The future of Indian cricket
India’s Sri Lanka defeat adds spin to their batting
Have Indian batsmen lost their skill to tackle quality spin bowling? That is the big question that has followed their crushing defeat in the first test in Colombo last week.
Their innings and 239-run defeat on a good Singhalese Sports Club ground pitch saw a line-up boasting Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman bundled out twice around four sessions of play.
Off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, test cricket’s highest wickettaker, captured 11 wickets, but Indian batsmen were also clueless against debutant Ajantha Mendis, who snapped up eight with his mysterious mix of deliveries.
Indian batsmen have struggled under pressure against off spin in the past, contrasting with their command against leg break bowlers, including Shane Warne.
In Colombo, even the wristy Laxman misread the subtle googly from Mendis twice while Dravid looked even more unsure.
With the batting heavyweights towards the final stages of their careers, the concern in the Indian camp is understandable, Mendis having ripped through their younger set of batsmen in the Asia Cup final, scalping six for next to nothing.
Former batsman Sanjay Manjrekar acknowledges the challenge.
“Indian cricketers have traditionally been good players of spin but that doesn’t mean the current or future generation of cricketers will continue to be so,” he said on cricket website www.cricinfo.com.
“In fact the batsmen who have been part of the side since 2002-03 have been better players of fast bowling than the batsmen in the 90s.”
Dravid says one has to be a very good player of spin to break into the national side but then the demand changes.
“When you got into the Indian team, you had to become a good player of fast bowling to survive at that level,” the Deccan Herald newspaper quoted him as saying.
“Over time, playing so much fast bowling, focussing so much on that, some of the ways in which I played spin probably changed,” he says. “I used to be a lot more positive against spin.
Are the soft hands, supple wrists and deft footwork becoming a thing of the past for India? The second test starting in Galle on Thursday should provide some answers.