The experts review the action

'Dravid's struggles are in his mind'

Sanjay Manjrekar looks back on the action so far in the Bangalore Test (09:48)

October 10, 2010

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India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 2nd day

'Dravid's struggles are in his mind'

October 10, 2010

Marcus North scored fluently on the second morning, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 2nd day, October 10, 2010
Sanjay Manjrekar: "Marcus North's technique against the spinners was excellent" © Associated Press

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to ESPNcricinfo. Joining me is Sanjay Manjrekar to look back on the action in the Bangalore Test.

Sanjay, similar situation, at least score-wise to Mohali …once again we look to have the making of an exciting Test: Australia have posted 400 plus, and India, despite the early loss of Sehwag, have ended day two on 128 for 2…

Sanjay Manjrekar: This total, by sheer numbers is a better total than they had at Mohali, so Australia would feel they are closer to 500. India are missing VVS Laxman; Gautam Gambhir is also not there so Australia would be fancying their chances. But there are a couple of things in favour of India after the score Australia have put up. Firstly, is this pitch on day two has looked especially flat. On day one it seemed like it would have a lot for the spinners as the Test progressed but as it has turned out, the spin has died down and it has become a real flat pitch. And looking at Australia's bowling attack, they are missing Doug Bollinger, and the new guy, Peter George who has come in, looks very raw. Making your Test debut on a flat Indian pitch and expecting him to make a mark is expecting too much from him. Also Nathan Hauritz has not really hit top form. So India have really two bowlers to worry about: Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus who has been very impressive. Sachin Tendulkar has looked very good. So these things will work in favour of India to leave Australia still a little nervous.

AR: Today belonged to Marcus North - he has scored just 46 runs in his last six innings, fighting to keep his place in the team…what was really critical was he played with a lot of intent…

SM: Yes because that is the kind of temperament North has because that is how his career has been. This is his fifth Test hundred and he doesn't have too many thirties and forties. And this is something that would have delighted my batting coaches. When we were batsmen at the junior level, they would keep saying, 'We don't believe in thirties and forties; when you are well-set, go out there and get a hundred,' and that is what North has done. For somebody who has not been in form, vulnerable, with thoughts of losing his place, to get in there and get a hundred at a critical stage for his team, shows some exceptional qualities in North.

That was the mental side of it. I thought he played the spinners really well and some of the Australian batsmen could learn a thing or two. His technique against the spinners was excellent. He looked to get forward only when he felt he would be able to smother the spin. The moment he realised how would not be able to do that he would stay on the back foot and look to play off the back foot and play the square-cut off Harbhajan Singh. As a result of that both Prgyan Ojha and Harbhajan were not able to keep North quiet, so I thought his footwork in that innings was remarkable.

AR: India would have been frustrated with the Tim Paine-North and then North-Nathan Hauritz partnership … do you think they went on the defensive too early?

SM: Going on the defensive is the way the modern captains think and I am sure they have a good logic behind that because they believe: save the boundaries and the wicket will come. And when you have Tests giving you results you can't fault that thought too much. But, yes, sometimes you get the feeling that captains could attack a little more. But to be fair to the Indian bowlers I thought the pitch became really flat on day two. Zaheer Khan is an important bowler for India but he did not get any spin with the old ball like he had in Mohali. So he became half the bowler he was in Mohali. Sreesanth has struggled a bit. He is making a comeback and he is not really a guy who is at the top of his game. And Harbhajan, on day one, had the conditions to his liking where he had the bat and pad fielders around him and get wickets there. But once the help in the pitch starts to die, Harbhajan runs out of ideas.

Ojha is a valuable bowler for India because he has become a steady bowler who will keep the pressure and keep the runs down form one end like Venkatapathy Raju used to do in the 1990s for Anil Kumble to pick up the wickets. So that is the Indian bowling attack that will get periodically exposed in extremely good batting conditions.

AR: Virender Sehwag blazed away but Australia quickly picked up two wickets…two well-thought out dismissals - Sehwag to the short bouncer and Rahul Dravid to the ball going across him from Mitchell Johnson…

SM: It was fascinating to watch the clash between Sehwag and the Australians and this is where you have to take your hat off to the Australians. Many opposition teams set traditional fields to Sehwag with a few changes here and there and at the most go on the defensive from the start and just hoping for Sehwag to get out. But Australia are not willing to take that position; they will make you work hard for the runs. Today they set a very interesting field for him: they had two deep fielders on the off side right at the start of the innings and they had attacking fielders on the leg side for the short ball.

So basically they were telling Viru that they were trying to get him out. Sehwag, the master that he has become, is used to these tactics and it seemed like he was once again going to nullify all of them. The ball preceding the slow bouncer [that dismissed Sehwag] was a quick bouncer that got him on the side of the head; so that was excellent thinking from Hilfenhaus who has been excellent in this series so far. Viru sometimes sees the ball too early for his own good; he is one of the most dangerous batsmen to bowl the slower bouncer to and he spotted the slower delivery a lot earlier than a lot of us do. And the moment he saw the ball was short and slow, he was just thinking about [depositing it] to the stands. Unfortunately he mistimed it and Mitchell Johnson took the catch.

"Rahul Dravid played well in the last Test, he got a 70-odd, but given the way his last few innings have gone you can't say he is in top form like Tendulkar or Sehwag. If he was in top form he would have driven the ball through the covers or left it alone so it is a mental thing, more than anything else"

Dravid, when he pushed at a ball that was full and wide away from him, has the tendency to go after it, because he is a front-foot player. He likes to go down the pitch and such batsmen are slightly vulnerable when you angle the ball away from them and when the length is the way it was. Now Johnson bowled a a slightly wide delivery to Tendulkar as well, but Tendulkar, in this series, is mentally better than Dravid. Dravid was perhaps a little bit anxious and went after the ball, while Tendulkar preferred to leave it alone.

AR: In the last one year Rahul Dravid has been dismissed about six times edging the left-arm seamer. What do you think he has been going wrong?

SM: It is the mental discipline more than anything else. There are no technical faults that you can point out, apart from the fact that he needs to leave the ball alone. When he is batting he looks to get on the front foot and to the pitch of the ball. Only if it is banged in does he stay on the back foot. He is also a good driver of the ball, so he knows that if he keeps leaving everything, how will the runs come by? It is a fine line between driving that ball for four through the covers and leaving the ball outside the off stump. There is vulnerability there at the start of the innings. Now Dravid played well in the last Test, he got a 70-odd, but given the way his last few innings have gone you can't say he is in top form like Tendulkar or Sehwag. If he was in top form he would have driven the ball through the covers or left it alone so it is a mental thing, more than anything else.

AR: M Vijay and Tendulkar are looking good for India, Tendulkar having crossed the milestone 14000 Test runs. This will be a critical partnership for India looking ahead to tomorrow, especially given there is no VVS Laxman..

SM: No Laxman will be a handicap for India but Tendulkar is looking good and Vijay has got a start. Let's hope that Suresh Raina, who has got a hundred in Test cricket and a fifty in Mohali can keep going. And there is Cheteshwar Pujara as well. But everything depends on this partnership. But there are a lot of things in India's favour. The pitch has flattened out and become really good. Australia have limitations with their bowling attack; India will have to worry about just two bowlers in Johnson and Hilfenhaus. The others are not going to trouble the Indian batsmen too much. And all these things adding up, India have a good chance to get close to the Australian score.

AR: Thanks Sanjay for your views.

Posted by Pathiyal on (October 11, 2010, 4:31 GMT)

definitely if you are talking about rahul dravid, he is THE sportsman who can make a come back in indian team even in his 40s. this lack of consistancy has everything to do with his present state of mind rather than the so called 'old age' syndromme in cricket. age does not matter for this class player. eagerly awaiting a long innings.

Posted by ArdentCritic on (October 11, 2010, 3:23 GMT)

It is one thng to register wins from the get go on foerign slois but how can one call themself # uno rank team - If they struggle all the time on its own docile pitches against the competetion which is not at its prime.

Posted by ArdentCritic on (October 11, 2010, 2:49 GMT)

This crucial postion of batting @ 1 down has been let go for last years. Question would be why? As much India is appreciative of his contribution in the past.Why cannot we come to terms that His time is OVer. After all Hayden (Prolific opener was forced to retire after only few failures). Also Immaturity of Selectors parts to select out of form Ghambir over In-Form Vijay in the first test. Beside Pathetic #uno Indian Test Cricket team - STruggle in first test on flat pitch in their own backyard and struggeling again in 2nd test against a 2nd string Bowling attack. By the regarding another headline "SRT lately @ his ever best " - For whom? Cannot expect from him when it matters or when it is really expected of him? - SHame on these Multi Millionaires - DHoni, SRT, Dravid

Posted by wills123 on (October 11, 2010, 2:18 GMT)

Manjerekar , Always biased and here he says with one good knock recently , Dravid have only a mental problem, I guess Dravid is out of form and age is started affecting his game.

Sanjay has gone wrong in all his judgment in this series, see his previos articles, he said First test heading for a Draw But India won if not Aussies surely had won, So there was a result. Again he said Aussie batting a worry, but they post 478 in first test ,

Cricinfo please scrap him he is not a good commentator, He only things commentating in India is only criticising Sachin and Get media attention.

Posted by tendravid on (October 10, 2010, 22:53 GMT)

dravid is in the worst slump of his career. I think he is one of the best batsman of his generation. he should remove his mental models and just go out there and try to score fast rather than grind. Iam just worried that he may end up with an average less than 50 at the end of his career. lets not hope for his sake.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2010, 17:59 GMT)

yep he needs to sort his off stump issue needs loads of time on the net and i guess he should be facin zaheer most times cos he's also a left seamer.....once he gets tht right he'd be getting more runs ......just one innings more needed if he does it well in the 2nd innings well than gud or else he'd have to wait for the nz series

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