England in India 2012-13

India's bowling not a new problem

India's bowlers, especially the spinners, had perfect conditions in Mumbai yet fluffed their lines dramatically. However, it wasn't a one-off. The bowling has been a problem for a while

Sidharth Monga

November 30, 2012

Comments: 116 | Text size: A | A

R Ashwin bowls during the second innings, India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Hyderabad, 4th day, August 26, 2012
R Ashwin, the subject of much hype before the series, has been disappointing against England © AFP
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The defeat at the Wankhede Stadium last week was arguably India's worst in Test cricket. Not in terms of margin, but in how almost everything was stacked in their favour: the pitch, the toss, the combination, the runs. The illusion they have tried to create through countless interviews that they were done in on "green tops" and they were still world-beaters at home has come crashing down. If ever there was a match set up for the bowlers to win, it was this, with 327 on board on a square turner. And as it has been happening over the last 18 months, India's bowlers came up short again; in the case of their lead spinner's length, literally so.

Starting July 21 last year, India have been the worst bowling unit of all Test sides bar Bangladesh. At least statistically so. Not only have they averaged 40.39 with the ball, better only than Bangladesh, they have give away more runs per over than any Test side over that period. And whisper it, for most of this period India have bowled on "green tops". With the bat, their average - 30.80 - is better than that of Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Needless to say, they have lost more Tests than any other side over the period.

There is no denying that India's batting hasn't been ideal over this period, but it has neither been as bad as the bowling nor as crucial to this slump. If Test cricket were a spin bowler, batting would be its line and bowling its length. The former optional, the latter mandatory. Pakistan are a glaring example. Even during their most turbulent period, with non-existent batting and wicketkeeping, they have still managed to survive as a Test side purely through their bowling. In 2010 alone, they won two Tests in England, as many as India have in 26 years.

However, the main focus of most of the debates around India's defeats, even in Mumbai, has been around the batting. Even when India were No 1, the bowling hung by a thread. A brittle, not-always-fit, but highly skilful thread. The captain's statement that this thread was the Sachin Tendulkar of bowling was spot on. Ever since Zaheer Khan has gone into what seems like a terminal slump, all others have been brutally exposed. In the two to three years since Anil Kumble's retirement, Zaheer carried the bowling on his own. He brought the control the unit badly needed; when he was injured, India would look lost in the field.

Zaheer is not the same any more. He has not even been there for six of those 15 Tests. With other bowlers, you never know what you will get. In Mumbai, for example, when Kevin Pietersen felt comfortable enough to boss the bowlers, chances are even the best would have suffered, but it was the easy period of easy singles that let him feel comfortable. That's where Indian spinners failed on two counts.

On a pitch that was calling for them to exploit the turn, they didn't put in enough effort to spin the ball. Spin here is not just the sideways turn, but action on the ball, which gets you drift and dip. They didn't do it on purpose, it's their techniques. They don't put enough shoulder or hip behind the delivery, they have hardly any follow-through. R Ashwin, especially, ends up relying too much on his variations. In so doing, he bowls a release ball almost every over, which is the bowling unit's second shortcoming. MS Dhoni has copped a fair deal of criticism for his defensive fields over this period, but his bowlers haven't done him any favours with their inconsistency.

The desperate part, though, is that there are no replacements in sight, except for a hospital ward full of tried-and-tested bowlers missing the Ranji Trophy. Which is why somebody like Harbhajan Singh can walk right back into the squad without having done anything at the domestic level to earn a comeback, although when he did make that comeback he bowled better than Ashwin and got only half the overs. Outside the squad, only Pankaj Singh and Jalaj Saxena have both the wickets and the fitness. Neither of them seems to enjoy the faith of the selectors and the team management.

After Wankhede, Dhoni made what seems like a fair point on paper when asked about the direness of the situation. "I think we have got replacements," he said. "It's not like we don't have replacements. But you don't chop and change players on the basis of one or two Tests. We have to give them a fair run." Apart from the fair run, they also need a huge improvement, especially in their discipline.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by ThirdRenegade on (December 3, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

India's loss was England's gain in Mumbai, literally speaking! As an avid, discerning & critical viewer of the game for over 2 decades, I can say that India's best option in this case is to prop, spruce & gee up their batsmen to make the most of their stay at the crease (if they can survive) & bat England out the remaining matches! True its a negative, parochial & spineless strategy but in hindsight, I don't think India have the confidence, belief & spirit to enforce any thoughts of a win in the next 2 tests unless England commit some major blunders which they are capable of but by evidence in the last 2 Tests, it seems the visitors are on an upswing & are making the most of these contests. Probably Pujara, Kohli & Ashwin hold the key to a rearguard action in case India's batting is suspect & Ojha, Harbhajan or Dinda (if either's picked) will decide the bowling. I feel post this series all seniors will get a dressing down as its mandatory

Posted by aarpee2 on (December 3, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

I find this bowler-bashing rather biased-pray tell us what Nos 4,5,6 & 7 in the Indian batting line-up were doing by scoring single-digits in either innings.We lost 19 wickets to the spinners due to spineless a batting.It was indeed pathetic to see these guys losing their wickets defending on wickets they have played all their life..The last few series wins at home were crafted by VVS in the company of tail-enders with even Captain Dhoni not hanging around and giving company to the maestro who pulled of these great wins. OK, Ashwin played poorly but how come Bhajji with 99 tests and 400 wickets under his his belt come to the party and lead the attack?

Posted by MrMojoRisin on (December 3, 2012, 8:09 GMT)

The job of a bowler, or a bowling team is to fool the batsmen. They did a fantastic job last year in Australia, where they fooled one of the greatest batsmen, Ponting, into thinking that he was still good enough for test cricket. Consequently, Ponting played on for another year, thus weakening the Australian batting, which eventually led to a series defeat to SA, even though the Aussies held the whip for most of the series!

On a slightly different note, I wonder which bowling team has fooled Tendulkar et al in thinking they can still cut it, at this level? LOL......

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 6:59 GMT)

It is unfair to compare someone who is just playing his 1st full year in test cricket to someone who has played a lot . . . Spinners mature late.

It is Indian batsmen who have to take the blame - After all, Indian batsmen are great players of spin. I dont know why cricinfo is mute on that. Indian bowling is anyways weak is what all know. What about irresponsible batsmen? And an ageing liability??

Posted by AvidCricFan on (December 3, 2012, 1:15 GMT)

It is too much to hope for BCCI to have a vision and plan to back it up. The only vision BCCI has is make and squander money using cricket. Most nations rebuild and replenish weaknesses in 5 years. India has has perpetual bowling weakness for ages. The batting is sliding precipitously. Most new talent who are accustomed to IPL can't cope with the rigors of test cricket.

Posted by KukaSekhon on (December 3, 2012, 1:03 GMT)

Dude Monda learn to be honest. If Dhoni is useless at being test Captain then say so. This team BCCI which is presented to Indians as team Indias run for money only. BCCI bosses raking in big money out of this lousy team, Sandeep Patil who is the chief selector used to be a pathetic player. Team BCCI management is run by people who know how to make cement, sugar etc, It's not batting, bowling and fielding which is the problem. It's the management, selectors and Captain who are the problem. Dhoni should go as test Captain.

Posted by sinhasurajit on (December 2, 2012, 22:38 GMT)

India is defintely a weak team. It has got hardly any potential to win outside as a test team. It used to be a strong team at home. But now that is also gone. It is the media which make them look like a champion team but it has not got the quality. There is too much politics and interference. Tendulkar should have long time ago. He is still going depriving others a slot. Dhone has not got anything to offer in test matches. Sewagh make one 100 and media talk about it for next 1 year even if he makes no run. Dhoni gets the team he wants, pitch he wants, win the toss but cannot do any thing except talking like a politician. Unless there is some self pride, willingness to win this team is going to make us all ashamed. Sorry to see this condition.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

MAKE A RULE TO TAKE 5 BOWLERS WITH 3 QUICKS AND 2 SPINNERS IN RANJI MATCHES AND HOPE FOR THE BEST. in ranji matches they r following same as in indian cricket to take only 4 bowlers thats the reason we r getting so many big scores but not quality batsman

Posted by Cricket.Nellore on (December 2, 2012, 12:51 GMT)

when you know you have weak bowling, yet you pick only 4 bowlers and you need 7 batsmen. Where is the balance,?this is what dhoni never tries to understand!

Posted by D.Nagarajan on (December 2, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

The problem today is performance should be the criteria to be in the team and not reputation this would however imply that almost 90% of the side would be sacked. Plus MSD has no vision as to where he wants the team to be in 2 years from now, he is just turning up to play. He doesn't think of the need to groom a bowling attack from scratch , have bowlers specifically for test and commercial cricket (T20/ODI). MSD shudn't apply commercial strategies to test cricket, i.e. starting with spinners, having 3-6 spinners with defensive fields. MSD doesn't even know what the role of the new ball is, he is completely arrogant and not willing to accept the shortcomings of both himself and the team. Indian cricket is where Australian cricket was in the mid 1980's , but Aussies were at least willing to start from scratch and rebuild.

Posted by GRVJPR on (December 2, 2012, 8:44 GMT)

Forget about India, I'm worried about toothless bowling attack of Australia. And Pakistan don't have bowlers. Their bowlers are more like jevlin throwers. No one in pakistani team can take wickets with proper bowling action

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

it is a pity that India does not focus on bowling...tests are won by bowlers!

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

Our selectors not at all consider domestic players who perform well, as per my knowledge none of our selectors are see any domestic scoreboards. Our BCCI and selectors consider only IPL performers little bit which was killing our Indian cricket

Posted by sony_sr on (December 2, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

excellent article. indian bowling unit is so pathetic that opposition teams' coaches and selectors are forced to ignore their batsman's performance against them when determining form and talent.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 2, 2012, 2:40 GMT)

I can not agree anymore with GetSetGoPak: As he points out that it is high time that ICC reviews India's test status. Currently, the gulf between teams likes India and top four ( SA, Australia, Pakistan and England) is too huge. ICC should consider making a second tier of weaker teams such as India, NZ, SL, BD and West Indies. Test cricket needs to be competative and a team that has 9 of last test matches is sure not competative!

Posted by Shan156 on (December 2, 2012, 2:38 GMT)

@SamuelH, I believe @Vikramaditya100 was referring to India not England. And, he is right. India never dominated teams like Australia/SA/England did even when they were #1. I still think they are a decent team and a very good one at home. However, their bowling is and has always been pathetic. That said, Indian fans are over-reacting a bit. They thrashed us in Ahmedabad and got owned in Mumbai. England improved after their awful first innings performance in Ahmedabad once they got used to the conditions. I feel it will be a tough contest from hereon. At the same time, I do think England have the resources to register a historic series win in India this time.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 2, 2012, 2:31 GMT)

Indian bowling always weak even during kapil dev days. So it is not new. Only batting gets attention of media. Now indian batting not doing welll , the focus turn to impotency of indian bowling. Indian spinners were outbowled by engalnd. We all know england have better pace bowler than india. So BCCI need to start looking for real stroing tall kids who can be taught bowling skill. Not midgets.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 1:15 GMT)

1.2 Billion. No bowlers. Let's face it. Bowler's are real Athletes, and India is not athletic nation. Let's just look at our Medal tally in Olympics

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 22:20 GMT)

India was never a bowling side. We only had one good bowler at any given point. 80's Kapil and then it was Kumble and Zaheer for a brief period. Even with batting we never clicked as a team in adverse conditions. For a period between 2002 to 2007 the batting was good. After which everything fell apart. Play Rahane, Manoj Tiwary, Rayudu and Rahul Sharma. Rayudu was marked as a talent for future and never got a chance whereas Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik who played in same U19 world cup team have got chances. Isn't it ridiculous. Compare Suresh Raina and Yuvaraj's domestic record with Rahane and Tiwary. They will stand out. If you don't consider scores in Ranji and other domestic seasons why have those. Cricket boards should be run former crickets with able administration skills not by businessman and politicians.

Posted by bonobo on (December 1, 2012, 21:32 GMT)

Sachin isn't the problem with India, patience is. This is a major period of transition from an exceptional side, captained to Test no1 and world champions by MS Dhoni, lets not forget. I would love to have and England capatin who can claim that. There are a lot of promsing players in India and it will take some time to sort the wheat from the chaff. Fast bowling is a worry and I think some diversity in Ranji trophy pitches would help. But as an England fan, I dont have a problem with Inida, producing spin friendly pitches at home and I am not expecting England to run away with this series, indeed I still favour India. But lets see what happens and save the post-mortem for the end of the series

Posted by moBlue on (December 1, 2012, 20:45 GMT)

dhoni's loyalty to some players irritates me no end! ashwin was *never* a test- caliber bowler, the NZ series at home notwithstanding! yet he got a lot more overs in mumbai than bhajji did! bhajji was clearly the better bowler there!

ain't nothing wrong with ojha's bowling! he is a decent long-term prospect for IND. ashwin needs to go though! besides, bhajji has a love affair with the pitch and the huge crowd at kolkata! so play bhajji at kolkata, drop ashwin (for good from the test team!), and make ENG hop with fast turn and bounce! of course, IND has to play monty and swann as well, which is no longer a given since dravid and lax are not around, and the t-20 obsessed young-un's from IND don't play spin with the same facility as dravid or lax!!!

Posted by binojpeter on (December 1, 2012, 20:40 GMT)

A small mistake, Pankaj Singh plays for Rajasthan, not Punjab.

Posted by binojpeter on (December 1, 2012, 20:38 GMT)

I don't understand why lot of people are rooting for Rahul Sharma. The guy has only average of 47 in longer version. He maybe a good bet for shorter versions but has not proved that he is good for longer version. Let him first get few 5-wicket hauls first. Amit Mishra and Piyush Chawla are the only leg spinners who has decent average and number of wickets to justify their selection in Tests. Jalaj Saxena is an off-spinner and he bowled well in recent Duleep Trophy final. He has nice loop and pitches ball in good areas. But he also has to prove lot more to be considered for selection as he currently averages only 36. Pankaj Singh is a tall bowler, right arm, bowls around 130-134 kph, close to the stumps, swings both ways, has good control and is a consistent performer for Punjab. I believe that he should have been considered ahead of Dinda as he has a better average and more number of wickets than him.

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 1, 2012, 19:50 GMT)

@yogi108, that's taking it a little too far. Before the recent whitewashes, india defeated the same 2 sides in similar conditions, aus in perth in 2008 and sa in durban in 2010. It's best to recognize the fact that the indian team is on a decline after reaching a peak in 2010-2011 than calling them names and belittling them.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 18:55 GMT)

I don't think Indians have the right physique to be a fast bowler. I would blame it on nutrition .

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (December 1, 2012, 17:52 GMT)

@sensibleIndianfan There is a perception outside India that Indian fans go very much over the top with their own players and underrate any player who is not Indian. Hence, when they lose a match, they look for outside explanations (biased umpires, doctored wickets, anything but the fact that their heroes are not quite as good as they thought). R. Ashwin looked very good in the ODIs v England last year, but has raced to 50 wickets against some decidedly ordinary opposition in Tests, which may have given a false impression. As an England fan I can't say that I am disappointed that he has been unable to used the conditions so far! And, oddly given the criticism of England for picking bowlers for their batting, R Ashwin seems to have been picked as someone who will hold together the tail, rather than as a specialist bowler!

@landl, you are talking about the same Ojha who bowled 14 overs in an innings at The Oval for Surrey and took 6-8??? When he gets it right...

Posted by Leggie on (December 1, 2012, 16:13 GMT)

India desperately needs a good bowling coach. Very often the bowling looks toothless - not because they lack the bite.., but because of the tactics/strategy used. M.S.Dhoni's defensive tactics beats logic. Someone needs to talk sense into this. Or, whoever is giving those inputs to Dhoni must be sacked. It's not true that the cupboard is empty. I was seeing the UP vs. Baroda match and the pacers in the ranks were extremely impressive. Surely one of these lads can make it to india ranks. But then..., will there be a clear strategy when they bowl? I was also seeing the highlights of last years Ind vs Aus Test match at Perth, and it was obvious that the team lost direction once David Warner started smacking the ball around. This is exactly what happened in Mumbai as well. The team loses momentum very quickly when someone counter attacks. If this is addressed, India can still put in a decent fight.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 15:51 GMT)

There is no doubt that this is a low phase for Indian cricket..But are'nt we just over reacting a little bit. We are in a transition phase with most of the seniors retiring and one senior hanging on to his place purely of past laurels. Regarding our bowling resources this was the same team which won us the first test match in Ahmedabad. Apart from Cook and Pieterson, none of the English batsmen looked comfortable against our spin attack. Why dont we just accept the fact that English players played better cricket than us.

Posted by Desihungama on (December 1, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

It will be interesting to see how Pakistan does on the "Rank Turners". Ashwin is a short format bowler and usually does well when batsmen come out and take scoring chances. In Test matches, as Great Imran Khan says you need "Specialist" bowlers. Kumble was India's last specialist bowler. That sums up their recent predicament.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (December 1, 2012, 15:14 GMT)

The real problem has been inconsistent selection.Players like Suresh Raina,Yuvraj Singh,Ishant Sharma & Harbhajan Singh keep returning to the test team.Sachin Tendulkar fully deserves the BCCI's backing due to his abilities,unfortunately he isn't finding that form.Ajinkya Rahane & Ashok Dinda can't seem to get a debut even.Ravindra Jadeja has the first class stats,why isn't he on A tours & being prepared to be India's allrounder?Dhawal Kulkarni is capable & Praveen Kumar just disappeared after good performances.

Posted by Sanawana on (December 1, 2012, 15:14 GMT)

You can only win in tests when you take 20 wickets and not when you hit triple centuries; that will only help draw the match. Indians like stroke play and working the ball with the bat but they are lazy to bowl that's why we dont see any Indian fast bowler because think about it who's gonna run 20-30 feet just to bowl a single ball which a batsman can dismiss with a simple flick of the hand. None of Indian greats was great enough to be labelled as great in the world ; all have bowling averages of about 30 and above; forget about the strike rates. Bedi, kapil Dev, Kumble all were just average bowlers and they got those wickets just because their fellow bowlers were pathetic; Indian bowling great is yet to be borne. My comment may sting but it's the sad truth.

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 1, 2012, 14:45 GMT)

siddarth sid. Yep you lost to a useless team with our one good player in KP.Funny I must have missed the part where he took all the wickets and catches.The fact is you got pummelled by half a team.When they all play to potential you really are in trouble.Having said that ashwin has a real future.As a batsman

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

I've always wondered about India's bowling. They seem to rely on opposition batsmen, thinking they can't cope and doing something stupid to get themselves out. This was proven in the first test where Cook showed that if you trust in what you're doing and remain calm, they're not going to get you out easily. THose like Pietersen who panicked and started doing silly things got themselves out. And in the second test, they all trusted their own ability and India's bowlers couldn't produce the deliveries to remove batsmen without them throwing it away. I do agree with the Article though. England's spinners try to spin the ball hard. That was Warne did Kumble did (Although his was ripping topspin as opposed to spin going left or right) Murali did it, Vettori used to do it. Spinners who spin the ball hard are always likely to take wickets and if you take wickets, run rate will stay low anyway. India's batting has been found struggling but not as much as their bowling

Posted by spinkingKK on (December 1, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

@smaron: When you provide the sporting track in the domestic competitions, the bowlers like Unadkat and Vinay Kumar looks like Malcom Marshalls and Imran Khans and they gets selected to play the test matches and you will know what happens next. The way forward for the Indian team is to select athletic players who treats cricket like a sport and enjoy it. Players like Kaif and Tiwary should be a permanent fixture. Also, fill up the bowling unit with someone who can field well as well. Only time you select a sluggish player to represent the team should be when he is a special talent, like VVS, Kumble, Sehwag, Sreesanth etc. But, it never happens in India. We know the fate of Robin Singhs and Kaifs.

Posted by Vkarthik on (December 1, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

Anything to justify Sachin's failures. Are you seriously telling us it was a 119/5 or 117/7 pitch? Please spare us with your analysis. Our bowlers might not have been so stellar. But our batsmen were the main culprits.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 12:27 GMT)

why can't india find 2 or 3 guys who can bowl 145k-150k out of over 1 billion population and then leave the rest of grooming and mentoring to the coaching staff who gets paid millions.

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 1, 2012, 11:56 GMT)

with ponting about to retire but ST hanging in there for what another 100, if hes lucky. we have no idea how good the batting stocks of india are because older players over the last year have clung on the their places by their finger nails

Posted by sensible-indian-fan on (December 1, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

There have been some very sensible comments here by indian fans. I would like to add a few points. Regarding Ashwin - no, he is not over-rated. He just messed up precisely when the world expected a lot out of him. Guys, do you remember how dangerous he looked when he pitched the balls in the right areas? What he got wrong was his accuracy and his field settings. You can't give away easy singles every time no matter how defensive you are. Dot balls create pressure. Ashwin did the SAME exact mistake of spraying the ball in Australia and that's why he was criticized. He will surely bounce back as accuracy is his main forte (I just hope he takes his minor failures seriously before it turns into full blown out major ones). Regarding batting - Sehwag, Gambhir and Sachin must go. Yuvraj (somehow fails) and Dhoni must be put on notice. The reason why we don't do well is because we AREN'T PROFESSIONAL and make heroes out of our players. Make performance count and see what happens.

Posted by SDHM on (December 1, 2012, 10:37 GMT)

@landl47 - you make a good point I think. We seem to play all of our Subcontinental cricket in a block - England need to look at the FTP and perhaps spread out the tours to India, Sri Lanka etc, as opposed to cram them all into a couple of winters. More consistent exposure to the conditions would help massively I think.

Posted by smaron on (December 1, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

The logic of this article is laughable. How can the writer put the blame of Wankhede defeat on two young bowlers who have a total of 28 test appreances between them? What were our so called champion batsmen doing getting bowled out for less than 150? The problem with Indian cricket is out batsman who are flat track bullies. The moment they get a wicket with pace or spin they fold up. The way forward for Indian criket is to prepare sporting wickets in domestic cricket so that our batsman can hone their skills. Lets get rid of the deadwood and make a new beginning

Posted by SDHM on (December 1, 2012, 10:27 GMT)

@Vikramaditya100 - England didn't dominate teams? So three innings victories in Australia and handing out four thrashings in a row to whitewash India isn't dominating? We must have different definitions of the word.

Posted by TwohedulAzam on (December 1, 2012, 10:14 GMT)

Its funny how Dhoni is crying for turning pitches, when he is given one, english Monty & Swan took 19 wickets to finish the indian! Being a BD fan, I can say this indian bowling line up do not poses the skills to take 20 wickets even on spinning tracks. They are worse than current BD bowlers. So, thanks to Monga for focusing on a key problem of Indian cricket and I hope those of my fellow india fans (who every now and then unfairly criticizes BD cricket) will soon follow Monga to find out how india's performance can improve and suggest ways to improve india's inefficient domestic structure & playing conditions and stop criticizing Bangladesh's cricket every now and then! By the way I love Sachin, Kohli, Shourav, Dravid, & Azharuddin and many more indian greats.

Posted by sandy_bangalore on (December 1, 2012, 9:36 GMT)

1 billion people, millions of youngsters in cricket academies all over the country, and a one-sport nation, with the 'stars' adored by the public and media. Inspite of that, dearth of talent and character. Public squarely to blame for supporting our flat track kings, whoa re found wanting the moment the wicket starts doing something, be it pace, seam,swing,spin!!

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 9:00 GMT)

India should consider Manoj Tiwary as third spinner (right arm leg spinner). He should have been in the squad but for......nobody knows!!

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

My only response is how will you know that your bowling resources are thin or thick if you dont give young bowlers like ahmed , aaron and rest no opportunities, You basically dont change the batting line up even after you lose 8 matches in a row and the keep on playing the same eleven...waiting for people to retire.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 7:28 GMT)

India were lucky at Ahmedabad that, Cook did not go for Panesar in the team. Imagine what would have happened? India would have been 2 down by now and no chance of winning the series. So, unless Rahul Sharma comes in + a replacement comes to Tendulkar (by way of Rahane) the chances of winning at Kolkata are a big zero. Hats off to Ponting who has some sense and decency left in him. Its time for Sachin to hit bouncers for a six at the Rajya Sabha and forget the cricket field.

Posted by Y2SJ on (December 1, 2012, 7:20 GMT)

The problem is that the board is trying to nod its head to all Dhoni's demands instead of a long term plan. Dhoni has to get his head out of the sand and look to build a team. He needs to lead a team instead of sitting back and watching the procession. He has undone all the progress the team made under Kumble and Dravid.

Posted by akashchandran on (December 1, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

@Nampally - Rahul Sharma seems to be serving 2 year ban from international cricket for drug abuse although it has not been officially declared.

@Shiv Shankar Dayal - Anil Kumble may not have spun the ball but he has over 600 wickets in Tests and was a match winner. Had he played he would have found some way to break the Cook-Pieterson partnership. By the way I think Kumble is also an engineering degree holder.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 7:07 GMT)

@ Shiv Shankar Dayal - I believe Kumble was better than that. I would have him in my team any day: When things favoured his type of bowling, he got wickets in heaps. When they didn't he offered control.

People in India have a thing with numbers - the Number 1 Rating mattered a lot to them and the team (that obviously is made up of people from India). However, the team was never one of the great teams. Its rise was hard-earned no doubt but at the same time purely circumstantial and coincided with the decline of other serious test teams. The team would never played Glenn McGrath, Warne and co. in Australia after 1999. South Africans were still slowly coming out of their choker psychology. Indian bowling had no world beaters - can Zaheer Khan compare with any of the greats? His only 10-for came against Bangladesh. His record is the weakest among Srinath, Kapil Dev and the rest. And he (a decent bowler no doubt) was the best bowler in the line-up. Nobody cared! How sad!

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 1, 2012, 6:29 GMT)

Honestly, its just the beginning, with the kind of quality they have in batting and bowling things are going to get far worse than they are right now. Kohli's looked miserable at test level, he's a hit and run for ODI's at best but no way close to test level. Ashwin was compared with Ajmal just before the series, im sure they wont be doing such comparisons for a while now. Ashwin cant keep his line and length, he's not even a test level bowler, how can you compare him with Ajmal??? The crux of the matter is, India treats test cricket as a side show in between IPLs, thats the truth of it. They have become a mediocre test side (not that they were any good in the past). ICC should take notice and revoke their test status. It would be better to give this test status to Ireland or even Afghanistan whom will at least take it seriously and give due respect to the format.

Posted by Rajeshj on (December 1, 2012, 6:28 GMT)

You do admit that Ashwin bowls a lot of variations in an over, which to me is amazing.. how many spinners can do that, Mr. Monga... not even Kumble or Harbajan have done that... In my opinion, bowlers of a different variety like Murali, Warne, Ajmal alone can do that.. You have to understand that even Ajmal took so many years to flourish.. I think your comments are just a bit too one-sided or biased or you have an agenda.. In my opinion, the problem is with support staff and coach, who have done nothing to guide or provide expert opinion during failures to the inexperienced batsmen or bowler... I thought Gary emphasized a lot on giving vital inputs to bowlers/batsmen when they had a rough time and it did gave good results.. Please do a detailed analysis .. the problem is not with the bowler, but the zero-guidance they get which is important for newcomers like Ashwin, Ojha, Pujara, Rahane etc..

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

Spin cupboard really looks empty, as barring these two we have Mishra, Bhajan, Rahul Sharma, Chawla as back up options....India doesn't have enough good spinners in the Ranji Trophy...though there are good number of pacers emerging....Pankaj Singh, Shami Ahmed, P Awana, P Suyal, V Aaron, M S Gony, Ishwar Pandey,... are a few who can bowl in high 130's....R Dhawan, B Kumar are good allrounders who can bowl in 130-135 kph range and are good bat for no. 7 .

While in spin section....honestly only Harmeet Singh...looks a good prospect, Jalaj Saxena is a batsman first & then a bowler (something like Robin Peterson of SA).

Posted by Prasanna_sambath on (December 1, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

MSD captaincy was pretty ordinary and his poor marshaling of resources was the prime reason for loosing the match : a) Bhajji was totally under-bowled in a pitch that suited him the best; b) relayed more on Ashwin who totally over-engineered attempting variety instead of maintaining basics; c) not leveraging other utility bowlers like Yuvi and Viru proved very dear. There are much better wicket keeper batters in Karthik or Saha and captains in Gauti or viru. Its time selectors use MSD for the shorter version of the game not only to win test matches but also to protect talent in the team; Probably, VVS would have stayed back and could have been entrusted the captaincy as well had MSD was appropriately measured and leveraged. Debate welcome !

Posted by doors666 on (December 1, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

team is in a bad shape, we need to axe more than half the team sachin- wont be able to make another comback. time to go. yuvraj - no good for test cricket. thats what happens when you pick players from t20 and odi squads instead of picking from domestic cricket. zaheer - for how long are we going to put up with his pathetic performances. he cant seem to even buy a wicket. almost never gets an early breakthrough. no replacement can be as bad as him. ashwin - fake spinner. time to go. bhajji - let him prove it in domestic that he can get wickets before he makes another comback dhoni - his midas touch is gone, his famous luck has run out. now what. he doesnt score runs. a parthiv patel or saha can score better than him. hell, ashwin averages better than dhoni.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 5:36 GMT)

They shirk responsibility to improve continuously. Once selected they see to be playing for the pension. Teaching mechanics is like getting a Automobile Engineer to drive your car :) Not required. What are nets for?!

Posted by jayesh.chaudhari on (December 1, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

At least Indian spinner should see that monty getting wicket with fast balls and they should also bowl like that. Another thing is we have youth like Ajinkya Rahane in squad and still we are waiting for old guns to fire. Whats use of that if a player not performing for 15-16 matches and then had a half century in one match. They are playing for country not for their school team.

Posted by jimbond on (December 1, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

If the current spinners are not doing well, the selectors should look at it as an opportunity. They are free to try out new guys- Jalaj Saxena, Harmeet Singh, Appanna, Aushik Sreenivas, Bhargav Bhatt, anyone. I am sure that at least one of these will grab the opportunity and do well. If Harbajan can be given such a long rope, why cant someone like Murali Karthik be given a second chance?

@shiv Shankar Dayal- what ever may have been his style, Kumble was very effective, if Kumble had still been playing, the Mumbai result would have been very different- on rank turners he was virtually unplayable and on unhelpful pitches he was very difficult to score off.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 5:24 GMT)

Excellent write-up - the gravest concern should have been that Zaheer Khan was the best bowler for India who, even at his peak from 2007 to 2011, averaged almost 28 with the ball. Complete career averages of good bowlers are better than that. It clearly showed the underlying inability of the team to struggle if the opposition applied itself. That it didn't happen enabled India to rise - South Africans were still chokers, Australians were left with only Clarke and Ponting from the 2004 test team and England were rebuilding. Once they were past through that stage, they became impossible for India - they claimed green tops were presented but there were none in those 8 tests. Indians fell to pace, swing but never seam. Recall the Gambhir dismissal at Adelaide by Siddle - he had claimed that Siddle was getting wickets because of 'green tops' who responded by bouncing him on a dead wicket. Ratings don't matter. This team would have been murdered by the West Indies of 1980.

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 1, 2012, 5:17 GMT)

Spot on article. Comes across as a little harsh but more than justified. What appalls me at times is the lack of strategic thinking among the indian bowlers. When bowlers are not able to come up wicket-taking deliveries or a good partnership is going on, there are other ways of picking up wickets, simplest of them being to try and bowl a few maidens or restricting easy singles which would force batsmen to take risks and play a rash shot. The bowlers could just bowl a few outside off for a while and restrict the run flow, but sadly none of that is happening. Ashwin and Ojha are still early in their careers so hopefully they would learn sooner than later. @Alston Graro ... you really believe all that you wrote? Even if you want to be critical, try to be more sensible about it like in the article.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (December 1, 2012, 5:10 GMT)

India can have a battery of fast bowlers, if we give them a chance. The current crop of medium fast bowlers playing in Ranji Trophy is really good. Shami Ahmed of Bengal, Rishi Dhawan of HP, Awana of Delhi, Imtiaz Ahmed and B Kumar of UP, Mohanty of Odissa. If we try these 5-6 bowlers, at least half of them will be good enough for International cricket. Please don't keep trying the same old Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar again. A fast bowler who can't take a wicket in England and Australia is not worth trying again - it doesn't matter if he can bowl at 150 kph.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (December 1, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

Even if India's bowling has been the major reason for it'spoor performances since winning the world cup, I am not sure that the position is as bleak as portrayed. I feel that the reluctance of the selectors to look for other options could be the real reason. This business of giving chances to a chosen few cannot be faulted entirely. But if potential remains static there is cause for concern and changes have to be made. For instance, in pace bowling options, there are Shami Ahmed, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, and Awana who could have been given chances somewhere. Pankaj Singh has been good for many seasons. The excuse trotted out is that he does not have enough pace. The point is that if Australia can give Hastings a chance at Perth, who bowls mostly at 128 kmph, because of the way he moves the ball, India does not have to ignore similar bowlers who can be very effective at the highest level. Similarly, in spin there are Shahbaz Nadim and Harmit Singh who could be given chances. Contd....

Posted by Yousufahmedl on (December 1, 2012, 4:56 GMT)

Fact is that BCCI is not giving much care for the bowlers by opposing DRS. If DRS was there, Indian bowlers would have done better.

Posted by the_blue_android on (December 1, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

@ Pady Srini - Who were the opponents in those 9 tests? Any domestic spinner would have done equally well if not better than Ashwin in those conditions against such opposition. Even I would have taken 25 wickets! I think Mr. Monga doesn't have an agenda. You just refuse to see and accept the sadness of reality.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 4:52 GMT)

Such a negative article... players need time to settle down.. ashwin just played few test matches.. He has improved immensely...England players are useless except KP..one test match doesnt make panesar great...

Posted by xylo on (December 1, 2012, 4:51 GMT)

As Dhoni has said umpteen times, India is a side that relies heavily on its batsmen. So, this finding of the author is awe-inspiringly ridiculous! Even in earlier days, India's best spinner was Kumble. That was a hell of a mockery of leg spin when compared to genuine spinners like Warne. But then, he was consistent and accurate to hide his shortcomings. The problem with Ashwin is that he is not consistent through one over, so does not really build much pressure as Ojha.

Posted by YogifromNY on (December 1, 2012, 4:50 GMT)

After one day and one session's worth of watching the most riveting Test cricket between Aus and SA in the current Test at Perth, I can honestly say the Indian team looks like a bunch of 12 year-old boys by comparison. At their peak, they did not make for riveting viewing, unless you enjoy ordinary batsmen belt out hundreds on lifeless tracks and falter at the first sign of life in the wicket. Don't blame Dhoni - he is the product of the system. Blame BCCI and their band of gutless selectors. Selling out to the gods of television means that they want matches to go the full distance, which means lifeless tracks and tons of runs scored by ordinary batsmen, which means no youngster wants to become a bowler, which means that only the third-rate become bowlers. Disgusting. If you are like me, a long-suffering Indian fan, the only way to get BCCI to wake o up is to vote with your pockets. Stop going to IPL games, don't watch Indian games. Use your purchasing power to stop this nonsense!

Posted by CarDroid on (December 1, 2012, 4:46 GMT)

I'm obviously no expert on the physics or techniques of spin bowling but watching Ashwin and Harbhajan bowling at Mumbai, I kept thinking that this looks like ODI bowling - firing them in, just running through overs. Looked like they default to their ODI/containment mode even in Tests. And that leaves us with the question: what's the captain and the bowling coach for?

Posted by landl47 on (December 1, 2012, 4:43 GMT)

To be fair, Ojha has looked a very useful bowler in Indian conditions, though he probably wouldn't be as good outside the subcontinent. Yadav also bowled well in the first test, though he got the benefit of a couple of dubious umpiring decisions. However, it's fairly apparent that if the England side played more often on the subcontinent, they'd be more than a match for India. It's the England team's unfamiliarity with the conditions, primarily with the pace of the wickets, that evens the playing field. I expect England to continue to improve as the tour goes on and the challenge for India will be to keep up with them.

Posted by the-anti-mule on (December 1, 2012, 4:42 GMT)

All the best fast bowlers were always outside India and now the best spin bowlers are also outside India. If that is not a shameful indictment of the deliberate dereliction of the various cricket boards in India I don't know what is. Years of corruption and disregard for the game has brought us here. Every time we lose a test match there is outrage, vigorous debate, and then somebody scores a triple century and then we are off celebrating our batsmen again conveniently ignoring the utter paucity in the bowling department. BCCI goes back to minting money, our batsmen pillage runs on bare and lifeless pitches and the bowlers drought just grows.

Posted by the_blue_android on (December 1, 2012, 4:41 GMT)

R Ashwin is the most overrated bowler in the history of test cricket.Took like 2 wickets in the entire Australia series. Took no wickets in a turning track. Bring in real spinners like Harmeet Singh...

Posted by sweetspot on (December 1, 2012, 4:35 GMT)

Yeah right! Cast aspersions on a spinner who has got to 50 wickets in the fastest time possible for India, based on one Test. Ashwin has done enough across formats to justify his place in all three, and we can even forget his more than useful batting. Hilarious analysis in some comments here as well. Dhoni knows best, so let him do his job, please. He is the most qualified, and that is why he is where he is. Enough already with the griping for every single thing that doesn't go like we expect it to. Appreciate the way KP and Cook batted, COME ON!

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 4:01 GMT)

How about a replacement wicketkeeper who can actually keep well behind the stumps and score some runs. Dinesh Karthik ha been in good touch so has been Bisla. Dhoni can still be the captain if he wishes to be, that is he can be India's non-playing captain as they have in tennis. Time we looked beyond MSD for tests! He looks jaded, uncommunicative and totally at sea as was evident when Peitersen and cook took our bowlers to the cleaners.

Posted by buntyj on (December 1, 2012, 3:55 GMT)

ojha is good but not top quality, bhajji was quality many years ago but just a mediocre trundler last few years, ashwin is not a quality spinner more useful to the team as an all rounder (his batting has a well organised look to it and he may yet develop into a safe gully) and if played as the 5th bowler (but not 2nd offie) provided he realises his limitations and bowls within them and focuses on line, length, n sparing exposure of his variety. and if he realises his limitations rather than get carried away by performances vs sub par teams on tailor made pitches and the consequent media hype in india. jalaj isnt bad but also has limitations. the only real hope (if he fulfils his potential) in the spin dept is harmeet singh. age has caught up with zak. no shame. india will miss him especially vs lefty bats- indian bowlers traditional bane, bar zak till this series. yadav is raw n may alwez be danny morrison class only; of others only dinda clearly deserves a break n then perhaps pankaj

Posted by AdityaUpadhyay on (December 1, 2012, 3:49 GMT)

Not only Indian bowling Indian batting too lacks the spine & character to fight against the odds.This is mostly due to our insipid Domestic circuit where bowlers struggle to take wickets throughout the season & a batsman like Ravindra Jadeja gets 2 triple centuries. The lack of challenging wickets to hone their skills hinders the growth of both batsman & bowlers.

Posted by buntyj on (December 1, 2012, 3:36 GMT)

ASHOK DINDA DESERVES A BREAK N HARMEET SINGH offers some hope for the future. but y blame batsmen? becoz india's entire strategy has alwez been batsmen centred with bowlers playing the support role. our entire cricketing structure is geared towards producing batsmen. of course, its bowlers who win test matches (check indias record away 68-73 in nz, windies, eng with relatively weak batting). but thats why we traditionally dont have a good success rate in tests, particularly away. so theres nothing new.without a quality spinner and zak in decline perhaps a bit more so today. but apart from perhaps trying to offer any alibis for batting failures is the author trying to suggest any improvements or changes? not mentioned. and unlikely since it would involve far reaching changes in the entire edifice of indian cricket and in mindsets, system n culture. probably not worth the authors job to suggest them.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 1, 2012, 3:02 GMT)

This is why Sid Monga is one of my favourite writers around. Unbiased and to the point article. I must say Osman S and Rahul B are also pretty good. It gets quite tiring reading one dimensional articles praising so called Gods and walls of Indian cricket. I fully agree with this article. India has performed very badly over the last year. The worrying bit is that neither Indian selectors nor Indian players seem to be held accountable. Non performers like Sehwag, Gambhir, Dhoni, Ashwin and the list goes on should have been dropped long ago. However, the biggest failure has been how Indian selectors have continued with Tendulya. No one is bigger than the game. A fine example is how Ponting has retired while he was still better than Tendulya. Similarly Younis Khan ( with 50+) average in 4th innings of test match( way better than tendulya) was dropped in ODI's by Pakistanis. There needs to be some quick decision making and changes as last para is key:There are no replacements and backups!

Posted by Yarms on (December 1, 2012, 1:57 GMT)

Spot on Sid. Well said. Even without the stats it's obvious that our bowling is a toothless pop gun attack which would struggle against a high school batting line up. We need a stock of genuine quicks and a pool of quality spinners to be groomed . This is a long range plan but should start now and will pay fruits in 2 or 3 years. Look a Aus - if o Ne of other quicks breaks down they have 3 or 4 in the wings to take up the vacancy. Look at England - Onions , Bresnan and Flynn can't get a game at the moment. Our bench strength is ZERO at best. We need a long term solution not an band-aid. What happened to Varuna Aaron?

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 1:48 GMT)

But Indian bowling in their homw soil is definitly a new problem. Normally they bowl well in their own back yard! i

Posted by followon on (December 1, 2012, 1:44 GMT)

Jalaj Saxena is a good bowler, but his recent form has been quite un-remarkable. In fact his batting has been much better than his bowling. Recent innings:

Bowling: 0/6, 0/1, 1/58, 2/25, 1/43, 0/2, 1/65, 2/83, 5/62, 0/3.0/66, 2/52, 0/38, 2/23

Batting: 45, 16, 35, 76*, 142, 17, 52*, 7, 15, 26*, 35, 21, 2*

Definitely a llate order asset. But I wouldn't replace Ashwin and Harbhajan with Jalaj yet.

Posted by rssampat on (December 1, 2012, 1:36 GMT)

The bowlers, specially the spinner's need the confidence of the captain. On tracks which offer assistance, the captain cannot be overtly defensive. MSD is a powerful captain and if the captain shows a defensive mindset, then the bowler also falls in line and starts bowling defensively. If you observe the graph closely, Harbhajan was a very attacking bowler under Gangulay and believed he could do miracles, but under MSD he looked like he had lost confidence and looked to bowl flatter and defensively. MSD says give the players a fair run, good, but then only his favorites get a fair run even while they don't perform, Raina and Ashwin are 2 prime examples. Why was harbhajan under bowled? Will MSD give Harbhajan 2-3 tests more? MSD is a poor captain and it's hurting the bowlers. 1st day of the test if the opposition scores 40/0, we will see a lone slip and the fielders spread out like a umbrella. What do you expect the bowler to do? India's poor bowling is the captain's fault too.

Posted by CandidIndian on (December 1, 2012, 1:31 GMT)

I disagree that talent isnt there,its a selection error that Yuvi and Raina keep coming back again and again.Mandeep Singh ,Tiwari, Rahane ,Bisht,Mukund,Chand and many others are talented players but are not getting chance,in bowling Praveen and RP who performed well overseas have been sidelined,upcoming bowlers like Shami Ahmed and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who have pace and skill are being ignored.In cricinfo there was an article not so long back pointing out bizarre selections and short term thinking by Srikanth and other selectors.If you want to utilize the experience of Sachin ,he can retire and be the batting coach of India or cricket director for that matter ,he is clearly struggling due to his age.You dont want to give chance to new players,there is no accountability either, and then the excuse is that there isnt enough talent to replace.Pujara and Kohli has been performing much better than so called legends,prime example that youngsters will do well if they get the chance.

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 1:21 GMT)

India were taken to pieces by an knackered England bowling line up and by Monty P (who does not feature these days outside the subcontinent). The batters whom Pakistan made a mockery of, made it look easy. India seem to be the England football team - highly rated by the media, but in reality useless.

Posted by CandidIndian on (December 1, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

Excellent article.If we watch the video of Kumble bowling on similar pitches,one can easily make out the difference in effort and commitment which Monga correctly pointed out .That's the beauty of sporting wickets, you play on such wickets and your technique gets exposed.Indians have been playing on slow dust-bowls for so long ,no wonder that they are struggling in both batting and bowling .Hopefully Dhoni and team will make necessary corrections before third test,we(Indian fans) should have patience and back the team.

Posted by Pedpathpres on (December 1, 2012, 0:46 GMT)

Absolutely spot on , and well worth stating . Indian bowling has , over the last few years bee mediocre. Zaheer has been the mainstay with the new ball -with sporadic supporters, many of whom do not seem to maintain their basic fitness. The spinners have been promising , but lack experience --compare the way Swann and Panesar adapted to conditions at Wankhede. They kept the ball up , very few short balls , and with a helpful pitch, they got the win for England. India beat Australia at Wankhede on a spinning pitch a while ago , but the bowlers seemed to judge the conditions better. I still think Ojha and Ashwin will become good spinners-- and match winners ; they have already shown they can win . It's just that this time they did not read the pitch right. However , you can't rely on two bowlers indefinitely, and that has been the Indian dilemma.

Posted by RameshRayaprolu on (December 1, 2012, 0:13 GMT)

Its unfortunate that India is no longer producing spin talents for the game. Anil Kumble was the last for us, and now I cannot see any hope of quality Spinners in the near future !

Considering that we "always" have a weak pace bowling attack, it is true that we cannot WIN matches at home without quality spinners.

From now on...we cannot be termed "favourites" or assume to comfortably win any test series at home...So shattering to believe this fact :( !!

Posted by bismoy on (November 30, 2012, 23:55 GMT)

india bowling is very weak, even an out of form pointing scored heavily againt this attack.Sachin is very unlucky that he never got chance to face this attack, else sachin would have scored 300 or 400 by now.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, VRV Singh, Sudeep Tyagi, Jaidev Undkat, Kshemal Waingankar, SreeSanth, R P Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda, Abhimanyu Mithun, Srinath Arvind, L Balaji, Nehra, P J Sangwan, Chawla, Mishra - that's just a way too high a number to have fallen by the wayside. The fans are content to go after SRT's retirement and the system is content to go after curators and the pitch (and that includes a Captain who doesn't belong to test cricket) - Aussie second string bowlers get Saffers for 225 (admittedly on WACA, but still the wickets had to be taken) - and that's the quality of reserves...

Posted by JustIPL on (November 30, 2012, 23:08 GMT)

Wakeup SID, Nice to see some confessions from you at last. While we are expecting a flat batting track in the next two tests to keep Tendulkar/Sehwag alive, your statement about Pakistan's non existant batting needs a reality check. The series in which the english got whitewashed in UAE, Pakistan scored 338 in second innings of first test, 257/214 in second test and 365 in the second innings of 3rd test. In low scoring games where England also had a very potent attack. In fact, the real worldchampions of that time it is just very much okay to score this much. Isn't it. Also, it was not home conditions for Pakistan anyway.

Posted by spinkingKK on (November 30, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

Eventhough I agree that Zaheer Khan should go, I don't think India lost the last match because of the weak bowling. Time and time again, India always lose because of thie inability in batting. One has to understand that the opposition teams also have fight left in them and your plan A of spinners rolling their arms over and the opposition just lose 10 wickets doesn't always work. At the moment, only Pujara, Ashwin and Ojha deserves a spot in the team. All others are either may be or get of the team stages. Even Kohli is not doing great anymore.

Posted by spinkingKK on (November 30, 2012, 22:39 GMT)

You don't chop and change players based on one or two tests. That is a fair comment, provided that you don't make a player permanent, based on one or two tests. The problem Indian team has is that, when a player performs well for two tests, he is gaurunteed of his spot for another two test series. So, if you are a batsman, you only have to score a century in every 4 tests or so and if you are a bowler, you only have to take 3 wickets every 3 tests or so. India should learn from the teams like Australia where a player like Ponting had to retire or face the axe, because he was generally struggling. However, he had some terrific knocks recently and his fitness and his fielding were top class. If it was India, Ponting would have been needed more than ever. Having said all these, I think Zaheer Khan should go. A new ball attack with Yadav and Ishant followed by Praveen Kumar or Pathan at first change will do well.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 22:33 GMT)

Great article! India can have better bowlers, if the media doesnt turn newbies into superheroes just after a few matches. Ashwin is an ordinary off-spiner but he has the potential to be a better bowler. He played in CSK under Dhoni grabbed some wickets in t20 and then Media turned him into Saqlain Mushtaq. Truth to be told, even Afghanistan has better bowlers than India. Board should focus on scouting & a better bowling coach.

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (November 30, 2012, 22:31 GMT)

I have said many time - India have no bowler. This article highlight it. I knew that Pakistan are historically a better side than India but I forgot about Pakistan performance in 2010 beating Australia and England in England in test. The statistic about 2 win in 26 year is a very telling one and demonstrate that even when India were at their "peak" they still weren't winning much away from their home. Agree with Monga too that all the talk about India getting beaten on carefully prepared "green top" in Australia and in England is just so much nonsense. Lords, the Oval, Adelaide these are just not "green top". To imagine so is laughable. But even so India in India is very hard to beat.

Posted by arvsingh on (November 30, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

Ashwin has been a colossal disappointment after much hype by the favorable media. Dhone speculated earlier about his so called "Mystery Ball". Well, I haven't seen that "Mystery Ball" the last two tests. At best you can rate him as a part-time bowler and even there he is not as effective as Yuvraj. All three spinners looked pathetic compared to Panesar and Swann. Embarrassing since the pitch turned and had unpredictable bounce. A mediocre Ojha looked the best of Indian spinners.

Dhoni owes an explanation for not giving ball to Harbhajan till the English batsmen were all set. Even then he was given half of the overs given to Ojha and Ashwin. Seems like selectors included Harbhajan without Dhoni's consent and he wanted to prove a point. Did he forget that same Harbhajan took 5 wickets in T20 World Cup last month to destroy English batting?

How about not using Yuvraj or Sehwag? I guess Ashwin will take 2-3 wickets in the next test to cement his place further in the team,

Posted by NikkiGTaurus on (November 30, 2012, 22:11 GMT)

India really needs a new bowling coach or something to teach them proper techniques and bowling areas to attack batsmen! Whatever is happening right now is clearly not working!

Posted by tropenhitze on (November 30, 2012, 21:25 GMT)

Haha, the same author who blabbered two days ago that Selfishkar be given another chance is now writing something completely contradictory to his statement. Are we that stupid to keep celebrating when they are clearly making a fool out of us?

Totally ashamed that cricket is the only sport we know in a country of 1.3 billion and we can't even be good at it because of ignorant worshipers and political influence.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (November 30, 2012, 20:57 GMT)

And yet the book-makers have England rank outsiders to win the Kolkata Test, with India warm favourites. Interesting! The England supporters suspected before the series that the Indian spinners were not as lethal as was being made out, nor the England spinners as poor. However, the series is only half way through: we may see things differently when it has ended.

Posted by diabetes on (November 30, 2012, 20:45 GMT)

BRILLIANTLY SAID !!!!!!!! u r right ,india doesnt have good bowling attack ,harbhajan singh does not deserve to be in the side ,indian bowlers have poor fitness and BCCI should take a point out of australian management where they just rested SIDDLE AND HILFENAUS because of their workload ,even though they r the best bowlers now and have given chances to fresh fast bowlers rather than getting siddle and hifenaus who are tired

Posted by Nampally on (November 30, 2012, 20:45 GMT)

Siddarth, Although the Indian bowling is weak, real issue is: By NOT selecting the right guys in the XI, you make the Team even weaker. Whilst England focussed on just 2 good spinners who got 19 out of 20 wkts., India had 4 spinners out of which Yuvraj was NOT used!. Selecting 2 off spinners when India already had Sehwag as back up off spinner is waste of one spot. A balanced set of 3 spinners is:RH wrist leg spinner (Rahul Sharma) + LH orthodox spinner (Ojha) +RH off spinner (Ashwin). Second off spinner was redundant. Alternate choice was to use a batsman from the squad(Rahane) or get the leg spinner from outside the squad.That was a major unquestioned Dhoni blunder! But worst news is the squad remains unchanged for the Kolkatta test after they suffered a humiliating defeat!. A single change to a defeated XI boosts the team morale by 10%. A spinners wkt. must include Rahul Sharma (not in Squad) while a seamers wkt. may include Ishant Sharma to replace Harbhajan - a huge liability.

Posted by Vikramaditya100 on (November 30, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

Well, this is nothing new.... Even when they were no 1, they just managed to win matches.... never really dominated teams.... I hope India loses this series and hopefully it shakes them up enough to realize that thing are very bad with Indian cricket.... Probably the worst bowling attack in the world.... Special focus needed on developing bowling (pace or spin).... How does Harbhajan come back into the test team without any noteworthy FC performance is one of the big mysteries.... God really save Indian cricket.... As long as the players and board believe that 8-0 was just a bad phase and not a reflection of the glaring deficiencies of the system and mindset.... The slide will continue.... Don't know when these guys will realize that....

Posted by maddy20 on (November 30, 2012, 20:29 GMT)

Best there is? Have you seen the likes of Shammi Ahmed, Varun Aaron etc., bowl? Particularly Ahmed, the amount of reverse swing he gets once the ball is 30 odd overs old is incredible. Aaron has been let down by injury troubles. With some finetuning we can field one of the best fast bowling attacks we have fielded in a long time. Imagine Zaheer, Umesh, Ahmed, Aaron bowling in tandem, the later three constantly capable of hitting 140+ and have a pretty good line of attack. As for Ashwin, he got over confident. For me I think he is still the best spinner we currently possess, but some one need to knock some sense into him. You cannot expect to pick wickets if you are bowling short outside off or trying needless leg spinners(which is probably the new delivery he was talking about). His stock off-break, doosra and carrom ball would be a handful for the Englishkmen if he bowls a good length or/fuller length depending on the pitch.

Posted by bumsonseats on (November 30, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

the pitch in the last test even on the 2nd day was greener than anything they faced in england or australia. apart from the test that aus lost to NZ 12 month go which was green. eng/aus are not in the habit of preparing greentops they value the revenue through the gate on days 4 an 5 for that to happen. if england win a test on day 3 they have to pay back all the tickets bought in advance for day 4. i hope india prepare spinning wickets but this time can we win a toss.i would like to see us play 3 spinners bringing in tredwell. i think the eng spinners are better than the indian.

Posted by JohnnyRook on (November 30, 2012, 19:27 GMT)

About a year back, I commented on some other article that we only have slow bowlers. Our so called spinners don't really spin the ball. They depend just too much on variations and little bit of finger spin rather than giving the ball a real wrist spin. And our fast bowlers don't really bowl fast. They are more interested in bowling slower ones. This might work in ODIs but not in tests.

Posted by Nampally on (November 30, 2012, 19:16 GMT)

India could have turned the England batting upside down had Rahul Sharma been in the XI. The pitch assisted fast spinners ->90 KPH- & have a bounce + turn. Rahul is a wrist leg spinner with bounce + turn + accuracy @ around 100 KPH. Dhoni dislikes Rahul & benched him about 15 times. Because of this, the Selectors dropped Rahul from the squad. India's answer to Panesar is Rahul - Dhoni likes him or Not! Harbhajan as you rightly say has no business to walk into the XI with Zero performance. Swap Bhajji for Rahul - India wins at Mumbai!.Ashwin bowled poorly- no length, direction or consistency. Only Ojha bowled well. India cannot win with just one bowler. If Yuvraj is not going to be used (as in Mumbai), India should go with M.Kartik, an excellent spinner!Other lefties in contention are Negy & Abdullah.India should focus on Ishant, Yadev & Aaron as top 3 seamers + Shammi Ahmad, Pankaj Singh & Sandeep Sharma as second string. ZAK, Irfan & Dinda are the current 3. Lot of choice-Reliability?

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 19:15 GMT)

@MSD - "But you don't chop and change players on the basis of one or two Tests."... It's 4 + 4 = 8 tests in Australia and England. Still no major change. God save Indian team now even at Home!

Posted by SDHM on (November 30, 2012, 19:14 GMT)

To be honest, although India's bowling stocks are thin, I do think some people are over-reacting to just one bad performance - Mumbai to me smacked of complacency more than anything, and you have to remember it was only Cook & KP in the runs; it wasn't as if the whole batting line-up was walking in and thrashing them around. They expected England to roll over, and when they didn't, they didn't know what to do. Can't see the same happening in Kolkata. The only problem now is that they've given England a sniff and some belief - whether their bowlers can regain the hold they had in Ahmedabad I don't know.

And they really weren't green-tops over here. The greenest pitch was Trent Bridge, which India won the toss and bowled first on.

Posted by Tlotoxl on (November 30, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

It would be nice for England to get a bit of credit rather than it just being India throwing it away, after all England have won 5 out of the last 6 against India...

Posted by VickGower on (November 30, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

Harbhajan bowled better than Ashwin? We must not have watched the same game. Dhoni spared bhajji some serious blushes by taking him out when Peterson started to boss him around. Peterson woul have finished the game on the second day itself if Bhajji were around.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

Being an Indian cricket fan since a long time, I unfortunately have to accept that the Indian team is done and dusted. :(

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 18:48 GMT)

India's recent strength has been fast bowling and not spin. Varun Aaron did well in the few one-dayers that he played. Not sure where he went. Though Sreesanth was inconsistent, he did bowl well in places like South Africa. Ishant Sharma bowled beautifully in his first Australian series. Umesh Yadav has recently been the silver lining in a depleted fast bowling attack. Zaheer still bowls well, but in patches. Now compare this to our spinners. They seem to bowl so well in T20's but not that well in one-dayers and tests. Ashwin showed a lot of promise, only to deceive. Harbhajan was famously touted by Murali to break his record, but will he get to even 500 in tests? How about 450? Pragyan Ojha seems to be the saving grace. He got wickets both at Ahmedabad and Mumbai. With the way they bowled in Mumbai, the spin job could have been partially shared by Yuvraj and Sehwag with a couple of fast bowlers instead of spinners. India needs to change with the times and groom more fast bowlers.

Posted by Arrow011 on (November 30, 2012, 18:42 GMT)

india wont win abroad with pace, we should always bowl 3spinners

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 18:41 GMT)

Jalaj Saxena has 72 wickets in 47 FC matches. So he doesn't really have the wickets, Sidharth.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 18:30 GMT)

still they loose in there own soil.........what a shame ..........india will not win a test out from india for long time .they are good only in batting they are the worst bowling and fielding side among the all test playing nations.......any comments???please publish....

Posted by anuajm on (November 30, 2012, 18:29 GMT)

Its fair to say that Ojha at this point of time is the best India has. Umesh Yadav looks promising, but keeps getting injured. Aaron is another big hope for India. Zaheer has been a tremendous bowler, but now with his bowling on wane, and seemingly no efforts on his batting and fitness, i think his time is up. He has been batting stupidly for sometime now and still comes at 10!! He needs a reprimand atleast, its painful to see him making no effort to stay at the crease whatever be the match situation. India have been giving hell lot of green top excuses. The fact is they were poor and they need to except that. On batting front, a swap b/w Badri and Yuvraj is required. Whatever anyone says, Yuvi does not seem to be cut out for test cricket. Btw, talking about bowling and specially fast bowling, lets look at Australia - Pattinson, Siddle, Hilfy, Johnson, Hazlewood, Cummins, Harris, Hastings, Counter Nile, Cutting, Nannes, Faulkner, Starc, Watson. It's a factory out there!! WOW!!

Posted by GreenDeviln on (November 30, 2012, 18:14 GMT)

Spot-on article. But what you seems missing is India always depended on Batting more than any other team in the world. I would even dare to say that India had best batting line up in the world but it never became No.1 in for longer period because of their poor bowling.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 18:05 GMT)

So let us forget the 9 tests where he took 50 wickets, and focus on the one test he didnt do well. It appears you have an agenda, Mr. Monga.

Posted by   on (November 30, 2012, 17:52 GMT)

The problem is that Indian spinner do not learn the Physics of spin. Watch Greame Swann, Muralitharan, Warne for spin. A spinner without spinning is of no use. Kumble was hardly a spinner. He was more of slow-medium type bowler whom batmen took for spinner. I have seen Kumble bowling yorkers. Spinners do not bowl yorkers. Take all Indian spinners for a month of Physics class particularly rotational motion in mechanics.

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