Posted On Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 08:30:55 AM
It was something that Ashish Nehra said to his coach Tarak Sinha in 2011 that tells the sorry tale of India’s bowling in crunch situations in ODIs. Asked why he doesn’t bowl more overs with the new ball, Nehra replied, “Maybe, I could bowl the new ball well but others can’t bowl with the old ball”.
|Paceman Umesh Yadav bowls
during a practice session at the Suriyawewa Mahinda Rajapakse International Stadium
This otherwise meaningless fivematch series against Sri Lanka can provide India with some valuable match practice to see if they can improve their bowling.
Consider this stunning statistic: Since the 2011 World Cup, only Zimbabwe has found wicket taking costlier than India. Only Canada and Zimbabwe have proven more expensive than India in conceding runs.
Much of it has to be due to India’s poor bowling in death overs and Powerplays. Nehra has clearly been missed for he was MS Dhoni’s go-to man during those pressure overs.
When was the last time you remember an Indian bowler hurling yorkers at will? Sure there have been the odd ones here and there but they haven’t come in a flood. Nehra was the best under pressure but the rest have been pummelled.
It’s not that India doesn’t know they have a problem in hand. Sample this from Dhoni in 2010: “We have been bothered by the last ten overs for a long time now — one to one-and-ahalf years.”
And again in 2012: “I am a little worried about the bowling, more so in the Powerplay overs.” They just haven’t been able to crack the code. It’s not just yorkers of course but the subtle use of pace, of slower ones that they have been found lacking.
For someone like Umesh Yadav this series against Sri Lanka can be a great opportunity in honing his skills in such pressure situations. Zaheer Khan has a lovely knuckle ball and he will be the man India might turn to in Powerplays.
He hasn’t always done well in them but who else is there? Irfan Pathan, who once bowled a stunning yorker to take out Adam Gilchrist, has now become a bowler of cutters.
Vinay Kumar tries his best, so does Ashok Dinda, but clearly they have to step it up. In the absence of Yuvraj Singh, the “pie chucker”, Dhoni has his task cut out to find the right balance.
As you would expect, he is a touch worried. “Irfan gives us the liberty of playing with five specialist bowlers in the sense we can play with two spinners … but what also needs to be considered is what kind of combination we actually want because we don’t really have real part-timers,” Dhoni said yesterday.
“Yuvraj [Singh] was one bowler who can bowl, even if he is having an off day, 4-5 overs or when [Ravindra ] Jadeja is there he can bowl 4-5 overs.
You can rotate the bowlers and get the ten overs out of them but if we play with four bowlers, Catch-22 situation is the rest of the overs will be bowled by Viru pa [Virender Sehwag], Rohit [Sharma], [Suresh] Raina. So things maybe a bit difficult because Sri Lanka will target that bowler..”
History against India
History is against India. There are two memorable yorkers associated with Indian cricket history and both weren’t really yorkers. Kapil Dev’s inswinging full delivery to Pakistan opener Qasim Omar in the World Championship of cricket in 1985 and Zaheer Khan’s delivery to knock out Steve Waugh in Champions Trophy in 2000 are the two most famous “yorkers”.
Both weren’t toe-crushing yorkers but became one in the retelling over the years. It’s no wonder that in the era after Manoj Prabhakar the best Indian bowler at the death used to be Anil Kumble, a spinner.
In 2012, Dhoni is likely to turn to R Ashwin. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
► What needs to be considered is what kind of combination we actually want because we don’t have real part-timers
- MS Dhoni, On India's Bowling