on it. Personally, I don't think I need to change my game at all," he said in defence of his shot-making. "I've played like that in West Indies and scored runs; I've done it in the first one-dayer here."

With Tendulkar joining India's long casualty list, India may be forced to go into Tuesday's game with only six batsmen, and Parthiv is aware that the rest of the players will have to work hard to fill the breach. "Obviously if we are playing a batsman short you need to take the responsibility," he said. "It's every individual's responsibility to make sure that if he gets in he goes on and scores big runs."

Parthiv made his debut as a wicketkeeper on India's 2002 tour of England but he has always believed he could play as a specialist batsman. "That belief kept me going. That is the reason I have been always working hard on my keeping and batting. Obviously I had age on my side - when I was dropped I was only 21 and lot of players do not even start playing at 21. So I had experience, and belief kept me going."

On this tour, there has been one other thing that has encouraged him: in every training session, Duncan Fletcher has kept a close eye on Parthiv. He has said little, but the words he has offered have built Parthiv's confidence. Many times during training over the past two weeks, Fletcher, hands in his jacket pockets, has walked up to Parthiv and started a conversation. He has taken in Parthiv's intentions and whispered a suggestion or two. What Fletcher has not done, despite the occasional unconvincing stroke, is to push Parthiv towards altering his batting. What Parthiv has taken in and what shows now at the crease, is a freedom to learn.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vikraman on September 6, 2011, 14:19 GMT

    and we keep forgetting one very good batsman.. technically better than suresh raina in tests ATLEAST.. plays spin and pace equally well.. his bowling form may have deserted him.. but he is our only bet for the all rounder spot.. guess who? yeah it is IRFAN PATHAN.. he is still young.. i think there must be some problem between him and the management, dhoni or selectors.. he was not even selected for the 42 proabables for the world cup.. god only knows wat it is. he deserves much better than this

  • Muthuvel on September 6, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    the whole eye ball to eye ball stuff at the top of the article was very cliche.

  • vikraman on September 6, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    parthiv patel is really a technically sound player on the backfoot.. but he should improve his front foot play .. he always look for boundaries.. and he should look to rotate the strike more.. if he does it he wil play more as a specialist batsman

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    Parthiv had shown good fighting spirit in the last Ind-NZ series with a couple of 50's and in the WI series. His knock of 95 in the 1st ODI had been very good. He was focussing on taking the calculated risks and keep the score card moving forward. Good positive batting from him. He played second fiddle to Rahane and took the anchor role with Kohli. In the recent matches he played, his knocks have been good and needs to carry his consistency to stay in the Team for a longer time..

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    what can you do alone parthiv, an injured elevan and not so lucky captin

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Parthiv is overrated just like most players in the current side. Dravid, Tendulkar and Zaheer have been India's most consistent contributors. Dhoni, I must admit, is one of the coolest captains I've ever seen. He is an asset for India and his patience is key.

  • Munawar on September 6, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    Badri's selection is the first non-bizzare thing that the selectors have done in recent times. It is interesting to note that they keep ignoring the most deserving ODI name - Md.Kaif again and again. He deserves a recall back into the ODI team. He has just made 82 in a BCCI tournament. Md.Kaif has had a superb run in the last two-three domestic seasons. At 31, he still has some years of cricket in him and is still the fittest cricketer in India today. Kaif could also fill in that elusive No.6 spot in Tests too. For Tests, Wasim Jaffer - who is the best non-playing bat in India today, needs to replace Gambhir; Pujara a standby for Dravid; Badrinath a standby for Sachin and Kaif a standby for Laxman. To fill in the shoes of these greats, you do not need greenhorns. Yuvraj, Rohit, Kohli and Raina are purely ODI and T20 materials. So they should be preserved for shorter versions. Yusuf must be brought in for T20s. There is nobody more deserving than him for a T20 slot in the country today.

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    This is one gutsy player India should always play specially when they need to counterattack and negate the Short pitch stuff. The guy has a good attitude and some really nice shots as well in his armory.

  • Michael on September 6, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    While I'm pleased to see Parthiv looking good at the crease, I find it curious that India's back-up batsmen seem to be wicketkeepers of late. A little while ago it was Karthik and now Parthiv who are selected as specialist batsmen in the upper order. They've done themselves credit in their performances, but what does it say about the specialist batsmen at the domestic level?

  • Vinay on September 6, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    If Parthiv is playing & opening, Dhoni should either bat at 5 and bat like a batsman or he should be out of the team - send Yusuf Pathan over there. Srikaanth is just ignorant. YP scored a century against SA in SA - he can face upto great pace although he does not pull or hook. Why did he send Badri?

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