Bowlers seek redemption

Bowlers seek redemption

Bowlers seek redemption

The one-day international series between India and Australia is still in its nascent stage, two matches old to be precise, but it has already begun to shape the predictable trend.

The benign Indian pitches have heavily tilted the contests in batsmen’s favour and left the bowlers searching for answers.

For India, the challenge gets bigger than Australia. So badly have the bowlers struggled with their line and length that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has found it difficult to set a field for them.

It, therefore, was no surprise to see the Indian seamers call out their fields to the batsmen before bowling at nets on Friday, besides practicing death bowling.

The focus of attention in the last two matches has been chiefly on two pacers -- Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar -- who have largely been ineffective so far. While Ishant has been wayward, Bhuvneshwar will have to quickly learn the art of surviving when the conditions are not swing-friendly. For India to check the run flow of Australia, Dhoni will want his pacers to get the early breakthrough which has not happened in the two matches.

The Australian openers –Phil Hughes and Aaron Finch --have thrived on the generous offerings and built a foundation which the later batsmen fully capitalised on. As a spearhead of the attack Ishant has not done justice to his role and tongues are already wagging for a replacement.

The track at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium offers some hope to the pacers. The pitch is known to have true bounce but is expected to offer assistance only in initial overs. The batsmen once again will have every opportunity to make merry though a slight nip during the evening may even help the seamers on Saturday, when the two sides gear up for the fight for a 2-1 lead in seven-match series.

What has also been disconcerting for India is the way Australians have hammered their best spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – and shrunk the options for Dhoni. Spin bowling has been India’s best bet at home but the tweakers have bowled short and regularly appeared stale.

In both the matches, the visitors have comfortably crossed the 300-run mark. Skipper George Bailey, Finch, Hughes, Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell, all have been among runs.

The Australian bowling is inarguably better than the Indians. Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay and Watson know their way around on the Indian pitches and won’t allow the batsmen to sit easy for long. Their ploy of testing Indian batsmen with short-pitched deliveries worked in the first ODI but the hosts did well to counter that in Jaipur. That outing was revival of sorts for Indian batting.

 The quality line-up of batsmen is the strength of India and it did more than the mopping up job of the mess created by their bowlers with a record chase. It will hugely perk up a side, so badly flayed for its shoddy work following its 72-run loss in the opening encounter.

The attitude with which Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opened the innings augurs well. Rohit’s innings was replete with pure cricketing shots, a testimony to his gifted technique and timing. Dhawan set the pace for the chase with his audacious hitting before Virat Kohli’s ferocious stroke play saw India enter the history books. 

India will like to take heart from their win against England here in January when they successfully chased down 257 runs.

With batsmen from both sides flowing with runs, the onus is on the bowlers. Here, India, despite being a batting powerhouse, needs to be on guard.

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