The experts review the action

'India need to attack more'

Sanjay Manjrekar looks back at the action in the second Test between India and New Zealand in Hyderabad (08:47)

November 16, 2010

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India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 5th day

'India need to attack more'

November 16, 2010

Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson run between the wickets, India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 5th day, November 16, 2010
Most of New Zealand's batting line-up will be brimming with self confidence © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to ESPNcricinfo. I am Akhila Ranganna and joining me is Sanjay Manjrekar to look back on the second Test between India and New Zealand that just ended in a draw in Hyderabad. A lot of people were expecting were expecting New Zealand to be steamrolled in the series; we've seen two draws and to use a term, you used recently, they have been punching above their weight. And look at India, how much of a psychological blow is this for them? They were expected to be easy winners…

Sanjay Manjrekar: First of all I must confess that I was one of those many guys who felt that the Kiwis would be rolled over in India on these pitches, especially after the kind of form that India showed against Australia. But they have surprised us once again by punching above their weight and it is a performance they should be proud of. They have done it twice in two Tests, so their performance in the first Test was not a flash in the pan. All credit to Mark Greatbatch and Daniel Vettori and the boys; after their performance in Bangladesh this is a great recovery.

How should India react to this? Well, it is up to them. If they want to take it to heart and be hard on themselves and tell themselves that they are the No. 1 team, yet we've seen two draws against the No. 8 team, not the greatest of oppositions and India are playing at home - considering all that, not to get a result in their favour, if they look hard, they will see there are some concerns there and they will be disappointed.

But because India play so much cricket and they want to be in a positive mood, they will be taking these results in their stride and they will feel the pressure in the third Test. They should be looking to win it. If New Zealand have a few good days to start with, then it will be interesting to see because that Test will liven up. Knowing the way MS Dhoni thinks and they way we go about things I don't think India will take too much pressure after these Tests. The result is not a great one but it is not something that will shatter them morally.

AR: You've often spoken about India being a one-man bowling attack. Today, in the absence of Zaheer Khan, was this something that became even more obvious?

SM: First of all you have to say that we have had some very flat pitches in this tournament. But there is another way to look at it. If you are playing at home, this is something that is expected so maybe it is time for the bowlers to think that they need to do something differently. Zaheer has found a way of troubling the batsman because he is not completely reliant on the pitch. I see some positives signs of Sreesanth as well; he is not as reliant on the pitch as Ishant Sharma. He gets the ball to move sometimes, there is some seam movement and he bowls with a lot of spirit.

The worry are the two spinners. At best, both of them in tandem are looking like defensive, steady bowlers. We need one of them to become a match-winner. So they have to start thinking differently. You get the feeling there aren't too many other options that are tried. One thing the spinners keep doing is that they are looking to get batsmen out when they are defending. With the kind of length they bowl, they have fielders around the bat and on a flat pitch; to get a batsman out while he is defending is extremely difficult unless you are the best spinner the world. If India come out with the same two spinners in the final Test they have to bowl differently. That way they will give New Zealand something different. I hope one of them look to get the batsmen out while playing shots. India don't quite try that often enough and I don't think they are committed to the idea. Perhaps Dhoni has something to do with it; he may not be a great fan of this idea

I don't think there is an allrounder there in the making in Harbhajan. When you looked at Irfan Pathan there was an allrounder in the making there. Plus, what it will do is there will be pressure of expectations from the bat for him

AR: A word on Brendon McCullum - promoted to the top of the order, he's turned in a match-saving performance. What did you make of his promotion and can he provide the stability New Zealand are looking for?

SM: It does and considering the success of Tim McIntosh in the first innings who got a gritty hundred after getting a pair, things are looking good for New Zealand. When you look at their batting line-up - McIntosh full of self-confidence, McCullum will be brimming with confidence, Martin Guptill has got a good 80-odd in the first innings so he is looking good, Ross Taylor has got a fifty in this series, Jesse Ryder has got a hundred in this series and got 70. Kane Williamson's performance has been brilliant so when you look at this team you look at a lot of batsmen with a lot of self-confidence so that augurs really well for New Zealand.

AR: Harbhajan may not be among the wickets, but he is among the runs. But Dhoni, in the post-match discussion cautioned against looking at Harbhajan as an allrounder at this stage … your thoughts?

SM: From whatever little cricket I have played and seen, I don't think there is an allrounder there in the making in Harbhajan. When you looked at Irfan Pathan there was an allrounder in the making there. Harbhajan is a dangerous lower-order batsman, but to start looking at him as an allrounder is not right. Plus, what it will do is there will be pressure of expectations from the bat for him. How will he respond to that? He has been purely a bowler who has discovered some hitting ability. I don't think he is going to react well to that. So what Dhoni is said is right. Harbhajan can be that dangerous player down the order who can be a bit of pain in the neck of the opposition. To start looking at him as an allrounder is a bit premature. But when he gets two consecutive hundreds, such questions start coming up. But he has got to be reminded by the selectors and the captain and he is a mature cricketer - he knows his primary job is that of a bowler and on that front he has been pretty disappointing.

AR: The first Test here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium - how do you think the pitch played?

SM: It is a good ground. I have been there a couple of times during the Champions League. There are a lot of inputs from cricketers in the way the ground has shaped up: Shivlal Yadav, Arsha Ayub and Venkatapathy Raju as well. but what can I say about the pitch? I wonder how much control there is in the hands of the curator. There is one thing they can do; the disturbing trend that I find is the tendency of the groundsmen these days to shave all the grass off the pitch and make it a clay pitch. Earlier, we had flat pitches, but there was some grass on the pitch that helped them on the first session at least on the first day. Now the match starts innocuously, with nothing for the new-ball bowlers; they just wait for the ball to get old and hope to get some reverse-swing. It is not a healthy trend and Hyderabad was no different. I wish they had given more help for the seamers

AR: Thanks a lot Sanjay for sharing your thoughts. That's all we have for today's show. From all of us here at ESPNcricinfo, it's goodbye.

Posted by spin_king4 on (November 16, 2010, 21:27 GMT)

agree 100% indian spinners and dhoni are TOO DEFENSIVE!!! they constantly have men on the boundry (particularly long on/off) and therefore give away easy singles constantly releving pressure. batsmen are not going to take risks on these pitches if easy singles are on offer... they have been outbowled by vettori. they should have fielders around the bat and men in the infield to force the NZ batsmen (not known for their spin play and who recently got demolished in Bangladesh by Shakib and co i might add) to try something to get the score board moving, create pressure with maidens. dhoni as he has shown in the past is a too defensive captian focusing on limiting runs than chasing wickets (and then hoping that zaheer does something spectacular- which he has luckly been doing) along with harbhajan who is more concerned about preventing boundries then taking wickets. (sometimes you just have to be hit for a few boundries as a spinner when searching for wickets... simething warne did often.)

Posted by Nampally on (November 16, 2010, 20:22 GMT)

India is in no position to attack with the current bowling attack. Sreesant leaked out 13 runs of the first over on Day 5 when India were supposed to go for a win. With that type of start India is on the defensive straight away. Again Vetorri was able to bottle up the cream of Indian bats, Sachin & Rahul to 59 runs in 2 hour session. How can India win when there is no bowling, defensive batting and poor fielding.Our spin bowlers - ojha & Harbhajan, lack the skill of varying flight, pace and direction of ball as did say, Mankad, Bedi or Prasanna. Sehwag, Laxman & Harbhajan are attacking but Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin & Dhoni are defensive and on the backfoot. You cannot win matches with such a team lacking in intensity or will to win.Vettori got 5 wickets on the same pitch where Ojha & Harbhajan failed. NZ fielded brilliantly while Raina is the sole outstanding fielder in the Indian team. You can only attack when bowling, batting and fielding are all brilliant & aggressive.

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