Sri Lanka v India, 1st ODI, Hambantota

Centurion Kohli backs five-bowler strategy

Abhishek Purohit in Hambantota

July 21, 2012

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

The Indian team walks off after winning the first ODI by 21 runs, Sri Lanka v India, 1st ODI, Hambantota, July 21, 2012
India won their first game after long break comfortably © Associated Press

Virat Kohli has supported India's decision to play five bowlers, including Irfan Pathan, in the first ODI against Sri Lanka, saying that in batting conditions, a side needs to back its top six to come good. Four of the top six, including centurion Kohli, did come good today, and the bowling was led by the allrounder Irfan, who turned in decisive figures of 10-1-37-2 even as three of the other frontline bowlers went for runs.

"In batting conditions, you have to bank on your six batsmen," Kohli said. "You've to show faith in them and expect them to perform. You just can't be on the safer side playing seven batsmen and compromise on a bowler because I think as a captain you need an extra option of a bowler knowing the wicket is going to be good in the second innings as well. The balance we had today was perfect and having a bowler always gives that cushion to the captain if the situation doesn't go well."

India captain MS Dhoni too was pleased with the balance of the side in the first ODI, and said Irfan showing signs of form was a big advantage for his team. "One good positive was Irfan Pathan doing well," Dhoni said after the match. "Without [Ravindra] Jadeja or Yuvraj [Singh], it is difficult to make the side balanced in both departments, so this was important."

The situation did go awry briefly for India when Thisara Perera and Kumar Sangakkara clawed their way back with a 78-run seventh-wicket stand in 53 deliveries after Sri Lanka had slipped to 191 for 6. The Indian innings had a similar partnership towards the finish, when Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni put on 79 off 55 to help take India past 300. Kohli said that showed how good the pitch was for batting, and praised the India bowlers for putting pressure early on the home batsmen.

"Our bowlers gave us a good start with the new ball, which was swinging a bit. They bowled in good areas. When we batted we had also scored a lot of runs in the last 10 overs. The wicket was good to bat on so I would like to credit our bowlers because the way they bowled in the first phase built pressure on the opposition who lost nine wickets as well.

"They are world-class players so you can't expect to win by 80-90 runs. We had to work hard in the end and put in effort for fielding. The bowlers also had to put a lot of thought into their bowling. A phase of seven-eight overs comes in between when you concede more runs but it is important that you don't panic, remain calm. Irfan [Pathan], Umesh [Yadav] and Zaheer bhai [Khan] bowled three-four good overs at a crucial time due to which the match turned in our favour again."

Kohli admitted, though, that bowling at the death still remained a concern for India, especially in the subcontinent. "We are playing a lot of cricket in the subcontinent in the coming season and it is very important to hit the right areas at the death because that's where the game can turn around. Even eight or nine runs an over can be chased in the last 10 overs. We have seen that being done before nd hopefully we can practice that more in the nets and execute our plans perfectly in the games ahead."

Dhoni agreed that India's bowling in the end overs needed to be better. "It was a good learning experience for the younger bowlers. Zak [Zaheer] was good. [But] The death bowling for us needs to improve."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by satish619chandar on (July 23, 2012, 6:31 GMT)

Did India actually go with 5 bowlers? Pathan played as all rounder.. His bowling was not upto the mark before.. Ojha played instead of a full pace bowler and pathan played for a bits and piece all rounder.. We were lucky to have Pathan bowlign that well.. The shape Pathan and Zak got was just awesome.. they just didn't allow Tharanga and Sanga to play freely.. took the game t a situation where SL had to hit off every over and it made others figure a bit bad.. but on such a track, it was a good bowling performance.. Umesh need to be more accurate and get his yorkers right.. I would love to see Yuvi in place of Rohit sooner.. As of now, Tiwary can be tried there.. Tiwary is no less than Rohit in terms of talent, batting.. As a fielder, he is more worthy than Rohit..

Posted by maddy20 on (July 22, 2012, 20:35 GMT)

@Misbah Mohammed Our batting has always been a luxury our bowlers have enjoyed. It allows them to have the cushion of extra 20-30 runs which is often the difference between winning and losing. I don't blame them for it. Things are only gonna get better when Yuvi returns. Replace Rohit with Yuvi and find some other spinner(preferably Amit Mishra or Rahul Sharma if he comes out clean from the mess he is in) or an extra pace bowler like Dinda if we are playing overseas.

Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 18:59 GMT)

Ok I'm an Australian so what would I know about Cricket? BUT I have often said that in the Sheffield Shield competition (& hence ANY international match) you cannot win reliably with only four bowlers. Your fifth bowler may only bowl ten overs per innings but that does give the others a break.

Posted by ProdigyA on (July 22, 2012, 18:19 GMT)

Will Pak come up with some intl quality batsmen? I guess never. Its more important now cause Paks bowling is worst ever in history barring Ajmal, its worse than Bdesh.

Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 17:58 GMT)

please remove rohit...we are playing with 6 batsman and if one is rohit sharma we are left with only 5.

Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 15:59 GMT)

Agree completely with @Vilander, drop Rohit sharma, insert Yuvraj. also would like to see a guy like ashish nehra back in his form from the world cupand fill in the lineup as well. good to see kohli, a batter, in support of having the extra bowler. shows his maturity. he'll make a great captain after a couple of years with dhoni showing him the ropes.

Posted by AvidCricFan on (July 22, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

Rohit Sharma is an enigma. For all his touted talent, he is not delivering. He has been given enough chances at this point. Bring in Rahane or even Tiwari in his place. He often throws away his wicket to stupid shots when he gets going. He may have lo of talent, but doesn't look like he has good cricketing brain to with it.

Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

@DEV_MCT many of the runs Zaheer conceded were EDGES. only the last over was bad and I also credit Thisara for it.

Posted by Vilander on (July 22, 2012, 10:35 GMT)

in a year of so, when Yuvi replaces Rohit again, the spinning options will be further strengthened, they can look to replace Ojha with a fast bowler like aaron or Dinda or Shami.On days when Yadav does not come good one of these guys will do the job.

Posted by Vilander on (July 22, 2012, 10:32 GMT)

@Misbha Mohd. lol India always does score in the region of 300 and opposition bat does not come good together, that should be the reason they won the world cup.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (July 22, 2012, 9:54 GMT)

5 best bowlers and 5 best Batsman. That is the way to go.

Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 9:37 GMT)

LOL india can only win if they score more than 300, that too when the opponent batsmen do not put up a combined effort :P

Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

Two words Irfan Pathan, this man is one of the greatest players India has been blessed to have, why he has not been giving a consistant chance, only indian selectors know. and i agree with vinay, pathan played lot better in austrilla then most of the indian batmans, besides dhoni, and kohli, and he is a bowler, he should have a permanent spot in the team, he is always going to come in handy, battting or bowling, and virat kohli is doing well for himself and team.

Posted by warneneverchuck on (July 22, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

Ashok dinda shud be given a chance in place of either oja or yadav as he is in good form in recent time

Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

The fielding is also a bit of concern. India dropped a lot of catches, which could have cost India dearly. Had Srilankans held on their chances, the result of this match would have been other way round!

Posted by Narbavi on (July 22, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

Sign of things to come may be, Virat when he becomes captain might play 5bowlers in good batting conditions which is ideal!!

Posted by satish619chandar on (July 22, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

This is the way to go.. Ojha was expensive but still a worthy guy to have in as second spinner.. Remember he bowled at a tough stage where they had wickets in hand and going for runs.. I would like to see the same combination going on for some more time..

Posted by Tusker17 on (July 22, 2012, 6:07 GMT)

Good play by both teams.Congrats india!

Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

Kohli is right about 5 bowlers. But if Ojha is going to bowl only 6 overs and you have Sejwag and Rohit S as well, they can at least include Jadeja or another batsman for Ojha. Jadeja is a good ODI bowler and if he bats at 8, he is all right. Irfan Pathan should continue bat at 7 in ODIs and perhaps he has a future at no 6 in test cricket. As people saw in Australian in 2012 and 4 years before that, short pitched deliveries do not worry Irfan P like they worry Dhoni & others. In tests, Pathan can bat ahead of Dhoni at 6 and that way give India 5 bowlers.

Posted by Ashish_514 on (July 22, 2012, 5:06 GMT)

I think the new ball bowlers, especially zaheer, were erratic in first 10 overs. With the kind of swing they were getting, they could have taken more wickets had they really bowled in right areas. Too many wides .

Posted by ssenthil on (July 22, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

I think it's better for India to go with 5 bowlers always. We have seen how we are in a tough situation even with 5 bowlers while defending over 300. Dhoni is such a poor captain whose defensive field set never working this days. Dhoni is goner and India need some other quality thinking Captain if they want to play with 7 Batsman. Some may ask P Ojha as a 5th bowler can be justified?

Posted by gdalvi on (July 22, 2012, 4:08 GMT)

Finally someone with sense - hopefully Dr. Dhoni will listen. When you have a weakness (bowling) which you need to peform, you should focus on strengthening it - rather than trying to further improve your strengths (batting) in hope that it will somehow cover over weakness. This is where Irfan (or a fast bowling allrounder) will play a pivotal role for India (again if Dr Dhoni can understand). We already have decent part-time spinners like Raina, Rohit, Sehwag, Yuvi - so Irfan and like will allow India to field to either 2 or 3 pacers depending upon conditions and still have some back up if one or even two of bowlers are having a bad day - particularly on a fast wicket. Plus you have a decent batsmen instead of pure bowler giving more depth in batting too! Please publish.

Posted by DEV_ME on (July 22, 2012, 4:08 GMT)

All said and done, India need the 5 bowler strategy to hide the non-performers, or popularly called as 'Did Not Click' bowlers. Apart from Irfan and to a certain extent Ashwin, the figures of the bowlers are alarming, and so is the approach of the Indian team. India had Srilanka on the mat and should have gone for an all out, but settled for 9 wickets and let off the pressure completly in the last over. ZAK is guilty of leaking 5 wides and giving 63 runs in his quota. Ojha, was he sleepwalking ? Yadav needs to be told to be either aggressive or accurate, he cannot afford to be missing out on both ! Yesterday game was not engaging enough. India need to try and beat opposition comprehensively - consistently.

Posted by premjyoti on (July 22, 2012, 3:56 GMT)

You can not say it every time, you know because the win does not come every time like this.India could have even lost this game.For me even five bowlers did not nearly won the game,the win was not comprehensive.However you got to give credit to Irfan Pathan the way he bowled and Virat and Shewag for their superb and responsible batting performances.

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