India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Kolkata February 13, 2010

India grapple with bowling conundrum

N Hunter
38

What is India's best bowling attack for Kolkata? Is it the existing two-seamer and two-spinner combination or does it make sense to field three fast bowlers with Harbhajan Singh as the lone spinner and Virender Sehwag as a sidekick. The Indian think-tank has less than 24 hours to sort out that puzzle before the final Test begins.

The question has cropped up only because the South Africans, among the best players of spin in India, successfully tackled the pair of Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra in Nagpur through a mixture of sheer application and some luck. It continues the trend of Indian spinners struggling for consistency, which was on evidence in the Sri Lanka series late last year as well.

In the past the thumb rule was to field at least two spinners because the pitches would invariably start turning sharply from the third day. But on surfaces which have refused to break and have been slow and low (Motera and Green Park during the Sri Lanka series are good examples), the Indians spinners have failed to find a rhythm, adding pressure on the fast bowlers. The pitches cannot be as spin-unfriendly as they are made out to be especially considering Paul Harris' effectiveness against some of the best players of spin in Nagpur.

In the three-Test series against Sri Lanka, Harbhajan managed 13 wickets at an average of 41. India won that series more because of their batting might and some incisive fast bowling spells. Otherwise more questions would have been asked of India's best spinner, whose form has been a concern for a while now.

You can't blame his slow-bowling partners, Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha, since neither of them has been given the long rope. Mishra failed to make an impact with his leg breaks against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad, picking only one wicket, but came back with an impressive seven-wicket match haul in the first Test in Bangladesh. Harbhajan returned for the next Test but only picked two wickets in the game, in which Mishra was dropped for the left-arm spin of Ojha. Even in the Sri Lanka series, Ojha was preferred over Mishra during the victories in the final two Tests, in which Ojha claimed nine victims.

With the spinners unconvincing, a better ploy at Eden Gardens could be to play three fast bowlers. It might look like a desperate measure, but with MS Dhoni emphasising that India prefers the four-bowler theory, it is the only way to play their four best bowlers. Dhoni, too, agrees to an extent. "We have always been comfortable with four bowlers because it has worked for us. If you have an allrounder in the side that makes it very easy but we don't have that option."

Importantly, India's fast bowlers have featured prominently in most of the recent Test wins. Less than three months ago, Sreesanth produced an amazing spell of fast bowling against Sri Lanka at Kanpur in what was India's 100th Test victory. Then, as now, Sreesanth was coming out of a break, but found his rhythm and swing without much sweat. Also, South Africa have been Sreesanth's favourite opposition: his 22 wickets against them are his highest against a single team, with the famous 8 for 99 at the Wanderers remaining his career-best performance.

His presence could lighten the burden on Zaheer Khan and even Ishant Sharma, who has been under pressure over the past year. But the team management has retained confidence in Ishant, who has faded a bit in the recent past after his much-heralded arrival during the tour of Australia in 2007-08.

A crucial factor that might support the quicks could be the conditions especially in the final session when the breeze wafting in from the Hooghly on the West side of the ground can help swing bowlers a lot. The trio of Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth has the capability of swerving the ball about and could prove a handful on their day.

"There is a bit of grass on the wicket so I think the seamers will get a bit of help," Dhoni said after the final training session. He also acknowledged the afternoon breeze could play a role, especially with the stands on the West side being reconstructed. "There is no stand on one side of the ground so you can see a bit of breeze going across the field so there will be a bit of help for the seamers."

But Dhoni remained non-committal on the number of seamers of spinners he would like to field, leaving that decision for Sunday morning. Perhaps he could heed the thoughts expressed by John Wright, former India coach. "You have to play a spinner but you don't play a spinner for a spinner's sake, he has to be among your four best bowlers. Who are your first bowlers? That is a question you need to ask."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul_78 on February 14, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    It is a simple theory..can harbhajan, mishra and ojha outbowl Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth. I guess nope. Since the pitch is not remecent of kanpur dusbowl, indians should play its best 4 bowlers. As per my indvidual thinking harbhajan doesnt merit a place in the best 4 at the moment.

  • KiwiRocker- on February 14, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    Problem with India (apart from being over rated and overpaid) is that lack of bench strength. This is precisely the reason Australia is still the best side in world by a wide margin. Brett Lee gets injured then Doug Bollinger shows up from no where with superb performances. India is literally depending on VVS Laxman as he will deliver some miracle. This is also very unfair to poor Laxman. India needs to drop Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma. Harbhajan Singh has not recovered since Shahid Afridi hit him 5 Sixes in an over in 2006 while Ishant Sharma will be best advised to play some domestic cricket. Ojha and Sreesanth should both be in team. It's a shame that no quality spinners are showing up for India however what is more concerning is that no quality batsman seem to be around to replace Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar who are in twilight of their careers. Yuvraj, Raina and Rohit and co have miserably failed. IPL has ruined Indian cricket and have spectacularly back fired!

  • on February 14, 2010, 1:41 GMT

    Like many other comments here, I too think India should go with 3 seamers and 2 spinners (Mishra & Ojha according to me). Badri would be unfortunate to miss out in my team for this test.

  • viveksr on February 14, 2010, 1:15 GMT

    Let us play 3 fast bowlers and one spinner. Hope they will keep the grass on the pitch as it is... As Ishant has been playing in Eden for a while for Kolkata Knight Riders, we can expect a better performance from him here.. and as Sreesanth is bowling well in the nets its not fair to drop him too... If Sehwag and Sachin can help the main spinner then we have a pretty good bowling attack.. For the batting if Gambhir can play in the middle order then that would be a better strategy ... Laxman will have two experienced players in the middle order in Dhoni and Gambhir and Gambhir can counter Harris better than any other batsman as he is the left hander....

  • DenuEleven on February 14, 2010, 0:54 GMT

    Wasnt Irfan Pathan a better choice over Saha for prev test considering is his sort of all rounder? Not sure why he is getting overlooked even when india needs a 5th bowler and 7th Batsman.

  • on February 14, 2010, 0:21 GMT

    Well - here is the problem !! Instead of applying their faculties to create the best team mix, given the current circumstances, selectors have chosen the easier path of throwing in replacements based on conventional logic. Has anyone given a thought of including someone like Irfan Pathan in the line-up, he is in great form, has been a major contributer to Indian test victories, and is a big asset as an extra batsmen when the chips are down. Why was he not considered as a part of the mix ? With him batting at number seven , India could have gone into the second test match with FIVE decent bowlers (Zaheer, Sreesanth, Bhajji & Ojha being the other four) and have had a good chance at 20 SA wickets, which need to be taken if INDIA has to win a match. Selectors insipid response to the situation is alarming, given that so much is at stake in the next test. Whoof, remind me of old days when selection blunders would cost India vital games.

  • on February 13, 2010, 23:42 GMT

    Bhajji should stay - in whose hands would you rather trust the #1 ranking? Ojha, Misra or Bhajji? Bhajji has experience, and he did pick up Kallis and Duminy in Nagpur - and not on slog shots either. Then he scored almost 50 runs in the game. Mishra got turn out of the rough but couldn't convert it into a single wicket, not because of bad luck, but because he didn't vary his flight, pace and line. He then scored 0 off 12 balls, both innings combined.

    4 specialist bowlers can do it for India - 3 quicks + 1 spinner.

    My team: Sehwag, Gambhir, SRT, Laxman, Badri, Dhoni, Raina, Zaheer, Bhajji, Sreeshant, Ishant (7 batsmen, 7 bowlers - 4 specialist, 3 part-time, maybe even 4 part-time).

    This team includes the 4 best bowlers. From this team, if you take out either Badri or Raina and insert a spinner, I'm not sure the value addition is significant, but the loss of a batsman could hurt if all 4 innings are played - and that's been the case at Eden Gardens in the recent past.

  • RameshSubramaniam on February 13, 2010, 21:40 GMT

    I think it is correct to say India lost to three men Amla, Kallis and steyn rather than South Africa. Mishra beat the batsmen countless times than Harris 3 wickets. Match would have seen a different end even if India scored 100 more runs in total with the wicket. Look at the Harris wickets - Dhoni - ball bounced to his chest, Vijay - (may be a better ploy from harris of all his wicket), lost his patience and throws his wicket and unlucky Sachin as well. Mishra and Ojha would have dome 10 times better if they got that luck. Do South Africa prepare a rank turner pitch when India tour South Africa later? Definitely no, So why to prepare a pitch with grass so called sporting pitch? Prepare the rank turner pitch. Play 5 bowlers with 3 spinners. It should turn from Day 1 sorry from Ball 1. People say, India cannot play on a seaming pitch. But what is the wrong in playing to home side's strength. Unless Australia changes Perth to a rank turner, why to worry about preparing the seaming pitch?

  • dpatelia on February 13, 2010, 21:08 GMT

    I think best option is 6 bat + 5 bow - Sehvag and Vijay should open because gambhir can add more value/exp in middle order. then sachin, laxman and dhoni. zahir, bhaji, sre, ishant, oza. If they want to go with 7 batsman then drop bhaji and keep oza, instead of bardi include raina so he can be utilized for fifth bowlers. apart from zahir/sreanth no fast bowler is performing. then why they are not selecting irfan. in bowling dept he is the same as ishant, by adding irfan atleast u will get some batting strength. now this is time in which selector should says bhaji go prove yr self in domestic. since last 2 years he has not perform as a match winner.

  • Rajesh. on February 13, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    On current form Harbhajan has got to go........ And India should pick four other bowlers who they deem will be useful irrespective of whether they are quick bowlers or spinners. As for batting Laxman coming in place of Saha should be the only change. This may not win India the game but this is the best combination they can field.

  • Rahul_78 on February 14, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    It is a simple theory..can harbhajan, mishra and ojha outbowl Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth. I guess nope. Since the pitch is not remecent of kanpur dusbowl, indians should play its best 4 bowlers. As per my indvidual thinking harbhajan doesnt merit a place in the best 4 at the moment.

  • KiwiRocker- on February 14, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    Problem with India (apart from being over rated and overpaid) is that lack of bench strength. This is precisely the reason Australia is still the best side in world by a wide margin. Brett Lee gets injured then Doug Bollinger shows up from no where with superb performances. India is literally depending on VVS Laxman as he will deliver some miracle. This is also very unfair to poor Laxman. India needs to drop Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma. Harbhajan Singh has not recovered since Shahid Afridi hit him 5 Sixes in an over in 2006 while Ishant Sharma will be best advised to play some domestic cricket. Ojha and Sreesanth should both be in team. It's a shame that no quality spinners are showing up for India however what is more concerning is that no quality batsman seem to be around to replace Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar who are in twilight of their careers. Yuvraj, Raina and Rohit and co have miserably failed. IPL has ruined Indian cricket and have spectacularly back fired!

  • on February 14, 2010, 1:41 GMT

    Like many other comments here, I too think India should go with 3 seamers and 2 spinners (Mishra & Ojha according to me). Badri would be unfortunate to miss out in my team for this test.

  • viveksr on February 14, 2010, 1:15 GMT

    Let us play 3 fast bowlers and one spinner. Hope they will keep the grass on the pitch as it is... As Ishant has been playing in Eden for a while for Kolkata Knight Riders, we can expect a better performance from him here.. and as Sreesanth is bowling well in the nets its not fair to drop him too... If Sehwag and Sachin can help the main spinner then we have a pretty good bowling attack.. For the batting if Gambhir can play in the middle order then that would be a better strategy ... Laxman will have two experienced players in the middle order in Dhoni and Gambhir and Gambhir can counter Harris better than any other batsman as he is the left hander....

  • DenuEleven on February 14, 2010, 0:54 GMT

    Wasnt Irfan Pathan a better choice over Saha for prev test considering is his sort of all rounder? Not sure why he is getting overlooked even when india needs a 5th bowler and 7th Batsman.

  • on February 14, 2010, 0:21 GMT

    Well - here is the problem !! Instead of applying their faculties to create the best team mix, given the current circumstances, selectors have chosen the easier path of throwing in replacements based on conventional logic. Has anyone given a thought of including someone like Irfan Pathan in the line-up, he is in great form, has been a major contributer to Indian test victories, and is a big asset as an extra batsmen when the chips are down. Why was he not considered as a part of the mix ? With him batting at number seven , India could have gone into the second test match with FIVE decent bowlers (Zaheer, Sreesanth, Bhajji & Ojha being the other four) and have had a good chance at 20 SA wickets, which need to be taken if INDIA has to win a match. Selectors insipid response to the situation is alarming, given that so much is at stake in the next test. Whoof, remind me of old days when selection blunders would cost India vital games.

  • on February 13, 2010, 23:42 GMT

    Bhajji should stay - in whose hands would you rather trust the #1 ranking? Ojha, Misra or Bhajji? Bhajji has experience, and he did pick up Kallis and Duminy in Nagpur - and not on slog shots either. Then he scored almost 50 runs in the game. Mishra got turn out of the rough but couldn't convert it into a single wicket, not because of bad luck, but because he didn't vary his flight, pace and line. He then scored 0 off 12 balls, both innings combined.

    4 specialist bowlers can do it for India - 3 quicks + 1 spinner.

    My team: Sehwag, Gambhir, SRT, Laxman, Badri, Dhoni, Raina, Zaheer, Bhajji, Sreeshant, Ishant (7 batsmen, 7 bowlers - 4 specialist, 3 part-time, maybe even 4 part-time).

    This team includes the 4 best bowlers. From this team, if you take out either Badri or Raina and insert a spinner, I'm not sure the value addition is significant, but the loss of a batsman could hurt if all 4 innings are played - and that's been the case at Eden Gardens in the recent past.

  • RameshSubramaniam on February 13, 2010, 21:40 GMT

    I think it is correct to say India lost to three men Amla, Kallis and steyn rather than South Africa. Mishra beat the batsmen countless times than Harris 3 wickets. Match would have seen a different end even if India scored 100 more runs in total with the wicket. Look at the Harris wickets - Dhoni - ball bounced to his chest, Vijay - (may be a better ploy from harris of all his wicket), lost his patience and throws his wicket and unlucky Sachin as well. Mishra and Ojha would have dome 10 times better if they got that luck. Do South Africa prepare a rank turner pitch when India tour South Africa later? Definitely no, So why to prepare a pitch with grass so called sporting pitch? Prepare the rank turner pitch. Play 5 bowlers with 3 spinners. It should turn from Day 1 sorry from Ball 1. People say, India cannot play on a seaming pitch. But what is the wrong in playing to home side's strength. Unless Australia changes Perth to a rank turner, why to worry about preparing the seaming pitch?

  • dpatelia on February 13, 2010, 21:08 GMT

    I think best option is 6 bat + 5 bow - Sehvag and Vijay should open because gambhir can add more value/exp in middle order. then sachin, laxman and dhoni. zahir, bhaji, sre, ishant, oza. If they want to go with 7 batsman then drop bhaji and keep oza, instead of bardi include raina so he can be utilized for fifth bowlers. apart from zahir/sreanth no fast bowler is performing. then why they are not selecting irfan. in bowling dept he is the same as ishant, by adding irfan atleast u will get some batting strength. now this is time in which selector should says bhaji go prove yr self in domestic. since last 2 years he has not perform as a match winner.

  • Rajesh. on February 13, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    On current form Harbhajan has got to go........ And India should pick four other bowlers who they deem will be useful irrespective of whether they are quick bowlers or spinners. As for batting Laxman coming in place of Saha should be the only change. This may not win India the game but this is the best combination they can field.

  • Bobby10 on February 13, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    Except for Zaheer, India does not have a world class bowler not only in the selected 15 but even in the domestic circuit. Search continues for a bowler who can consistently bowl at around 150Kms and can swing both ways - never that has happenned in the history of Indian cricket but we keep on living on hopes. I myself am, in those 1 billion people, to blame for this or is it the system where players aren't nurtured??

  • Retour on February 13, 2010, 19:56 GMT

    5 Bowlers (3 seamers + 2 spinners), can someone please pass on this mesg to the team management!

  • SudySriraman on February 13, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    I disagree with the strategy of playing 5 bowlers. Inevitably when this is done one bowler is underbowled and makes little contribution with ball or bat. 3 seamers should be played - I think Sreesanth, Zaheer and Ishant on form should be able to exert a pressure at any stage in the game. This leaves room for only one spinner. Although Harbhajan has a stellar record in Kolkata, the other options seem better. For one thing, Sehwag is a decent part-time off-spinner, with good turn and control and can be relied on as a fifth bowler, whereas in the absence of Yuvraj, we lack a solid part-timer able to turn the ball away from right handers. Secondly, with 4 quicks creating good rough outside the right hander's leg stump, either Ojha or Mishra would be able to better exploit those conditions. Mishra seems to be a more attacking and effective bowler overall, so he would be best, despite his weak performance in the last test. Tendulkar's underrated legspin must be used if Harbhajan does play.

  • Retour on February 13, 2010, 19:12 GMT

    Nice to see so many supporting playing 5 bowlers (3 pacers + 2 spinners). One one hand we take pride in our batting and on the other be defensive and play extra batsman batsmen. If the top 5 are not going to deliver than what use is a 30-40 from the extra batsman. If the top 5 fire then an extra bowler is more useful as we can push for wkts .... Also playing 2 pacers + 2 spinners is an useless strategy unless the pitch is a rank turner. On flat pitches, if we don't have a bowling all-rounder, we should always try to go in with 5 bowlers .... Also we need to select a team that doesn't depend up on the toss (which we would if we played 2 pacers + 2 spinners). A team if it is made to bowl first can deliver with 3 pacers and one when made to bat can attack with 2 spinners. That's why playing 5 bowlers is so important .... Hoping to see some positive and attacking cricket from India. Dhoni needs to get back to his old ways. It's time to play like the #1 team!

  • madhavthehero on February 13, 2010, 18:54 GMT

    Most of the people r writing tht india should play with 5 bowlers.. I dont agree with the 5 bowlers plan at all because what is the use of picking up bowlers who r not in form and not taking even a single wckt in a match. Its not the no.of bowlers but the players who can pick up wckts.. Amith mishra and ishanth r not at all right choice. Sreesanth is back to share new ball with zaheer. Harbajan is not at his best now so its better to add another regular spinner with him instead of 3rd seamer.. so the only choice would be ojha.. In batting dept VVS should be batting at no.3 and Raina should be given a chance keeping harris in mind.. Badri or Vijay should make a way for him.. In order 2 level the series v need a big innings from Gambhir, VVS and Sachin and good bowling from Zaheer n Sreesanth.. This is my opinion for the final test in kolkata...

  • TRUECRICKETER on February 13, 2010, 18:51 GMT

    India had played 3 pace bowlers only in fast tracks.It is foolishness to play 3 fast bowlers for evening breeze from a open stand.It is not easy to ball long spells in indian condition for indian fast bowlers.Ojha desevers a place in team.first day play is crucial for india.vvs should bat one down.for spinners pitch is not slow so batsmen cannot read ball from pitch.most south african players expect kallies & amla are yet to prove thier skills against spinners.This pith is better than a slow turning wicket.top spinners from harbhajan may bounce more than we see in nagpur,if close in fielders are alert they can take some catches.My best wishes to india.....................................

  • porterj on February 13, 2010, 18:25 GMT

    This is a must win situation for India. For a team who is competeing for No 1 ranking India should be more positive by picking up 5 bowlers. 2-0 or 1-0 should not matter. With 5 bowlers you give best chance of winning. Also with VVS back and Zaheer, Harbhajan in tail it is not too long. My team would be in batting order:

    Shewag, Gambhir, Vijay, SRT, VVS, Dhoni, Zaheer, Harbhaja, Ohja, Ishant and Sreesanth. Fortune favours the brave, so lets see how adventerous Dhoni is.

  • on February 13, 2010, 18:23 GMT

    5 bowlers and 6 batsmen. They have nothing to lose. Except trying something different and unexpected. Surprise the batsmen. They looked too comfortable in Nagpur.

  • vakkaraju on February 13, 2010, 18:21 GMT

    Harbhajan seems to struggle if the pitch is not turning. He cannot make things happen anymore. If he gets an early wicket he does well otherwise becomes very frustrated and pretty ordinary. 3 fast bowlers are our best bet. Drop Bhajji. Let Ojha take over the mantle.

  • Easie on February 13, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    I guess we need to go in with 6 batsmen & 5 bowlers. Must be a hard decision to make, but we at the moment lack the bite to pick 20 wickets. Sehwag hardly bowls these days, esp. after shoulder injury lately.

    Play Gambhir in the middle order to counter Harris' "on the pads" strategy.

  • shiva_slogsout on February 13, 2010, 17:48 GMT

    Am wondering what's the trouble here to pick the bowling. Simply drop Ishant, he's been useless of late to say the Least. Don't count his above-average performance against Bangladesh as a comeback or whatever. Get Sreesanth in and of course play Amit Mishra who was a far better bowler in Nagpur compared to Harbhajan. As usual Bhajji stays as he is the so-called Leading Spinner. He's hardly any of that though.

  • Sreenivas_Sampat on February 13, 2010, 17:37 GMT

    I think we should have 5 bowlers (3 pacers + 2 spinners). That leaves 6 batsmen to do the job of batting and Harbhajan/Zaheer/Amit should take up the responsibility of 7th batsmen by scoring around 50 runs amongst them. So my choice of playing XI will be Sehwag, Gambhir, Laxman, Tendulkar, Vijay/Badrinath, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Amit Mishra, Sreesanth, Ishant. Also i would expect either vijay/badrinath or dhoni to stay and play around the tail enders. With 3 pacers we can use the new ball effectively and once the ball gets old we can reverse swing in the afternoon and 2 spinners who will come into play from Day 3. Ideally India should bat first unless the wicket has something in it and post a good score and bat once for 2 days and then use the pitch conditions to dismiss South Africa twice

  • Retour on February 13, 2010, 17:14 GMT

    No doubt, Ind should play 5 bowlers as it's a must win game and we need to pick up 20 wkts as quickly as possible. The potential of an extra bowler picking 3-4 wkts sounds better than the extra batsman scoring 30-40 runs. A line up like the one below makes sense: Sehwag, Gambhir, Vijay, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dhoni, Bhajji, Zak, Mishy, Ishant and Sree.

    Sree is one of the bowlers who can swing both the new and the old (reverse) ball at good pace. He is not that consistent but if he gets going then he would be very useful. Mishy can be useful in the 2nd innings esp against tail, which can find playing defensively against legspin and could go for rash strokes. Zak is experienced so hopefully he will deliver. Bhajji is more like a restrictive option unless the pitch has something in but being Ind's most experienced spinner, he will have to change his game plan and deliver. Ishant has a question mark too, but if he can block an end up and pick up 1-2 crucial wkts then that would be great.

  • manasvi_lingam on February 13, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    Make it a 4 bowler attack with 3 quicks. There are enough part-timers to bowl spin - Sehwag, Raina, Badri and Tendulkar. But, I'm sure that the attack is not penetrative enough. We need a Dale Steyn or a Md. Asif which we currently lack. India badly needs a batting all-rounder in place of Yuvraj so that the big 5 are followed by an all-rounder and Dhoni and then 4 bowlers of whom Bhajji and Khan bat a bit.

  • MiddleStump on February 13, 2010, 17:03 GMT

    India will not be able to win a single test against SA even in a 10 match series unless they play 5 bowlers. On form, Murli Karthik got a hat trick yesterday and Powar and even Ashwin are better selections than Harbhajan right now. Having left out the better spinners from the 15, it is going to be an uphill task getting wickets with second string bowlers. Playing an extra seventh batsman instead of a specilaist bowler never works. It was tried and failed in Nagpur. India's only hope for victory is to play 5 bowlers and pray for a few run outs. Frankly, even if they played all the seven bowlers I very much doubt whether they can get 20 SA wickets.

  • dominics on February 13, 2010, 17:03 GMT

    India should play 5 bowlers as only bowlers can win matches. Doesn't matter if we lose 1-0 or 2-0. The team Sehwag, Gambhir, Laxman, Tendulkar, Karthik/Raina(preferably the former for batting but the latter could bowl a bit), Dhoni, Murli Karthik, Bhajji, Zaheer, Srisanth, Ishanth. Strong bowling attack. If our batting clicks despite one less batsmen we should win. If we cant bowl the SAFFERS out twice, then we have to respect that they are stronger and improve our bowling stocks.

  • on February 13, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    India at this moment of time is missing the service of one of the great playes in the test arena also popularly knwn as "The Wall". Had he been there it would have been a different senario all together. Pathan should have been cosidered as a serious contender as he is a bowling allrounder and would have help solve the two seemer 2 spinner mystry with his abilty to bat at any number in the batting line up. As far as the current situation goes there should be 3 seemers and a lone spinner as ishant is not able to compliment zaheer and shrishant might b able support rather compliment zaheer, ans as far as my gut feel says MSD will have something in mind about how to tackle this situation

  • poolcricket on February 13, 2010, 16:43 GMT

    Even on turning wicket, Indian spinners are useless. Hence, going for three seamers would be a better idea. Sreesanth can be unpredictable and if bowls correct line and length can bring havoc to the SA batting line up.

  • jimbond on February 13, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Its quite simple actually, but I am doubtful whether the Indian selectors will see it so- India should play four bowlers- and these four should be- Zaheer, Sreesanth (Ishant is currently struggling), Ojha and Amit Mishra (Harbajan should be made to play first class crcket and prove his credentials- without the doosra). Instead of Harbajan, Sehwag or Badrinath or Rohit sharma or Raina can provide back up offspin.

  • 6x_CS_King on February 13, 2010, 15:54 GMT

    There may be many guys who might disagree with me,Indian batting line up is good enough.But the fact is, India seriously lacks bowlers to support Zaheer. Ishant got overhyped and facing its consequences now and sreesanth is not consistent enough and spinners aren't doing a good job either,, they are adding to the pressure by not picking wickets,harbhajan hasn't been in good form for past few test matches and during champions trophy last year also he failed miserably,he's the experienced guy around and he has to take responsibility of picking wickets, and with the kind of bowling attack india has they can never dominate test cricket and hold onto their No1 spot.

  • New_Wind on February 13, 2010, 15:40 GMT

    Why is Ojha in the same line as other two? He has taken 13 wickets in 3 tests. Isn't that enough. Its selectors playing villain to start musical chairs.

  • NairUSA on February 13, 2010, 15:36 GMT

    It seems as if a new paradigm is being slowly unveiled on the flat pitches of India. Reverse Swing! Instead of spinners ruling the roost, it well could be fast bowlers with brains harvesting wickets at will. India should recognize this trend and give exposure to a few promising fast bowlers in the playing eleven who can reverse swing the ball under any conditions. Increasing the bench strength on this 'reverse swing' department is vital if india wants to dominate the test scene. However, Dhoni's attitude is good when he says that challenges are part of the game and the best team will be the one who will overcome them. Best of luck.

  • Retour on February 13, 2010, 15:33 GMT

    A few things to consider before picking the playing 11: 1. The pitch is not a rank turner. 2. SA could bat safely and play the survival game.

    When a team plays survival game, either you need a pitch that doesn't allow that (rank turner) or a bowling attack that forces breakthroughs (like SA did in the last test)

    I think Ind needs to play 2 spinners as that's a good bet for picking up wkts especially later on in the game. And we also need 3 pacers to take advantage of grass on the first two days (if Ind is bowling first). Having Dravid in the side would definitely have made playing 5 bowlers an easy choice but considering this is a must win game, Ind will have to take that chance anyways.

    In the last test, we missed an extra seamer. We need to put pressure on SA on Day 1 by rotating the seamers but we couldn't as we only had 2. With one of them not picking up wkts, we had to introduce spin early which made it easy for SA. By playing 3 pacers, we could have bowled Zak in short bursts

  • BapiDas on February 13, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    Unless we field FOUR wiccket taking bowlers and they deliver, we have no chance of taking 20 South Africaan wickets and that is an undeniable fact. It does not matter who they are, Indian bowlers must take 20 wickets.

  • SUNDOS on February 13, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    Will the Indian team bunce back form this "do or die" situation?The batting wll come good,atleast 3 of the 6 batsmen will deliver..it;s the bowling attack that looks increasingly toothless against an inform Proteas.What no rank tulrner at the Eden Gardens?the dice looks loaded against the home team...

  • TMSer on February 13, 2010, 14:43 GMT

    India clearly need to win the match to level the series and therefore need to boost their bowling. Whether this means playing 3 seamers (sreesanth is the most successfuk against SA in the past) or adding a bowling all-rounder in the team such as Jadeja will no doubt depend on the playing conditions. Dravids absense has left a void in the batting strength but of the errors of the selectors and inadequate performances in the 1st test has left little option for india; im with Wright's suggestion to push up Laxman to No3.

    Perhaps this debarcle will teach the selectors to take the development of Indias up coming bench strength much more seriously.

  • Nampally on February 13, 2010, 14:37 GMT

    I do not think Sreesanth should be in the side with his injury. He is likely to breakdown leaving India one short. It is best to go with Ojha instead of Mishra or Harbhajan, both of whome have been ineffective even against Bangla Desh. Raina should be included for his off spin along with Sehwag. Tendulkar can bowl leg spin for short spells. Dhoni should use these 3 non-bowlers, but he ignores them. As for the side: Gambhir, Sehwag, Laxman, Tendulkar, Karthick, Dhoni, Raina, Ojha, Zaheer, Ishant. Harbhajan or Mishra. It is vital that Dhoni uses Sachin, Raina & Sehwag as bowlers too. Including Sreesanth would be too risky because he is a guy with v.low tolenace for pain & will back out at the first sign of his hamstring injury. The Selectors should have known this and not include him in the squad. At this time Irfan Pathan would have been a better replacement as the third pace man. The squad selection was poor with no vision. Including 3 Rookies against a strong SA is the worst blunder.

  • NEUTRAL_FAN on February 13, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    I admit Mishra should play again. He was just out-played and too inexperienced to adjust. He looked ok to me and Laxman said the spin cupboard in Ind is looking a bare. Sreesanth bowls good spells but rarely has he bowled good matches, he is not some sort of fast bowling brilliance. He actually looked below par in the ODI's vs Lankans (even if pitches were way 2 flat). I hope the "luck" the Author is referring to is not the dropped catches, thats not luck! Thats poor fielding! They have been fielding poorly for decades and one expects them to drop catches! SA ,NZ and Aus dropping catches are rarer and might be seen as luck. Ind needs to realise that their entire bowling cupboard is looking sparse. They have been forced to RECYCLE bowlers. People say bring back Ifran. Again? Bring back Nehra (who can't field)! Again? Curators need to prep pitches that encourage bowlers and work on their fitness. I know Ind will play better 2nd match but SA deserve 2 win ,they r more balanced.

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  • NEUTRAL_FAN on February 13, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    I admit Mishra should play again. He was just out-played and too inexperienced to adjust. He looked ok to me and Laxman said the spin cupboard in Ind is looking a bare. Sreesanth bowls good spells but rarely has he bowled good matches, he is not some sort of fast bowling brilliance. He actually looked below par in the ODI's vs Lankans (even if pitches were way 2 flat). I hope the "luck" the Author is referring to is not the dropped catches, thats not luck! Thats poor fielding! They have been fielding poorly for decades and one expects them to drop catches! SA ,NZ and Aus dropping catches are rarer and might be seen as luck. Ind needs to realise that their entire bowling cupboard is looking sparse. They have been forced to RECYCLE bowlers. People say bring back Ifran. Again? Bring back Nehra (who can't field)! Again? Curators need to prep pitches that encourage bowlers and work on their fitness. I know Ind will play better 2nd match but SA deserve 2 win ,they r more balanced.

  • Nampally on February 13, 2010, 14:37 GMT

    I do not think Sreesanth should be in the side with his injury. He is likely to breakdown leaving India one short. It is best to go with Ojha instead of Mishra or Harbhajan, both of whome have been ineffective even against Bangla Desh. Raina should be included for his off spin along with Sehwag. Tendulkar can bowl leg spin for short spells. Dhoni should use these 3 non-bowlers, but he ignores them. As for the side: Gambhir, Sehwag, Laxman, Tendulkar, Karthick, Dhoni, Raina, Ojha, Zaheer, Ishant. Harbhajan or Mishra. It is vital that Dhoni uses Sachin, Raina & Sehwag as bowlers too. Including Sreesanth would be too risky because he is a guy with v.low tolenace for pain & will back out at the first sign of his hamstring injury. The Selectors should have known this and not include him in the squad. At this time Irfan Pathan would have been a better replacement as the third pace man. The squad selection was poor with no vision. Including 3 Rookies against a strong SA is the worst blunder.

  • TMSer on February 13, 2010, 14:43 GMT

    India clearly need to win the match to level the series and therefore need to boost their bowling. Whether this means playing 3 seamers (sreesanth is the most successfuk against SA in the past) or adding a bowling all-rounder in the team such as Jadeja will no doubt depend on the playing conditions. Dravids absense has left a void in the batting strength but of the errors of the selectors and inadequate performances in the 1st test has left little option for india; im with Wright's suggestion to push up Laxman to No3.

    Perhaps this debarcle will teach the selectors to take the development of Indias up coming bench strength much more seriously.

  • SUNDOS on February 13, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    Will the Indian team bunce back form this "do or die" situation?The batting wll come good,atleast 3 of the 6 batsmen will deliver..it;s the bowling attack that looks increasingly toothless against an inform Proteas.What no rank tulrner at the Eden Gardens?the dice looks loaded against the home team...

  • BapiDas on February 13, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    Unless we field FOUR wiccket taking bowlers and they deliver, we have no chance of taking 20 South Africaan wickets and that is an undeniable fact. It does not matter who they are, Indian bowlers must take 20 wickets.

  • Retour on February 13, 2010, 15:33 GMT

    A few things to consider before picking the playing 11: 1. The pitch is not a rank turner. 2. SA could bat safely and play the survival game.

    When a team plays survival game, either you need a pitch that doesn't allow that (rank turner) or a bowling attack that forces breakthroughs (like SA did in the last test)

    I think Ind needs to play 2 spinners as that's a good bet for picking up wkts especially later on in the game. And we also need 3 pacers to take advantage of grass on the first two days (if Ind is bowling first). Having Dravid in the side would definitely have made playing 5 bowlers an easy choice but considering this is a must win game, Ind will have to take that chance anyways.

    In the last test, we missed an extra seamer. We need to put pressure on SA on Day 1 by rotating the seamers but we couldn't as we only had 2. With one of them not picking up wkts, we had to introduce spin early which made it easy for SA. By playing 3 pacers, we could have bowled Zak in short bursts

  • NairUSA on February 13, 2010, 15:36 GMT

    It seems as if a new paradigm is being slowly unveiled on the flat pitches of India. Reverse Swing! Instead of spinners ruling the roost, it well could be fast bowlers with brains harvesting wickets at will. India should recognize this trend and give exposure to a few promising fast bowlers in the playing eleven who can reverse swing the ball under any conditions. Increasing the bench strength on this 'reverse swing' department is vital if india wants to dominate the test scene. However, Dhoni's attitude is good when he says that challenges are part of the game and the best team will be the one who will overcome them. Best of luck.

  • New_Wind on February 13, 2010, 15:40 GMT

    Why is Ojha in the same line as other two? He has taken 13 wickets in 3 tests. Isn't that enough. Its selectors playing villain to start musical chairs.

  • 6x_CS_King on February 13, 2010, 15:54 GMT

    There may be many guys who might disagree with me,Indian batting line up is good enough.But the fact is, India seriously lacks bowlers to support Zaheer. Ishant got overhyped and facing its consequences now and sreesanth is not consistent enough and spinners aren't doing a good job either,, they are adding to the pressure by not picking wickets,harbhajan hasn't been in good form for past few test matches and during champions trophy last year also he failed miserably,he's the experienced guy around and he has to take responsibility of picking wickets, and with the kind of bowling attack india has they can never dominate test cricket and hold onto their No1 spot.

  • jimbond on February 13, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Its quite simple actually, but I am doubtful whether the Indian selectors will see it so- India should play four bowlers- and these four should be- Zaheer, Sreesanth (Ishant is currently struggling), Ojha and Amit Mishra (Harbajan should be made to play first class crcket and prove his credentials- without the doosra). Instead of Harbajan, Sehwag or Badrinath or Rohit sharma or Raina can provide back up offspin.