India in South Africa, 2013-14 December 30, 2013

India's batsmen deserve better fast-bowling support

India have shown they have the batting to win series overseas if they can find fit, robust and skillful fast bowlers
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Rahane, Jadeja finds of the tour

On paper, India didn't win anything on this tour. They lost the ODI series 2-0, and would most likely have lost the third match had rain not interrupted. They lost the Test series 1-0. Between the end of the ODIs and the end of the Tests, though, India gained a lot. They showed they could compete against South Africa in South Africa. They pushed the world's best Test side, which had two world-class allrounders in Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers, to its absolute limit in Johannesburg. They showed they have the batting to win overseas Tests if they can find fit, robust and skillful fast bowlers.

The same had been the case with the Indian team for the last 10 years, but there were doubts now that the big batsmen were gone. This young batch, though, showed that the batting is in safe hands. Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were the shining lights. Back in 1996-97, when Rahul Dravid came to South Africa for his first tour, Sachin Tendulkar told him he would have done well if he could get 250 runs. That was a three-Test series. In this two-match fling, Pujara, Kohli and Rahane have managed 280, 272 and 209 respectively. M Vijay did his job too as an opener, seeing off the new ball with commendable discipline, but he will be disappointed he didn't convert one of those innings into a big hundred.

It is not all about the runs, though. It is the manner they were scored in. The likes of Dravid and Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman took about three-four tours to display the kind of maturity, awareness and comfort with their own games that Pujara, Kohli and Rahane have shown here. There were no crazy counterattacks or unorthodox hitting. This was proper Test-match batting, minimising the risks, against the world's deadliest bowlers. None of the three looked scarred or scared. There will be concerns about Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, but they must be given time to work on their games and come back tighter.

What will bother India more, though, is that there was no contribution from No. 7 onwards. MS Dhoni is conscious of his shortcomings when outside Asia, and he has been working on them - he was practising with the red ball even during the ODIs - but he will be the first to admit he needs to do more. He has had a few important contributions outside Asia in the past, but will need to be more consistent over the next year if he is to match up with other number sevens around the world.

After the series, Dhoni admitted that the lower order was a problem, and that it would take them time to start contributing the way they used to when India were No. 1. Zaheer Khan will have to immediately start batting like he did in the second innings - more than an hour of getting behind the line of the ball - as opposed to what he did in the first - a golden duck to a wild heave from as far away from the line of the ball as he could be.

R Ashwin provides India solid hope coming in at No. 8, but he will now have to compete for that sole spinner's position with Ravindra Jadeja, who has been another big gain for India. He bowled 58.3 overs in an innings for his six wickets even as South Africa batted comfortably against the rest of the bowlers. He will definitely be part of India's plans when they play the first Test in new Zealand, in Auckland on February 6. It doesn't make Ashwin a bad bowler, but it gives India a horses-for-courses option, which is thanks to the trust shown by them in Jadeja.

In Durban, though, Jadeja was left fighting a lone battle. On a flat pitch, it needed a big effort from India's quicks to save the Test, the kind Dale Steyn put in. It was not to be. Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma were knackered after their gigantic push for a win in Johannesburg. The intensity was visibly low. Dhoni was so circumspect about them he could have kept bowling with the old ball had they not been forced to take a new one after 146 overs.

In Durban, Jadeja was left fighting a lone battle. On a flat pitch, it needed a big effort from India's quicks to save the Test, the kind Dale Steyn put in. It was not to be. Dhoni was so circumspect about them he could have kept bowling with the old ball had they not been forced to take a new one after 146 overs.

Fast bowling remains India's biggest worry. Zaheer made a stellar comeback in Johannesburg, Shami was excellent with his seam position there, and Ishant tried hard as usual, but they showed they were not as versatile and strong as they needed to be. The statistics have been damning. They might have done better than the numbers suggest, but they couldn't have been much better than averages of 63 (Ishant), 46 (Zaheer) and 44 (Shami).

India will need to look at Zaheer's durability and endurance again, especially if he doesn't offer much with the bat. The big problem is, India don't really have many options. Ishant had to be drafted in because the first choice, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, wasn't going to work on pitches that weren't slow. Shami is surely one for the future, but Ishant will have to deliver a bagful of wickets sooner than later.

India have for long been a batting-dominated team with their superstar batsmen collecting most of the accolades and the blame, but this might not be a bad time to give this new crop of promising batsmen bowlers who will get them 20 wickets. Where they will come from is anybody's guess.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Al_Bundy1 on January 4, 2014, 15:44 GMT

    We won't get good pace bowlers because we keep selecting mediocre bowlers like Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Unadkat, etc. There are good bowlers playing in Ranji Trophy - pace bowlers like Pankaj Singh, Imtiaz Ahmed, Sid Kaul, etc. and spinners like Iqbal Abdulla, Parvez Rasool, etc.

  • iesa_cricketer on January 2, 2014, 17:48 GMT

    indian batsmen have done beyond expectation,especily after first series of sachin retirement

  • AltafPatel on January 2, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    It's too early to judge Jadeja and Rahane findings of the tour. Jadeja was expensive in taking 6 wickets whereas Rahane scored run when result of the match was already decided when India was 174/7. Pujara and Kohli showed in tests that they can be world class in the future. Everyone knows Agarkar scored 100 at Lord's in 2002 or Akash Chopra in Australia in 2003-04 tour or Wasim Jaafar in WI 2006 tour and SA 2006 tour and how far they went then after. Even hits of Australia 2003-04 tour and later Pakistan tour of Irfan Pathan and Balaji are not in picture at all.

  • on January 2, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    the reason India didn't win a single match in South Africa is because of the defensive mindset of mahendra singh dhoni. in the ODIs, there was no intent to take wickets, and the same was true in the 2nd test. his statement that he is no Santa Claus is a reflection on his confidence with his bowlers. This bowling attack under the same captain will only yield the same results _ read defeats.

  • Iceman29 on January 2, 2014, 6:19 GMT

    We have to make fast bowlers and encourage them to bowl at the maximum speed from the young age itself and teach them not to compromise on Speed no matter what happens..And there should be a selection criteria to pick the fast bowlers at national level..the minimum criteria should be they should be able to bowl 140kph+ ...so by the time they hit the domestic level they will be able to learn to swing as well with that speed..We should also look after our current fast bowlers and support them well...this is the only way we can produce good quality fast bowlers...There should be enough assistant in Pitches as well so that our batsmen dont have to be sitting ducks when they travel abroad...

  • Rajeshj on January 2, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    Not quite a good assessment by any means... Kohli was good, but not great as the runs show, because he did not face the fire at its prime in all his innings.. He came in when the bowlers were softened by Vijay and Pujara.. Pujara and Rahane were amazing and they are the true shining lights.. Jadeja can no way be termed as a big gain, because he bowled in a pitch assisting spinners, where even part-time spinners like Duminy and Peterson could get easy wickets.. Ashwin can consider himself unlucky for taking the blame as a bowler who is no-good outside India.. He played in Johannesburg where no spinners have ever taken good wickets and criticized unjustly for no-show.. He should have played in Durban, but strangely Dhoni decided to gift it Jadeja.. Dhoni is fast becoming India's version of Darren Sammy, who is no good outside the sub-continent.. Some of his tactics and decisions were quite baffling..

  • Uppercut07 on January 2, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    FLAT TRACK BULLIES...... no surprises...... their bowlers are the same. Can only perform at home. Useless in overseas games. 900+ days since the last overseas TEST win huh? wow!

  • oldAndWise on January 2, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    In the discussion about fast bowlers, people some times forget the fact that test cricket has changed a lot in the last 5 years. With exposure to more limited overs cricket, batsmen play a lot more shots. You may have a fast bowler who can bowl fast, but if he is not accurate, the captain will be forced to take him off the attack after a few overs. Mitchel Johnson had this issue when he used to be wayward. So folks who ask for Umesh, Aaron etc need to bear in mind that a captain may not be able to keep them on for long spells if they are not accurate. And batsmen will target them. The last thing you want is to take a bowler in who just bleeds runs. So these so called fast bowlers of the future need to improve or India should keep looking for a new crop.

  • vakkaraju on January 2, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    I agree that Dhoni is not the ideal captain. He as a leader has to be able to get the best of the resources on hand. He clearly shows his pacers , he has no confidence. He does not seem to inspire them. Bowling with a ball over 100 overs old is proof enough for me. Shows a defeatist mentality. In India the spinners have to just toss it up and have the surface do its tricks. In conditions abroad the spinners need more RPMs to be halfway effective. Kumble was the only exception. Dhoni please go now.

  • Sanj747 on January 1, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    Nice article pointing out many issues. Dhoni outside India is unfortunately not a threat with batting in test cricket. The stats clearly provde this. Ashwin is the same with his bowling and it is hard to understand why a player with his height can't get drift and bounce on tracks outside his comfort zone. Need to seriously look to see if he is worthwhile outside home conditions. The fast bowling continues to disappoint. Shami is for the future. They should work with B Kumar, Yadav and Varun Aaron and build a group of young fast bowlers. Ishant and Zaheer Khan are not going to be long term. The results have clearly demonstrated that. Bowlers win you test matches. India unfortunately don't have ones that can do it away from home.

  • Al_Bundy1 on January 4, 2014, 15:44 GMT

    We won't get good pace bowlers because we keep selecting mediocre bowlers like Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Unadkat, etc. There are good bowlers playing in Ranji Trophy - pace bowlers like Pankaj Singh, Imtiaz Ahmed, Sid Kaul, etc. and spinners like Iqbal Abdulla, Parvez Rasool, etc.

  • iesa_cricketer on January 2, 2014, 17:48 GMT

    indian batsmen have done beyond expectation,especily after first series of sachin retirement

  • AltafPatel on January 2, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    It's too early to judge Jadeja and Rahane findings of the tour. Jadeja was expensive in taking 6 wickets whereas Rahane scored run when result of the match was already decided when India was 174/7. Pujara and Kohli showed in tests that they can be world class in the future. Everyone knows Agarkar scored 100 at Lord's in 2002 or Akash Chopra in Australia in 2003-04 tour or Wasim Jaafar in WI 2006 tour and SA 2006 tour and how far they went then after. Even hits of Australia 2003-04 tour and later Pakistan tour of Irfan Pathan and Balaji are not in picture at all.

  • on January 2, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    the reason India didn't win a single match in South Africa is because of the defensive mindset of mahendra singh dhoni. in the ODIs, there was no intent to take wickets, and the same was true in the 2nd test. his statement that he is no Santa Claus is a reflection on his confidence with his bowlers. This bowling attack under the same captain will only yield the same results _ read defeats.

  • Iceman29 on January 2, 2014, 6:19 GMT

    We have to make fast bowlers and encourage them to bowl at the maximum speed from the young age itself and teach them not to compromise on Speed no matter what happens..And there should be a selection criteria to pick the fast bowlers at national level..the minimum criteria should be they should be able to bowl 140kph+ ...so by the time they hit the domestic level they will be able to learn to swing as well with that speed..We should also look after our current fast bowlers and support them well...this is the only way we can produce good quality fast bowlers...There should be enough assistant in Pitches as well so that our batsmen dont have to be sitting ducks when they travel abroad...

  • Rajeshj on January 2, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    Not quite a good assessment by any means... Kohli was good, but not great as the runs show, because he did not face the fire at its prime in all his innings.. He came in when the bowlers were softened by Vijay and Pujara.. Pujara and Rahane were amazing and they are the true shining lights.. Jadeja can no way be termed as a big gain, because he bowled in a pitch assisting spinners, where even part-time spinners like Duminy and Peterson could get easy wickets.. Ashwin can consider himself unlucky for taking the blame as a bowler who is no-good outside India.. He played in Johannesburg where no spinners have ever taken good wickets and criticized unjustly for no-show.. He should have played in Durban, but strangely Dhoni decided to gift it Jadeja.. Dhoni is fast becoming India's version of Darren Sammy, who is no good outside the sub-continent.. Some of his tactics and decisions were quite baffling..

  • Uppercut07 on January 2, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    FLAT TRACK BULLIES...... no surprises...... their bowlers are the same. Can only perform at home. Useless in overseas games. 900+ days since the last overseas TEST win huh? wow!

  • oldAndWise on January 2, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    In the discussion about fast bowlers, people some times forget the fact that test cricket has changed a lot in the last 5 years. With exposure to more limited overs cricket, batsmen play a lot more shots. You may have a fast bowler who can bowl fast, but if he is not accurate, the captain will be forced to take him off the attack after a few overs. Mitchel Johnson had this issue when he used to be wayward. So folks who ask for Umesh, Aaron etc need to bear in mind that a captain may not be able to keep them on for long spells if they are not accurate. And batsmen will target them. The last thing you want is to take a bowler in who just bleeds runs. So these so called fast bowlers of the future need to improve or India should keep looking for a new crop.

  • vakkaraju on January 2, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    I agree that Dhoni is not the ideal captain. He as a leader has to be able to get the best of the resources on hand. He clearly shows his pacers , he has no confidence. He does not seem to inspire them. Bowling with a ball over 100 overs old is proof enough for me. Shows a defeatist mentality. In India the spinners have to just toss it up and have the surface do its tricks. In conditions abroad the spinners need more RPMs to be halfway effective. Kumble was the only exception. Dhoni please go now.

  • Sanj747 on January 1, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    Nice article pointing out many issues. Dhoni outside India is unfortunately not a threat with batting in test cricket. The stats clearly provde this. Ashwin is the same with his bowling and it is hard to understand why a player with his height can't get drift and bounce on tracks outside his comfort zone. Need to seriously look to see if he is worthwhile outside home conditions. The fast bowling continues to disappoint. Shami is for the future. They should work with B Kumar, Yadav and Varun Aaron and build a group of young fast bowlers. Ishant and Zaheer Khan are not going to be long term. The results have clearly demonstrated that. Bowlers win you test matches. India unfortunately don't have ones that can do it away from home.

  • on January 1, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    @Skywalker1977 I have seen a few Ranji games played on green tasks. Haryana always provide green tasks. But the problem is, bowlers like Mohit Sharma, Vinay Kumar and such grab bucketful of wickets and when they are given a chance at Intl level, they are easily picked for runs.

  • on January 1, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    The article was good but is it not time to not treat Dhoni as the holy cow and ask questions about him. He is not a test batsmen or captain and as for wicket keeper I think Saha is a better one and more suited for test. Dhoni became a captain after 30 test matches why not give Kholi or Pujara that chance and get a better number 7

  • Skywalker1977 on January 1, 2014, 17:11 GMT

    India should maintain a few 'green' tracks at home, for example Mohali, Chennai etc. We already have a fast bowling academy in Chennai. Let's give the youngsters who aspire to become fast bowlers some encouragement.

  • Rags57 on January 1, 2014, 15:47 GMT

    Both Zaheer and Ishant should be out from the scheme of things - they are past their prime and don't deserve any more chances. We need to get a good fast bowling coach (Venkatesh Prasad or Srinath or Kapil Dev if one of them is available) and play Umesh Yadav, Ishwar Pandey and Bhuvanesh Kumar - these are your hopes for the future. Along with Shami Ahmed and Varun Aaron we have a decent set of five bowlers who need to be put through the grind and shaped up to deliver. These folks also need to work on their batting a little bit so the tail makes useful contributions with the bat as well.

  • on January 1, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron are missing from the article. I just fail tom understand why we miss the obvious. Yadav and Aaron may not be quite up there in terms of consistency or fitness, but they definitely look the future.

    I sincerely hope Dhoni will play Aaron in NZ and not bench him as was the case in England ODI series post the 4-0 humiliation.

  • mzm149 on January 1, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    The worst bowling attack in the world.

  • Couch_Expert on January 1, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Fast bowlers will help us win matches, but we could have saved the test matches in SA if our no:7 onwards baysmen had applied themselves the way SA ones did. In both tests, the last 5 wickets, barring the last innings where Rehane played with the tail, the innings folded up once the 5th wicket fell. We also have to rely on the four selecetd bowlers for all the bowling. No Sourav, no Sehwag and no Tendulkar to bowl 10 odd overs in a long innings. Dhoni is WK cum Captain cum Batsman. I don't think he shone in any any aspect of the game in this series. WK was average, batting generally poor and captaincy very defensive. Is this the beginiin gof the end for him or will he atone for this in NZ? We pride ourselves on our spin bowling and our ability to play spinners. I think SA spinners took 8 wickets ot our 6 and Peterson had the best average. I don't think SLA bowlers are any longer terrified of Indian batsmen, the way they used to be to bowl to Sourav or Sehwag in their prime.

  • Couch_Expert on January 1, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    Developing genuine fast bowlers who last 10 seasons of international cricket requires more than Harry Porter's magical wand. Fitness, stamina, body strength do not come naturally to Indians. A 6ft 3 Ishant cannot consitently deliver what a slightly shorter but fitter and stronger Dale Steyn or Mitch Johnson can. Lack of protein rich diet, our inherent laziness, fatalistic outlook, conservative culture and poor training all contribute to the lack of fast and aggressive bowlers. BCCI needs to think through on how we can spot talent early enough to make fast bowlers who are atheletes as well. Infact, the lack of atheletism and the fact most of our quicker bowlers come from somewhat under-previleged backgrounds and therefore are prey to instant celebrity status on succeeding in one or two matches has hurt our fast bowling prospects.

  • sony_sr on January 1, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    Another thing we need to consider seriously now is the defensive mindset of dhoni. We can't win a single overseas test irrespective of players performance, if dhoni continues with his defensive tactics. Anyways we were not expected to win in SA, then I don;t know what stopped him from going for an all out attack.

  • sony_sr on January 1, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    If zaheer can't provide what a rookie can't then we need to go for youngsters. there is no meaning in continuing with zaheer if he can't provide instant success as he is not going to be part of team for a longer period anyways. since indias bowling options are pathetic anyways why can't we tryout every single performer in domestic cricket. i don;t think anyone can perform worser than what these guys are doing now. i pleasing thing is batting unit looks very promising.

  • jango_moh on January 1, 2014, 7:18 GMT

    i agree with many of the comments here about dhoni.... i have always believed that dhoni is the world's best odi captain and batsmen.... but he should not play tests.... new captain should be brought in with a new wk(karthik, parthiv, saha are way better technically correct batsmen).... plus dhoni plays tests also like odis and does not have confidence in his pacers.... i feel dhoni somehow likes medium pace rather than all out pace, i would get a more aggresive captain!!!

  • VinodGupte on January 1, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    i think part of the reason why these youngsters are doing so well is exposure. kohli and rahane have been exposed to some of the best bowlers from around the world in IPL. they know how to handle pressure situations. they know how to play regardless of the public expectations and criticism.

  • rajeshl on January 1, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    Largely agree with the train of thought expressed here, but on the matter of bowlers, I think we're missing out on a good spinner who can bowl overseas.

    In this area, both Ashwin and Ojha's records are not anything to write home about. Ojha hasn't played in overseas tests outside Asia, was ignored for both tests in SA and now gets dropped for New Zealand.

    While Jadeja did reasonably well in Durban, Ashwin's poor show in Joburg (and in previous tests in Australia) probably hurt us more that we think.

    Yes, we need to build a good pool of pace bowlers, but our spin cupboard needs to be looked at equally urgently.

  • LongLiveTestCricket on January 1, 2014, 5:37 GMT

    Rohit Sharma may have started his career with a bang in India but he needs to do a lot more in order to succeed in all conditions.He does not take a big stride forward so I'd expect him to struggle against incoming deliveries in alien conditions just like he fell over to be lbw to Philander and left alone an incoming one from Steyn. There are so many away Tests coming up, particularly the 5 Test series in England which'll be crucial to his future. However, in any case he needs to brush aside the laziness in his game to succeed away from home.

  • srikanths on January 1, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    This is nothing new. It had always been the case when we had SRT,Dravid , Laxman. You may recall Sydney 2003-04, why SA in 2010-11m capetown test when SA was down 140 for 5 when Boucher and Kallis rallied back.I would say the current pace attack is better than waht we had earlier . We have several pacers coming up. In the past, whatver we won was primarliy due to batting and some decent contribution from pacers. England -2 tests. Only exception when we won only with bowling was SA Joburg (Sreesanth)

  • fakeindplayer on January 1, 2014, 5:00 GMT

    The problem is with wish to create rank turners (remember Dhoni's comment after winning first test against Eng). By asking for tracks that turn from day one, Dhoni has negated the role of a fast bowler. The argument was "We get conditions suiting home team". How was Durban more suiting to SA than to India? It was a flat desk with help to spin bowler. Does that qualify for unfriendly condition for Indian team? How would fast bowlers learn the art of getting wickets on non-responsive pitches against top order batters if the pitch prepared for international test match start turning from first session? I think we should prepare fair tracks for test matches that help fast bowler in first session, has decent bounce and help for seam bowler if he is prepared to put in extra, at the same time if batsman is willing to dig deep, offers scoring opportunity. It should turn on day 4 and 5.

  • Siddiee on January 1, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    No matter how hard Ishant tries but he is still the same bowler and has not learnt much, Zaheer still uses his first over for warm up instead of being on the money with his first ball, our spin options are limited to Ojha and Mishra incase Ashwin and Jadeja fail. And then we say India doesn't possess an attack that can get them 20 wickets and that is the major reason for Dhoni's defensive tactics. Fair enough but whats next ?

    Ideally some new guys should be given chances and persisted with but here we have our captain acknowledging the great work put in by Zaheer and co match after match. As a fan I am fine if the captain is defensive but then should work on the weak department, India may lose with new set of bowlers but the current guys are not winning them much either.

  • on January 1, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    More than quality fast bowlers, India deserve an aggressive captain who can take teams head-on and go for the kills rather than spreading the field for easy runs. Had he taken the new ball and got steyn and petersen out cheaply, India would have saved the test match.

  • Cool_Jeeves on January 1, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    A cynical view, which the authorities will doubtless take (including Dhoni) is that 1) India did not do as badly as expected 2) It is batting and batsmen that matter in India, and we have three good ones, so all is well 3) In bowling, we have Ashwin who can bat, which is important, and Jadeja as backup 4) Umesh Yadav is good for carrying drinks, and will include "ZAK" and Ishant Sharma for their "X-Factor" (whatever that means), on which basis, Shikhar Dhawan will also stay on.

    The corrective view which should be taken is 1) Keep playing Umesh Yadav, and after 12 consecutive months of tough overseas exposure he will blossom to his true potential using top pace 2) discard Zak, who cant bowl at pace for even two consecutive tests 3) Search for genuine batsmen to fill up remaining spots, not those like Dhawan who have first class averages of barely 40 4) Play Ashwin as a batsman if he is good enough, else bring in a different spinner 5) MAKE KOHLI CAPTAIN NOW. He is test match material.

  • drallion on January 1, 2014, 2:23 GMT

    Ashwin has lost the plot by the accolades he got when he came on the scene. He should have continued being an classical off-spin bowler with variations instead of flying off with carrom ball, mystery ball and more..! His fielding is not good enough already. Imagine his performance a few years down the road. Will be even worse as he ages! Zaheer Khan should retire as he cannot face modern pacers, cannot put in a dive to stop a boundary, does not score runs as he is scared of the ball...Preserve Shami, Yadav and Varun Aaron and possibly Ishwar Pandey if the latter two don't get dumped to accommodate ZK and the like.

  • on January 1, 2014, 2:20 GMT

    Poor captaincy by Dhon in the Test series. No reason why they did not win the first test, and no reason why they could not draw the second. This is a good India team, exciting and fearless. Dhoni may have seen his best years, his mind is not as sharp as it used to be. Very poor unimaginative field placings.

  • ssshNevo on January 1, 2014, 1:09 GMT

    yadav aaron shami jadeja(no,6) ashwin

  • cric131 on January 1, 2014, 0:37 GMT

    And what has happened to the two Kumars - Praveen and Bhuvi are skilful bowlers requiring confidence from the captain and coaching staff. They will be able to bowl long spells when required and make good use of bowler friendly conditions. Pls let's see them in the test team as quickly as possible!

  • greenluv on January 1, 2014, 0:06 GMT

    The whole world knows they need good bowling support except India

  • SRAM20 on December 31, 2013, 21:51 GMT

    I would rest Zaheer and drop Ishant in NZ, and play the likes of Yadav, Shami and Ishwar Pandey. I would keep Bhuvaneshwar purely for England where the ball will swing and were dibbly dobbly bowlers like him, Praveen Kumar, etc will be very successful.Its good that India have gone for an additional fast bowler for NZ because that will help them rotate the bowlers and keep them fresh.

  • on December 31, 2013, 21:28 GMT

    Ishant Sharma can produce 1 or 2 good performance a year, he just can't put together 3 good performances ever. Can be considered a half-decent backup, Yadav with his pace and ability to reverse swing should be the 3rd seamer in non-subcontinental conditions. Bhuvneshwar Kumar should play in New Zealand and England where the new ball should swing and conventional swing remains a factor throughout. Hopefully he would somehow find a way to pick his pace up to the late 130s without losing his swing, could make him a lot more effective. As for the wicketkeepers, there is no other option beyond Dhoni home or away as a wicketkeeper batsman, but MSD can do better in away conditions than what he has managed so far. If Dhoni's captaincy is a bit defensive, then that is also down to the bowlers he has at his disposal

  • CurrentPresident on December 31, 2013, 21:11 GMT

    Problem with the Indian fast bowlers is that there is no one who can teach them the art of taking wickets. They all are taught the basics and try hard but don't know what to do when things don't go their way. Only a fast bowler who has succeeded at test level can teach them that.

    We need to bring in someone like McGrath or Donald or Akram (or even Kapil Dev) to do that. Now that Kallis is retired - maybe he would be open to the opportunity as well.

    Dhoni is unimaginative and does not know much about bowling (or batting for that matter). He cannot mentor someone in anything other than being brave and mentally cool.

  • dsig3 on December 31, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    How about making more balanced pitches so you can give your seamers a break from dust bowls?

  • rame1975 on December 31, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    Batting looks positive, but you need bowlers to win test matches. BCCI should find good young fast bowlers very quickly . else we cannot win in overseas matches.We need fit and fast bowlers like steyn, johnson , morne morkel etc

  • on December 31, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    NZ tour will be alright with Zaheer and Ishant playing one out of the two tests ! The big concern is the 5-test match Eng tour....Zaheer and Ishant should play only test no. 1 and 4. Need Shami, Yadav, Aaron to be given chances in NZ and to step up, otherwise it will be a 0-5 drubbing in Eng !

  • ABKhanISB on December 31, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    India needs to request Pakistan for bowling coach, otherwise this toothless bowling attack wont take them anywhere outside of the sub continent

  • SevereCritic on December 31, 2013, 18:34 GMT

    Dhoni is a very defensive captain. His method of containment works in limited overs cricket. But not in test cricket. You have to take 20 wickets to win a test match. There's no other way around it. If you look at Ashes as a comparison. The wickets in Australia were bouncy and pacy - yes. But Adelaide and MCG were both good for batting. Yet, neither side managed any 500+ scores. And none of the test went to a last session. You have to back your bowling. India's inability to skittle the tail is a huge problem. How does India allow Philander, Steyn and Peterson to score 150 runs between them? That is defensive bowling at its worst. This is where Kumble is sorely missed. He was so good at just walking through tails.

  • AH_USA on December 31, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    In order to produce decent pace bowlers, IND needs to start preparing bowler-friendly tracks at home. This is the only way IND can produce quality pace bowlers. However, if IND does start to prepare bowler friendly tracks at domestic level then it may not be able to produce high-scoring batsmen because wickets will not be flat anymore.

  • Raj61 on December 31, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    Dhoni is a good player in one dayers and T 20s. But test matches, especially abroad, are not his cup of tea. India would do well to look at other wicket keepers who can bat well. Secondly the fast bowling dept needs to be improved. BCCI should find a way to unearth fast bowlers who can run through a side. I do not see a single bowler who can take 5 wickets in an innings currently. Thirdly we need to also produce spinners like Ajmal who can bowl on any wicket unlike Ashwin who has become pedestrian.

  • glen1 on December 31, 2013, 17:02 GMT

    New Zealand should be the last test series for Dhoni and Zaheer; both of them have served well and by NZ tour they would have mentored a new team. Dhoni lacks aggression in tests, especially overseas. It is awful to see his Captaincy, converting wins into draws and draws into defeats. India needs aggressive cricketeers like Kohli to take over, regardless of the outcome. Since the selection committee will not drop Dhoni or Zaheer, it is time for them to step down after NZ tour; otherwise any minimal interest in test cricket will evaporate. Zaheer should have excused himself from second test in SA, and he should do the same for the second test in NZ, as he is only good for one test, and that is good enough.

  • on December 31, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Ishant's performances come once in a blue moon; Umesh should be tried more in tests by giving him few continued opportunities. Zaheer's time is coming to an end, don't think he can last until 2015. Ashwin needs support...especially as No.1 allrounder in the world and the fastest Indian to reach 100 test wickets; how can one drop him. Before the SA tour all wanted Vijay to be out of the squad and no one spoke about Dhawan! Though I don't criticize Dhawan, anyone needs to be given few continued chances (as Rohit has been given over the years... as against to those given to Badri!) to prove themselves. If Jaddu has taken his career-best performance in Durban after bowling >58 overs, just think what Ashwin would have done there given an opportunity! Just consider the conditions against which a player had to perform and then comment! DK would be preferable to Saha in tests/ODIs given his record in England, SA, etc. and his ability to play pace and spin well.

  • on December 31, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    Ishant bowled well for long periods with some pace and bounce and is a bit unlucky in some ways.Zaheer was totally spent after Johannesburg and totally innocuous in Durban with his floaty medium pacers left arm around the wicket variety.He tried hard and one cannot fault his endeavour after a long lay off. Shami was very good,pacy and clever.He could become a great fast-medium paceman upon who India can pin their hopes on for a long time both with the new and old ball.

  • on December 31, 2013, 16:30 GMT

    India deserve a better Captain

  • on December 31, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    @sidmonga - good article and a valid point on Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. I think India should invest in BK - he has some chinks which can be ironed with experience and advice - kookabura ball is something he's not too comfortable bowling with at the moment, he has a problem with short-pitch ball while batting like most indian batsmen.

    Zaheer Khan and Ishant did try hard in SA - but given their experience of over 50+ test matches (inc. some in SA) it was a disappointing effort from both of them. They leaked runs, hardly threatened batsmen barring 1st innings of SA in 1st test. India must start looking beyond at least one of them.NZ tour offers an opportunity to try someone new.

  • KamUSA on December 31, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    Dhoni is a defensive captain. he was clearly playing for a drawn in the 2nd test and look what hppened..u have to be aggressive no matter what the match situation is and not be afraid of losing. u cannot be a world beating unit with that kind of defensive mindset. Kohli should be made captain. i also find it quiet amusing the obsession of indian fans with batsmen and batting records. To win test matches u need bowlers who can take 20 wickets. India does not even come close to having any bowlers with that capability. And if they do happen to find a potential match winner he is not nurtured the way he should, again partly because of the obsession with their batsmen. i fear that may happen to Shami, although i hope thats not true. plus look at Umesh yadav and varun Aaron...they have the basic ingredients to be better fast bowlers, but thats not happening.

  • S.Jagernath on December 31, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    Firstly,A.B De Villiers is not an allrounder.Umesh Yadav is the easy answer to the Ishant Sharma issue.Pragyan Ojha is a far more sensible bowling option away from subcontinental conditions.The batting seems fine for now.Rohit Sharma is the only worry.

  • AvidCricFan on December 31, 2013, 14:35 GMT

    A bowler who has played now 50 odd tests can't be under study for ever. Ishant Sharma with his limited variations is not going to be effective at medium pace (132-135k). Not sure why he is being persisted. Zaheer was nowhere close to his past peaks. I am not sure whether India can count on Zaheer to deliver. There are few bright spots in the batting. I believe by the time India visits England next year, the batting will be in good shape.

  • on December 31, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    Until there are fast bouncy pacy pitches in India ...the story repeats the same ..along with batting a bowler is must ..which can be produced by these pitches only..so BCCi better look to this

  • Texmex on December 31, 2013, 14:09 GMT

    If only Jadeja had been there in Test 1 India would have won Of course that is 20/20.

    I hate Dhoni's defensive mindset - does not work for tests. Taking 2nd new ball after 146 overs! If you notice quick runs came even with the old ball.

  • on December 31, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    India South Africa series can not be judged by I-0 result in favor of South Africa. India could have won the series 2-0 instead of loosing it.

    After one of the greatest Ist Test match which India should have won easily but was a drawn game.Indians did just one blunder which was to start ridiculing Steyn. See what he did to them in second test inspite of India being 190 for 1 at one stage and ready to take the series hand down. Never undermine a Lion is the lesson which India should learn.

  • passionatePurist on December 31, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    Am a purist and firmly believe, india needs few tweaks to be a formidable force on a consistent basis in overseas conditions: 1. need a captain who can have an impact on the series in overseas conditions like SA, aus, someone who can put his weight down and bat sessions, rock solid technique to lift the entire team as and when needed. This will mean that the captain automatically gains the respect and thus he can expect same from team members. I think Dhoni is such a personality in ODIs but does not come anywhere near the minimum level in tests. 2. Fast bowlers who do not tire and are incissive even after bowling long spells. They should have both pace and swing. I think that was the main difference between SA and INd in this series. SA bowlers could come back in 2nd test and bowl with incissiveness after doing slog in 1st test, but ind did not have such personnel. 3. Dont think R Sharma is the man in tough foreign pitches, just dont think he has the mental toughness and technique

  • devil_in_details on December 31, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    I can only say Bravo to this Indian team and that you have made us proud! Even though in the end SA ran away with the test match they were pushed all the way. I would not be harsh on the Indian batsmen who did not do well- Dhawan, Rohit and Jadeja will learn from their failures just as Vijay, Pujara and Kohli learnt from theirs. In that respect Rahane is a standout talent for doing so well in his first tour abroad. As for bowling, we dont have great bowlers so we need a horses for courses policy-on bouncy tracks Ishant can be included and on dull tracks he can be replaced by Yadav. Zaheer should be replaced by Bhuvi who is the fastest learner of them all. Shami and Jadeja (the bowler) are stars:)

  • bimalshah on December 31, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    Good to see some application from some of India new young batsmen. But the difference between a good team and great one is quick bowling. India lacks here.

    Zaheer is as skilful as Steyn but at 20kph slower he is more easily handled by test quality batsmen. The same can be said when comparing Ishant with Morkel. Philander benefits a bit from his quicker colleagues and complements them. India needs a guy who can bowl 10 overs at 140kph+ and another 15 at 135kph+ with accuracy and a little movement. Ideally two guys who can do this. There is a culture and infrastructure requirement to achieve this. The bcci can and should set this as a goal. Imagine a talent competition with big prizes and perhaps tv coverage. It would unearth some real potential stars and a few would find mentors and perhaps grow to be world class. Who agrees?

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 31, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    Nothing to worry as India never bowled out under 50 or 100 as predicted. All other sub continent teams and Australia too bowled out under 100. India did well in batting even in worst performances in ODIs. Bowling was not up to the mark always. Good bowling was undone by some others bad bowling or fielding errors. It was few individuals like Rohit, Dhavan and Aswin were the culprits - not entire team. It was the performance of SA is questionable as they were the home side and no:1 team.

  • sarangsrk on December 31, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    Why not Umesh Yadav? Where is he? Why was he not used in Durban knowing very well that reverse swing will play a huge part there? Reverse swing at 135-140 and at 150 is very different. The real issue in our cricket system is that we do groom batsmen for future but we don't fast bowlers the same way. This has been happening for last 10 years now that some good fast bowler comes in and then fades away. Look at Bhuvi, was so good in his debut series and all of a sudden, not good enough. Drop Zaheer to start with. If he can't get 3-4 wickets on helpful tracks, he doesn't deserve his place and his batting and fitness are anyways questionable.

  • MasterClass on December 31, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    For all the mis-informed people out there, Durban/Kingsmead was not a flat pitch. It was a good batting track that offered good bounce and started to turn on day-1. That is a sporting pitch! Sure, it was not a typical Durban greentop, but those greentops had resulted in SA losing the previous 4 matches played there because their batting was exposed and the HUGE gap between their potent bowling unit and the opposition's bowling unit was reduced. If CSA had served up another greentop it's likely that losing streak would have extended to 5.

  • on December 31, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    India need to groom Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav meticulously to give them skill and durability while retaining their pace. Ishant looks world-class in patches but he is just not consistent. Our future line-up should be based around these three and Shami.

    As the Ashes have shown, scary and skilled pace is the way to go. With overseas tours lined up, it is all the more important. We need a bowling culture like in Pakistan. We have the right legacy being passed on to the batters, but the bowlers have nowhere to go. Even Shami's success was due to his time with Wasim Akram. Indian cricket, as a whole, needs to take bowling much more seriously now, if they are to be a great Test team, for they have the batting might. We have a good crop of young pacemen but the time has come for an obsessive grooming program that enriches their skill set and takes care of them and their learning.

    Without this I do not see India winning anything overseas.

  • on December 31, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    I think it is about time we take a deeper look at Ishant. A big disappointment every series. On hind sight may be the team could have used Pandey in SA. It could have been a very valuable experience for the youngster. The biggest disappointment from Ishant has been his lack of pace and bounce. Admitted, swing is an art but not having the pace and bounce for a guy who is very tall is disappointing. Also, this guy does not have a strategy/game plan how he is going to bowl to each batsman. He just runs in and bowls the ball and the rest is in God's hand. For a guy who has been Steyn's team mate for a few years his performance is very disappointing.

  • Sir_Ivor on December 31, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    I remember Dilip vengsarkar who was formerly the Chairman of the selection Committee say that the cup board is bare. He was of course talking about batsmen. Kris Srikanth who also held the same post said much the same thing some years later. It is an irony therefore that soon after these proclamations,India have gone on to unravel the likes of Pujara Kohli and Rahane who have shown us all what they are capable of. And more importantly, that there is no fear that there will be a void after the famous five retired.The point is that the selectors must try out new options.I am glad that the present committee is trying out new faces. It is excellent that Ishwar Pandey and Varun Aaron have been brought in by the selectors for the next tour to new Zealand where they could be really useful. If they do well they are sure to gain in their move upward.Confidence is what will bring out their best. Ishwar Panday did well on the A tour of South Africa. He could have been very useful with the seniors

  • Srivathsan_Sridharan on December 31, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Excellent article by Sid Monga. Keep it up man!! India has a lot of positives in this tour. Kohli, Pujara & Vijay's batting, Jadeja's bowling etc. Whether they can convert these positives to strength and convert to an overseas series win remains to be seen and has to wait till NZ tour. On the fiip side, India's bowling doesn't threatening at all. I doubt whether will they be capable of taking 20 wickets in a flat pitch as we have seen in Durban. ANyway this series served the purpose of getting used to the pace and bounce of foreign pitches. Hope India can take it forward and perform consistently overseas.

  • MasterClass on December 31, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    Frankly, I think Dhoni and the Indian team leadership made a tactical error or had poor recon about the Kingsmead pitch. As soon as they saw the pitch they should have said: right we need to play 2 spinners on this pitch and under these hot conditions. How they did it, and who got in, and who got left-out I won't postulate, but if they had made that connection India would have won. No doubt. In fact Smith acknowledged as much, but then tried to hype their win by saying it was almost sub-continental conditions (implying that look now can even win against India in sub-continental conditions). Wrong. India would never select a 3 pace, 1 spin attack in India. But good try convincing themselves and naive supporters.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 31, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    ashwin should replace rohit as a basman in test matches. He will asist in spinners dept as well. How many more matches does rohit wants to prove as batsman.

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  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 31, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    ashwin should replace rohit as a basman in test matches. He will asist in spinners dept as well. How many more matches does rohit wants to prove as batsman.

  • MasterClass on December 31, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    Frankly, I think Dhoni and the Indian team leadership made a tactical error or had poor recon about the Kingsmead pitch. As soon as they saw the pitch they should have said: right we need to play 2 spinners on this pitch and under these hot conditions. How they did it, and who got in, and who got left-out I won't postulate, but if they had made that connection India would have won. No doubt. In fact Smith acknowledged as much, but then tried to hype their win by saying it was almost sub-continental conditions (implying that look now can even win against India in sub-continental conditions). Wrong. India would never select a 3 pace, 1 spin attack in India. But good try convincing themselves and naive supporters.

  • Srivathsan_Sridharan on December 31, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Excellent article by Sid Monga. Keep it up man!! India has a lot of positives in this tour. Kohli, Pujara & Vijay's batting, Jadeja's bowling etc. Whether they can convert these positives to strength and convert to an overseas series win remains to be seen and has to wait till NZ tour. On the fiip side, India's bowling doesn't threatening at all. I doubt whether will they be capable of taking 20 wickets in a flat pitch as we have seen in Durban. ANyway this series served the purpose of getting used to the pace and bounce of foreign pitches. Hope India can take it forward and perform consistently overseas.

  • Sir_Ivor on December 31, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    I remember Dilip vengsarkar who was formerly the Chairman of the selection Committee say that the cup board is bare. He was of course talking about batsmen. Kris Srikanth who also held the same post said much the same thing some years later. It is an irony therefore that soon after these proclamations,India have gone on to unravel the likes of Pujara Kohli and Rahane who have shown us all what they are capable of. And more importantly, that there is no fear that there will be a void after the famous five retired.The point is that the selectors must try out new options.I am glad that the present committee is trying out new faces. It is excellent that Ishwar Pandey and Varun Aaron have been brought in by the selectors for the next tour to new Zealand where they could be really useful. If they do well they are sure to gain in their move upward.Confidence is what will bring out their best. Ishwar Panday did well on the A tour of South Africa. He could have been very useful with the seniors

  • on December 31, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    I think it is about time we take a deeper look at Ishant. A big disappointment every series. On hind sight may be the team could have used Pandey in SA. It could have been a very valuable experience for the youngster. The biggest disappointment from Ishant has been his lack of pace and bounce. Admitted, swing is an art but not having the pace and bounce for a guy who is very tall is disappointing. Also, this guy does not have a strategy/game plan how he is going to bowl to each batsman. He just runs in and bowls the ball and the rest is in God's hand. For a guy who has been Steyn's team mate for a few years his performance is very disappointing.

  • on December 31, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    India need to groom Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav meticulously to give them skill and durability while retaining their pace. Ishant looks world-class in patches but he is just not consistent. Our future line-up should be based around these three and Shami.

    As the Ashes have shown, scary and skilled pace is the way to go. With overseas tours lined up, it is all the more important. We need a bowling culture like in Pakistan. We have the right legacy being passed on to the batters, but the bowlers have nowhere to go. Even Shami's success was due to his time with Wasim Akram. Indian cricket, as a whole, needs to take bowling much more seriously now, if they are to be a great Test team, for they have the batting might. We have a good crop of young pacemen but the time has come for an obsessive grooming program that enriches their skill set and takes care of them and their learning.

    Without this I do not see India winning anything overseas.

  • MasterClass on December 31, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    For all the mis-informed people out there, Durban/Kingsmead was not a flat pitch. It was a good batting track that offered good bounce and started to turn on day-1. That is a sporting pitch! Sure, it was not a typical Durban greentop, but those greentops had resulted in SA losing the previous 4 matches played there because their batting was exposed and the HUGE gap between their potent bowling unit and the opposition's bowling unit was reduced. If CSA had served up another greentop it's likely that losing streak would have extended to 5.

  • sarangsrk on December 31, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    Why not Umesh Yadav? Where is he? Why was he not used in Durban knowing very well that reverse swing will play a huge part there? Reverse swing at 135-140 and at 150 is very different. The real issue in our cricket system is that we do groom batsmen for future but we don't fast bowlers the same way. This has been happening for last 10 years now that some good fast bowler comes in and then fades away. Look at Bhuvi, was so good in his debut series and all of a sudden, not good enough. Drop Zaheer to start with. If he can't get 3-4 wickets on helpful tracks, he doesn't deserve his place and his batting and fitness are anyways questionable.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 31, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    Nothing to worry as India never bowled out under 50 or 100 as predicted. All other sub continent teams and Australia too bowled out under 100. India did well in batting even in worst performances in ODIs. Bowling was not up to the mark always. Good bowling was undone by some others bad bowling or fielding errors. It was few individuals like Rohit, Dhavan and Aswin were the culprits - not entire team. It was the performance of SA is questionable as they were the home side and no:1 team.

  • bimalshah on December 31, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    Good to see some application from some of India new young batsmen. But the difference between a good team and great one is quick bowling. India lacks here.

    Zaheer is as skilful as Steyn but at 20kph slower he is more easily handled by test quality batsmen. The same can be said when comparing Ishant with Morkel. Philander benefits a bit from his quicker colleagues and complements them. India needs a guy who can bowl 10 overs at 140kph+ and another 15 at 135kph+ with accuracy and a little movement. Ideally two guys who can do this. There is a culture and infrastructure requirement to achieve this. The bcci can and should set this as a goal. Imagine a talent competition with big prizes and perhaps tv coverage. It would unearth some real potential stars and a few would find mentors and perhaps grow to be world class. Who agrees?