July 23, 2010

The case of the missing teeth

With a bowling line-up like the one they have at the moment, India look anything but the No. 1 team they supposedly are
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Among the many delights of being in South Africa for the FIFA World Cup final was the opportunity of sharing a dinner table with Adam Gilchrist. Inevitably the topic moved to Australia's current predicament (not a particularly unpleasant one, given they still win a lot of games) and just as inevitably he was asked what he thought was the most significant reason for it.

"Two" he said, raising his fingers like he might be asking for leg and middle. "Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne."

The query came immediately: not Gilchrist himself? "No, that's been the most seamless actually. But it's the bowling that wins matches and those two - actually make it those three, because Jason Gillespie was outstanding - were just special."

I thought of that when I saw Sri Lanka always had a bowler for the occasion in Galle. Two strike bowlers made the difference; ironically, one playing his last Test and another back after a lengthy layoff from five-day cricket. That and the fact that they had five bowlers to share the workload. Gilchrist is right. As we all know, it is the bowlers who win matches, especially if the batsmen do them the favour of setting it up by scoring more than 500.

India lost the Test for a few other reasons as well, but eventually it was about the bowling. The spinners don't always get too much help on the first day, but they will be the first to put up their hands and say they were disappointing. When you play four bowlers you really cannot afford for even one of them to have a bad match. If two do, and the other two are patchy, you are in big trouble.

And so India add one more chapter to their rather voluminous tome on first-Test disasters. Interestingly not everyone is in favour of playing more than one warm-up game, which does strike me as a bit strange. With India's middle order having had no cricket since the IPL, they needed as much time as they could get in the middle in the tour game in Colombo. It didn't help that they watched four hundreds being scored off their bowlers. Indeed, three men in their mid-thirties may well have looked at each other and asked themselves which attack they would much rather have fancied playing.

But while India need to find a solution to getting their lead batsmen coming in cold, that is only part of the story. India are now the No. 1 Test team by the ICC rankings and cannot offer that as the reason for a defeat. Champions must have an air about them, and while this series could still end differently, India don't have the aura of world champions.

Inevitably on the subcontinent the toss is a huge factor but this one in Galle didn't seem like such a bad one to lose. There was a lot of cloud around, the wicket had a tinge of moisture in it, and the openers would have been on guard. But in the first hour, which so often determines which way a game goes, India's bowling was atrocious. The newcomer, Abhimanyu Mithun, was steady but Ishant Sharma looked like he needed some dusting. He did bowl a wonderful spell on the third morning, but that only highlighted the opportunity missed at the beginning. With this kind of line-up, opposition openers aren't going to spend too many sleepless nights.

India might still pull it back in the series. Sri Lanka without Murali might not have anyone to provide both the bulk of the overs and the wickets, and India's batsmen might look a little less rusty, but it comes back to taking 20 wickets. In the absence of Zaheer Khan - and considering he has a shoulder injury, I fear India might have to start getting used to that for a while - this was the best attack India could put on the park. There isn't a bowler back home who could claim he belonged here. In fact, such is the paucity of bowling options that if there was one good enough, he must have been hidden well.

For India to come back into this series the batsmen will have to put up a mountain of runs.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AlokJoshi on July 26, 2010, 19:01 GMT

    India's back-up bowling has been primarily blamed for the debacle at Galle. However, the last line, "For India to come back ... batsmen ... mountain of runs", indicates that batsmen failed to score adequately at Galle, and hence if India are to bounce back, batsmen must plunder runs! I cannot figure out how can one largely blame the bowlers for the loss if 10 innings out of 20 yielded single digit scores? Isnt cricket a 'team' game? Why is the loss at Galle not a collective team failure? Gritty batting by the Indian tail draws no reference - if only the frontline batsmen had shown such resolve? What are the other reasons that are only referred to but not elaborated? Why is the failure of an out of sorts captain and poor overall batting performance not mainly responsible for the loss? Moving on, to bounce back and hold on to its #1 test match team status, the entire Indian team has to outperform - its not just about bowlers or batsmen.

  • mali0821 on July 26, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    I am 100% sure, India will not win the 2011 World Cup unless miraculously they include some real good pace bowlers in the squad. Irfan should be given one more chance, as well as munaf.

  • mali0821 on July 26, 2010, 18:31 GMT

    Sri Lanka is a balanced team. There is a scarcity of good pace bowlers in India, it always have been like that. Two world class pace bowlers to come out of India are Kapil Dev and Zaheer Khan. At present you cannot just ask Zaheer to perform all the time without having another to carry on the other end. To be honest, even Bangladesh have better pace bowlers than India if you don't include Zaheer Khan. Keep in mind it is the fast bowler that wins test matches.

  • on July 26, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    Good solution to this, don't play test matches, play more T20..

  • spinkingKK on July 26, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    I agree that India's bowling doesn't create sleepless nights for the SL batsmen. However, it is easy for any home team to win the toss in a placid wicket and bat to pile up the runs. Even the Australian bowling line-up would have struggled in those conditions. As a result, I believe we are all missing the point. The point is, it is the batsmen who needs to be blamed. THEY JUST DON'T HAVE IT IN THEM. This is proved time and time again. Once in every 5 or 6 test matches they may deliver. But, that is JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH. They should know how to bat well when the team is facing a deficit and also how to dictate terms when they are batting first. Time and time again, they fail in those two important aspects. Always, the blame comes on the bowlers. Had these batsmen scored 500 plus in the first innings, Mithun, Ojha and Harbhajan would have been talked about. Because, the Sri Lankans would have been under pressure and would have lost wickets. BATTING IS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

  • on July 26, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    i think the first test disaster is mainly a consequence of constant persistance with ishant sharma.other than a few good spells in the australia test series,i have never seen him bowl better than a club cricketer.my view is give another chance to someone of the likes of nehra or agarkar.surely they wont disappoint.even dinda who looks aggressive can be tried out.

  • cricpolitics on July 25, 2010, 23:21 GMT

    Too bad BCCI can manipulate and force other boards to convert their ODI series to test matches in their own home turf so that they could stay at meaningless number 1 ranking but they just can not manipulate their fast bowling. BCCI need to pay attention to find and groom the right talent instead of taking manipulation approach. Indian team can not survive for much longer at the top of the ranking with the current apporach.

  • cricpolitics on July 25, 2010, 23:06 GMT

    It's a no brainer that a strong bowling attack is the backbone of a team. Average batsmen can score big against an average bowling attack but best of the batsmen are consistently troubled and fail against a world class bowling attack. Bowling has been India's main trouble for years. Many promising bowlers have come and gone, to name few, Irfan Pathan, Balaji, Sri Santh, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, and the list goes on. I'm afraid Ishant Sharma will be on that list soon, perhaps he already is for the one dayers and T20.

  • crickeyt on July 25, 2010, 22:28 GMT

    It's funny to see so many Pakistani fans getting riled up about India's No. 1 ranking. While people in India themselves do not take the ranking seriously, cricket followers across the border can scarcely conceal their jealous thoughts. Well, for all those across the border - we know our team is not in the class of Aus of 90s or WI of 80s. We got the No. 1 position because we were consistent through a period of 4-5 years, starting from Aus tour of 2003-04. We either won or drew most series away (at least won a Test in all series abroad, not blanked 3-0 in Australia) and outright won most series at home. Does not make our team a great one, but surely it is consistent when other teams are not. Look at Aus, they even managed to lose to Pak - now that is a Test result unlikely to happen again in the next 15 years! Get your own team in shape and let Indian fans criticize or praise their own team.

  • pragadeshkr on July 25, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    india will come back strongly

  • AlokJoshi on July 26, 2010, 19:01 GMT

    India's back-up bowling has been primarily blamed for the debacle at Galle. However, the last line, "For India to come back ... batsmen ... mountain of runs", indicates that batsmen failed to score adequately at Galle, and hence if India are to bounce back, batsmen must plunder runs! I cannot figure out how can one largely blame the bowlers for the loss if 10 innings out of 20 yielded single digit scores? Isnt cricket a 'team' game? Why is the loss at Galle not a collective team failure? Gritty batting by the Indian tail draws no reference - if only the frontline batsmen had shown such resolve? What are the other reasons that are only referred to but not elaborated? Why is the failure of an out of sorts captain and poor overall batting performance not mainly responsible for the loss? Moving on, to bounce back and hold on to its #1 test match team status, the entire Indian team has to outperform - its not just about bowlers or batsmen.

  • mali0821 on July 26, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    I am 100% sure, India will not win the 2011 World Cup unless miraculously they include some real good pace bowlers in the squad. Irfan should be given one more chance, as well as munaf.

  • mali0821 on July 26, 2010, 18:31 GMT

    Sri Lanka is a balanced team. There is a scarcity of good pace bowlers in India, it always have been like that. Two world class pace bowlers to come out of India are Kapil Dev and Zaheer Khan. At present you cannot just ask Zaheer to perform all the time without having another to carry on the other end. To be honest, even Bangladesh have better pace bowlers than India if you don't include Zaheer Khan. Keep in mind it is the fast bowler that wins test matches.

  • on July 26, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    Good solution to this, don't play test matches, play more T20..

  • spinkingKK on July 26, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    I agree that India's bowling doesn't create sleepless nights for the SL batsmen. However, it is easy for any home team to win the toss in a placid wicket and bat to pile up the runs. Even the Australian bowling line-up would have struggled in those conditions. As a result, I believe we are all missing the point. The point is, it is the batsmen who needs to be blamed. THEY JUST DON'T HAVE IT IN THEM. This is proved time and time again. Once in every 5 or 6 test matches they may deliver. But, that is JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH. They should know how to bat well when the team is facing a deficit and also how to dictate terms when they are batting first. Time and time again, they fail in those two important aspects. Always, the blame comes on the bowlers. Had these batsmen scored 500 plus in the first innings, Mithun, Ojha and Harbhajan would have been talked about. Because, the Sri Lankans would have been under pressure and would have lost wickets. BATTING IS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

  • on July 26, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    i think the first test disaster is mainly a consequence of constant persistance with ishant sharma.other than a few good spells in the australia test series,i have never seen him bowl better than a club cricketer.my view is give another chance to someone of the likes of nehra or agarkar.surely they wont disappoint.even dinda who looks aggressive can be tried out.

  • cricpolitics on July 25, 2010, 23:21 GMT

    Too bad BCCI can manipulate and force other boards to convert their ODI series to test matches in their own home turf so that they could stay at meaningless number 1 ranking but they just can not manipulate their fast bowling. BCCI need to pay attention to find and groom the right talent instead of taking manipulation approach. Indian team can not survive for much longer at the top of the ranking with the current apporach.

  • cricpolitics on July 25, 2010, 23:06 GMT

    It's a no brainer that a strong bowling attack is the backbone of a team. Average batsmen can score big against an average bowling attack but best of the batsmen are consistently troubled and fail against a world class bowling attack. Bowling has been India's main trouble for years. Many promising bowlers have come and gone, to name few, Irfan Pathan, Balaji, Sri Santh, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, and the list goes on. I'm afraid Ishant Sharma will be on that list soon, perhaps he already is for the one dayers and T20.

  • crickeyt on July 25, 2010, 22:28 GMT

    It's funny to see so many Pakistani fans getting riled up about India's No. 1 ranking. While people in India themselves do not take the ranking seriously, cricket followers across the border can scarcely conceal their jealous thoughts. Well, for all those across the border - we know our team is not in the class of Aus of 90s or WI of 80s. We got the No. 1 position because we were consistent through a period of 4-5 years, starting from Aus tour of 2003-04. We either won or drew most series away (at least won a Test in all series abroad, not blanked 3-0 in Australia) and outright won most series at home. Does not make our team a great one, but surely it is consistent when other teams are not. Look at Aus, they even managed to lose to Pak - now that is a Test result unlikely to happen again in the next 15 years! Get your own team in shape and let Indian fans criticize or praise their own team.

  • pragadeshkr on July 25, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    india will come back strongly

  • nataraajds on July 25, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    we still have things to worry- spinners are not doing well specially Harbajan..he has enough experience and should have applied himself and supported fast bowlers. if indian need to win 2nd test.. Harbajan and fast bowlers should strike early. i am confident about Batting,, it is bowling which is to be taken care. sinece murali & malinga is not playing 2nd test , it is good opportunity for indians to bounce back.

  • nataraajds on July 25, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    we still have things to worry- spinners are not doing well specially Harbajan..he has enough experience and should have applied himself and supported fast bowlers. if indian need to win 2nd test.. Harbajan and fast bowlers should strike early. i am confident about Batting,, it is bowling which is to be taken care. sinece murali & malinga is not playing 2nd test , it is good opportunity for indians to bounce back.

  • loung_singh on July 25, 2010, 3:41 GMT

    d conditon of india in fast bowling department speaks highly of pakistan s ability 2 produce quality fast bowlers in d subcontinent........mayb in india its not a passion 2 bowl fast among current bowlers ...nd i agree wid harsha dat india doesnt have d aura of no 1 like aus had or even wi.......

  • knowledge_eater on July 25, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    BCCI needs to hire professional talent finder. Their approach of trusting players what they have and keep trying them for enough time is really backfiring. My Idea is to make a bowler who can attack certain type of batting attack and condition. And do rotation. Peak a bowler according to country they visit. Against Srilanka you need left handed fast bowler or leg spinner. Its must. Zak is injured bring in next left handed fast bowler. Ohja to be honest is very good line and length stick to bowler. And he is like Monty P. You need to take wickets in Test, not to stop runs. Left handed batsman will rarely have problem against you. Where is RP Singh ? And I hope someone from Lankan team swears or do something to Bhajji so that he fires up for good. Malinga took away whole match otherwise it was an easy escape for India. I hope India at least pick Mishra who did well against SA. Lets wait and watch. Peace

  • Itchy on July 25, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    @HundredPercentBarcelonista: just goes to show you how close the world rankings are at the moment. When one team has been no. 1 for a long time and then come back to the field there will always be debate over who is truly the best. Unless all nations start playing more regular test series at home and away the arguments will continue - the disparity of test matches played by Eng, SA and Aus as against Ind, Pak & NZ is a big part of this.

  • forzaps on July 25, 2010, 2:32 GMT

    The number one ranking is meaningless. Until we have a World Test Championship, played over multiple years, where teams play the same number of matches against each other home and away, rankings will be meaningless. Its a pity that we don't have a real League Table, it would be the Pinnacle of Sport.

  • Itchy on July 25, 2010, 2:05 GMT

    @thenkabail : drop Sachin and Dravid - I don't think so! The last coach (G. Chappell) to take on a senior player in the Indian side had his tenure significantly shortened. Unfortunately some players have been built up to god-like status so that they can not be replaced unless they themselves decide to go. Does not matter where the coach comes from (although if they are foreign it provides a fall guy) as long as they can articulate their plans to selectors.

  • theswami on July 25, 2010, 1:26 GMT

    Bring back Balaji, he has the experience & can lead the pack in Zaheer's absence. Nehra is a perennially injured player & can be in the team when he is fit. Vinay Kumar seemed good & has a good technique,give him a few chances. It is wrong to label Praveen Kumar a limited overs specialist,he can be in the mix for the tests too. Murali Kartik is easily the best spinner in England & has been so for the past 4-5 years & has been consistently overlooked.He must be brought back to the national team while the cub Ojha hone their skills further in "A" team tours. Mishra might be ready after a short spell of Ranji trophy & is worth his place in the test side even now. As for Ishant, he is too young & the right place for him now would be the academy & the more friendly environs at the Delhi Ranji team. he will come back wiser & a better bowler.As for Sreesanth, it is surprising he is still considered international quality.Maybe a few seasons of domestic cricket would do the trick.

  • Graeme_Pollock on July 25, 2010, 1:09 GMT

    Good title. It should be the opposition batsmen who are complaining of missing teeth rather than the Indian bowling line up!

  • on July 24, 2010, 20:34 GMT

    Harsha is correct ... when many of the world's all time teams were put together, the Pakistani all-time team came up with one of the fiercest bowling attacks of all teams, and the added bonus was that it was spread over three generations of superstars.

    India can boast no such thing. People would be hard pressed to put together an all-time Indian bowling attack - and even that attack could be decimated by most batting line-ups of the day.

    The thought is not wrong. With the abundance that Indian has seen of superstar batsmen since the advent of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman - they've completely ignored their bowling deficiencies.

  • aarpee2 on July 24, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    Pray what is Bhajji's role-he seems to a stock bowler rather than strike bowler. Even tail enders like Herath and Malinga were able to build a huge partnership. We cannot win tests overseas without 5 bowlers.Why does a team with Gambhir,Sehwag,Gravid,Sachin,VVSand Dhoni need additional support when 3 rookie bowlers barring Bhaaji are expected to bowl out international sides twice

  • Nampally on July 24, 2010, 15:28 GMT

    Harsha, the real issue here is to see why India cannot produce good bowlers whilst a tiny nation like SL can produce several pace & spin bowlers of world class. India should also look at the ways it can overcome this deficiency in the next 5 years. 1. Catch them young at the School & University level by running Coaching Camps under top class coaches 2. Have a camp for those people who are not able to go to schools or have dropped out. 3. Have a plan to develop at least 4 quality pace & 4 spin bowlers from each state. 4. Select 6 really top class fast bowler and 6 top class spin bowlers and have advanced coaching for these guys.7. Include them in India Under 17, India under 19 and India under 21 teams. Those proven bowlers from under 21 team should be included in the India A team and play in International tournaments for 2 years before being included in the Indian team. This approach should also apply to batting & Fielding. This is a well planned approach funded by BCCI + Each State.

  • fifth-umpire on July 24, 2010, 15:07 GMT

    I think BCCI is the primarily responsible for the ill fated Indian bowling attack but media and Indian fans should also take up some blame - http://fifth-umpire.blogspot.com/2010/06/message-from-england-bcci-are-you.html

  • on July 24, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    Always, over the years, India has been famous for spin bowling, as well Sri Lanka unlike other team, even an other subcontinent team Pakistan. I feel now a days, India is in transition period for producing or trying more fast bowlers and expect the same which Australian, Pakistani, South African fast bowlers. While if you see, for example, Pakistan has the tradition of producing outclass fast bowlers because of their senior fast bowlers training. I suggest, India can hire some good trainers and they should need to train under 19 guys fast bowlers. Their spinners are good, and have the tradition, so they will perform well. Then they can make difference.

  • muski on July 24, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    Its amazing to see that a cash rich board does not have International quality bench strength in the bowling department. What on earth is the National Cricket Academy doing. Why cant Irfan and RP Singh be put to grind and work hard. Its not that they need to play cricket only when playing for India. Since the board has contracts with them, they could be asked to be match fit. Inspite of Murali and Malinga not being there for the next test, it would take a fool to believe that this Indian attack can take 20 Lankan wickets. They would not be able to take 20 Afghan wickets for that matter. Did anybody say that Harbhajan is tipped to break Murali's record of 800 wickets- at this rate he wont even touch Kapil's record.

  • SaifQazi on July 24, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    there is one more thng dat i might want to add here. the boo haha abt the ranking thats been discussed here at lenght, now India is number1, thoh i might not agree with it entirely bt then the rest in the pack arent good enough. i mean, Aussies lost to India 2yrs ago, lost to SA in Australia, then lost the Ashes in England n now drew with Pakistan in a "home series" i admit, they've won against SA, Pak, NZ durin this period also. bt then India hasnt lost ne series as yet which puts them on the top of the tree. i dont agree with that, i admit that as well.

    Harsha is right, i completely agree with him wen he says, world champions have a feel of bein a champion, there is sumthin in the air abt them n dats lackin desperately in Indian team. which all boils down to the fact that they dont have good enough bowlers. India still plays to the theory "win toss, bat first, pile on runs n then win the match" Champions dont do such things, thats negative cricket!! Aussies neva played like dat.

  • STres on July 24, 2010, 12:11 GMT

    Come on India this is your chance, no Murali, no Malinga, you can rock it now number 01. SL will never make excuses, we have put in our best 11, if they win then, fine if they loose, " well done India" you can be assured that no one will say that Malinga did not play or this one or that one did not play. Thats the way to go, learn from your small neighbour, cricket is just a game not a war, win or loose take it in the spirit of sportsmanship.

  • coachsonu on July 24, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    Oh yes I agree with Harsha Indian bowling has no teeth at all give me one bowler who can bowl yorkers with consistency, one bowler who can bowl chest high consistently, one bowler who can bowl at full pace 145 - 147 consistently. Common guys you can not dream of a world cup with these bowlers. May be Zaheer is OK but nothing else. Only all rounder India has is "Harbhajan" please we are in pits man Best batsmen.... Worst bowlers

  • taq0000 on July 24, 2010, 8:37 GMT

    i am a pakistani but i have a feeling that if indian batsmen bat 1st in the 2nd test and post a big total you all will see this bowling line up will do wonders it always have been like this india only win when batsmen post big total there bowlers mind set is like this they feel themself secure under umbrela of big total And i personaly thing it is ok as every teem has its own strength and weaknes. LET me remind all indian batting will not fail like this every day.

  • on July 24, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    We should always play the best available bowlers. Why is this simple rule forgotten more often than not?

  • Chestnutgrey on July 24, 2010, 5:46 GMT

    To be fair, I ndia never had a quality bowling attack. How about our much vaunted world class batsmen who could not even avoid a follow on? Sehwag after hitting Welegedera all along, gives his wicket to him. In both innings. Dravid and Laxman run out? Incredible. What were they thinking? That the match was out of India's grasp after Malinga and Herath's batting was clear. But it needn't have caused a defeat, if the batters batted to at least somehwere near their potentil. Sad.

  • raamvenky82 on July 24, 2010, 5:32 GMT

    hey guys harsha is correct,because gilchrist told him they won only because of mcgrath and warne.harsha also saying the same that we are missing the teeth like zaheer just like mcgrath and warne and harsha not meant that india not at all worth for number 1 but this time in srilanka the case is different, dont blame bowlers.As far as we know for the last two years our bowling is weak,but everyone knows indian batsmen are able to score any runs and save any match in good batting conditions especially after one day washed out.In my point the batsmen performed poor..if they were up to the mark they would have able to save the match..

  • howizzat on July 24, 2010, 3:54 GMT

    Gilly may be right. But Harsha, are you kidding? In present situation India cannot really assemble four proper bowlers and you are talking about the fifth one!! By the way you are seaching here for missing teeth but the realty is WHOLE DENTURE is missing!!!

  • henchart on July 24, 2010, 3:30 GMT

    Indians can atleast square this series if not win it.With the Javelin thrower having bid adieu the Ceylonese attack looks depleted but is it so?What about Malinga ?He was potent at Galle.If only Gambhir can get Indians off to a flier with Sehwag then the veterans in the middle order can bolster the score beyond 500.As Manjrekar says,any total beyond 500 will make the bowlers confident to attack more.Indians must bat first .Therein lies their best chance.

  • sanjeevmukherjee2006 on July 24, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    @kiwi rocker i guess u r suffering from fits or amnesia or gajini type short term memory loss yes our bowling is weak but in few months time it will improve u r saying india has not won t20 matches hell india won t20 wc in 2007, india drew with NZ again wrong india won the series in NZ, in WI in Eng and in 2004 won series in aus india won the asia cup recently also in 2008 india won traingular series in aus, india won at perth at johanesburg thing is asian teams hardly travel to SA or AUS. Pakistan india SL travel Aus, England SA once in5 years last time india travelled to SA was wayback in 2006 PAk travelled to Sa in 2005 SL almost same whereas Australia travel SA once in 2 years also SA travel Aus once in two or three years so yes Asian teams need to travel more in these countries so get ur facts rite look at Australia they are being hammered by Pakistan who says Australia are a good team my foot bowled out for 88 am very happy that Pakistanis are winning hit the aussies hard

  • clouds1231230 on July 24, 2010, 1:24 GMT

    am agree with harsha,,best bowling is the backbone of cricket,while a good bowler/player can also do bat but i good batsman cant do good bowling,,i dont talking about allrounders but i talking about specialist players in one field,,,if take the exaple of pakistan,,the bating line of pakistan is worst but they still winning the matches which is coz of best bowlers like aamir,asif,gul.danish,ajmal,,oh saeed ajmal not ajmal qasab,,,shoab akhtar,but dont worry we gonna convince shoab akhtar for his retirment..

  • v4vicky on July 24, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    India's selection policy has been flawed in recent times. It lacks both clear vision and strategy resulting in such situations India finds itself repeatedly whenever they are tested in a different condition. As we have lots of bowlers which if would have been groomed properly by the myopic and biased selectors would have made differences. Bowlers like Murali Karthik, Irfaan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar are still better equipped to bowl in test arena than any of the recently concluded test match bowlers. A certain Mohnish Parmar is called a suspect in India where as the irony will show that Muralidharan on whom Parmar has modelled his bowling takes 800 wickets. Irfaan is as pacy as a certain Angelo Mathews for SL is, and on any day is a better bowler, and a competent batsman. Similarly India plays similar bowlers in same test match rather than adding variety in their bowling attack. Ishant & Mithun belongs to similar category! We need to change the selectors with more visionary and unbiased gr

  • AvidCricFan on July 24, 2010, 0:03 GMT

    Our batting line is aging. Our bowling is pedestrian. The front line spinner, Harbhajan Singh, could not take a single wicket on a spin-friendly track. The comparison of class between Bhajji and Murali was striking. Its time to rebuild the test team. The other problem with young gun is they get taste of success quickly and loose motivation to perfrom. We still lack the killer instinct. Now some Pakistani fans are getting over excited claiming their team to be emerging world class.

  • Meety on July 23, 2010, 23:11 GMT

    Back about 8 yrs ago Sth Africa briefly took the number 1 position in the Test rankings off a team, (Oz) that went onto beat them easily in back to back tests. The point I would like to make is the points system rewards teams for consistency over the ratings period. India have been rewarded for that. To be #1 & be champions they will need to win more series away from home, otherwise people will never take their "crown" seriously. When Oz & WI were ruling the world, every series they were looking to win. I don't see India winning in Sth Africa or Australia, & I am not sure they will do well in England. In saying that I am happy for Sachin that in his twilight years he is part of a very good side that is number 1. Could I also take the opportunity to plug an innovation I would like to see taken seriously. It is an official "World Title Belt" & would be up for grabs every time the holder plays a series, (like Boxing). If India held the belt now SL would be close to being World Champs?????

  • SnowSnake on July 23, 2010, 23:10 GMT

    I think people are overly underrating Indian bowlers here. Yes, India does not have great fast bowlers, but that does not mean other teams have fast bowlers that are extremely better than India. Aus. & Pak. fast bowlers have their minor struggles as well. Look at how difficult it was for Pak. fast bowlers to get rid of Aus. tail end. Also, look at Johnson's performance. Australia has done well because of Watson and not because of their strike fast bowlers (Johnson and Hilfanaus). Bollinger is doing well, so that is a bright star in Australian pace attack.

  • Meety on July 23, 2010, 23:04 GMT

    Good article. I slightly disagree with Gilly though. I think when Oz was the best team in the world - yes they had a great batting line up, yes they had great strike bowling options, but their slips fielding was the best (possibly ever). When the Oz team started to age - they lost the Waughs from the slip cordon, the standards dropped - I don't think Hayden was ever as good a slipper as the Waughs, Taylor, Border. Currently Oz slip cordon is not too flash. I am a huge Pup fan but he is not a great slips fielder. In the India/SL test - Dravid dropped a sitter at a crucial time, the momentum shift then meant that India were chasing an extra 100-150 runs. India are number 1 in the world and deserve it, but they really hold it by default. I think Sth A is a better team all up but don't have what it takes between the ears, (never have except in the late 1960s). For India to be a true Champion team they need 2 VERY good or Great fast bowlers + at least 1 spinner. TBC

  • BullayBaaz on July 23, 2010, 22:45 GMT

    Harsha, you nailed it! Last night I was thinking along the same lines, toothless tiger...or paper tiger....perhaps both!

    Middle order is old, Dhoni failed in both innings, and no bite to the bowling. Can't win without taking 20 wickets.

    Test outlook remains bleak in the near future.

    Anyway, time to give kudos to the greatest spinner of all time. He got his well deserved 800th cap. While I can never be happy when India loose, this time, I am glad for MM to walk out of the game with a win.

  • Vilander on July 23, 2010, 22:40 GMT

    i see india winning the next two matches and winning the series. i also see the lot of pak supporters like raheem030766 feeling even more bad about it then

  • kkrish.tej on July 23, 2010, 21:49 GMT

    the fact is... india doesn't have quality bowlers... tour strengths of old like spin etc...have been surpassed by others saeed ajmal... steven smith etc... fast bowling strength is a laugh... guess we just have to bear with the lot we have...

  • crick_admirer on July 23, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    The big 4 had 8 chances and used only 3... 2 of the 5 failures were run outs... and sachin was out lbw both innings and i could not believe he missed Malinga's yorker in the second innings... first innings lbw exposed the issues he has with his technique and the second one just reminded everyone he is getting old... this batting line up just should not be bowled out by any bowling line up, PERIOD!

  • on July 23, 2010, 21:21 GMT

    india is no.1 and will be no.1...no one matches our batting line up..if they fail once that means they come very strongly for next game..if seen the series we won recently which made india no.1...it proves that...

  • on July 23, 2010, 20:36 GMT

    Why wud'nt selectors pay more attention to spin, which traditionally has been our strength? Murali Karthik has been doing extremely well for Somerset, and guess he would do even better in spin assisting conditions in India or Sri Lanka. Maybe Kris Srikanth wud be blamed of supporting players from his state, hence unfortunately sidelining players of Karthiks talent. M Karthik wud have his chances, for sure. On a promising note, one loss to Sri Lanka is not the end of the world. May be it was a farewell fit for the great competitor, Murali. Maybe he wud still be able to contribute to development of cricket.

  • Passion_4_Cricket on July 23, 2010, 20:23 GMT

    @ All Indian Fans... Some of you guys are saying, Even Mithun, Ishant Sharma were batted well against Sri Lanka in the 2nd Innings.

    Yes They Did But do you know why they played better than Indian Top Order?

    Because, All the Recognized Batmen need to score but not only defend every bowl,, They need to attack the bowler to score runs for the team. But For no. 9 or no10 batsmen, They had to defend all the way to save the match.. They had no intensity to score runs but to kill times.

    That is why They batted better than Indian Top Order Batsmen... You should not be joking like, Shehwag got 13 and Inshant got 31 means Inshant could score a triple century if he would have batted in top order of Indian Batting lineup.. LOL

  • on July 23, 2010, 19:44 GMT

    Another good read, Harsha! Why do we keep going back to the point of saying bowlers win matches? Bowlers n Batsmen r equally important for a result.. Wats the point of the bowlers take wickets cheaply and then batsmen score lesser than opposition?? If Oz had Mcgra n Warnie, mind you they had the strongest batting line-up (almost inevitably an opening century stand most of the times). Coming to the ratings, this rating merely signifies which team is leading currently. It is not designed to suggest a champion team! India are No.1 team but not a Champion team yet! Yes, Champion teams have aura, like Oz had but they too dont have anymore. Today Ind, Oz, SA and Lanka r very close in tests, so one of them has to be top. Let others fight to snatch it from India if they feel they r better. Hidden bolwers?? None. But overlooked, yes Irfan Pathan. Not sure if Dhoni doesnt want him or the selectors!!

  • Harry0009 on July 23, 2010, 19:38 GMT

    I think more than the fast bowling itself, there is also an attitude which is missing with the bowlers from India. That attitude is to put the hands up and say, "I will do it for the team" and taking that responsibility of shouldering the attack when the chips are down. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of class bowlers in our team barring Zaheer and Bhajji to some extent. And youngsters are being given enough chances but they need to stand-up, deliver, and be counted. Earlier we were capable of producing good spinners if not fast bowlers. But it seems India will stop producing bowlers soon! With WC around the corner, and with such a weak attack, our chances look bleak! On the other hand, credit must be given to SL bowlers especially Malinga, and Murali. Also, their lower order only added to the humiliation of our bowling attack. But that's what cricket is all about! Number 1 team's bowling has been buried to dust!

  • fanofteamindia on July 23, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    What is the problem of people with India being no.1 including Harsha???They are no1 because they have won enough matches in home and abroad.The problem comes when people think of the no1 team in an idealistic way as harsha put it like "India does not have an aura of champions around them".Yes, India are not Australia some 5 yrs ago.Indians are not lucky enough to have such a balanced bowling attack.Australians were lucky to have that collection of bowlers at the same time.Similarly the Indians are lucky to have the best batting line up in the world.Ranking is always relative.In relative sense Indians definitely are the no1.

  • CricFan810 on July 23, 2010, 19:19 GMT

    Its a 'hugely' populated country... they play the most lucrative domestic tournament.. the governing (bcci) gives dictation to other boards.. and above all they are no.1 team in the world.. yet they do not have a world class fast bowler.. its a joke on which i would laugh forever..

  • ElectronSmoke on July 23, 2010, 19:15 GMT

    Its funny how staunch supporters of India would instantly get defensive and start comparing other teams lack of success - and the detractors would jump at the conclusion that rankings are absurd. The fact is simple: No cricket team is complete without a battery of bowlers who can take 20 wickets in any condition, any field - and have that special ability to conjure some magical spells when nothing seems in their favor. Even two good bowlers don't always suffice. WI had Marshall, Holding, Garner, Walsh to do that on any damn day, any continent - give them a dustbowl and they'd bowl their cutters, cut down pace, rely on ramrod straight yorkers and take the pitch out of equation. AUS had McGrath, Gillespie and Warne who did the same. In recent times only Pakistan team of 1998-2000 had such an attack with Wasim, Waqar, Shoaid, and Saqlain. I am an Indian cricket fan - but I don't think India has a bowling attack to cover all bases - it never has had.

  • raheem030766 on July 23, 2010, 19:03 GMT

    We have to be honest. India have never produced great bowlers apart from few spinners like Bedi and Kumble and only fast bowler Kapil Dev. Bowlers such as Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Harbajan Singh are ok but not world class. However, India have always had great batsmen such as Gavaskar, Vishwanat, Tandulkar, Dravid, Shewag, Gambir etc. India may currently be ranked number 1 but I cannot see them retaining this position and other teams such as Australia, South Africa, England and Pakistan will overtake them. The only reason Pakistan team is not doing well currently is because of political situation in the country and the inefficient PCB. Pakistan no doubt are the BEST Asian team, there is so much cricket talent in the country.

  • m.a.khokhar on July 23, 2010, 19:02 GMT

    Am agree with Harsha,that India isn t the no 1 team, india have been getting some very good bowlers but dont k now what happens with them after playing 12 months international cricket why they become ordinary bowlers,, its been a real story that India never had bowler who can bowl over 90 miles consistantly and after Kapil dev they always missed the geniune bowling allrounder.Pakistan habe been v lucky to have great talent in their pace attack and they always used to have one or two bowlers to bowl around 90 to 95 miles comsistantly but they misses world class batsman likes of Sachin Sehwag and Dravid. i think these two countreis exchange their batsman and bowlers to eachother .. like if only Dravid goes in pakistan team and Aamir comes in indian team then imagine, these two countreis will remain no 1 and no 2,, no team can come closer to these teams..Now i Hope and I ll pray for tomorrow that Pakistan make another 40 runs to defeat Aussies to square the sereis..

  • on July 23, 2010, 18:41 GMT

    Srishant and Jahir can make the difference. what do you think ?

  • ShashidharHundi on July 23, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    Harsha, you are right. This bowling attack can not win even a tour match. Hope Srikkanth & company realises this & bring in Irfan Pathan & Murali Karthik (will he ever play test again ?) It is real shame not to make use of quality spinner like Murali Karthik.

  • Nampally on July 23, 2010, 18:02 GMT

    India could still salvage the series by making some changes to their line up. Ojha performed poorly and should be replaced with Murai Karthik. Actually it is amazing that Murali was given so few chances after he demolished Australia.If Harbhajan has not recovered from Flu' Ashwin should replace him. Harbhajan was wicketless on the same track where Murali took 8 wickets. Thirdly, Unadkat is a keen and young fast bowler capable of replacing Sharma.With these changes India has at least a keen bunch of bowlers. As for batting, India definitely needs a good start and Gambhir & Sehwag should be told to provide one. This is crucial to India piling a big total. Hopefully the rest of the batting will perform to their potential. Indian fielding left much to be desired. Dropped catches paved way for the 2 centurians. If India had taken the catches, SL would have been lucky to get 300. It is catches that win matches. Mendiswill be just as tough as Murali.India needs to win the toss & next 2 tests

  • SnowSnake on July 23, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    The problem with just looking at ranking is that you can be no. 1 by 20 points or no. 1 by 1 point. I think no. 1 ranking should be seen by the difference in points from next best team. India was never far ahead. It is no. 1 by inches. If a team does not have significant lead over the next best then it no longer is undisputed no. 1 and is in danger of being dethroned anytime. India was always in this position. Why blame bowlers? It is the batsmen that screwed up. Any batting lineup that cannot sustain 100 overs in test cricket is a poor batting line up. India, Australia, Pak. are all poor batting teams today. SL appears to be the best team and it will be a matter of time before it becomes no. 1. The only other balanced team is SA. India needs to get rid of Rahul Dravid as soon as possible and replace him with either Rohit sharma or Raina or Kartik.

  • on July 23, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    India is very over rated as a team. IPL Plays a huge roal in hyping it up and tiring the players down to perform in International Tournaments. I am sure there are enough good fast bowlers who are never given a chance. But I dont think anyone should be commenting on Home Vs Away and pitch conditions. Everyone should make their team friendly pitches at home.

  • MuraliUK on July 23, 2010, 17:14 GMT

    How many times many leading commentators have said "to win you need to go with 5 good bowlers"? If a team goes in with 7 batsmen and 4 bowlers you are sending a message "lets go for a draw" message to the opponents. This strange formula will work in ODIs or T20s. Not in Tests. Gone are the days, when India went with 3 spinners and 2 trundlers. After all Dhoni is a full time batsman, therefore an all rounder. When Bradman was asked to select his all time XI, he chooses only 5 batsmen and remarks "if the 5 of us don't score 500 amongst us then who can?" That's what Team India needs to say to the opponents if they feel they are World No 1! Go positive Gary and Dhoni. Sad to see Ishant has gone astray. He needs to see the deliveries he bowled to Ponting to snare him out?

  • on July 23, 2010, 17:09 GMT

    This is such a ridiculous argument proposed by cricketers who know everything (including the top ones). I'm really irritated at their stupidity. To win a test match, you need a balanced team not just good bowlers. If bowlers who win matches, why not pack the team with 11 bowlers. Ridiculous. Ask Pakistan and they will tell you that batsman win matches... Reason, they don't have consistency in their batting lineup. But have awesome bowling attack. And India always says bowlers win matches... Because we don't have a decent bowling attack. But in my opinion, a good batting attack is more essential to winning matches. Because a batsman needs to make one wrong move to get out and a team has only 20 such moves to lose a match. But a bowler gets 6 chances every over to get a wicket. So purely based on probability theory, the game itself is skewed towards having good batsmen. And India has got it right. That's the reason Australia is surviving even without the great bowlers of recent past.

  • on July 23, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    funny the way you say world champions. yea maybe if they stick to their number one slot for a couple of years,,,

  • Semoli on July 23, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    @vaibhav.junk, There is a difference between reporting and an analysis. The everyday bulletin that we get is a reporting piece which can state the obvious. I see Harsha's piece as an analysis or expert commentary. I like the guy and maybe because of that expect more that stating the obvious. I expect an analysis.

  • ishan22 on July 23, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    Very well written article by harsha bhogle. I think Indian team should have played more than one practice match before the Ist test.It would have given the middle order time to acclimatize to srilankan conditions.Indian bowling attack is nowhere menacing and penetrating enough and doesn't look like taking 20 wickets. The only chance they have of winning the test at colombo is to bat first and make 500 runs. I am also of the view that Yuvraj singh should not play test cricket.He has too poor a technique to play test cricket.Scoring a 50 at a run a ball is not going to win you a test match. Test cricket requires patience and the ability to pull a team out of trouble.At galle, yuvraj scored 52 in the ist innings at a strike rate of 81.25. laxman scored 69 runs in the 2nd innings at a strike rate of 54 but more importantly he was able to put together partnerships that enabled india to get some lead of 95 runs.There are better players than yuvraj singh waiting to play for india.

  • Ashutosh_Raj on July 23, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    This is absurd!! absolutely absurd!! India has non of its first choice bowlers available with them.. Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth out and Harbhajan not fit. Even if the so much revered 90s World champs Aussies had been missing 3 or 4 of their frontline bowlers they would have been a mediocre side. Indian batting line up + Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan will have a place for them in any team in this world now. 8 of the world's best players and you say India is no good. Rubbish! Sangakara is bulshitting about ICC rankings, India got this rankings based upon their performances in last three years which include test series both home and away.. Forget India missing 3 or 4 frontline bowlers, if you remove Malinga and Muralitharan from their attacks, India's scorecard would have read 1000/5 at most. Time is a champion in its own. With Murali out of the series now, I will be very happy to see how fairly do Sangakara's team perform against the world champs..

  • Mastmale on July 23, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    Harsha, this is old hat. I think the Selectors are to be blamed the most. India A travelled to England recently for a few 4-day matches. Who did the wise selectors choose as the bowlers for that tour - Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaidev Unadkat and Jaskaran Singh!! Who have been their choices for this Test series...Zaheer, Sreesanth, Ishant and Mithun!! You would have thought that with India playing test matches after a long gap, the selectors would have given these 4 a chance to play in England...particularly with them playing absolutely no 4 day cricket recently. Even the spinners...who did they select? It was (hold your breath) Iqbal Abdullah!! Have they not heard of a term called 'Match Practise'? These selectors have the vision of a horse and the brains of a donkey. Srikanth and Co. should be ashamed.

  • on July 23, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    What happen to Irfan Pathan, why isnt he in the side ... ???

  • Bang_La on July 23, 2010, 15:41 GMT

    Ah Harsha, just reading the heading of your piece I thought you were going to write about Bangladesh :) So you wrote about #1 team on ICC test table!! Good. Oh well not so good.

  • sreeadem on July 23, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    I think it would be better if India take in Irfan as the Bowling allrounder. So that he can bowl a better line compared to the current bowling lineup who are bowling with economy rate over 6 and not taking any wickets. This guy can even contribute with the bat with a useful 20s and 30s at the end if the top order collapses. The selectors should think of better bowling options in the Domestic circuit who are fit and intelligent.

    Being the No.1 team test team in the world, This is not the way the bowling lineup should be. That is if one of the best bowlers in the side injures, the one who replaces should be as better as the best bowler and should be eager to perform. The bottom line is tht the selection process should change and the facilities for the upcoming and the domestic players sholud be as good as for the International players...

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on July 23, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    @Mohib Khan Afridi. This is not unusual for players from all over the world. Very often when players are new and especially if their technique is different , not much is known about them and if they have a bit of talent, they often do well first up. That's why there is a saying that the 2nd or 3rd seasons for a player are the toughest. Truly good players get through the tough phase when opposition get accustomed to them. Fantastic players sometimes hit the ground running and never look back. Others like Kallis and Ghambir have rough starts and then come good. Kallis' case is quite amazing. Some players fade forever and that is the danger that guys like Ishant Sharma and JP Duminy are facing. It is up to them and their managers to get through it.

  • Keralite10 on July 23, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    I completely agree with Harsha, although I am an Indian Fan.

    India doesn't deserve at all to be the numero uno. Forget the bowling, what about the fielding and the not so confident batting, and the 100% unprofessionalism you see on the field. It is a shame to watch India playing outside India. All the big names will perform in India (bar the legend Sachin).

    What is the selection committee (bunch of unprofessional fools) doing about unearthing some good bowlers. Don't tell me the 2nd most populous country in the world doesn't have bowling talent. The egoistic, unprofessional, beaurocratic selectors has to find them and groom them. That is part of their job.

    Mr. Cool captain Dhoni: You might be called Mr. cool because you don't loose your cool when the team under performs (which they mostly do), but you have to inspire the team to win and do their best. Stop saying "Batting is our strength" instead inspire your bowlers.

    Who cares....I just wasted 10 minutes of my life...

  • AB_DeVilliers on July 23, 2010, 14:49 GMT

    Phew - many heated debates. Plenty of people debating whether India are the no.1 team in the world. Frankly, I don't think we have one to be honest. I can't see the no.1 team in the world taking a hammering like India did in this test. However, their bowling was weakened, but you need strength in depth too. That said, their batting lost them the game.

    In terms of the no.1 team, I think that will be SA for me at this point. They have beaten almost every team away from home worth beating: AUS, ENG, WI, SL, PAK and drew with IND twice in two yrs (not many teams have this record). They have also beaten IND in SA, so based on this, they probably deserve it. Altho, as I said, we don't really have an outright no.1 team and that makes things even more exciting!

    I hope PAK can come back into the frey too, by beating AUS!

  • mrgupta on July 23, 2010, 14:49 GMT

    I think the failure was more of the batting. When SL made 500+ i thought even we can get there with the Batting we have but we failed to Cross 300 in the First innings. But all is not bad though, almost all teams have found it difficult to do well in SL as they are very Strong at home. But i feel we will make a comeback in the second and third test. Not hinting that India may win the series from here but i expect our team to atleast draw the series from here on. I am sure our players are more dejected and upset than all of us and would be raring to go hard at SL. I know it wont be easy for anyone to keep Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag and Lax quite for the entire series.

  • on July 23, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Harsha has written many good articles. But this one is very mundane and without any interesting details. He keeps talking about obvious things like lack of bowlers. Even a child knows that India has a set of pampered players as bowlers who behave as though they are doing a favour to the country by playing. Harsha should know that they are good bowlers in India ; but they are never selected. Murali karthik is a clear example. Yuvaraj is not capable of playing test matches at any point of time. Gambhir 's atrocious and lazy behaviour shou;ld be punished by dropping him and by giving the chance to open to Murali Vijay or Karthik.D. Why oldies like Laxman and Dravid and even Tendu hanging around? They should take a cue from Muralidharan and leave the place for Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma and many other youngsters who are never selected. Are you afraid we will lose the test matches. So what? We are losing the matches anyway. Let the youngsters get the valuable experience.

  • Shash28 on July 23, 2010, 14:33 GMT

    India are paper champions, propped up by a ranking system that makes little sense. Anyone who believe India is the No.1 Test side is delusional... look at the records of the major Test playing nations in the last few years... while there might be no clear dominant power, South Africa is probably the best and consistent Test side going round... having only lost 1 series in the last 3-4 years and that was to Australia... outside of that, they've won series in Pak, Aus, Eng, Wi... and drawn in India twice... (they also have the best record in India amongst tourists)... Eitherway, it will be a great watch later this year when India' batsmen play Steyn and Morkel on some green pitches.

  • on July 23, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    I agree with what Harsha says, that the Indian team in SL doesn't have an aura of the no 1 Test team thats mainly due to the Indian bowling resources. A Team like Pak which goes through drastic changes almost every day , in which only 2 batsmen have above the average of 40 have put Aus on the backfoot by getting Aus all our for just 88. Moreover it looks like they can pull of a win. In a country like India, i possibly cannot believe that we don't have capable bowlers who can make it to the test level. If we look at the past performances say in Aus in the 2003-2004 series our batsmen were excellent, Sachin, Rahul, VVS, Shewag and ofcourse Saurav, having said this we could pull of a win at the Adelaide Oval due the efforts of Agarkar and Kumble. So the point is that we have the batsmen who can post more than 600 runs, we need bowlers who can do it. Lets see whats India's approach for the next test against SL.

  • on July 23, 2010, 13:27 GMT

    well dont blame these bowlers...india never had a bowler of worldclass keeping K.DEV aside...they rely on their batting...the only way for india to win a test match is to bat the opposition out of the match...thier bowling has not any sort of penetration..!!

  • on July 23, 2010, 13:27 GMT

    Funny - Everyone knew India had a weak bowling attack but they may surprise Sri Lanka in the next match. But its not the Bowling but the much vaunted Indian batting Line Up which is rusty as most have not played for a while for India..Please stop criticising India - if you can and have the criketing acumen use it to find a few good bowler or help in setting up processes to get them - no use giving reports which can be written by anyone

  • Nampally on July 23, 2010, 13:24 GMT

    India depend very much on their batting line up to win the matches even with an average bowling. But in the Galle test, Gambhir& Dhoni failed in both the innings whilst Dravid, Sachin & Yuvraj failed in one innings.Sehwag & VVS were the only bright lights. If 5 out of 7 batsmen do not produce that is bad news. Admittedly, the Indian bowling was attrocious on the Day 1 but there were at least 3 catches dropped which made all the difference in a SL total of 300 or 500. On a wicket where Murali revelled, Harbhajan got thrashed royally giving 11 runs.over on the fifth day - & he is the only experienced bowler in the Indian team but finished with NO wiskets. For India to win, the openers should give India a good start, the Fab 3 have to click in both the innings and Harbhajan has to get at least 8 out of 20 wickets.Include Ashwin for Ojha. Mental toughness along with physical execution is needed in the next 2 tests. SL is a strong team but if India execute, SL can be beaten.Lets go India!

  • Herath-UK on July 23, 2010, 12:46 GMT

    Harsha you are absolutely right,Sri Lanka win was due to its superb bowling by Malinga & Murali,was a treat to watch.India lacks that cutting edge in bowling but what most mind boggling to me is India's lack of confidence to pick five bowlers to win matches though they boast always of (wrongly?) a good batting line up.If it is such a good world class batting line up why do they need 7 batsmen always, I mean always? I think they don't beleive themselves in these so called world class batsmen, except probably in their own backyard.

    Rehan Herath, Kent

  • sandy_bangalore on July 23, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    @shashankvaish : I have not read such round headed comments from anyone in a long time. First learn to write good english with punctuation, and then comment, rather than using random full stops everywhere. Isnt the so called no 1 team supposed to have ready made replacements, or a solid bench strength? Who do Indians have back home? a murali vijay, a pujara and a 110 kph irfan and who else? ANd south afrcans have come here thrice since 2000, and have won once whiel drawing twice. And Indias record in South africa? Its pitiful to even comment, as the extra bounce had our batsmen, tendulkar included, running for cover. And to reach no 1, india were given flat pitches during their nz tour, and other victories were on familiar indian tracks. Of course, we lost in 2008 to SL as well, and we lost again yesterday. THe point is that this is the worst no1 team ever, and anyway, the aussies and south africans look no better these days, so its a case of the best of the worst keeping the no 1 slot

  • sonjjay on July 23, 2010, 12:10 GMT

    Well its my good old friend Nish again !! I really dont knw why ur so critical of Indian team, jst cat think of a reason. nyways the test series are scheduled in advance infact this series has been out of the FTP tours, and sri lanka is benfitting from it. There is really no such thing as last minute change which helps us win, the fact is every team is really strong in their backyard. And for once i agree wid harsha we have a hapless bowling attack which left the batsmen too much to do in the end. I just hope they stop flicking malinga nd play wid a straighter bat which will almost cut out the crucial lbw decisions. Sri Lanka looked better prepared and won the first test...

  • ahmed.86 on July 23, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    I dont think India deserves the 1st ranking in test cricket because they didnot beat enough good teams overseas to warrant a promotion to the top. South Africa beat Australia in Australia to take the no. 1 spot and then India beat SA in a home series to take it from them. India has won a few matches recently in Aus and SA but if people remember it was their bowling which played a vital role in those test wins. To be at the top you need to bat bowl and field very well. If you are good in only 1 department then you cant stay at the top for long.

  • mani86 on July 23, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    "There isn't a bowler back home who could claim he belonged here"

    two words: MURALI KARTIK

  • on July 23, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    every one know india have good batting linup, even if they fail no one going to ask question,,, but look at indian bowling attack you cannot poin out a single bowler that he can win a match for you guyz,, ishant is the only one with some talent( bhaji too often produce brilient spells) but rest of them are just prety below average and with hardly any talent, they ajust bunch of mediam pacers and passing the time, one play in one series and another in other series.....

  • Bharat_123 on July 23, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    At the end of the day India are ranked number 1 in the world. Now when people talk about Indian bowlers, yes they are not the best. However i believe in this 1st test against SL more than the bowlers the batsman were to blame. Virender Sehwag is ranked number 1 batsman in the world. So why is it that when he is set on 100+ he decides to play a rash shot which puts all the others under pressure. India i believe are ranked number 1 on merit. They fully deserve to be leading the pack. Where i feel the problem lies it not the ability of the players but the temperament. The bowlers are getting a lot of critisism, but i can truly say look at Australia without SW and GM. They are not the same team who used to beat teams for fun. India is number 1 when they have the experience of Zaheer and alongside him Ishant. Same with the spinner the experience of Harbhajan and alongside him Mishra. I feel outside of India Pragyan is not good enough to play in tests.

  • natmastak_so-called on July 23, 2010, 11:47 GMT

    @shashankvaish: totally agree with you.just want to say ,dont use the word "anti-asian mentality" simply coz there are readers who will just catch up that word & deviate this conversation to the not needed side.

  • SaifQazi on July 23, 2010, 11:21 GMT

    i suppose the Indian team is makin a big mistake by playin ishant sharma. the reason i say this is that he's not in gud form, lets admit that. n then by playin him in every format of the XI, where he is leakin runs n not takin wickets, the team management n selectors r jus destroyin his confidence. none of us shud forget he is jus 21. sum might argue, if not ishant in the team, then who else!? i thnk munaf patel, irfaan pathan.. they can be the answers.. Ishant is way too young to be given the responsibility of spearheadin the attack n bowlin in subcontinent without ne good form is jus like jumpin of a skyscraper without checkin whether the parachute is workin fine or no..!! Ishant showed promise, let the promise b nurtured rather than bein overburdened by responsibility..!!

  • KiwiRocker- on July 23, 2010, 11:14 GMT

    "India don't have the aura of world champions" What is India World Champion in? India has not won T20,ODI World cup? Can we please get real and admit that ICC ranking system is flawed that no one seems to care just like IPL.Ranking does take into consideration how much cricket you play and win and not necessarily where you win.India lost last series in Pakistan 1-0. India drew series in NZ. India drew series with South Africa at home.India has not won series in Sri Lanka since zillion years.Current Indian team is 5th in world.Australia is still best team followed by S.Africa and England.Sri Lanka is next on the list.Most over rated batsman of all time Tendulkar is not winning anything for India & Indian bowling is pathetic.Harsha is right that bowling wins matches but actually Indian batting failed in first inning and even in the tour match.Has anyone seen Amir, Asif, Gul & two Pakistani middleorder batsmen?India has to do same thing and bring in youngsters for Bhajjan, Laxman &Yuvraj

  • Dorababu743 on July 23, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    First of all my hearty congratulations to Murali. He did a splendid job.

    Why the selectors did not choose Irfan phatan or Praveenkumar i did not know. Even lakshman did a wrong thing by taking a single of malinga over while Mithun is in good touch. And even the runs made by Malinga and herath cause problem for India.

    Anyway god luck for the next match.

  • on July 23, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    @SuperTechnique Yes India Lost the match because of their Batting... But what Harsha Says is true... Batsmen save matches, Bowlers win matches. Even if u take this test, We could have saved it if our guys batted much more longer.. But couldn't have won it.. BCCI should learn this and concentrate more on bowling dept.

  • NairUSA on July 23, 2010, 10:43 GMT

    Harsha is right on the causes for India not being able to bowl out a team twice. However, bowling was never India's forte except for the occasional spinner who holds together that department. India should continue to hone their batting prowess and make sure that their bowling is not entirely lacklustre. India's strategy should be still to produce high class batsmen who can squeeze runs out of any bowling attack in any part of the world. Let us recognize that India is number one in tests because of its batting strength. India's existing bowlers can deliver the goods if they are mentored well by their senior bowlers during the game. In this test, Zaheer Khan's absence was notable as the young fast bowlers could not lead by themselves.

  • RAJNANDAJ on July 23, 2010, 10:28 GMT

    Harsha, it seems you hv not the whole match. As a matter of fact our bowlers bowled decently well, but without cathing support from our superstar fielders! mainly our oldie-goldies dravid/lakshya, and prince Yuvi !! Adding to this the reckless batting again from our goldie-oldie trios in the first inning - headless running bet'n wkt & playing wrong shots at wrong time. These are the main causes of India lossing this testmatch. Anyway now it's high time to say goodbuy to all of these superstars..I pray and wish this shud happen before coming Austraila Tour..max max only Tendlya shud remain till then,and he must score his 50th Century, offcourse with huge win for India in same match and then announce his retirement at that golden point !! Hey Cricket God please fulfill my this wish !!

  • vaibhav.junk on July 23, 2010, 10:27 GMT

    I think ranking is just a number to this team, The Rank 1 is more to do with Australia's decline rather than India's or SA's brilliance, we've always played the same way, never had been in our attack 2/3 strike bowlers capable of taking 20 wickets, we've always been a batting dominant side .......... After Kumble, Zaheer has been the only consistent test bowler, and then are the bowlers like Ishant/ Shreesant who revolve around him, in and out of the form / fitness / team. Harbhajan does well in India, but always patchy everywhere else in the world .......... its just that we've hit the bottom in this test may it be the squad or attitude or form .......... I wonder, within the given squad, who would step up to take the 20 wickets, unless India bat first and put some pressure on the SL batsmen.

  • ishan22 on July 23, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    Very well written article by harsha bhogle. I think Indian team should have played more than one practice match before the Ist test.It would have given the middle order time to acclimatize to srilankan conditions.Indian bowling attack is nowhere menacing and penetrating enough and doesn't look like taking 20 wickets. The only chance they have of winning the test at colombo is to bat first and make 500 runs. I am also of the view that Yuvraj singh should not play test cricket.He has too poor a technique to play test cricket.Scoring a 50 at a run a ball is not going to win you a test match. Test cricket requires patience and the ability to pull a team out of trouble.At galle, yuvraj scored 52 in the ist innings at a strike rate of 81.25. laxman scored 69 runs in the 2nd innings at a strike rate of 54 but more importantly he was able to put together partnerships that enabled india to get some lead of 95 runs.There are better players than yuvraj singh waiting to play for india.

  • rhubarb_crumble on July 23, 2010, 9:29 GMT

    put quite simply, india are not the best side in the world right now even though that is what the rankings suggest. their bowling attack is poor apart from harbajhan and he's easily not as good as graeme swann right now. their seem bowlers wouldn't trouble any one even in english conditions. lets face it, india got to the top position due to their batting line up playing on roads the subcontinent. ultimately damaging our game in the mean time. the batting lineup is getting old now and i see no evidence that india can remain a great batting side when senior players retire, excluding gambhir who is very good.

  • popcorn on July 23, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    I simply cannot understand how India qualifies to be No.1 in Test Rankings. India seem to have played a lot more matches at HOME than AWAY. Beating another country in your backyard is no qualification. A true yardstick would be to give more points for AWAY wins than HOME wins, and by that yardstick alone, Australia are streets ahead. India have not won a Test series IN SRI LANKA (their neighbouring country) Sri Lanka since 1993! And this is the third cricket series against Sri Lanka in 2 years! India's true status will be when they play more Test Series AWAY. Against Australia,South Africa, England. And trying to win there.

    Sadly, that will not happen this year, because India is playing Tests against Australia AT HOME and New Zealand at HOME.

  • crickeyt on July 23, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    I think you are missing the point in this article Harsha. Especially on tracks such as the one we saw in Galle, it takes good bowling to win a Test but bad batting to lose it. It is true India's bowlers bowled rubbish for almost two days, but they are only guilty of not setting up a win. The batsmen had no business losing 20 wickets in 5 sessions. Poor shot selection and lack of patience from the batsmen is what cost India the match. Ishant Sharma and Abhimanyu Mithun could teach Yuvraj and especially Dhoni a thing or two about applying oneself at the crease.

  • on July 23, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    With this bowling attack India is no more going to keep their position as No 1. This is a very very medicore bowling attack and unfortunatly no one seems to replace this in future

  • NISH67 on July 23, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    Yes Shashank you have just proven my point - " India will give it to Aus at HOME and cling on to the number 1 ranking " - Nobody has any issue with an Asian team being number 1 - its just a figment of your imagination - infact as Asians we all feel proud that an Asian team has ascended to the top but as neutrals what we can't stomach is the inability of certain Indian "fans" to look at the bigger picture and accept the limitations of their team !

  • Pranav17 on July 23, 2010, 9:11 GMT

    I think india should really play Irfan Pathan along with abhimanyu mithun and RP singh because they can all bowl good swing which can get us some early wickets with the new ball and they should play either harbajan ojha or mishra as they are all different types of bowlers, if they pick this bowling attack then we will also have bench strength and competition for others to get in the 11 such as the two spinners, ishant sharma, zaheer khan and sreesanth etc. also if pathan plays then he can occupy the number 7 or 8 position and this will give india an extended batting line up or greater bowling attack with more variety, he is a great batsman he showed this by getting his 100 against the pakistanis with the likes of sami, asif and shoaib akhtar. Also I think the selectors should bring in abhishek nayar and jaidev unadkat to the squad of 15 as we can groom them for the future and they are both great players. nayar did well in ipl and domestic season and unadkat proved himself in the UK.

  • on July 23, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    when bowler like pragyan oja is selected to play for india then we know we are in trouble he is an IPL class bowler not test class the way he jumps and runs after a batsman has got out to him slogging in the IPL leaves me cold and every commentator, harsha included keeps showering accolades about him is one many many reasons that i simply cannot watch the great IPL sadly they get selected to play for india and we get results like this

  • Dipul on July 23, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    I think India is a number 1 team for a reason and people who are critisizing the team should themselves first achieve what the Indian players have not been able to achieve!! If the people who are giving their "Specialist Comments" are champions themselves and achieved the feats then its better for them to comment or else just sit back and enjoy the sport as loosing and winning is going to happen if you are playing any game!!!

  • shashankvaish on July 23, 2010, 8:39 GMT

    i dont know y people hv problem with india as the no one team......if they r poor then wat r others.......australia were made to luk absurd in india....south africa couldnt win the seies(n people say they r far better).....n england couldnt even win once in 2008.....everyone struggles ouside home same with india.....n complaints r that india prepare spin friendly tracks...but then australia n rsa too prepare pace friendly tracks....no one complaints then...its just anti asian mentality that cannot digest the success of an asian team....its true we lack gud pacers but we never had 2 gud fast bowlers in a same team n we still climbed to no one spot.....n wat actually r aussies doin the so called no one team r lukin paltry except for shane they stood no chance against pak the no 6 team....thats not no one team....come october australia will hv it from india....we will prove our rankin isnt a joke

  • NISH67 on July 23, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    For bowlers to win you matches , the batsman need to provide them with the cushion of enough runs and the fielders need to hang on to the catches including the half chances as they are called , so its a team effort . The reason India are number 1 is because their board has been cleverly manipulating to include test matches instead of scheduled ODI"S against visiting teams and giving them the opportunity to play on familiar flat tracks in their own backyard but the moment they tour overseas their weaknesses are harshly exposed .

  • AK47_pk on July 23, 2010, 8:30 GMT

    i dnt beleive in rankings but perfomace in the field......india might be no1 on table but in reality they not.....they need to provide supporting wickets domesticly to encourage youger players to put their hands up to become a bowler...it seems like every single kid in india wants to become sachin or dhoni not kapil dev....i think kapil was last genion bowler india produced...

  • on July 23, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    Why should you blame the indian bowlers when clrealy statistics shows that the indian lineup ws no where prepared to play a test match, Look at the poor run scoring by the middle order. In first innings it was Sachin, Dravid, VVS, MS dhoni, and Gambhir who didnt perform, in 2nd innings the follow on it was gambhir yuvraj, ms dhoni, sehwag, ishant sharma batted better than the top order he has more runs in one innings than gambhirs 2 innings put together. The indian batting lineup is stated to be the most experienced and talented. And they clearly forgot they were playing a test match. If the bowling was not as great than the experience of the batting lineup should have kicked. Especially having the luxury of having dravid tendulkar dhoni and laxman in the middle order. Poor performance by the indian batting and i dont believe indian bowling should be blamed/

  • on July 23, 2010, 7:41 GMT

    I don't believe thats India bowling was the reason they lost. The blame is always placed on bowlers even if the batsmen didnt do anything. In the First innings the indian star batting lineup failed to perform. Gautam Gambhir out for 2, Sachin didnt do much neither did MS dhoni or Rahul Dravid or vvs Laxman. Sehwags 100 and yuvraj's 50 isnt really going to cut it for this monster batting lineup. Even when the follow on was enforced, the indian batting failed to perform once again. Gambhir out for a duck, sehwag threw his wicket away, Yuvraj failed, Dhoni failed, and dravid failed to reach a higher score. Ishant Sharma was looking sharp when he was batting trying to save the test match, but it was too late. If the indians want to win a test they must bat through there struggles of spin bowling because even though murali is retiring Herath and Malinga have an eye on tearing apart this indian middle order.

  • Mr.Chaturvedi on July 23, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    I remember reading a lot about Atul Sharma, 100 mph boy, trained in USA blah blah blah... have we even validated these claims... MRF pace foundation seems to benefit only paces from other countries... can we not produce one pace bowler.. Harsha, BCCI is aware of the problems... what are they doing to rectify this... take a cue from Germany.. they invested in youth 20 years back.. results were evident in the worldcup.... hope someone does something ...

  • SuperTechnique on July 23, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    Harsha firstly I think you are wrong India lost the test because of their inept batting .The way Ishant ,Ojha ,Mithun batted you have clearly got to reprimand yuvi and dhoni and gambhir (whats gone wrong wid him !) . .India didnt have any chance of winning because of their bowling .So targetting only batting and bowling would be disaapointing it was a collective failure. I think the fast bowling problem started when prasad became the bowling coach .Ishants downslide began with him. You need a strong bowler someone like Kapil Dev or Allan Donald are needed as these guys can encourage the bowlers when they get hammered . And India is the no 1 team in the world but mind you it is just the ranking ,statistics .It doesnt tell u the entire story .They are by no means the best team in the world . As far as this series is concerned I have a huge feeling India might pull this one .No Murli is gonna give a lot of confidence to the India .

  • vaibhav.junk on July 23, 2010, 7:24 GMT

    @natmastak_so_called / @Semoli ... what's wrong ? whats with Harsha guys, its just an article that tries to give a snapshot of what's just happened, its pretty obvious why India lost the match and see the series could be going the same way, any one can point out at bowlers, what do you expect of Harsha here ???

  • on July 23, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    Hey Guys, Dont blame to our fast bowlling attack, it is the best bowlling attack of young indian team, where india produced only one or two bowler for each decade.. every team suffer in asian continent ether it is pak, sri lanka aus, sa or england. they all suffer here, send these team to sa, aus and eng and see the result..., playing here will give him the experience i think with this time india have a very gud fast and swing bowlling attack.. the major concern is india's spinner department because except indian soil, they very raerly perform outside 1 out of every 10-15 match in last 6-8 years where kumble was in his ending carrer, i think kumble should coach the indians young who wants to play crick as indian strength spin dep. well these are the front line swing fast bowler of india whom we will se in reglrly in next 10 years.... shrishant, ishant, J. udaykant(very bright futur) A mithun, U yadav..,, well we cheers guys .. you will surly rock.. you r there cause of you only..

  • on July 23, 2010, 7:03 GMT

    Why is Murali Karthik taking bucketful of wickets for somerset when he is capable of doing the same fir India?

  • Semoli on July 23, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Harsha, I don't want to be harsh, but a search on twitter would give what you have stated. I for one would like to know what happens to these bowlers after a couple of years.

  • Percy_Fender on July 23, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    When India plays badly they seem really bad as was the case in the Galle Test. It was nice to see however their last day pluck in avoiding the innings defeat. As far as bowling is concerned, it was nice to see Ishant Sharma give glimpses of returning to full ability and Mithun showing that he belongs to the highest level. Harbhajan had not recovered and so should never have been played but I am glad that we got to see that Ojha is not fit for international cricket with his attitude and fitness. Frankly, the thought of an India Sri Lanka series is not too mouth watering. In fact it is as if we are watching two local teams because we have seen it so often. n this situation it is best to look beyond this series itself. To the Unadkats the Yadavs and the Mithuns of tomorrow.Which is why it is sad that our selectors left out Pujara instead of taking Yuvraj, who like his father is probably is disillusioned already. When the time comes the bowling will be there aslong with everything else.

  • Percy_Fender on July 23, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    When India plays badly they seem really bad as was the case in the Galle Test. It was nice to see however their last day pluck in avoiding the innings defeat. As far as bowling is concerned, it was nice to see Ishant Sharma give glimpses of returning to full ability and Mithun showing that he belongs to the highest level. Harbhajan had not recovered and so should never have been played but I am glad that we got to see that Ojha is not fit for international cricket with his attitude and fitness. Frankly, the thought of an India Sri Lanka series is not too mouth watering. In fact it is as if we are watching two local teams because we have seen it so often. n this situation it is best to look beyond this series itself. To the Unadkats the Yadavs and the Mithuns of tomorrow.Which is why it is sad that our selectors left out Pujara instead of taking Yuvraj, who like his father is probably is disillusioned already. When the time comes the bowling will be there aslong with everything else.

  • on July 23, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    If you go purely by statistics, India has never had great bowlers, but always useful, wicket-taking ones. Some might argue that some greatness surpasses mere statistics and perhaps that is true for Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev (who really shouldn't have played his last 20 odd tests) and the spin quartet of the 70s. But overall there are no Indian bowlers that average less than 25 or with a strike rate of less than 55. If no one has managed those figures in 78 years of cricket, don't expect miracles anytime soon.

  • here2rock on July 23, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    I agree with Harsha Bhogle. All greats teams in the past had bowling attack for all conditions, you can not be number 1 playing home only. India does not have a bolwer in their side who can stike fear in the opposition camp. Since Anil Kumble there is not one.

    India needs to look beyond Zaheer Khan, he seems to be injured most of the time. India can not rely on Zaheer Khan to carry the burden. Selectors are not doing any favours either, Asish Nehra and Praveen Kumar would have served India better than the current bowling line up.

    Dhoni has to share the blame as well, I get the impression that he is not backing up his bowlers and as a result they have lost confidence in their own ability. It is a captain's job to get the best out of his team. Is he really doing that?

  • Dhimu on July 23, 2010, 6:04 GMT

    Well, well well.... The fact that after Murali's retirement, Harbhajan Singh is the leading wicket taker in the current lot, it is natural to think that not just India but the world's bowling is at risk. I personally don't regard bhajji as a great spinner/bowler and if he is the best around then good luck cricket.

    Enough of tweaking the rules in favor of the batsmen. Something has to be done at all levels to get the bowling talk again... Let the bouncers roll, let them turn 270 degrees, let there be grass on the pitch.... the contest is not even at this point. Soon we may have 11 batters in the side bowling machines throwing and all we will do is count the score...... Damn....

  • cricxpert89 on July 23, 2010, 6:04 GMT

    Yeah, Quite Right. India are fatefully on top ranking , i dont think they deserve that.They have no potentials of champion at all. :)

  • natmastak_so-called on July 23, 2010, 5:53 GMT

    harsha ,u r telling nothing new here. i admire ur articles, but where is a single thing that is new to us ? and about having an "aura of champions".since when the ranking started,we've had only 3 rank 1 nations,except for aus none had an aura.in this competitive world,any country will find it to difficult to hold on that rank (esp IND with such bowling). i think its good for test cricket to have noone dominating others on field,for it makes matches & series interesting.for IND to be removed from rank 1,let others fight for it & not just say IND doesnt hav good bowlers.

  • vibh_ch on July 23, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    The bowling doesn't look capable of getting 20 wickets in good time.Clearly Zaheer is the leader of this attack.Harbhajan has been off the boil for the last three years,not for 6 months.He has not been enjoying his bowling,it is not much to do with the skills,for a bowler who has been playing for 12yrs and taken 355 test+242 ODI wickets,clearly skill is not the question.He has enough experience.He is expected to be the leader of spin attack,a champion and win India matches everywhere,a replica of the legendary Kumble.If Harbhajan was humble and took things in his stride,just like Anil,it would not have put too much pressure on him.But his roguish nature doesn't help the cause.It'd be interesting to see the famed batting line-up respond and live up to their reputation,see how long they can extend their stay,barring Yuvraj.Its obvious Sachin,Rahul,VVS,Viru are the most priced possessions of this no.1 ranked team,though not imposing enough to be a champion team.

  • raj040686 on July 23, 2010, 5:44 GMT

    This problem probably stems from the fact that Indians kids in general like the feel of a bat in their hands than a ball. Batsmen are considered Cinderellas while their ball partners, the ugly stepsisters. Flat pitches throughout the Indian soil is not making it any better for an aspiring bowler.

  • on July 23, 2010, 5:42 GMT

    India was a bit better than this in pace department when venkatesh prasad was the bowling coach. Its better to bring him back to improve the pace results.

  • ARSHADAWAN on July 23, 2010, 5:23 GMT

    I think Harsha is reight, India is struggling with their bowling lineup. since srinath is gone they hav,nt been able to find a specialist fast bowler. there have been few around but no one seems to be consistent.As for as the Galle test is concerned indian batsmen also let them down.Strong middle order was unable to get any big partnership. So india have a lot to think about. they need to find a way to get 20 wickets which i don,t think they will be able to do so. i think they don,t deserve to be the nomber one side.

  • on July 23, 2010, 5:20 GMT

    A very frank assessment of the Indian team by Harsha. Its really a pity that we do not have even good spinners. Harbhajan, even with all his heart, is not Anil Kumble, and will not run through sides. And there is no single quick bowler in sight. Further, with a middle order which is in "middle-age", well, it is only a matter of time before the Indians vacate the first position on the ICC rankings!!!

  • Farce-Follower on July 23, 2010, 5:07 GMT

    Murali's comment that Harbhajan was his likely successor sounds comical now. Bhajji is best in drama like situations : IPL, sub-continental ODIs and home matches where he gets crowd support. He is a lousy bowler abroad.

  • Rakesh_Sharma on July 23, 2010, 4:56 GMT

    I have been following Indian team since last 40 years and know about history before that. Indian team has never been very strong or very weak due to huge folowing and player base.It is very easy to replace with equal acpable player. Never brilliant. In between there had been brilliant English teams , Australian teams,Sa teams and of course WI teams. India can never reach to the level and brilliance of this team. The moment there is mass departures of players from these team the team weakens drastically. However India remains at the same level. At present Australia has suddenly lost bunch of players.Hence India is on top though surprisingly South Africa is definitely stronger.Rankings are not correct. At leat Harsha should understand this.

  • HundredPercentBarcelonista on July 23, 2010, 4:43 GMT

    When will people get over these cliches? Bowlers winning matches is an absolute load of trash. You can't win matches if you're weak in either department. If that weren't true, Pakistan would be on the cusp of sweeping Australia. The only reason bowling seems more important is most teams don't have good bowling attacks. Here's an interesting stat: India have taken 20 wickets in just 16 of their last 35 tests, 13 of 31 if you exclude Bangladesh. And yet they're the number one team in the world.

  • Omarrz on July 23, 2010, 4:33 GMT

    how did they even got this position? Whom did they beat to take this spot in the first place anyway? Their bowling is currently the most pathetic among the test playing nations..they don't deserve this position at all!

  • Sanj747 on July 23, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    Harsha I like your comment of India supposedly being the No1 team. Hard to see how they can be called the number 1 team. They are so far from it. Champion teams to be called No1 need to win consistently away from and at home against everybody. Can't see India doing this ever. The ICC rankings are a bit of a joke really.

  • mysecretme on July 23, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    Reg. your "There isn't a bowler back home who could claim he belonged here" I would've thought that a certain Irfan Pathan and another certain Murali Karthik and another certain Ajit Agarkar could've something different to tell you. Even besides that, the presence of Munaf Patel in the tour party being unused also tells you that something is not definitely right with the Indian "think tank" which is very quickly going septic. You don't replace your most experienced bowler with a green horn, however good he is, unless the other bowler in the lineup is another experienced one. Ishant did not qualify as experienced and he won't for another 3 years. So, giving Mithun a debut on the first match of a difficult tour was as stupid as decisions go. When Bhajji was half fit why was Munaf not considered even then? What message does that send to him? The other (major) reason India lost the match was its old failing, fielding (Dhoni,Dravid) and running (Dravid, Laxman).

  • shashankvaish on July 23, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    well said harsha...i think its the fault of the cricket administrators that so many fast bowlers that were present to years ago have lost all their venom n now indian cric team is in such paltry condition.....time to rediscover some fast bowlers...send them on tours with the a side...or give them a chance to play some competitive cricket

  • thenkabail on July 23, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    Indian selectors lack vision: It is rediculous to for selectors to pick some players like Ojaha, Ashwin etc because of their regional bias and naturally the captain and coach does not have confidence to play such mediocre players. Instead, selectors, captain, and coach should think critically on whom to select and how to encourage them. If you are looking at spinners for test cricket, pick: Harmeet singh, Piyush Chawla, Murali Karthik, Iqbal Abdulla. Then there is Harbhajan. Amongst fast bowlers, choose: Mithun, Unadkat, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer, and Sreeshanth. In Batsmen: replace Laxman and Yuvraj with Pujara and Rohit Sharma. Early next year Dravid and Sachin need to be replaced too with 2 other top young talents. If you need a winning team, you need lot of vision from selectors, encouragement from captain, and serious thinking from coach. In this regard, India may be better off having an Indian coach who can understand Indian talent and players.

  • on July 23, 2010, 2:46 GMT

    I just dont know what happened with Indian bowlers with the passage of time. Intially when they enter international cricket they perform well and give impression that they are here to stay. But with passage they just fade away.

    Munaf patel, sareesanth, balaji, irfan pathan,ishanth sharma,Rp singh,ojha, mishra etc. These bowlers were really amazing in their first year or two especially Irfan Pathan and than their form dipped as time passed.

    But Irfan pathan case really saddens me. Just for bowling fast and improving his batting his lost his swing which was really a great lose.The way he shattered Pakistan batting order so many times was really amazing.

  • Shafi79 on July 23, 2010, 2:45 GMT

    And mind you although India have played Mendis well in the ODI's i just have this feeling if Mendis is given a crack at the indian TEST BATTING line up he could haul in 6-7 wickets during the 2nd test which might be enough for with Malinga firing. I just have this feeling that Dravid & Laxman and Yuvraj dont know much about Mendis. True that Yuvraj has collared Mendis a couple of times but i am not entirely convinced he can handle him ... lets see if the selectors draft Mendis in or if Randiv plays the next game ... i for one will gamble with Mendis.

  • way_too_cool on July 23, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    Agree with you completely Harsha. It's a well known fact that Indians are slow starters. To make things worse this time around, the main test players like Dravid, Laxman etc have not played international cricket in ages, and seem rusty. I think it will again be on Sehwag to get us good starts and make huge scores so that the middle order can build on it. We have been depending too much on Sehwag - if he fails in any particular test series, India end up losing badly. The less said about the bowling, the better...

  • Paddle_Sweep on July 23, 2010, 2:39 GMT

    Mate, You don't need Glichrist to tell you that bowlers win matches. It's a know fact right from the days of the big bang and winning the toss is not a big factor in subcontinent. Let's not have that as an excuse.

  • on July 23, 2010, 2:32 GMT

    Ojha and Mishra had their chances....dont you think Pawar in his prime and now Ashwin are better options

  • gururajan23 on July 23, 2010, 2:22 GMT

    Murali Karthik should have been there. I dont think he is hidden rather ignored. he is much better than Ojha and Mishra. Dont you agree with it Harsha?

  • on July 23, 2010, 2:02 GMT

    The tour match was a big waste...The Sri Lankans batted through the whole match without given a chance to the Indian batsmen to get used to the conditions especially the big 3 who haven't had the match practice after IPL...Wonder if it was intentional..

  • BillyCC on July 23, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    India deserve their number one Test ranking because they haven't lost a series for a while, although they may be heading that way in a couple of weeks. Having said that, India have been far from convincing in their recent series against South Africa and Sri Lanka. As a result, they have not been able to take the long-term number one spot which still belongs to Australia.

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  • BillyCC on July 23, 2010, 1:58 GMT

    India deserve their number one Test ranking because they haven't lost a series for a while, although they may be heading that way in a couple of weeks. Having said that, India have been far from convincing in their recent series against South Africa and Sri Lanka. As a result, they have not been able to take the long-term number one spot which still belongs to Australia.

  • on July 23, 2010, 2:02 GMT

    The tour match was a big waste...The Sri Lankans batted through the whole match without given a chance to the Indian batsmen to get used to the conditions especially the big 3 who haven't had the match practice after IPL...Wonder if it was intentional..

  • gururajan23 on July 23, 2010, 2:22 GMT

    Murali Karthik should have been there. I dont think he is hidden rather ignored. he is much better than Ojha and Mishra. Dont you agree with it Harsha?

  • on July 23, 2010, 2:32 GMT

    Ojha and Mishra had their chances....dont you think Pawar in his prime and now Ashwin are better options

  • Paddle_Sweep on July 23, 2010, 2:39 GMT

    Mate, You don't need Glichrist to tell you that bowlers win matches. It's a know fact right from the days of the big bang and winning the toss is not a big factor in subcontinent. Let's not have that as an excuse.

  • way_too_cool on July 23, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    Agree with you completely Harsha. It's a well known fact that Indians are slow starters. To make things worse this time around, the main test players like Dravid, Laxman etc have not played international cricket in ages, and seem rusty. I think it will again be on Sehwag to get us good starts and make huge scores so that the middle order can build on it. We have been depending too much on Sehwag - if he fails in any particular test series, India end up losing badly. The less said about the bowling, the better...

  • Shafi79 on July 23, 2010, 2:45 GMT

    And mind you although India have played Mendis well in the ODI's i just have this feeling if Mendis is given a crack at the indian TEST BATTING line up he could haul in 6-7 wickets during the 2nd test which might be enough for with Malinga firing. I just have this feeling that Dravid & Laxman and Yuvraj dont know much about Mendis. True that Yuvraj has collared Mendis a couple of times but i am not entirely convinced he can handle him ... lets see if the selectors draft Mendis in or if Randiv plays the next game ... i for one will gamble with Mendis.

  • on July 23, 2010, 2:46 GMT

    I just dont know what happened with Indian bowlers with the passage of time. Intially when they enter international cricket they perform well and give impression that they are here to stay. But with passage they just fade away.

    Munaf patel, sareesanth, balaji, irfan pathan,ishanth sharma,Rp singh,ojha, mishra etc. These bowlers were really amazing in their first year or two especially Irfan Pathan and than their form dipped as time passed.

    But Irfan pathan case really saddens me. Just for bowling fast and improving his batting his lost his swing which was really a great lose.The way he shattered Pakistan batting order so many times was really amazing.

  • thenkabail on July 23, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    Indian selectors lack vision: It is rediculous to for selectors to pick some players like Ojaha, Ashwin etc because of their regional bias and naturally the captain and coach does not have confidence to play such mediocre players. Instead, selectors, captain, and coach should think critically on whom to select and how to encourage them. If you are looking at spinners for test cricket, pick: Harmeet singh, Piyush Chawla, Murali Karthik, Iqbal Abdulla. Then there is Harbhajan. Amongst fast bowlers, choose: Mithun, Unadkat, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer, and Sreeshanth. In Batsmen: replace Laxman and Yuvraj with Pujara and Rohit Sharma. Early next year Dravid and Sachin need to be replaced too with 2 other top young talents. If you need a winning team, you need lot of vision from selectors, encouragement from captain, and serious thinking from coach. In this regard, India may be better off having an Indian coach who can understand Indian talent and players.

  • shashankvaish on July 23, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    well said harsha...i think its the fault of the cricket administrators that so many fast bowlers that were present to years ago have lost all their venom n now indian cric team is in such paltry condition.....time to rediscover some fast bowlers...send them on tours with the a side...or give them a chance to play some competitive cricket