Sri Lanka v India, 3rd ODI, Colombo July 29, 2012

Must improve death bowling - Gambhir


Gautam Gambhir has said India need to improve their bowling in the last ten overs of an ODI if they want to win consistently. India conceded 90 and 97 to Sri Lanka's lower-middle order from overs 41 to 50 in the first and third games of this series, and needed the batsmen to provide buffer on both occasions. The one time the batsmen failed, India lost meekly in the second ODI.

"We just didn't bowl well in the last 10 overs," Gambhir said after the five-wicket win in Colombo. "You can't afford to give 95-odd runs in the last ten overs, when they have literally two new batsmen at the crease, Angelo [Mathews] and Jeevan Mendis. Sometimes when you give 60-70 that is still tolerable, but 95-[odd is] too many runs when the [batting] Powerplay is over.

"At one stage we were thinking we can contain Sri Lanka to 250 and then chase it down, but there is a difference when you think to contain someone to 250 and then the opposition gets to 287 [286], that is a huge margin. If we want to be a quality side in the future and if we want to win consistently we just need to work on the last ten overs, the way our bowling is. We have given a lot of runs in the last 10 overs in the past as well. We will learn from our mistakes very soon."

While India had the cushion of 314 runs in the first ODI, today's profligacy left their batsmen needing to achieve the highest successful chase ever against Sri Lanka at home, which they managed to in the last over. Gambhir led the way with a breezy century that kept India going despite the early departure of Virender Sehwag and slow thirties from Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. Gambhir said it was important that one of the top three batsmen batted long.

"When you are chasing 280-odd it's important that someone from the top three bats for 40 overs and tries and anchors the innings from one end, and then people can play around them. Luckily, and fortunately, it was me today [who did that]. [In the] first game Virat and Viru [Sehwag] did it and today it was my turn."

Mahela Jayawardene said Gambhir's ability to build an innings was why Sri Lanka needed to dismiss him quickly. "The other day [second ODI] he held the innings together," Jayawardene said. "He is one of those guys who we have to try and get early because he builds innings and bats long and bats big, so then it is easier for the other guys to bat around him, and he bats at a good pace as well."

Gambhir's 102 set up the eighth win in 11 games for the chasing side at the Premadasa Stadium, which used to favour the team batting first before the pitch was relaid for the 2011 World Cup. Gambhir said that pitch got better when India batted. "It was a good wicket for 100 overs and there was no breeze, though it was very humid. There was a bit of dew [and] the ball started coming on better in the second innings."

The other major blemish in India's performance was Rohit Sharma's first-ball duck. On the eve of the match, Gambhir had stood by the out-of-form batsman and his stance remained the same after Rohit fell to a Lasith Malinga yorker. Rohit averages 15.60 this year from 10 innings, and has made 5, 0 and 0 so far in this series, while Manoj Tiwary continues to be benched despite scoring a match-winning century in his last ODI in December 2011.

"If someone gets out first ball ... if someone gets set and then gets out, then he needs to think about it," Gambhir said. "Anyone can get out. I still believe, and whenever I say it I mean every word, that Rohit Sharma, according to me, is the best talent India has ever had. Let's not talk about individuals, let's not put the blame that Rohit is not doing well. When the team is doing well we need to support people who are not doing well.

Gambhir pointed out Rohit's Man-of-the-Series performances against West Indies at home and away last year. "There was a time against West Indies when neither Viru [Virender Sehwag] nor I were getting runs. It was Rohit who was single-handedly winning the games for us. Let's not single out. Everyone should back him because I see him scoring a lot of runs in the future and he could be one of the great players of Indian cricket."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sanga on July 31, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    gambir should seriously think about keeping his comments to himself.. i will go with rohit any day and the next match 1st ball duck.... ofcourse he will score a half century today, but is it worth it to have a player who scores a half century and scores less than 10 in 10 games?????

    time to move on, take some new talents, maybe pick some one from the under 19 set up after all tendulkar was just 16 when he made his debut..

  • Vinit on July 30, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    One thing is for sure that India needs a Bowling Coach badly! After Venaktesh Prasad there has been no one! And since then, our Bowlers had been wild & wayward! There is no need of any Batting coach for soundly talented batsmen of Team India!

  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2012, 12:06 GMT

    there is no indian bowler bowling good at death overs, only Munaf patel ( to some extent) ... as gauti said need to improve death bowling a lot

  • Naresh on July 30, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    @nampally - Pujura could be better at 3 than 4 - Dravids role.

  • Naresh on July 30, 2012, 8:23 GMT

    Gambhir is the leader of the pack. I am sure he is being earmarked to lead India in the next world cup. His made sensible comments as well. If only he could work on his short comings prodding outside off stump to fast bowlers on overseas tracks.

  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    @lovepork....Dhoni is defensive??in what basis u r telling like that?? last match Dhoni Scored 30 odd runs with a strike rate of just 65...but your aggressive Kohli's strike rate was much more lesser((sorry i was nt saying kohli is a bad player,even i am also a Kohli fan too))....and in 1st ODI against SL,MSD was the having the highest strike rate in IND squad....So how can you say that Dhoni is not aggressive??

  • Satish on July 30, 2012, 3:16 GMT

    Rohit is talented but what is the use.. Dhoni is not as gifted as Rohit in terms of technique.. but look his contribution.. Raina with limited technique gives it all.. Even Gambhir/Sehwag for the matter is not that good technically.. And looking at the manner Rohit got out these three games and in Australia, does he look like the best talent available? NO.. Our next issue is the third seamer.. We need to groom the third seamer to bowl with old ball in domestic cricket.. No point in having a new ball bowler bowling in middle overs.. Make Umesh and Varun or other third bowler choice guys to bowl with relatively old ball and to defensive field in domestic cricket..

  • James on July 30, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    India should start using their bowlers' strengths than their weaknesses. Irfan Pathan is very effective with the new ball, he gets wickets with his swing and concedes few runs. His overs should be completed in the beginning itself, and that also takes care of half of India's power play overs. Zaheer Khan can start at the other end for 3-4 overs and later come back in the middle for 1-2 and bowl his final five overs towards the end, when there is a little reverse swing. Someone like Umesh Yadav/Varu Aaron can bowl the other five last overs from the other end, and also bowl a few middle overs. Ashwin can bowl predominantly middle, with a couple of overs if required towards the end.

  • Mullah on July 30, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    Congrats Guati! well done, congrats to you for the ton and India's win! Can't wait for Yuvi's return and see you as the Indian captain! unfortunately Dhoni's days are over, he is too defensive and his form is not great. India needs aggressive chaps like Gauti, Virat, Yuvi in the team, Sachin, Dhoni and zaheer need to retire now!

  • Subash on July 29, 2012, 22:25 GMT

    Dude Gambhir, It's not just death bowling it's all kinds of bowling that we need to improve. This bowling unit is worst than a club bowling. I don;t know how we are going to beat NZ in the forthcoming test series let alone beat Eng. Thisis by far the worst bowling unit ever.

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