Seamers still a weak link for India

Chaitan Papnai

Though the Indian team would be high on confidence after its emphatic win over Australia in the second ODI, the perennial problem with seam-bowlers remains to be a worrying factor. Indian seamers are still struggling to stick to the basics in the ongoing series against Aussies, their bowling has been pretty ordinary so far.

In the one-off Twenty20, while batting first Aussie batsmen posted a formidable total of 201 runs. They literally toyed with the Indian bowling attack by hitting boundaries at will. But the comeback man Yuvraj Singh came to their rescue by playing a blistering knock of 77 runs in just 55 balls as India chased the total with six wickets and two balls to spare.

In the first ODI of the seven-match series at Pune, Australia won the toss and chose to bat first. And once again Australian batsmen thrashed Indian bowlers all over the park, especially the Indian seamers — Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar — who went for over 7.54 runs in the 16 overs they bowled.

Apart from their poor economy rate, their line and length was another aspect which would have bothered MS Dhoni. Even the Aussie tail-enders scored runs freely off Ishant. In fact, his disastrous bowling in the first ODI compelled commentator Wasim Akram to say that Sharma needs to get better at bowling yorkers. Akram was once Sharma’s coach in the IPL-franchise KKR. India’s famed batting line up collapsed and India lost the game by humiliating 72 runs.

In the second ODI, everyone was expecting that Indian seamers — especially Vinay and Ishant – would learn from their past mistakes and bowl a tighter line and length. But they once again repeated their mistakes which helped Australia to score their highest total on Indian soil surpassing their previous best of 350 four which came at Hyderabad in 2009. The Aussies put up a mammoth total of 359 runs on the board. Once again, both the seamers were expensive and went for over 70 runs each.

Especially in the last ten overs, Indian bowlers looked clueless and conceded 122 runs as George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell sent the Indian players on a leather-hunt.

Their poor bowling performance even annoyed the ‘cool and calm’ Indian skipper MS Dhoni. He stated in the post match ceremony: “We need to improve our bowling. The reason is that if you attempt a yorker and it becomes a low full toss, it’s fine. But if it becomes a waist-high full toss, then the margin is too much. It’s one area we are looking to improve.”

Strike bowler Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, has impressed many with his wicket-taking ability with the new ball. His impeccable line and length and the ability to swing the ball both ways have made him a potent strike bowler. But so far his inability to provide the early breakthroughs in the series has cost India dearly.

Though India has one of the best batting line-ups in the world, but even that can’t guarantee a victory each time their opponents put up a total of over 300 runs.

Third ODI match of the series would be the last chance for Indian seamers to rectify their mistakes and bowl in the right areas not only to stop runs but to pick wickets as well. Otherwise, Indian selectors have to take some definitive steps while announcing the team for the rest of the series by showing the door to a couple of the Indian bowlers. Another danger, especially for Vinay and Ishant is that selectors have a couple of options in the form of Jaidev Unadkat and speedster, Umesh Yadav. So, before it’s too late for the under-performers, they must bounce back in the third ODI which is to be played on Saturday at Mohali – unfortunately a placid track.

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