Green top a concern for India's top order

Green top a concern for India's top order

A juicy, green track and stuttering Indian batsmen — it’s not an unfamiliar sight. Against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup opener, the former champions could have had it worst but for the heroics of Rohit Sharma. As they prepare to take on arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday, this is one area they would need to focus on.

India’s struggles on spicy surfaces are not new. Against a heavily depleted touring Sri Lanka last month, the Indian batting was blown away by the visitors’ three-pronged pace attack of Kasun Rajitha, Dushmantha Chameera and Dasun Shanaka on a green Pune surface. It even prompted captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to draw comparisons with “English conditions.”

The green deck and overcast conditions here on Wednesday didn’t make it any easier for the Indians. If this continues to be the trend, the Indian batsmen will need to quickly get their strategies in place to keep their lofty reputations intact.

On both occasions, against Sri Lanka last month and Bangladesh on Wednesday, the Indian top order was guilty of rushing for their strokes. Against a capable four-pronged Bangladesh pace attack, they needed to cut down on adventurism. Their ambitious approach landed them on a precarious situation and had it not been for the discretion of Rohit and fearless hitting of 22-year-old Hardik Pandya down the order, they would have been in dire straits.

The way Rohit batted was a testimony to his growing maturity and stature in limited overs cricket. He has adapted to the role of an opener beautifully after being long criticised as an underachiever. That’s a passé for sure. He judiciously played the waiting game against the bounce and the swing, didn’t lose his focus as his teammates departed in quick succession, and gave space to young Pandya, who came at No 6, to push the scoring in the last five overs. The two amassed 61 runs in 4.3 overs.

Dhoni justifiably praised Rohit’s 83 off 55 balls as “the kind of batting that was really needed.” 

“He used the pace of the bowlers. They were bowling back of a length so he played a few cut shots and he actually exploited the field more often than not,” said the Indian skipper. "Rohit made sure he gave a little more strike to Hardik when he started hitting and he stayed till the end," Dhoni said. "Because of Hardik we got those extra 10-15 runs otherwise we were thinking a score of 140 would have been a very good one."

Against the fiery Pakistan pace attack on Saturday, the Indian batsmen will have to show more patience, application and better planning to tackle the conditions.

Pakistan have always boasted of a strong bowling aptitude and they have the young guns raring to prove a point or two. Leading the pack would be left-arm pacer Mohammed Aamir, sharp and hungry, the towering Mohammad Irfan and the aggressive Wahab Riaz. They would relish the idea of steaming in on a grassy track.

These are, though, still early days in the tournament, the precursor to the much-awaited World T20. India are on a winning march and they would not like to compromise on that.
DH News Service

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