November 19, 2010

A draw will be a loss

Sometimes a stalemate can mean more than the scoreline implies. For India it will be a question mark against their No. 1 status
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Normally both teams in a contest should be disappointed with a drawn series because the basis of competition in sport is to win. Indeed, in good sides the desire to win and the confidence that you can, serve as the 12th and 13th players. In lesser sides, where not everyone buys into the desire and the confidence, they might even be the 10th and 11th!

Sometimes, though, a draw can be seen as a victory. I can visualise Ian Chappell harrumphing into one of his beloved South Australian reds as he reads this, but holding sales volumes in a declining market or keeping a job in a recession can be wins where otherwise they might be seen to be lowly objectives. And such was the gulf between the two sides when they landed - certainly according to the official Test rankings - and so poor were the Kiwis in neighbouring Bangladesh that a drawn series in India would have been regarded as a mighty accomplishment for them.

And so, in a series where the bowlers have won only minor skirmishes, New Zealand must now fancy their chances of holding India at home. Indeed, thoughts might even drift higher, for each of their top six batsmen is in form (and Daniel Vettori has migrated downwards, to a more realistic batting position). Only New Zealand have taken 20 wickets, once, and that must hurt India much more, for they are playing in familiar conditions.

Much has been said about the wickets, and a lot of it completely justified, but it cannot be used as a reason to cover up other deficiencies. The bowlers must wish for more life in the tracks, and Dhoni's stinging "ten-day Test" remark was needed in an atmosphere where curators are intent on poaching the remaining bowlers. But a side that is ranked No. 1, and which seeks to hold on to its ranking, must be able to deliver more. All great sides have been built around great bowling. You either have four top bowlers, like the West Indies or Australia did, or possess a bowler in the top six, as the West Indies did earlier with Garry Sobers or Pakistan could with Imran Khan.

India's hold on that No. 1 slot is still tenuous, and as the batting ages the bowling must rise. But India's best four aren't giving anyone sleepless nights

India seek to reverse that by building a side around great batting. It has worked only in part, for India's hold on that No. 1 slot is still tenuous, and as the batting ages the bowling must rise. But India's best four aren't giving anyone sleepless nights, and it is 15 years since an allrounder played for India.

Pitches are the key variable in cricket but a favourable pitch cannot be the only factor in taking wickets. As batsmen need to score on treacherous pitches, so too must bowlers make an impact on featherbeds. A bowler who grows reliant on pitches is like a doctor who depends on a machine for a diagnosis. In the absence of a machine the doctor must have a fairly reliable estimate of what is wrong. So too with bowlers, who must grow their bag of tricks. In this series India's bowlers have been taking a wicket every 44 runs, and while that is not too different from what the New Zealand bowlers have done (a wicket every 43 runs), it isn't something you want to advertise.

Now in Nagpur, India have called on the callow Jaydev Unadkat again. It means that in Test cricket the selectors have anointed him as the No. 4 new-ball bowler, and so he must go to South Africa. (Didn't Abhimanyu Mithun look all right in Sri Lanka? And is he now seen as a poor investment?) What it also means, since a cricketer in the XVI has to be good enough to be in the XI, is that the selectors are confident enough (or desperate enough, in this case) to see him bowling inside the first hour of the first Test at Centurion on the 16th of December. And if that call has been taken, he must play in the one-day internationals against New Zealand as part of his initiation into the ways of international cricket.

In fact, given that Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra will return for those games, it might be a good idea to get Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma to play at least one Ranji Trophy match before going to South Africa. We saw in that cruelly fleeting series against Australia that Ishant got better as he bowled, and so the more he bowls in a game the better it will be for him.

But there is a Test match to be played before that tour. And even if Nagpur unfurls another batting pitch, Dhoni must demand that his bowlers win him a Test match. A drawn series must be seen to be a lost series for India.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on November 22, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    Whatever it is INDIA is No:1 no doubt on this. Why cant other countries do the same what INDIA has done & be No.1. There are many who cant digest this say lot of things. But the saying is Winner takes it ALL! holds good here.

  • on November 22, 2010, 12:33 GMT

    Hi Koushik_Biswas,

    Every country plays their 50% match on their home ground. Note that test usually not played on nutural ground.

  • diri on November 22, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Koushik_Biswas- Wake up. India are number one because they play most of their matches at home. SA on the other hand hardly play at home and have won series all over the world in the last few years

  • gmoturu1 on November 21, 2010, 21:55 GMT

    the reason why NZ saved the first 2 tests is entirely because of dead pitches. the final test is gonna be a innings defeat for them. if india can take 40 wickets on the flat indian wickets then they are certainly not a bad bowling unit.

  • TIGER_THE_KILLER on November 21, 2010, 17:24 GMT

    I DONT THINK INDIA IS NO 1 IN TEST.YES INDIA WIN AGAINST AUSTRALIA.BUT MOST OF THE TIME THEY WIN IN THEIR CONDTION.WORLD KNOWS IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO BEAT INDIA IN INDIAN CONDITIONS.BCCI ALWAYS HOLD ANY SEIREIS IN THEIR COUNTRY.EVEN THEY HOLD INDIA SRILANKA SERIES TWICW IN A YEAR.THIS IS THE TACTICS TO KEEP INDIA NO 1.BUT WHEN INDIA PLAYED OUTSIDE THEY FALLS TROUBLE LIKE 15/5.N INDIA ALWAYS FALLS TROUBLE IN BIG TOURNAMENT IN TOUGH CONDITIONS.WHETHER SOUTH AFRICA,BANGLADESH,AUSTRALIA THEY PLAYED HOME N OUTSIDE CONSEQUENTLY.THTSWHY THEIR CRICKET DEVELOPS.N INDIA STILL IN 80s.I THINK SOUTH AFRICA N BANGLADESH NOW DOING WELL.THEY R PROVED IN TOUGH CONDITION.INDIA IS NOT A PROVED SIDE.THEY WILL IMPROVE IF THEY MAKE A SPORTING WICKET WHETHER BOWLERS N BATSMAN HAVE EQUAL CHANCE.NOT TO MAKE BATTING PARADISE TO MAKE THEIR BATSMAN AVERAGE UP.BUT CRICKET DOSENT IMPROVE.

  • on November 21, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    India, England and South Africa each won 2 test matches in Australia during that period. But the later two are thrashed away by Australians in their home series. But india somehow kept them quite in india as well. Do you know any other team who has done better then india in their own country against australia. India is not as deserving as australia but they are the no 1 team now.

    And the so called weak bowling line up took 20 wickests of Aus. with players like langer, hayden, ponting, gilchrist, Martyn, Waugh. During last 15 years pakistan has best bowling line up (Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, Saqlain) but they were not able to challenge Australia. Pakistan bowling is good but when they come in front of Australia they looks ordinary. They got several chances to play with australia but they never won a test against them.

    Can you tell me what wonder pakistan bowling has done in terms of winning.

    And India's weak bowling line won test matches in SA,NZ, England, and West indies as well.

  • U.A.1985 on November 21, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    Prtoblem wityh India's no.1 ranking is that they have the strongest batting line up but they cant reckon that they have a bowling line up stronger than a 7th ranked team i.e. Pakistan. And I am talking about a depleted Pakistani bowling line up (without Amir and Asif, the two A's)

  • U.A.1985 on November 21, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    "For those who says india is not a no 1 team. India has won 12 test matches vs australia in last 15 years while australia managed to win only 10." How many of those were played in India?

  • on November 21, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    same bowler has taken 40 Australian wicket any team will take that...now against a side that just happy with draw ...our bowler has become uselss

    i already know this will happen.....

    harsha bhogle you know nothing about cricket......

  • anObserver on November 20, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    Quite agree, the dominant world no. 1 Australia in its days have won rows of test matches consistently and was quite relentless on its opponents. Considering McGrath and Brett lee coupled with batsman like Hayden, Waugh brothers and pointing with the king of spin Shane Warne it was quite obvious that they looked a great side. Comparing India to them, the great little master with dhoni and mighty Sehwag holds up the batting side but we miss consistent and quick bowlers from our side.Performance too is not consistent faded dravid and volatile Raina inspires less but still the dual is on. The couple of draws against New Zealand cannot hide that India is a side build on the batting is rising slowly and slowly on bowling front too and with a brilliant first day at the third test points to it only.

  • on November 22, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    Whatever it is INDIA is No:1 no doubt on this. Why cant other countries do the same what INDIA has done & be No.1. There are many who cant digest this say lot of things. But the saying is Winner takes it ALL! holds good here.

  • on November 22, 2010, 12:33 GMT

    Hi Koushik_Biswas,

    Every country plays their 50% match on their home ground. Note that test usually not played on nutural ground.

  • diri on November 22, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Koushik_Biswas- Wake up. India are number one because they play most of their matches at home. SA on the other hand hardly play at home and have won series all over the world in the last few years

  • gmoturu1 on November 21, 2010, 21:55 GMT

    the reason why NZ saved the first 2 tests is entirely because of dead pitches. the final test is gonna be a innings defeat for them. if india can take 40 wickets on the flat indian wickets then they are certainly not a bad bowling unit.

  • TIGER_THE_KILLER on November 21, 2010, 17:24 GMT

    I DONT THINK INDIA IS NO 1 IN TEST.YES INDIA WIN AGAINST AUSTRALIA.BUT MOST OF THE TIME THEY WIN IN THEIR CONDTION.WORLD KNOWS IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO BEAT INDIA IN INDIAN CONDITIONS.BCCI ALWAYS HOLD ANY SEIREIS IN THEIR COUNTRY.EVEN THEY HOLD INDIA SRILANKA SERIES TWICW IN A YEAR.THIS IS THE TACTICS TO KEEP INDIA NO 1.BUT WHEN INDIA PLAYED OUTSIDE THEY FALLS TROUBLE LIKE 15/5.N INDIA ALWAYS FALLS TROUBLE IN BIG TOURNAMENT IN TOUGH CONDITIONS.WHETHER SOUTH AFRICA,BANGLADESH,AUSTRALIA THEY PLAYED HOME N OUTSIDE CONSEQUENTLY.THTSWHY THEIR CRICKET DEVELOPS.N INDIA STILL IN 80s.I THINK SOUTH AFRICA N BANGLADESH NOW DOING WELL.THEY R PROVED IN TOUGH CONDITION.INDIA IS NOT A PROVED SIDE.THEY WILL IMPROVE IF THEY MAKE A SPORTING WICKET WHETHER BOWLERS N BATSMAN HAVE EQUAL CHANCE.NOT TO MAKE BATTING PARADISE TO MAKE THEIR BATSMAN AVERAGE UP.BUT CRICKET DOSENT IMPROVE.

  • on November 21, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    India, England and South Africa each won 2 test matches in Australia during that period. But the later two are thrashed away by Australians in their home series. But india somehow kept them quite in india as well. Do you know any other team who has done better then india in their own country against australia. India is not as deserving as australia but they are the no 1 team now.

    And the so called weak bowling line up took 20 wickests of Aus. with players like langer, hayden, ponting, gilchrist, Martyn, Waugh. During last 15 years pakistan has best bowling line up (Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, Saqlain) but they were not able to challenge Australia. Pakistan bowling is good but when they come in front of Australia they looks ordinary. They got several chances to play with australia but they never won a test against them.

    Can you tell me what wonder pakistan bowling has done in terms of winning.

    And India's weak bowling line won test matches in SA,NZ, England, and West indies as well.

  • U.A.1985 on November 21, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    Prtoblem wityh India's no.1 ranking is that they have the strongest batting line up but they cant reckon that they have a bowling line up stronger than a 7th ranked team i.e. Pakistan. And I am talking about a depleted Pakistani bowling line up (without Amir and Asif, the two A's)

  • U.A.1985 on November 21, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    "For those who says india is not a no 1 team. India has won 12 test matches vs australia in last 15 years while australia managed to win only 10." How many of those were played in India?

  • on November 21, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    same bowler has taken 40 Australian wicket any team will take that...now against a side that just happy with draw ...our bowler has become uselss

    i already know this will happen.....

    harsha bhogle you know nothing about cricket......

  • anObserver on November 20, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    Quite agree, the dominant world no. 1 Australia in its days have won rows of test matches consistently and was quite relentless on its opponents. Considering McGrath and Brett lee coupled with batsman like Hayden, Waugh brothers and pointing with the king of spin Shane Warne it was quite obvious that they looked a great side. Comparing India to them, the great little master with dhoni and mighty Sehwag holds up the batting side but we miss consistent and quick bowlers from our side.Performance too is not consistent faded dravid and volatile Raina inspires less but still the dual is on. The couple of draws against New Zealand cannot hide that India is a side build on the batting is rising slowly and slowly on bowling front too and with a brilliant first day at the third test points to it only.

  • on November 20, 2010, 14:30 GMT

    For those who says india is not a no 1 team. India has won 12 test matches vs australia in last 15 years while australia managed to win only 10. Every body knows that australia were no 1 team in last 15 years and only india have done better against them in last 15 yeras. Also india have won test match in south africa where it is most difficult to win matches.

  • on November 20, 2010, 10:56 GMT

    win in this test match would shut the detractors up, I'm sure....n if not, well, there's always the south africa tour.... the real battles lie there....take a look at the way the kiwis batted today under pressure...apart from jesse ryder who's a real gritty customer, none of them have the technique to take them out of stcky situations against good bowling....n make no mistake, the indians have bowled well today....

  • on November 20, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    @sabee6

    My learned friend is forgetting one fact that these lot of bowlers only won all those test matches for India by taking 20 wickets 12 times out of 24 times to achieve No.1 status. If you know any other way of winning a test match without bowling your opponents twice please let all know. And India or for that matter any team in the world may go through a phase like this where nothing works in favor.No.1 team doesn't mean that they should win every match which is simply not possible .It is a matter of consistent performance and right now India is doing fine. When you haven't questioned the ranking system when it is introduced you can not be questioning now as no rules changed to favor any country.

  • ashish514 on November 20, 2010, 9:11 GMT

    @Meety- Liked your comments, not only addressed to me but all of them. Agreed that the schedules are lopsided towards more home matches, but in the present situation is there a better way to rank. People are talking about what could have happened. And they are assuming that this team would have been thrashed outside. But however few matches India has played outside, the performance has not been too bad. Infact the away performance of Indian team has only improved in this decade.

    @Rahulbose- Good point.

    If anyone says the ranking excercise is futile until there is balance between home and away games, just say that. Then no point in arguing about who deserves and who doesn't

    And what's all the fuss with the bowling attack?? If they can win just because of their batting why bother. Let me also tell you that our fast bowlers perform better in away games than at home. Remember Zaheer in England and Ishant in Australia?? To be no.1 you just need more wins then losses compared to others.

  • tearawayquick on November 20, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    i dont think we can play five bowlers that too with this being the deciding test. Throughout history only sides which have had the luxury of genuine allrounders could play 5 bowlers. Indias best chance was when Irfan was perfoming well. Dhoni at 6 Irfan at 7 and 4 bowlers. Even then we never played 5 bowlers...... Dont understand by BCCI keeps scheduling games in Chennai during Dec - Jan... we have already had a few washouts at this venue during this time. Test match vs Lanka.. One dayer was NZ not long ago.. Prospects of getting a game this time around dont look too bright!!!

  • Rukus_NZ on November 20, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    enough blaming 'if the pitches were beter' -- did you see Martin nail 5 wickets? Did vetorri bowl well? Im getting tired of bad workers blaming thier tools....

  • Nipun on November 20, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    @Meety:-Maybe Ishant did bowl one or two 150 kph+ balls in the whole tour,but then again,many young fast bowlers from the subcontinent have bowled some pacy stuff in their first international assignments.I remember Rubel Hossain clocking 90 mph+ consistently in the ICC world T20 2009.But,hey,go through the tapes of the whole tour again,& you'll see that Ishant did nothing serious apart from that spell.& yes,if you never saw a BETTER spell of fast bowling from ANYONE from the Sub-continent,then I'm afraid you've started watching cricket rather late.Just rewind the years-the Pakistani fellas have been showing better magic day in,day out,almost every year(though they haven't done such in the recent years).Cheers :)

  • deepak_sholapurkar on November 20, 2010, 5:53 GMT

    Now why can't Dhoni play 5 bowlers and try to win the match.

    Previously when Dravid and Kumble were captain, all the so called cricket experts were talking "why india play's with 4 bowlers" and these captains used to get's criticised. But now no one is saying the same for Dhoni's captancy.

  • jimbond on November 20, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    A win is a win and a draw is a draw and a loss is a loss. Period. No need to bring in the No. 1 status into everything. The result of a test merely indicates how well the teams played over the major part of five days. India right now is a fairly poor bowling and fielding side. The fact that they are No. 1, merely means that the other teams have been performing even worse.

  • Bollo on November 20, 2010, 3:07 GMT

    Very fair point made by numerous people here, that being ranked No1 doesn`t mean you have to be perfect, as good as other teams in history, or indeed particularly good at all, merely better than the people/teams you`re being ranked against. That being said, the current ranking system has obvious flaws, not differentiating between home/away tests being an obvious example. Not surprising to see teams such as India and particulalry Sri Lanka doing well based predominantly on playing so much of their recent cricket at home. From a purely gut feel, India and South Africa are the 2 best teams at the moment, India tougher to beat at home, but South africa significantly better away. Can`t wait for the series in SAf. Once again, pity it`s not 4 or 5 tests. cheers, go the Kiwis by the way, really enjoying this series.

  • on November 20, 2010, 2:41 GMT

    @Meety :If you support the underdogs, then you must be an austrailian I guess...LOL ...also India did win the first match narrowly(and dont forget the wrong decisions that 'could' have gone India's way)...but they 'thrashed ' the aussies in the 2nd game...the only reason people were expecting a comeback was because of their past reputation... I agree with your other comments except the ones which sound like 'sour grapes'...LOL

  • gmoturu1 on November 20, 2010, 0:33 GMT

    if we had good pitches for the first 2 games, India would have definitely won. India's bowling is good enough to win tests in India.

  • sabee66 on November 19, 2010, 22:29 GMT

    THE MOST DISPUTABLE NUMBER 1, with no decent bowling, no decent fielding its just the number game and ICC's monkey business to please Inida...lol coz of MONEY .....

  • Cricomment on November 19, 2010, 22:20 GMT

    If a draw will be a loss, how about a loss? ;) And there is every possibility of that kind of a humiliation too.

  • Meety on November 19, 2010, 21:36 GMT

    @Nipun - (continued) - it makes me sad that such a talented is wasted on the pitches he has to play on. If he bowled more in Oz, SA & England - he would justifiably be a superstar - & more importantly win away series for you - with Zaheer as his support act, (roles reverse in India). I am embarrassed that Oz lost 40 wickets to the bowling unit! @nzcricket174 - spot on - I think Ojha needs more scrutiny then Dravid or Singh. @jollyjugg - I agreed with your 1st comment regarding Indian pitches should turn (I believe there should be something early on for the pacers) - but your comments on the NZ team are weak & show no respect for the fight they put up so far! If NZ win the series - how Pathetic will India be??? Anyway I'm hoping the 3rd Test is played in good spirit on a sporting pitch. As I like to go for the underdogs I have to say c'mon kiwis! LOL!

  • Meety on November 19, 2010, 21:23 GMT

    @ hamwil80 - agreed - although I would like to see you elaborate on the Oz decline comment. India have the #1 ranking for good consistancy. To truly be "undisputed" they will need to win the Sth Africa series. A drawn series would impress me - but not convince me they are #1. What it would do is make me believe that Sth A are not the #1 side. @ashish514 - no problems with your definition mate. The thing that other people think inc. some Indian fans - is that the results are based to a large extent on a high mix of home series AT THE MOMENT. I feel that India are sort of like what they say in the US about the "President Elect" India are #1 but this will be confirmed in the not too distant future. @Nipun - don't agree with the Sharma comments. He bowled well right through the Oz tour taht year. He was bowling searing length balls @ 150kph that were being fielded by Dhoni above his head. It was the best pace bowling I had ever seen by ANYBODY from the sub-continent.

  • Meety on November 19, 2010, 21:13 GMT

    @Wolver - spot on. I think its great for world cricket to have India #1 - but I would be embarrassed to be ranked #1 at the moment, given the lack of scrutiny in the results. What I mean by that is that in terms of series played - India have played a lot more home series then away. There is a kink in the way the rankings work, if India plays Oz twice in 2 years in India - I believe the previous series needs to be downgraded significantly - at the moment this only occurs when a magical timeline expires. The rankings should be based on all teams playing each other in a home & away (neutral v Pakistan), in a four year period, once @ home & once away. IF you play a team more then once @ home or away - the older series should be dropped. This would make #1 sides more sound in their standings against scrutiny.

  • Meety on November 19, 2010, 21:06 GMT

    @Caveman - agreed, I wouldn't begrudge India having turning pitches - spin has been a dominant culture in Indian cricket. I feel for their development there is a need for a bit more pace in the pitches. I feel sorry for Sharma who I think is a huge talent, but his skill is in banging the ball into the pitch, give him some grounds where he can dig it in just short of a length & have the ball jump into the rib cages of the batsmen. Let him be able to see a ball or two carry thru to Dhoni at head height! @ ravi_hari - what test series were you watching re: rout Aussies? It was 2 nil, but most objective observers believe that a couple of decisions that could of gone either way - had they gone Oz way the series could of been 2nil Oz. Not complaining about the decisions - but they "could" of gone the other way. India played well to win 2-0, but it was not a thrashing - if you believe that you are living in a fantasy world.

  • Rahulbose on November 19, 2010, 20:42 GMT

    People don't seem to understand what the ICC No 1 ranking means. Why are you comparing the current top team to WI or Aus great teams of the past? Does being the current top batsman in ICC ranking mean you are better than Bradman? Or being the ICC cricketer of the year make you better than Sobers?

    All the ICC ranking means is that in past 2-3 seasons India has got better results than the other 8 test playing teams. No one can dispute that.

  • on November 19, 2010, 20:12 GMT

    from the day 1 team india was elevated to no 1 the critisism began not deserve no wicket taking bowlers cant extend no 1 run etc etc.... what hurting me most is we indians itself are saying we dont deserve no 1.. look we didnt went to icc and begged we need no 1 spot, but v earned it... be proud of it as long as we stay no 1 and dont show ur thumps down....

    1. 1 loss v drown them 2. next one a win we pick them up 3. if its a series win not much to say v put them over himalayas 4. next match a draw we doubt their ability 5. and again a draw we starts saying dont deserve no 1, wecant beat this team that team............

    COME ON Give it a BREAK... Y r v indians like this... stop critisizing n support the team...

  • rohandb on November 19, 2010, 20:08 GMT

    Harsha, since how long have you been following indian cricket? Zaheer Khan is from the West zone, so if he goes out, then someone from the west zone must be there to fill up the quota. If Sreesanth goes out, then someone from the South zone must be picked to fill up the quota. That's where mithun comes in. That's called the quota system. Will you please keep up ??

  • on November 19, 2010, 20:07 GMT

    Lets not compare generations for No.1 rankings. After all Life throws up a new instance everytime. We may not boast of a fearsome attacks or ruthless domination with the Ball. But it cetainly is not our mistake that at this point in time no other country boasts of such a attack anywhere. Make no mistake the batting line up we possess is envied in every sense and is fearsome and daunting on whose basis we are No.1 and lets cherish being No.1 rather than thinking too far ahead. In cricket like Life there happen to be loads for firsts and they need to be accepted !!!

  • Nipun on November 19, 2010, 18:53 GMT

    @Manu Mithra:-We'll chat again after the India-New Zealand ODI series.Wish the Indians lot of luck for the ODI series,because New Zealand shouldn't find it a problem to tackle the likes of Ojha & Jadeja in ODIs after facing off the likes of Shakib & Razzak.& anyways,the SA tour is not far away.Let's see if the SO-CALLED number 1 test team for 1 year(they achieved it at the end of 2009)is eaten alive or roasted by the S.Africans.Cheers :)

  • Nipun on November 19, 2010, 18:14 GMT

    @HarishVS:-Sorry mate,I had to be harsh on facts,considering how most Indians boast their chests off because of occupying the no.1 test ranking momentarily.Even Australians,who were the undoubted champions of all formats from 2000 to 2008,didn't boast as much.& yes,I might have been harsh but I got the facts right.Just consider how you lot criticise other teams(starting from Bangladesh to even the likes of Pakistan,New Zealand,etc.)as if they don't belong,& that too without factual claims.Just a small payback attempt.You lot deserve every bit of it,I must say.

  • on November 19, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    @ harsha i didnt expect it to be a white wash or a war between minnows and greats just because NZ had lost to B`desh in ODI doesnt mean that NZ is a poor team.. let B`desh play a test against the same kiwi that they white washed.. we can c results... its pity that a person of ur calibre comparing odi performance with test.. it has the difference between earth and sun... i know indian bowlers are not among wickets but neither are kiwis they may have taken a wicket more than india did and that goes for ur stats of 43 runs per wicket..... there s a limitations that a bowler has when a batsman like mcintosh who has strike rate below dravid decides to defend every ball that comes in front of him... the reason y both tests btw ind and aus had result is because both played atackingly n aggressively n to the fact both teams played to win n not to cover their face for a whitewash they had against some minnows... My point attacking test matches always produce results..

  • on November 19, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    @ sarwar alam

    Y that atleast sehwag is at his top form now y take a chance let him play freely... as for dhoni only i dont understand this y ppl are talking abt removing dhoni??? v r talking about an indian test captain that brought us 12 wins of last 23 tests played and "JUST" 2 losses of it under his captaincy... now say isnt this injustise just 2 draws n bang bang no innovation,deffencive field placement.. to hell with it

    And as for dhoni the batsman everyone has a lean patch even tendulkar had n ur favourite for captain sehwag had infact he had the worst of all... so if we can give time for master blaster of world cricket y cant v give some time for the captain who brought most test wins for us lately????

  • Aussasinator on November 19, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    A draw will indeed be a loss. The primary reason is that we lack an Anil Kumble like bowler to run through the opposition from day 3 onwards on these typical tracks. Nothing else but that.

  • on November 19, 2010, 17:34 GMT

    Will India ever get a threatening bowler like Curtley Ambrose or McGrath? Looks pretty uncertain..

  • jollyjugg on November 19, 2010, 17:24 GMT

    NZ is a pathetic team which plays for Draw unlike Aussies who play to win. That is the reason why we got results in the previous game and no result this time. Agreed their fielding was brilliant but for most part they were doing negative bowling to stop india from scoring runs and force a result and that tactic did not help them to take wickets.

  • galadhil1 on November 19, 2010, 17:22 GMT

    Time to give new Zealand credit. It always amazes me that the big nations think if they aren't winning against the lesser lights its because their team is underperforming only! In fact its a combination of New Zealand playing out of their skins and India underperforming. i am proud of my kiwi side they have fought hard and now with one test match another big effort is required!

  • jollyjugg on November 19, 2010, 17:21 GMT

    The NZ batsmen who were struggling to score more than 10/20 runs when India went to NZ last year are happily scoring 50s/100s in India this time. And Harsha dont forget in your enthu to add comments that these are the same Indian bowlers who got them in NZ pitches. I am not saying these batsmen cant improve, but we just saw the extent to which they improved in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. BCCI is a pathetic organization which gets all the revenue and does nothing to improve the standards of pitches in this country. Bhajji is 100% correct, just like how Eng/Aus/SA/WI had/have fast bowling as their strength, Ind/SL etc have spin as their strength. And just how your "technical brilliance" is measured in terms of playing fast bowling there, the same should be measured here in terms of how you play spin. Hence the pitches that we prepare should assist spin so that our spinners like Bhajji and Ojha can wreck havoc. We just saw what they did to Aussies. These NZ batsmen cant play in spin pitches

  • gestapo on November 19, 2010, 17:14 GMT

    well said sachin fan,,i really dont understand what exactly sangakkara means by rankings,,the point is if they feel india does not deserve to be the no.1,,then which team is?india is definitely not the windies of 70s and 80s or the oz of late 90s and so,,but right now,there is not a single team that can stamp its authority any day, anytime and anywhere.But coming to SL,,when did they ever win a test in India?They come a cropper when they play in oz r SA,,they r totally at sea,,i can say it with all the pride that india is the only team from the subcontinent that has troubled the aussies time and again,,posted series wins in nz,pak,eng,wi in the last 6 years,,did SL get any of these? to all those SL fans,,srilanka was hammered in srilanka too by india in ODI,,i agree,,SL has class players in sanga,,jayawrd,,dilshan,,if only india creates magic in SA,,it would be a slap in the face to all those indian cricket detractors. SL tigers only in SL.

  • alfaomega on November 19, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    yea...own up guys...i doubt there's any team that will have sleepless nights thinking of our bowling attack. we are too dependent on pitches and to an extent, zaheer. i guess any team and its batsmen going through a bad patch would love to play India pronto...take Jesse Ryder...3 test centuries, all against India...take Mc Intosh...immediately after a pair he gets a century and a near fifty...take a new opener like Mc Cullum...double century...and this is just 1 series. you will get examples of such turnarounds right through India's history. and how come Ishant is so much out of favour despite his much improved performance in the last 2 tests that he played? are we trying to improve his confidence and match-readiness or turn him into a frustrated bowler? Could he have done worse than Sreesanth? at least Ishant is economical. and why on earth do you want an extra and that too raw pacer in India for the decider test in a series? what's Amit Mishra for and when are they going to use him?

  • on November 19, 2010, 16:42 GMT

    give the test captaincy to sehwag at the earliest and ask him to take up some responsibility in bowling,he wont disappoint,thats for sure

  • sachin_vvsfan on November 19, 2010, 16:06 GMT

    These SL fans will never stop crying about the rankings @S Jude Perera "Boastful Moments"? Do you really need to use that kind of language? Add ENG, WI,PAK Series wins too to that list if you want boastful moments (thanks to buckner for that Aus series) If india's num 1 ranking is a joke then so is SL's num 2 ranking. How come they are ranked 2 with out even winning a test match in AUS,SA and IND? And what are your boastful moments outside? 5 test wins? We all know that this ranking system considers the performance only for last 3 yrs and INDIA certainly has not done bad in away series where as the other top sides AUS,SL,SA haven't performed that well away (or IND). I rest my case too.

  • crikkfan on November 19, 2010, 15:47 GMT

    so Sarfin, India were crushed by Steyn only because of Steyn's brilliance and nothing to do with a greentop pitch? And then India humbled SA only because of the pitch and nothing to do with Harbhajan? Don't you think the reality is somewhere in the middle? (btw it was Motera where SA crushed India not Nagpur)

  • on November 19, 2010, 15:31 GMT

    I think our batsman should play mor attacking cricket..... I mean on 3rd day at hyd when dravid was strugling and bhajji acclerated as i he is playing a club cricket match time has come to be practical the wall should see the writing on the "wall" it is time to go.....

  • Fan_JustinGreen on November 19, 2010, 15:25 GMT

    Everyone, the players, the selectors, and even the fans (including me) were expecting a whitewash, and now with the weather in Nagpur being terrible, it looks like that's what going to happen indeed; the only difference being that the winners are going to be the lifeless pitches (if at all they are responsible for the 'whitewash'). Having said that, it is needless to say that the Indian bowlers (except Zak) have been ineffective and looked rather ordinary (including Harbhajan Singh).

    What I have repeatedly failed to understand is that why are the selectors, deliberately overlooking some of the experienced and talented bowlers that we have. We have Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, L Balaji, all whom have been dutifully ignored. This is where the selectors are to blame. Are they all unfit or out of form or... it must be sheer politics then!

  • on November 19, 2010, 15:17 GMT

    Infact India's weakest link is Fielding & Dropping Catches which some are easy ones & they must improve on that if Team India wants to win , i've watching the games very closely , not only that Dhoni needs to put his boy's around the field were the Kiwis cannot score. I notice alot of times the the indian fielding is is horrible & then top of that it goes either for four or six. Team India needs to take out Sreesanth out of the game & bring in Infran Pathan back into the team , the foolish guy makes tons of mistakes. The first over sreesanth bowles well then all of sudden you will seem him either making no balls or giving the oppostion team a extra run. How stupid is that ? cannot afford to make costly mistakes like that. the umpires they need to stop cheating , i noticed when the ball touches the bat at edge they call not out , i don't know if they are blind or what. I've seen the replay over & over again & i see it was out.

  • on November 19, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    guys! wake up! I really don't think India's bowling is not that bad. see, when there is one season of out of form career, no one should really doubt his abilities. Let it be Sree, Ishanth, Zaheer, Harbhajan or Ojha. all of these guys are very much talented. if they were not talented, how'd you think they got into the Indian team?

  • Nampally on November 19, 2010, 14:25 GMT

    Harsha, India cannot win with 4 bowlers who are not even top class.India looksa jaded team right now whether it is due to mental or physical fatigue. Infuse new life in shape of a couple of young players who are keen. Also change the outlook of the team by fresh and fit bodies. I would certainly have included Ashwin, Pujara and Unadkat in the XI.Sreesanth is always a liability and rarely uses his brain.His first over 13 runs on the 5th day at Hyderabad is an example.There has to be a will to win and nobody starts the first over bowling such rubbish.Would he spearhead the pacemen at Nagpur or will he limp off in the middle of the test?Similarly flogging Harbhajan who has already complained of the pitches rather than rising to the occasion is a negative sign. India should go in for a win with positive & aggressive players. Even in batting Gambhir & Dravid with a SR of <35 are letting bowlers get on top. Positive & aggressive action/ attitude always Win. India needs to elevate its Game.

  • on November 19, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    feel sorry for the likes of Mithun and Kulkarni, not even given a fair go after being selected. I hope that one of them is selected to tour SA. Unadkat maybe the rising star, might be the leftie factor to replace Zak, but too early for him i fee, he's yet to take a bagful of wickets in a season. It cud very well be that hes just gonna be screened in the nets against the best batters of the world, since Sreesanth and Sharma will make the final 11. Looking at the way things are going, Im hoping RP Singh comes good this season, hes already taken a 6 wicket haul is the last ranji game.

  • HarishVS on November 19, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    @Nipun - Seeing such comments, I am actually dumbstuck and dont know what to say further. The statistics and facts might be right here, but do we need to criticize our team to such an extent? They have been not losing many, winning a few here and there and I can say they have not done bad at all. The last team to have all great four bowlers was WI during 80s. Aussies in their peak had McGrath and Warne, with Gillespie and McGill pitching in here and there. Pak were all Wasim and Waqar all the way with Saqlain or Mushtaq pitching in non-sub-continent opponents. And I will not go further on examples. And on the other hand, we can't also be taking India to Heavens with their recent performances. This is the case of Indian fans, being either go overboard on the team to Himalayas or dump them deep into Pacific ocean. I think this forum is turning out to be senselss chatter box sometimes!

  • on November 19, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    bowling is such a weak link in the Indian team and India still need a specialist bowling coach as gary cant help them much.but at the same point of time our batsmen have to be a bit more aggressive because in the last test if we had been aggresive like sehwag and bhajji the result would have been in india's favour.dhoni need to play his natural game and should not changed his style of batting completely even in the last game he got out while defending the bowl which is not a good sign.i think its good to get out while hitting the bowl instead of getting out while defending.if bhajji could get his bowling form back this would be the greatest thing for indian team because we badly need a five-for or a tenner from his side.

  • Sarfin on November 19, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    i don't think India deserve to b the no.1 team at present. may b SA is the better candidate. Ind has to improve their bowling dramatically. now when i watch them, i don't count any of their bowler except Zahir. remember the last Ind-SA series? at Nagpur, Ind were crushed by Steyn and off form Bhajji took 2wickets for 166 runs. but suddenly things changed at Eden. Bhajji took 8 and Steyn only 1!!! and India retained their position in the ranking. key factor was the pitch. and now again Bhajji is crying about the pitch.but he is only in the team because of the pitch. if it were not flat enough then those 100s would b only dreams and he could b in immense pressure. i think their selectors should b cautious ahead of the WC. the must have a better spinner than Bhajji. you cannot make turning pitches for Bhajji everywhere in the world

  • ravimenon on November 19, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    The article is a nice one. Even 1-0 win itself will be a loss for India. In fact we were expecting a 3-0 victory. The bowlers totally disappointed and the batsman barring Shehwag not shown any urgency. It was started from the second day of test. Tendulkar and laxman batted sl slowly and Indian lost the momentem since then. The same thing happend in second test after 178 for 2, we sow very slow and poor batting performance from India. Thanks to Bajji India were ended up with good scores.

    But unfortunately, Bajji forgrtting his main role and does not deserve a position in elevan as a bowler. Ojha is inconsistent. Considering the type of pitches medium pacers are doing reasonably well especially with old balls. They also lack consistency. India's No 1 is not earned by performance. Lack of good performance from other side is the main reasons. They are so inconsistent allowed India to take advantage. We have to wait and see. England and South Africa are picking up gradually.

  • satanswish on November 19, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    Except Zaheer, other Indian bowlers looked pretty ordinary in this series. Indians are looking complacent after series win against aussies.

    I agree with Harsha, drawing this series is as good as series lost to Kiwis.

  • on November 19, 2010, 13:45 GMT

    Yeah... India' being number 1 is still a joke... esp with this bowling attack and their record outside of India... EVEN during this soo-called Golden Period where they've lost a couple of Tests... SA have played all around the world since 2006...(Series wins in Pak, Aus, WI, Eng - two losses only Home Series to AUS) and only lost 2 series... India' been sitting at home pretty and what are their most Boastful achievements? Draw in Sri Lanka, Win in New Zealand... rest my case.

  • Samgen on November 19, 2010, 13:39 GMT

    India lacks a good bowling attack partly because the selectors don't know how to manage the available talent and partly because the younger lot does not have good work ethics. Abhimanyu Mithun got to play in Srilanka on flat surfaces where every fast bowler struggled. The coach said he liked Mithun's attitude, his work ethics and felt he was unlucky not to get wickets. Why can't selectors give him oppertunities in tests with better surfaces (Say like in SA). Selectors rely too much on one off success or failures rather than see under what conditions those results were obtained.

  • Cricketlover645 on November 19, 2010, 13:32 GMT

    I wish good luck for NZ. They fought back after their mishap in BD.

  • Koushik_Biswas on November 19, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    Diri - India is Number 1 because of past results, not because of what you or anybody feels about them. What sandy_bangalore commented has some truth in it. "Number 1" is a reflection of the present - so the natural tendency of comparing this team across time's echelons should be restricted to mere pastime - not serious judgment. Yes, India is Number 1 because no other team playing now has won as many and as frequently as India in the last 18 months. Hard undeniable fact. Was Steve Waugh's team better than this Indian team? Probably. But the definition of "better" is relative. Rankings are based on statistics - so let us accept them for what they are. Anything else is speculation. What Diri has done is speculation. The rankings have been established over a period of time - nobody can be #1 winning 1 test. Similarly, nobody can be stripped of #1 for losing 1 test. Much like the batsmen and bowlers rankings - which we don't worry about too much. Why this brouhaha about team rankings?

  • Razor88 on November 19, 2010, 13:04 GMT

    I seriously Can't agree More to this Article.We have been Producing Legends Before 2000.Yes we need Damn Good Batsmen or an extra No.7 to Counter the Bounce in those Days.But I Think Its time we Start using 5 bowlers in the Eleven.In Flat Pitches Its Critical To Include 5 Bowlers Jus for the Variation n Less workload(Its Obvious Bowlers are Under Pressure in Flat Decks).For instants.1.Zaheer Can Reverse on Any "Dry Pitches", 2.Ishant/Sree can Give You that Aggregation, 3.Munaf/Abhimanyu/Ashwin(Turners and Flat Decks) - Line and Length.they will not allow batsmen to Runaway 4.Ojha - He is the Future Spinner for India so he should play all.5. Bhaji(Turners and Flat Decks)/Irfan(responsive Wickets) - Allrounder Slot.We have the Fire Power,but jus that 4 Bowlers r not sufficient Enuf in the Hot,humid and Flat Tracks. You can't win Matches Only By Bat.Ind is Jus lik Pak,Banking too Much on their Bats.Pak Bank on their Bowling attack,Which I think is the best,Their batsmen lose their Game.

  • Codenames on November 19, 2010, 11:47 GMT

    the indian bowling attack isnt really good. not 1 of them averages less than 30. i think even kallis averages better than all of their bowlers. look at averages of steyn murali etc the indian bowlers are far behind.

  • on November 19, 2010, 11:30 GMT

    @ nipun.... no, aussies need not hang themselves dude....do u really think they're anywhere close to the force they used to be a few years ago? they're a weaker team than india presently, and as very rightly said by someone here, the no.1 team is the one which is better than the rest...and make no mistake, indians really are better than the rest...but that surely des not mean that they can sit back and relax, which is what the case seems to be in the ongoing series...the players need to strive for that killer instinct, the characteristic feature of the most dominating teams to have ever played the game...

  • diri on November 19, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    If we were all honest and admitted that India are not number 1 then maybe the players and administration would wake up and smell the cofee.....Compare the Indian team to the SA team Sewag, Sachin, VVs, Dravid, Zaheer,Sreesanth and Bajji...v Smith,Kallis , Amla,AB , Dumminy, prince ,Steyn,botha, Morkel and Parnel

    Which is the better team that can play on any surface and any conditions in the world?? Which team is your number 1?? If we were all honest we would say SA are the best and are numbere 1

  • ArvindNair on November 19, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    I happened to watch a Mumbai-Saurashtra Ranji game at the MCA ground in Mumbai. I dare say that Unadkat looked good but surely has time to go before getting an international cap..Staggering are the cases of Mithun, Sudeep Tyagi and even Munaf Patel. Mithun and Tyagi- we dont even what they can do coz they have hardly got enough chances...

  • gargi_vizag on November 19, 2010, 10:38 GMT

    india's rise to the top has been to a large part bcoz of kumble and zaheer, the latter has been exceptionally good for the last few years. The trouble for india has been the No.3 & No.4 bowlers who have not been able to push their weight in the team. Bhajji for all his reputation has been very ordinary and hardly troubles batsman anymore. The attitude of the Indian team is not that of a side which is No1, it seems they are more than happy not to lose rather playing to win. Great sides have become great only by taking risks, which the present team setup is unwilling to do so. There are question marks on atleast 5-6 spots in the team---gambhir,dravid,bhajji,sreesanth,ojha. The guys mentioned here definetely of top class, but need to get their form/rhytm back and it cannot be at international level, they need to spend time appearing for their states at the domestic level. You can't win consistently at the top level with 5-6 players pulling their weight.

  • sandy_bangalore on November 19, 2010, 10:24 GMT

    I think that all of us deep down agree(with the exception of a few hardened patriots), that India is No1 mainly due to the inadequacies of the opposing teams. Sri Lanka is clueless overseas, Aussies are short on talent(despite the best efforts of their media to hype the likes of johnson,siddle and co as world beaters), England have been mainly dominating windies,pakis and bangladeshis. Our bowling attack is a joke, with Bhajji clearly on the decline,Sreesanth(who makes big statements before every series and ends up bowling tripe),Zaheer with fitness worries and Ojha is just a run of the mill left armer. Batting will still hold good, but once the 35 somethings retire, it could be different story.

  • nzcricket174 on November 19, 2010, 9:57 GMT

    @Rajit You are right about Ojha. He bowls immaculate lines and lengths, which in ODI and T20 is fine, but line and length isn't going to get you wickets. Now that Harbhajan's bowling is in decline, I feel that India need to use a more attacking spinner. When you're purely a line and length bowler, you're going to drop quite a few bad deliveries in every so often. ANY selector would rather have the 3-100 off 25 bowler than the 1-75 off 25 bowler.

  • Nipun on November 19, 2010, 9:48 GMT

    The Aussies should hang themselves for losing 40 wickets to THIS bowling attack! :|

  • Nipun on November 19, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    Let's be honest,Harsha & folks.Look in the mirror & ask yourselves:-isn't this the true class of this bowling lot?Zaheer is good,but others are just not worthy of even the attack of a 5th ranked test team.Be honest guys!& even the batting has been carried by Sehwag,Tendulkar & Laxman-these 3 guys.Ishant Sharma has turned into an Indian superstar on the basis of one good spell on a helpful Perth surface against an out of sorts,aging Ponting,while Sreesanth has turned into such a superstar on the basis of a good tour of South Africa 4 years ago in which India were swallowed alive. I just saw an advertisement in which SA is held as India's final frontier!LOL!You lot haven't won a test series in Australia throughout your test status duration & you hold SA as your final frontier?ROFL!By the way,statistics say that even after playing (approximately) 80 years of test cricket,you guys have won only 2 tests in Pakistan & 1 test in SA!LOL! :D

  • AzizBaghadia on November 19, 2010, 9:29 GMT

    forget about playing fast bowl alround, i dont even see the edge in indian bowling. we dont even have fast bowler hu can bolw as fast as dale stye does. and selectors dont nurture the bowlers either.

  • jayapras on November 19, 2010, 9:12 GMT

    An India test cap should be earned and not given away cheaply. Apart from Abhimanyu Mithun, why are RP Singh and Munaf Patel being ignored? The worrying thing is that should Sreesanth or Ishant pull out due to injury or illness, Jaydev will be opening the bowling in the last NZ test! Fortunately for us, neither South Africa nor Sri Lanka are faring well against Pakistan and West Indies. Otherwise, our no.1 rank is under serious jeopardy. Even so, a drawn series for us, victories for South Africa and Sri Lanka in the subsequent tests would mean just a 7 point gap between us and South Africa.

    On the batting too, why is Badrinath ignored after just 2 tests against South Africa? In the second test, he was sent in when the light was poor and after he got out, Dhoni promptly sent a nightwatchman and did not himself come to bat. All in all, our selectors beat Miguel Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, especially when it comes to the marginal selections!

  • ashish514 on November 19, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    Sorry, I got a fact wrong. In fact SA levelled the last series in India. So India need to at least draw the series. I don't exactly know the math of the ranking system, but if NZ draws and then SA beat India then the no.1 position will be threatened and justifiably so. So no doubts over the rankings whatsoever.

  • on November 19, 2010, 8:53 GMT

    so if india think Harbhajan can bat now show us by dropping 1 of the top 6 batmen and push Harbhajan up the order and play extra bowler come india do it

  • ashish514 on November 19, 2010, 8:45 GMT

    To everyone defining no.1 in their own terms- A no.1 one is simply one who is better then the rest. One who wins more often then the others. The popular notion of no. 1 being intimadating, winning convincingly, having great bowlers, winning matches after matches in a row etc. have been formed largely because we have been watching Australia doing that when they were no.1. No problem in saying that India is not as convincing as Austrlia were at that position and that they are not invincible is fine, but saying India not deserving to be no. 1 when they have lost no series in about 3 years unlike any other team is wrong. They have beaten SA, the no.2 team, at home. And even if they are able draw draw the away series (as in case of India vs Sri Lanka, the no.3 team), they still are no. 1. Even with SA winning ,the scores are just level.

    In my school, the 1st ranker was not the one who secured 100% marks, but the one who got more marks then any other student in the class.

  • on November 19, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    indian team need a blowing allrounder asap like a Kallis,and very fast bowler,what we going to in s.a only god knows if

  • hamwil80 on November 19, 2010, 8:07 GMT

    'Plz tell me any other team that's unbeaten in a Test series for almost 3 years now' - India have been unbeaten for three years because, firstly, they play a relatively low percentage of test match cricket, and of that a high percentage at home. That fantastic unbeaten record invariably comes to an end when touring SA, Aus or Eng. If India want to get rid of the title of 'flat track bullies', they're going to have to beat SA this December, that means their fast bowlers (Khan especially) are going to have to take wickets. Also, i don't think there's a number 1 team right now: India has the best batting , SA fast bowling, and ENG seems to have the best team ethos and management. - good to see Aus on the decline though

  • Prats6 on November 19, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    I dont understand playing Raina as the 6th Batman. Yes MSD has failed miserably with the bat in Tests recently, and it should have really raised a lot of eyebrows but it hasn't. Why aren't people questioning India's batting ? They should have scored more runs quickly and give the bowlers some chance.

    Yes India's bowlers have not been great this series but I fail to see how any spinner would have been better. The pitches were disgusting for cricket, both the venues should be banned for 5 years.

    In general, we should see another feathered in Nagpur, as it always has been, is anything else happens, it means those curators can make good tracks and have not till now, enough to kick them out for the job.

    Finally, MSD has been miserable in this series. India have never played like they are No.1. We do not deserve to win.

  • Proteas123 on November 19, 2010, 8:02 GMT

    @ Sai Prasad - What is your point? All top teams have strong home records. Yes India are hard to beat at home but have lost to Aus and SA at home in last ten years. Aus have only lost to SA once in that time. SA has only ever been beaten in a series at home by Aus and Eng. nzcricket174 point was that India are not playing like they are number 1 team in the world. @ Nigel356 - SA has a better record but has been on the road more. India's last two series against SA and Aus have been in India, those are the reasons for India's good ranking. Let's see how India goes in SA.

  • mukesh80 on November 19, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    When a batsman friendly picth is prepared ,you should not expect a result either from a number 1 team or any other team . Harbajjan can score back to back 100's and cant take wickets .Harsha,why are we raising a question mark on India's capability or new zealand ..why cant you raise a question on the pitch ..even i can bat on such pitch for a stretch of 5 days .

  • Karan_Aggarwal on November 19, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    This is normally happen when you are over confident. When team India beat Aus by 2-0 they were pretty much in confidence but that cofidence changes into Over confidence and result in front of us. I agree that the pitches are not supporting bowlers but India is no. 1 in ranking and they have to pay like champions no matter what kind of pitch they will get. I dont know why the selectors are giving chances to those players who are pretty new to Ranji even. There is only bowler which i think should in India test squad is Pravven Kumar. He has the potential to take wickets on dead pitches. Just look at his record and then only you will realise that what they are missing. Speed is not always everything. look at the Ishant sharma, whta happen to him because of his speed. And they are doing another mistake by not taking Pujara in palying XI. They should replace Raina with Pujara as Pujara is more talented in this form of cricket.

  • ravi_hari on November 19, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    The irony is the same Indian wickets helped us rout Aussies. Then how come Bhajji says they are dead and dont aid spinners? I think we were over confident against Kiwis having just crushed Aussies. If you look at the body language of our bowlers, excepting Zaheer, they are look jaded once the batsman gets going. They are running out of ideas. They are not using their skill to the maximum. If 4 bowlers are not giving results why not have an extra bowler, now that Bhajji has turned into a batsman. Pick Mishra in place of Raina and make it 5+5+1 and push for victory. Let Dhoni take some responsibility in batting. Being No.1 means continuing with the winning habit. Let us look for ways to win. Think INdia, think. Hari Ravi

  • ram_sachin on November 19, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    Well said Harsha, we don't seem to have a lethal bowler who is playing in the starting XI, since last ten years apartfrom Zaheer, Power-houses of the Great teams have been formed mainly due to their bowling units, who gave them the wickets when needed, desperately. India (if looking to become one such) must stick to a consistent XI for a period of say 2 years, which puts faith into the players. We have a WC ahead.. I'm afraid that focusing too much on Tests will lead to a shameful repeat of WC07 debacle, since we don't ve a playing XI thts performing well. Get Sachin's and Sehwag's together and play the ODI series. Else be prepared with some more HARSH words from Harsha : )

  • on November 19, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    my final XI for final encounter against kiwis @ nagpur : virender sehwag, rahul dravid, vvs laxman, cheteswar pujara, sachin tendulkar, ms dhoni, harbhajan singh, amit mishra, jaidev unadkat, ishant sharma and sreesanth.......... drop both gambhir and raina out... dravid will open batting with sehwag........... only 5 bowler theory can eliminate india's bowling woes... stop experimenting with ojha,.... he is a limited over specialist.......

  • Nerk on November 19, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    Come on India, you are making us Aussies look bad. To be fair though, the Kiwis have shown discipline and patience in their batting, words Ponting and co did not seem to know while they were in India.

  • Nigel356 on November 19, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    @rado41: Plz tell me any other team that's unbeaten in a Test series for almost 3 years now(which really should be 4 years if not for the Sydney fiasco) and deserves the No 1 status ahead of India. And talking about our bowlers being impotent, may I remind you it takes 20 wickets to win a Test which Indian bowlers have invariably achieved-spearheaded by Zaheer Khan(IMO definitely among the top 3 bowlers in present day cricket). And talking about the same Mohali Test, it was Zaheer and not VVS or Sachin who won the MoM.

  • pinn on November 19, 2010, 6:27 GMT

    Know it is mostly a flat track. Know , it 'might' turn on 4th or 5th day. Then why not take chances and bring the 5th bowler. Why do you need 7 batsmen in flat tracks. Even if 3/6 scores , it will more than enough to defend.

    On the 4 bowlers, except Zak, none of them have the venom to bring down the batsmen. You have to see, how easily they handled Harbhajan ( sorry Bhajji ) and Ojha. Bring the old memories to see what Anil kumble did in good old indian tracks. Even in a flat track , he was so intelligent. ( Especially the match in bangalore against Pak , where he bowled seem up ).

    On the batting side , if couple of them gets going, they will be going for ever. Otherwise , it is a pack of cards. One more point , they score at terrible slow run rates ( except Shewag and Bhajji. excluding them , India's net run rate is around 2.00 ).

    Why Vijay should not be in the playing 11 ? Why not youngsters like Kohli (scoring heavily in current Ranji ) be part of the team ?

  • akpy on November 19, 2010, 6:26 GMT

    simple question...how many of the ranji games yield results, ignoring the ones between david and goliath? >90% end in high scoring draws and it has been like this for the last many years. There are a handful of tracks which are sporting. Only team which plays at all times for a result is australia - win or lose - and credit to them. Imagine if SL were playing us on these wkts - it will be huge scores by them. BCCI is a shameful organisation and their various committees have made no progress in creating sporting pitches or harnessing talent at the root level.

  • Percy_Fender on November 19, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    Talking about this No 1 Position is what is killing objectivity I feel. I would like Mithun to be in the team to South Africa because he is a hardy youngster who in playing for the RCB in the IPL seems to have picked up some additional skills as a bowler and a batsman.With his wonderful work ethic he seems to have learnt a few tricks from Steyn and Co. He also seems to have increased his pace. Since he is only 20, I think he will be the 140kmph and above kind of bowler in a couple of years.He has the bounce to trouble the best. He is a fearless batsman as well and could be an all rounder by enabling him to develop his skills on his own. Given that he is low profile I have big hopes in him. Unadkat should be brought in for the Nagpur game. I have seen him from the U 19 WC and have always found him impressive. He is tall and will get bounce in S Africa. Bring in Ashwin as well and with Zaheer and Ishant as well we could have a good attack.It may be useful to rope in Nehra if he is fit.

  • diri on November 19, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    IPL is destroying indian cricket...everyone wants to be a batsmen and hit sixes.Who wants to bowl nowdays? Thats the problem that india face. There bowling attack is probably the weakest in the world at the moment......remember to be number one you have to play like the best... india dont look like the best

  • diri on November 19, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    IPL is destroying indian cricket...everyone wants to be a batsmen and hit sixes.Who wants to bowl nowdays? Thats the problem that india face. There bowling attack is probably the weakest in the world at the moment......remember to be number one you have to play like the best... india dont look like the best

  • anonymousfan on November 19, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    The NZ team is lucky to have a captain who performs a lot more than he talks. Which is so unlike what the Indian team has.

  • on November 19, 2010, 6:02 GMT

    you are spot on with regards to Mithun and by doing what they are doing they are sending wrong signals to budding players, persisting with ojha defies logic at least for variation they should try Mishra who is there in the squad. they need to do some soul searching when your bowlers become batters and batters are taking wickets something is wrong.

  • ravis123 on November 19, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    Well said, Harsha, on the pitches. If Bhajji were a Doctor and he had no equipments to diagonise, he wud send the patient to the mortuary! His mockery of the curator today on the Hyd'bd pitch, only shows how he has improved in his language skills and caught on to some batting, to survive in the team. His bowling has degenerated from bad to worse over the year 2010 - when Vettori can try 6 variations in an over, this fella has lost all clues on how to bowl off-spin. I hv always held him to be an over-rated offie, perhaps the part timer Sehwag will be a better bet for India and we should bring in Ashwin. There CAN BE NO PLACE FOR BOWLERS WHO SEEK TO BE IN THE TEAM BY BECOMING BATSMAN ( A La Irfan pathan) as we do not need batsmen any more - there are lots of them in the Q- Pujara, Badri, Vijay, etc. Why is Dhoni persisiting with this charecter in the team - pack him off to Ranji trophy and let him hone his technical skills or send him to Sri Lanka for training under Murali..

  • spb24 on November 19, 2010, 5:53 GMT

    Nice Article Harsha !!! (1) "15yrs without an All-rounder ".For me this is a crucial factor. You are tiring the bowlers to bowl more than 25 .And completely relying on spinners to do some magic. (2)"Bowlers to have Bag of tricks" - I wonder our Indian bowlers practiced all their bowling in these kind of feather beds or they did somewhere else. If they can't find enough way to find a solution...Don't know what to blame???? May be they tend to forget all the tricks/tips if we ask those four bowlers to bowl 90/day...hahha... (3) Decade after decade not even single genuine pace bowler who can fires 150kmpl+....Don't know when that day comes....Do we witness in our life time??? (4)If we are able to keep the NUMBER ONE place without having World Class Bowling/Fielding....how amazing we are...hhhaha...We know in our hearts we never deserved to be Number one!!! I truely agree with you ...Draw is a loss for world 1 team.

    IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO OUR SELECTION PROCESS.....NOTHING ELSE>>

  • Rajit on November 19, 2010, 5:33 GMT

    I am surprised why are selectors persisting with Pragyan Ojha.Murli Kartik with all his experience in domestic and country cricket is a much better left arm spin option than Ojha.He has what Ojha doesn't and that is experience.I can't see India Winning the series in SA with four bowlers

  • on November 19, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    What drawn series, NZ is the only team that has looked like taking 20 wkts. With their only international class bowler (Z Khan) out, there is no hope for India. Go Kiwis go.

  • on November 19, 2010, 5:22 GMT

    @PTtheAxis : You are right. Sehwag is an aggressive fellow...or even Gambir could be a good choice. Dhoni is good when things are doing good or for one day...Playing test is different ball game. I may go to the extend to request Mr.Kumble to consider returning to captaincy.

  • Meety on November 19, 2010, 5:19 GMT

    IF... NZ play like they did for the previous 2 Tests they must be confident of a surprise series win. I think until H Singh scored his centuries - NZ were bossing the tests, without Singhs #8 contributions, I truely believe India COULD of been down 2nil! In saying that Test series are NOT won or lost because of ifs & maybe's. Its 0-0, & rightly so, with NZ having had the better of the series. I hope IF India win, that history will say how hard the kiwis fought, it is a lesson that Oz should take note of, particularly batting wise. I think India are on shaky ground for the 3rd Test with Zak out. I believe that Sharma is the key for India when they play in Sth Africa, I believe he will out-bowl Zak & the rest on fast bouncy pitches, particularly if he can get back up to the high 140km p/hr mark.

  • on November 19, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    Harsha, this is more like you. Not sure what the normally suave Dhoni has seen in Sreesanth other than his sincerity and trying hard. But he looked ordinary except for a few rare balls in between major spells. In my opinion, test cricket demands more than that. It might not have been a bad idea to try a completely rookie bowling line up for the New Zealand test; Unadkat, Mithun, Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan and Ojha with Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, Laxman and Dhoni completing the 11. Since Mithun has not been selected, Sreesanth should probably consider himself lucky to get another chance. The stark contrast to the movement obtained by Southie with the new ball with the one obtained by both Sreesanth and Zaheer is too much to ignore. Our batsmen must be told (as in the times of Ganguly) that they are to play their specialist roles and live up to the expectations of aggregating a score of 750 runs in the test; an average of 75 runs per batsman that justifies their place in the side.

  • BMayuresh on November 19, 2010, 5:00 GMT

    Why such a hue and cry? NZ is not a minnow team. They are at the bottom of the tally because they don't play much Test matches. They lost terribly to Bangladesh doesn't mean they are minnows. They have great talent and as MSD had earlier stated, they are wounded animals and they are giving everything to keep India at bay. Agreed that India should win as NZ is weaker as compared to them but don't forget NZ is a team with such talent that they can give hard time to any team at any given time. Actually everyone should praise NZ rather than criticizes Team India.

  • Ravi_M on November 19, 2010, 4:30 GMT

    Every one including Harsha seems to begrudge India its Number 1 ranking. Give them a break. India has done well over the last year, enjoy this while it lasts. These are the last few times when the likes of Sachin, Dravid and Sehwag will play together. They have given us memorable team victories and memorable individual performances. Get off the "let us judge if India deserves to be #1" question. in reality all teams including SL and SA have question marks against them and all have good performers. Enjoy India while you can.

  • on November 19, 2010, 4:28 GMT

    @Nz Cricket Despite of being no.1 Aus could beat India only once in past 30 years(in India), and lost to South Africa in their own backyard 2-1. Anyway I think the groundsmen should prepare result oriented pitches, like the ones used in Australia series.

  • on November 19, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    I don't agree with the view that India's position at the top is tenuous. Tell me which country has bunch of bowlers giving nightmares to batsmen. Those are bygone era. Pakistan have, but 2 of the M's (Asif and Amer) would not play anymore. The others have just 1 or 2 striking bowlers like Styne for SA, Malinga (who hardly plays test) for SL, not sure of Aussies they have their own problem and still struggling to find a strike bowler, not to speak of England and NZ. Look our bowlers bundled out Australia and blanked them in the previous series. At the same time, don't expect India to be a dominant #1 like yesteryears WI or Australia, but still they are #1 for quite sometime now despite all negative comments. Just wait and watch everything will change if they go and win the third test.

  • rado41 on November 19, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    it is unfair to blame on pitches. can anyone had idea of having genuine bowler in indian side. the rank may reflect india as no.1, the performances are not. recall a match against australia itself, at mohali, did anyone had idea of winning, tributes to vvs and ishanth. its purely by luck, we won. and many of the matches that india won, was purely relay on batting, thanks to batting giants. it should be noted that it is not pitch or batsmen temperament but bowlers dominated efforts that brings wickets.

  • Caveman. on November 19, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    If I may gently remind you, NZ already took 20 wickets in the 1st test.

    I fail to understand why BCCI cant provide decent wickets. Bouncy wickets in SA or Aus, swinging tracks in Eng of NZ are fine; so why shouldnt turners for the international games in India be banished completely in favor of flat tracks?

  • aruntheselector on November 19, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    I agree with Harsha.A drawn series @ home is like a loss.Being No.1 team a whitewash is expected against a team that has never won a Test in India in the recent years.Hats off to NZ for coming back strongly after a tragic ODI series in Bangladesh.In the first 2 tests India has played full strength and barring Raina and Dhoni all batsmen have scored runs but did not make any impact.The bowling too was @ its full strength.Team composition is not an issue,but what lacked in both the matches is India did not find ways to win.Infact they were more concerned about ensuring that they dont loose.India recovered well in 2nd innings at A'bad.What was wrong in setting NZ a target of 220-230 and give NZ 2 sessions.Sree & ZAK were getting the ball to reverse swing in the 1st innings.It was the same place where Srinath had got South Africa all out in almost a session and 1 hour in 1996 on last day.In 2nd test too,India did not look like it had a plan to win.In Nagpur India would be under pressure.

  • on November 19, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    Much has been talked about these flat tracks! Whatever is the state of the pitch, however as #1 team, India should have looked to draw first blood! While Dhoni is battling with his own batting, the pressure is evident by his defensive approach! For example, Shewag & Bajji have accelerated in the same pitch while others where more cautious against #8 team! similar tactics by bowlers to demoralize the #8 from day 1 of the series would have sent the right message to the cricketing world & these mind games are important if you want to be a dominating #1. This is similar to India as a country becoming an important global force but being too defensive / timid & slow in pressing forward!

  • on November 19, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    Unnadkat is just 20, and has performed well - playing for India A. Don't write him off, without giving him the chance to prove himself. He might just be the surprise element in an otherwise toothless attack, bar Zaheer Khan, who he might replace. Harbhajan has been out of sorts, as a bowler. He has lost his rhythm. He doesn't flight the ball much, and is bowling flatter. His line is not good, either - drifting down the legside, more often than not. His batting has flourished, or I would be tempted to bring in Ashwin to replace him. Pragyan Ojha has bowled within himself. It might be a good idea to tinker with the thoughts of paying a third spinner, in Amit Mishra. Over to the India think tank.

  • knowledge_eater on November 19, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    WHO IS JAYDEV UNADKAT ? Mithun ! RP ! Munaf ! None but directly jumping to Unadkat ! Don't get me wrong (and I hope he proves me wrong) but don't you think we are taking big risk! I want Dhoni to show some real anger and stop his bowlers to go on a field if Pitch is terrible and nothing for a bowler. Who is listening to captain now a days! Its sad to see Bowlers are alone taking a blame silently without giving them enough conditions to prove their worth. In test pitch like this! We are killing bowling talent. And I can't see this torture anymore, if this continue like this. No Hyderabad didn't produce a good pitch. And yes, I also agree we wanted to force result we could have batted faster, but then what was the guarantee that we would have taken 20 wickets even with enough time in hand since pitches were bogus. What happened to pitch we made against Aus. and then why sudden ridiculous pitches !!!

  • nzcricket174 on November 19, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    A number one side should play like a number one side. Why do you think Australia were no.1 for so long?

  • cricket__fan on November 19, 2010, 3:15 GMT

    A drawn series would be moral victory for New Zealand whose batting lineup was totally inexperienced for Indian conditions and whose bowling can at best be described as club level. The trouble with India is that its cricketers are lost in the glitz and glamour of a third rate TV programme called IPL and the future of Indian cricket looks very very grim. There are no bowlers to take 20 opposition wickets ina test match and the batsmen are getting older. Selectros are not helping either by persisting with Dravid, who clearly is past his best.

  • on November 19, 2010, 3:14 GMT

    "Neither side, though, has looked like taking 20 wickets".....? NZ already have

  • PTtheAxis on November 19, 2010, 3:10 GMT

    dhoni takes out one catching fielder per shot from opposition batsman. so four shots and all catching fielders are gone. india won matches with spin having catching fielders no matter what the situation. dhoni is hyperdefensive. waiting for some luck to strike like lightning. no catching fielders - no pressure - no chance of wickets. get in a aggressive captain and teh same bowlers will do better - can't see one on the horizon though

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  • PTtheAxis on November 19, 2010, 3:10 GMT

    dhoni takes out one catching fielder per shot from opposition batsman. so four shots and all catching fielders are gone. india won matches with spin having catching fielders no matter what the situation. dhoni is hyperdefensive. waiting for some luck to strike like lightning. no catching fielders - no pressure - no chance of wickets. get in a aggressive captain and teh same bowlers will do better - can't see one on the horizon though

  • on November 19, 2010, 3:14 GMT

    "Neither side, though, has looked like taking 20 wickets".....? NZ already have

  • cricket__fan on November 19, 2010, 3:15 GMT

    A drawn series would be moral victory for New Zealand whose batting lineup was totally inexperienced for Indian conditions and whose bowling can at best be described as club level. The trouble with India is that its cricketers are lost in the glitz and glamour of a third rate TV programme called IPL and the future of Indian cricket looks very very grim. There are no bowlers to take 20 opposition wickets ina test match and the batsmen are getting older. Selectros are not helping either by persisting with Dravid, who clearly is past his best.

  • nzcricket174 on November 19, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    A number one side should play like a number one side. Why do you think Australia were no.1 for so long?

  • knowledge_eater on November 19, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    WHO IS JAYDEV UNADKAT ? Mithun ! RP ! Munaf ! None but directly jumping to Unadkat ! Don't get me wrong (and I hope he proves me wrong) but don't you think we are taking big risk! I want Dhoni to show some real anger and stop his bowlers to go on a field if Pitch is terrible and nothing for a bowler. Who is listening to captain now a days! Its sad to see Bowlers are alone taking a blame silently without giving them enough conditions to prove their worth. In test pitch like this! We are killing bowling talent. And I can't see this torture anymore, if this continue like this. No Hyderabad didn't produce a good pitch. And yes, I also agree we wanted to force result we could have batted faster, but then what was the guarantee that we would have taken 20 wickets even with enough time in hand since pitches were bogus. What happened to pitch we made against Aus. and then why sudden ridiculous pitches !!!

  • on November 19, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    Unnadkat is just 20, and has performed well - playing for India A. Don't write him off, without giving him the chance to prove himself. He might just be the surprise element in an otherwise toothless attack, bar Zaheer Khan, who he might replace. Harbhajan has been out of sorts, as a bowler. He has lost his rhythm. He doesn't flight the ball much, and is bowling flatter. His line is not good, either - drifting down the legside, more often than not. His batting has flourished, or I would be tempted to bring in Ashwin to replace him. Pragyan Ojha has bowled within himself. It might be a good idea to tinker with the thoughts of paying a third spinner, in Amit Mishra. Over to the India think tank.

  • on November 19, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    Much has been talked about these flat tracks! Whatever is the state of the pitch, however as #1 team, India should have looked to draw first blood! While Dhoni is battling with his own batting, the pressure is evident by his defensive approach! For example, Shewag & Bajji have accelerated in the same pitch while others where more cautious against #8 team! similar tactics by bowlers to demoralize the #8 from day 1 of the series would have sent the right message to the cricketing world & these mind games are important if you want to be a dominating #1. This is similar to India as a country becoming an important global force but being too defensive / timid & slow in pressing forward!

  • aruntheselector on November 19, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    I agree with Harsha.A drawn series @ home is like a loss.Being No.1 team a whitewash is expected against a team that has never won a Test in India in the recent years.Hats off to NZ for coming back strongly after a tragic ODI series in Bangladesh.In the first 2 tests India has played full strength and barring Raina and Dhoni all batsmen have scored runs but did not make any impact.The bowling too was @ its full strength.Team composition is not an issue,but what lacked in both the matches is India did not find ways to win.Infact they were more concerned about ensuring that they dont loose.India recovered well in 2nd innings at A'bad.What was wrong in setting NZ a target of 220-230 and give NZ 2 sessions.Sree & ZAK were getting the ball to reverse swing in the 1st innings.It was the same place where Srinath had got South Africa all out in almost a session and 1 hour in 1996 on last day.In 2nd test too,India did not look like it had a plan to win.In Nagpur India would be under pressure.

  • Caveman. on November 19, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    If I may gently remind you, NZ already took 20 wickets in the 1st test.

    I fail to understand why BCCI cant provide decent wickets. Bouncy wickets in SA or Aus, swinging tracks in Eng of NZ are fine; so why shouldnt turners for the international games in India be banished completely in favor of flat tracks?

  • rado41 on November 19, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    it is unfair to blame on pitches. can anyone had idea of having genuine bowler in indian side. the rank may reflect india as no.1, the performances are not. recall a match against australia itself, at mohali, did anyone had idea of winning, tributes to vvs and ishanth. its purely by luck, we won. and many of the matches that india won, was purely relay on batting, thanks to batting giants. it should be noted that it is not pitch or batsmen temperament but bowlers dominated efforts that brings wickets.