Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test, SSC, 1st day July 26, 2010

Lefties loot India

Having no answers for Sri Lanka's left-hand batsmen has been at the heart of India's problems
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This is India's third game on the tour, and they have looked helpless on the first days of all three matches. Losing all three tosses hasn't helped, but having no answers for left-hand batsmen has been at the heart of their problems.

When Kumar Sangakkara brought up his century soon after Tharanga Paranavitana today, it was the seventh such effort from left-hand batsmen against the Indian attack on this tour so far. Only one right-hand batsman, Thilan Samaraweera in the practice match, has managed to reach three figures. There have been four hundred-plus stands between a pair of left-hand batsmen, and all that has come basically from just three days of cricket.

You could argue that the Sri Lankan right-hand batsmen haven't had much opportunity, and this is just a coincidence. This could well be a coincidence, but the Indian bowlers have at least asked some questions of the right-hand batsmen, and have also managed to keep the runs down. Against Sangakkara and Paranavitana, though, they have struggled to even hit the pads. In the practice game, Upul Tharanga and Thilina Kandamby were similarly untroubled. Samaraweera, on the other hand, struggled in the initially of his innings.

The problems that India had in the tour game have persisted. Zaheer Khan, one of the best Indian bowlers against left-hand batsmen, is missing. There is no Sreesanth to swing the ball in and create some doubt either. Ishant Sharma and Abhimanyu Mithun, not being swing bowlers, have struggled to do that off the seam throughout the tour. It has been easy for the batsmen to leave the deliveries going away from them with the angle. A few have moved slightly off the seam and passed the edges, but that has been about all.

There was one major difference between the warm-up game and the Tests though, that India would have looked forward to. Both the spinners then were turning the ball in towards the left-hand batsmen. The man who would replace one of them in the Test squad was the best spinner in India; someone who turned it away from the left-hand batsmen, and had the doosra too.

Sri Lanka have made a conscious effort to not let that man settle. All three innings that Harbhajan Singh has bowled in, he has been hit for at least one four in his first over. He has now bowled 54.1 overs in this series without a wicket.

"The last couple of times he has been here, we have handled him fairly well," Mahela Jayawardene wrote a day before the match. "He is a top-class bowler, and when you have a bowler of the calibre of Harbhajan, you have to try to get on top of him. Especially in this scenario, when India have a depleted bowling line-up. So he is under pressure to perform. If we can keep their No. 1 bowler under control, we will probably have won half the battle." Of those 54.1 barren overs, Harbhajan has bowled more than 41 to the left-handers.

India's most redeeming moments in the field have come against Samaraweera and Mahela Jayawardene. In Galle, albeit with some assistance from the pitch, Ishant and Mithun put in a really good session to get both batsmen. Even today India exercised some sort of control against Jayawardene, giving away just 13 off 56 deliveries, managing a couple of 'oohs' and 'aahs', which had deserted them for most of the day.

Having said all that, India were completely at the batsman's mercy when Dilshan was smashing everything around on the first morning of this Test. Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but after what the left-hand batsmen have done to them so far, India will probably take the northpaws.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on July 28, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    Absolutely meaningless to say we r No.1 test side, without any bowling attack. I donno how someone can rank indi as No.1 test side. All marks to SL. Indian cricket is becoming like english football....too much hype and the players are like demigods, they hv all the records...but when it comes to performance ...we need luck..INDIA ALWAYS HAD PROBLEMS WITH SEAM BOWLERS ...and it will remain forever or atleast for a good long time....

  • cricmypassion on July 27, 2010, 12:43 GMT

    @marcio: I agree with your logic, but I think you would find ways to blame the pitch if we made a spinning track. When its ok to have a seaming track in headingly and the match ends in a little over 3 days, why is it bad to have a turner and have the match end in 3 days?Its hypocrisy at its worst, and it is precisely this stupid reasoning that has caused BCCI to have batting paradises to avoid censure from ICC and complaints from visiting captains. Probably thats the reason why we don't have any good spinners coming out of India too. As far as India's attack goes, its the worst going around. SL won the last test on a batting pitch because of Malinga (Murali blew the tail away, that hardly counts). He is not there this time, lets see how SriLanka's bowlers fare, before passing a final judgment on the Indian attack.

  • tmartis on July 27, 2010, 10:53 GMT

    If you haven't already gotten your best score in either batting or bowling, THIS WAY. India will be here for another few week.

    It is time for us to take some drastic step to fix this problem if we want to be called "No. 1".

  • Jama on July 27, 2010, 10:29 GMT

    I have 2 things 2 say...

    1. India is so called no1 test nation and cricket is so called a religion in India. They can not produce 5 world class bowlers out of such a huge population (SHAME SHAME) 2. i have a suggestion for Indian cricket, they should play 10 specialist batsmen and a wicketkeeper coz if their specialist bowler has to bowl 40 overs to pick up a wicket then even Gambhir or Dravid should be able to bowl 40 overs and i guarantee that they will pick up more than 1 if they get to bowl 40 overs.

  • Jama on July 27, 2010, 10:29 GMT

    I have 2 things 2 say...

    1. India is so called no1 test nation and cricket is so called a religion in India. They can not produce 5 world class bowlers out of such a huge population (SHAME SHAME) 2. i have a suggestion for Indian cricket, they should play 10 specialist batsmen and a wicketkeeper coz if their specialist bowler has to bowl 40 overs to pick up a wicket then even Gambhir or Dravid should be able to bowl 40 overs and i guarantee that they will pick up more than 1 if they get to bowl 40 overs.

  • KiwiRocker- on July 27, 2010, 10:17 GMT

    What is with all this excuses? I am tired of reading Indian biased journalists on this web site. Stop blaming the pitches or injuries mate! Sometimes toss is blamed and other times it is because opposition has left handers. Reality is that India is an over rated team with too much hype. India has failed to win anything of note when it matters and non sensical rating of Indian team has lulled poor fans into some unrealistic expectations. If any time who is suffering from injuries is then it is Sri Lanka who does not have their main strike bowler. Zaheer has done OK because other Indian bowlers have been so pathetic. He has not been a Muralitharan or Malinga!Problem for India is that India has no back up bowlers and India's much famed batting line up is old and jagged. It is time for selectors to make hard calls and show door to selfish players like Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh. Honestly Harbhajan Singh's bowling is a joke against Sri Lankan and Pakistanis. I predict a brown wash of 3-0

  • anonymousfan on July 27, 2010, 10:02 GMT

    @Shridhar_Malur : Spot on. Totally agree with you. Why can't the BCCI appoint someone like Sourav Ganguly to unearth some decent bowling talent. He did that when he was the captain.

  • VipulPatki on July 27, 2010, 9:57 GMT

    Both Indians (in anguish) and others (sometimes, in glee) are seeing that Indian team is far from the No. 1 test team in the world. I am sure that Pakistani attack in exactly similar conditions would have posed significant problems to the Sri Lankan bowlers. Although I am an Indian fan, I sincerely hope this test match results in a heavy defeat for Indians. Probably only a defeat can convince BCCI of the shortage of bowling talent in India. no point blaming the pitches when things don't go your way....

  • dummy4fb on July 27, 2010, 9:52 GMT

    Bowlers not in the Form. I pathan is instead of mithun & R.P. Singh instead of I Sharma, M Kartik instead of H Singh. if india loss the series not team mistake. Team selected man(Srikanth) mistake

  • Rogue777 on July 27, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    Tell me how did Malinga and Murali Bowl out the "so called brilliant Indian batting line up" twice in a "so called dead flat pitch" ? Remember in just 4 days of play there was a result That is not a dead pitch. Remember a dead pitch is not pitch where India lose a test match! It is a pitch like most Indian pitches which statistically provide the most number of draws!

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