It has turned out to be a veritable run feast in the Battle for the No.1 spot in the current India versus Australia ODI series.
As the teams crisscrossed from Pune to Jaipur and then Mohali, one thing became clear—the batsmen are having a whale of a time and nobody is shedding a tear for the hapless bowlers.
The scorecards of the three matches reflect how scoring in excess of 300 runs has become easy. And nobody is complaining.
On Saturday, as skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni came into his own once again, he used the bat at times like a hammer and sometimes like a baseball bat. Hammering boundaries and using the aerial route to send the ball in the stands, the skipper showed that when he is at the crease, he is going to kill the bowling.
Agreed, this kind of batting from the India skipper and also vice-captain Virat Kohli in Jaipur makes for great viewing, but the misery of the bowlers needs to be heard.
In such a scenario, it is very easy to rubbish the bowlers, tell them they are no good and how they need to go back to the nets and get their line and length right.
This list includes Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and R.Vinay Kumar, all struggling for rhythm till now.
Ishant has been chosen specially for harsh criticism and he does deserve it. For someone who has played over 50 Tests, the lack of zing in his bowling is clear. He is supposed to be leading the attack but till now there is little to suggest he is game for this kind of a contest where the rules and pitch conditions are loaded in favour of the batsmen.
This is the third series at home in 2013 where five bowlers are inside the circle right through the 50 overs of the innings. What the bowler needs to do only he knows best. However, since these days there are specialist bowling coaches to help, we expect the bowlers to perform magic.
By looking at this series, it is clear that with little in the pitches for the bowlers, this is not an even contest between bat and ball and almost everything is loaded in favour of the batsmen.
Then again, it is not just the Indian bowlers who are suffering in such conditions. Even the Aussie bowlers like Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay and Shane Watson are in peril. The way Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli flogged these bowlers in Jaipur, one could only feel bad for them.
Till last year, when five fielders were outside the circle in ODIs, it looked a better contest. Cricket is a game where there is constant innovation, more so thanks to the T20 format.
We have seen in the IPL how bowlers have also been able to get on top.
But the way pitches have been prepared in this series against Australia, it’s best for the batsmen. Everyone knows when there is some juice in the track, the Indian batsmen will flounder. Suresh Raina again showed he is vulnerable against the short stuff as he was consumed by Johnson on Saturday.
Assuming India does go to South Africa for a short Test and ODI series, batsmen like Raina will find it tough.
Back to the pitches, when the IPL is played, it is towards the end of the season and they are worn out. Right now, this is the start of the season and there is nothing in the track for the bowlers. With two balls being used in each innings, the Indian medium-pacers are struggling to get reverse swing and the spinners haven’t been able to tie the Aussies into knots like they did in the Test series earlier in the year.
There are four more ODIs to go and obviously the selectors will take a close look at the Indian bowling and make changes. Going back to Zaheer Khan could be on option but the left-armer isn’t getting any younger. If one wants to be bold, give Jaydev Unadkat a chance and also see if Umesh Yadav can do any better.
My guess is the way the pitches are being rolled out in India and with just four fielders outside the circle, this is like a lottery.
Bowling coach Joe Dawes needs to give more inputs to ensure the Indian bowlers do not lose heart in this series. There is nothing more heartbreaking for a fast bowler than to be clobbered all over the ground with scores in excess of 300.
Images of Jaipur are good to see when viewed from a batsman’s perspective but spare a thought for the bowlers who have to complete 50 overs in each innings.
Unless there is going to be something in the track for these hapless men who run in and hurl the white ball, they will be a defeated lot.
Just imagine, this is just the opposite of what happens in Test matches at home when spinners get all the help from turning tracks.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.