New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland February 5, 2014

Dhoni asks for endurance and intensity from bowlers


Dravid: Bowling attack has let Dhoni down overseas

India's fast bowlers will have to be prepared to bowl long spells in New Zealand, and run in with the same intensity they showed in South Africa, captain MS Dhoni has said. Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma bowled a collective 91 overs in the second innings of the Wanderers Test. A week later, they sent down a combined 86 more in the first innings of the Durban Test. Dhoni said their energy levels did not dip even in their fourth spells, and said more of it will be needed in New Zealand with little help for spinners.

"The good thing was, their approach was really fantastic [in South Africa]," Dhoni said. "What we have done as a team is, I like to give them short spells so that they are fresh thinking about the third or the fourth spell, if needed. Use them in short bursts. But if the situation demands, they will have to go for long spells. With [Ravindra] Jadeja, he can hold one side, he can bowl long spells, of course, that depends on how well he is bowling.

"In South Africa, I felt they did a very good job. Even when we bowled too many overs, when they came for the last spell, they were still putting in a lot of effort. That is what is important. You don't want to give away easy runs. Let the opposition score off good shots. It was a good performance from them, depending on the scenario."

Dhoni said Indian fast bowlers were used to going flat out for wickets thanks to the fewer overs they bowl at home, where spinners are used more. In New Zealand, they will need to be patient, which is where the experience of Zaheer will come in handy, the captain felt. "It is not only motivation [from Zaheer]. It is about bringing up new plans, and helping the youngsters to execute those plans. In the subcontinent, at times the only thing fast bowlers look for is wickets. They want to get wickets in each and every spell. Sometimes they only have two or three spells in the whole day.

"But over here the scenario changes. They have to bowl more overs, they have to keep coming back for second spell, third spell. Sometimes if you are bowling well, maybe even a fourth spell on the same day, which means you have to be a bit more patient. Bowl one line and length. Try to build on the pressure. It will be a real help to the fast bowlers as he [Zaheer] is someone who has played a lot outside the subcontinent. It is always good to have an experienced bowler in the side."

Also of help to the fast bowlers will be the restrictive presence of Jadeja, Dhoni said. Jadeja was the preferred sole spinner for India in the previous Test in Durban, where he bowled 58.2 overs in the first innings, picked up six wickets and conceded only 2.36 an over. "In the Test format, what we have seen is he is definitely someone who can keep it tight," Dhoni said. "He gives the liberty to our fast bowlers to attack a bit more. Jadeja can keep one end closed, and not give too many runs so that we can build some pressure and the fast bowlers can attack from the other side."

Ishant was the third seamer alongside Zaheer and Shami in South Africa. Ishant averages less than three wickets a Test, but Dhoni said as the third fast bowler his role was to not let the opposition get away when the ball stopped moving around. "More often than not we have used him as a one-change bowler," Dhoni said. "That again becomes a very crucial slot. At times with the Kookaburra ball, you don't get a lot of swing after 25-30 overs. It is important you keep hitting the same length, and try to get the batsmen out with his extra bounce. It will be crucial for him to keep it tight, keep bowling in the same areas, keep repeating the action, keep hitting the length we want him to, and build on pressure.

"The one-change bowler is crucial as once we give away too many runs, it becomes a situation that when the new ball is due, you cannot afford to have too many fielders in the catching cordon as you have already given away too many runs. A lot in the modern day is dictated by what pace the opposition or home team is scoring at. If you are scoring at over four or close to four an over, it means in 90 overs you have already reached a par-plus score. Then it becomes difficult for the opposition whether to go for an attacking field or go defensive. Let's see how it goes."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sibaq on February 6, 2014, 13:48 GMT

    ndia is lacking the experience of Dravid, Laxman, Sachin, Gambhir, and Sehwag. First 3 were retired from the Intl. cricket and sehwag is out of form, but why the selectors are not showing their favor towards Gambhir, in previous tour (2008-2009) to New Zeland he was one of the players who made centuries but now he is not even in the squad. This is one of the examples for Dhoni's partiality & poor captaincy he want to keep some players in the team even they don't' perform like "M Vijay, Raina, R Sharma, Ishant Sharma and RA Jadeja." The team which is playing is not an Indian team it is Dhoni's team.

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    Its true Indian don't not have world class bowlers who can take 20 wickets. But it doesn't make sense to keep playing the same bowlers again and again. Ishant was an exception prospect when he started his career but honestly his bowling has gone down and he needs to work it out in domestic cricket and nets. There is no point playing him again and again. If we are playing 4 bowlers instead of 5 because of batting issues overseas someone like mishra or ojha who are regular spinners could be tried. We have reached a point in Indian cricket unless a fresh approach is taken Indian cricket will go downhill. I expect 0-2 test white wash in NZ.

  • john on February 6, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    India deserve to lose with this bowling line-up and an arrogant captain in Dhoni, who refuses to change the under-performers and his attitude.

  • john on February 6, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Zaheer and Ishant bowling @125. Freebies are plenty. Feast on NZ. At least it brings a change in the helm (Dhoni) and his friends

  • john on February 6, 2014, 2:49 GMT

    Indian bowlers are back to its best. Yadav was the one of promising lads emerged from Aus along with kohli, but now he warms the bench.

    Ishwar Pandey was an exact replacement for Ishant. Because of his height, he can extract bounce. But Ishwar is a more compact player with good control over his line and length.

    Ishwar avgs 24 in FC with an economy rate of 2.88 per over and strike rate of 50. Our Ishant avgs 32 in FC with an economy rate of 3.50 per over and strike rate of 60.

    Why can't we can the bowling personal? It may change our fortune also!!!

  • raj on February 6, 2014, 2:04 GMT

    Where is the intensity??? Ishant & Zaheer are bowling in the high 120's - That is suitable for WOMEN'S CRICKET!! Embarrassing pace! They are even encouraging Shami to bowl at a slower pace. Indian bowling needs to work as a team - hunt in packs. India should play Shami, Yadav & Aaron together in at least 10 matches overseas. Also drop Rohit and play Ashwin & Jadeja together. I have always said India requires 5 bowlers to bowl teams out twice - right now they have 3 and a half since Zaheers stamina is limited because of age. India's performance is very very disappointing to fans. They show a glimmer of hope only to deceive. :'(

  • Vishwa on February 5, 2014, 23:41 GMT

    Same story Drop Ashwin. Give him some chance, U guys talk like he is the only player who is bad and the rest r goo. Even Shami and Kumar should be dropped for thir poor performance in one dayers. If fast bowlers d not create presure at the start it is not easy for the spinners to do their job. Also Indian batsman make the opposition bowlers good because they put themselves into a shell and not scoring runs freely.

  • current on February 5, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    It just shows how clueless Dhoni is about bowling in test matches. For him, bowling is just a way to contain runs. So he picks 4 bowlers, out of which the role of two is to 'keep things tight' and not give away runs.

    How can two bowlers take 20 wickets, no matter how much intensity they have?

    This defensive mindset does not even work in ODIs now, it is a sure disaster in test matches. these are not Indian tracks where two spinners can run through a side. Every one of your bowlers has to be looking to take wickets. Every one of your bowlers has to exert pressure on the batsmen.

    What's wrong with trying an attack consisting of Zaheer, Shami, Yadav/Aaron with one spinner? Or for that matter Harbhajan, Ojha and Misra with one pacer?

  • Ravi on February 5, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    Speaking of endurance we have to remember the great Kapil Dev, he used to bowl very long spells often 25-30 overs at a stretch. I remember a commentator saying. in comes Kapil Dev, our best bowler, often the only bowler..... I don't see any of our present fast bowlers doing such spells!

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2014, 20:52 GMT

    now one wonders what dhoni meant by "bowlers to bowl with intensity".without a doubt ,overseas he is dreadfully defensive.. if we turn the clock back in 2011-12 we went to australia with real pace of yadav and sharma(given he was really quick on that tour) bouncer to clarke.he pulled thing u know they all throw that plan out of d window and start searching for his outside edge...i mean surely u gotta b more aggresive than that..

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