Monday, February 28, 2011

India's weakness exposed when not holding a bat

(Reuters) - India snatched a thrilling tie against England on Sunday but their tag as World Cupfavourites is starting to face increasing scrutiny as the humdinger exposed serious chinks in their armoury when they are not batting.
India's batting line-up is arguably the best on paper and, more importantly, in top form as they notched up scores in excess of 300 in their first two games of the tournament.

But take away the bat, and it is a whole different story.

While it may sound harsh, it was more a case where England threw the match away rather than India grabbing a point in the run-feast which ended with a dramatic tie off the last ball in Bangalore -- leaving both teams stranded on 338 runs.

The featherbed of a batting pitch meant that bowlers on either side were always going to suffer.

But Tim Bresnan's career-best haul of five for 48 for England highlighted the lack of bite the Indian bowlers had in their own backyard.

If not for India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who claimed three quick wickets in England's batting powerplay to wrest the initiative back, the visitors would have cruised to victory despite chasing a daunting 339 victory target.

Munaf Patel, who partnered Zaheer with the new ball, spinners Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla posed no threat to the English batsmen, who put up partnerships of 68, 43 and 170 for the first three wickets to almost take their side home.

For the second straight match, the experienced Indian bowling put up an insipid performance. They conceded 283 runs against Bangladesh, failing to bowl out a side filled with average batsmen just finding their way in world cricket.

It is not that India have a lot to choose from with the bench strength consisting of the wayward Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, the injury-prone Ashish Nehra and the inexperienced Ravichandran Ashwin.

While Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni chose to credit the opposition's batting and put some of the blame on the pitch, he admitted that a lack of choices limited his bowling attack.

"You have to manage the resources. It's not that the bowlers are not good. Maybe this was a game where the conditions didn't really suit them," Dhoni said.


"At times when you play international cricket, the opposition team also plays well and I think it was an example where the England team batted really well."

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