Mahendra Singh Dhoni has perhaps scoring a timely century, only his second in Test cricket, because certain tactics in the first Test at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad have left Indian viewers baffled.
It is rather perplexing that India have resorted to bowling a negative line to the Sri Lankan batsmen, the Jayawardenes – Mahela and Prasanna, with Amit Mishra bowling round the wicket and denying himself the opportunity to take wickets. But the post tea session appears to have confirmed resignation for the Indian team who see little in trying to take the remaining five wickets for Sri Lanka.
It appears like a case of people living in glass houses should not throw stones at others. Not a while back were the England team criticized for employing similar tactics in India while bowling to Sachin Tendulkar.
Now India’s tactics betray their lack of confidence of making further inroads in this match. They have been unable to tie down the Sri Lankans, giving them the odd single to keep the scoreboard ticking without having to really create the need to go for a few atrocious shots.
It is rather strange that the visitors have shown more faith in their batsmen and opted for a three fast bowlers- two spinners attack while India have only four specialist bowlers.
Gary Kirsten, the Indian coach, explained after Tillekeratne Dilshan scored a magnificent century that Harbhajan Singh was looking more like his past self than he has in recent months, although Harbhajan’s bowling did not worry the Sri Lankans. He also stated that Amit Mishra was rusty and hence, could not quite get things going.
By the same standards, perhaps India could consider themselves fortunate that Sri Lanka did not run away with the match though they have made a meal of it because Zaheer Khan is coming out of injury and Ishant Sharma is finding his feet too.
So, by those standards, India should be grateful, so the coach would have one think.
But the reality is that employing Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar to fill up the fifth bowler’s slot in a Test match is just a reflection of a captain who has run out of ideas.
The team selection decision may not have been entirely his own, but no doubt his thought processes would have gone into it. And the field setting, instead of stifling the Sri Lankans, has been protecting the boundary and simply going through the motion.
It is perhaps fortunate then that Dhoni has scored a timely century, it may not save him the captaincy should the series stack up against him, but it will ensure he will still be retained as India’s wicket keeper-batsman.
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