Tough test looms for lacklustre bowlers

Cricket : Ishant's shoddy show puts India in a difficult spot

Tough test looms for lacklustre bowlers

Despite the batting feats of India in the ongoing series against Australia, it is their bowlers who have grabbed the attention with their inconsistent performances.

It seems no total is safe with the bowling attack, so woefully struggling for form. The loss in the third ODI here on Saturday night will only intensify the focus on the bowlers in the remaining matches.

What has added to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's problem is that there is not even one bowler who has lived upto the expectations. In fact, by bowling short they have only fed the strengths of the Australian batsmen on flat batting wickets, conceding more than 300 runs in all the three matches in the series so far.

More significantly, the death over bowling has become a huge concern for the team, a fact admitted by Dhoni following his side’s shocking four-wicket loss at the PCA Stadium. The visitors, well-versed with the Indian weakness, freely went after the seamers to plunder 65 runs in the last five overs; the 48th over from Ishant Sharma costing 30 runs being the game changer.

A mere look at the statistics of the Indian bowlers after the three matches tells a sordid tale. Ishant, the most experienced of the lot, has taken two wickets and conceded 189 runs at an economy rate of 7.87. R Vinay Kumar, with five wickets, has given away 191 runs for an economy rate of 7.20.  Bhuvneshwar Kumar, minus his swing and ability to provide the breakthrough, has kept his economy rate just below six (5.37) with just one wicket to show.

The spinners have fared no better. Ravichandran Ashwin, with an economy rate of 6.03, has taken only three wickets while conceding 163 runs while Ravindra Jadeja (economy rate of 4.60) has taken just two wickets giving away 138 runs to emerge the best among bowlers.

The figures show that Dhoni would have a tough task on hand with the selectors going for the same squad for the remaining four matches. Whether he would be willing to try other pace options in Mohammed Shami and Jaydev Unadkat and Amit Sharma as the leg-spinner would be of interest. Off-spinning great Erapalli Prasanna blames the shoddy show on the poor middle-over management.

“The performance of Indian bowlers is a not a very encouraging sign. We had enough runs to defend in the last match but the last overs took the match away from us. What is most important is that our bowlers bowl a certain line and length consistently. They are all 60-50 ODIs old and they should know what to bowl,” Prasanna told Deccan Herald.

Dhoni, in defence of his bowlers, had pointed at the rule that stipulates a fifth fielder inside the ring but Prasanna begged to differ. “The rule is the same for the Australian team as well. It is just that the Australian bowlers are quicker than us which makes it a bit difficult for our batsmen to play the strokes.

We have slow medium pacers and  they need to be accurate to stop the run flow. It is always difficult to set a field for such an attack. The fact the spinners are also struggling has made things worst.”

Concurred former Indian seamer Madan Lal. “It is important for seamers to know where to pitch the ball. Bhuvneshwar needs to bring variety while the last I saw Ishant at his best was in 2008 in Australia. I also feel Dhoni should consult with the bowlers before setting a field,” he said.

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