Fletcher blames failure to build partnerships on batting collapse
India cricket coach Duncan Fletcher conceded that struggling opener Gautam Gambhir will have to be a "lot more positive" in his approach to come out of his lean patch in the ongoing Test series against Australia, but defended the team's batsmen despite their continuing poor run.
After successive batting failures led to a 122-run loss in the opening Test in Melbourne, India again found themselves in knots after collapsing to 191 in the first innings of the second Test on Tuesday.
The openers were expected to blunt the rival attack to ensure that the middle-order gets a sound platform to build on, but, in India's case, both Gambhir and Virender Sehwag tried to play too many shots rather than log a few overs against the bowlers' name.
"You need to be very, very careful as you could end up leaving deliveries you can hit. Somebody like Sehwag, if he clicks, can intimidate opposition and give us the base to work on," Fletcher said at the end of the day's play.
"As for Gautam, we are working on him to be very positive. It's more mental, he's been very tentative, pushing at deliveries. He's an attacking batter and needs to be a lot more positive in his approach.
Image: Gautam Gambhir is caught at first slip by Michael Clarke off James Pattinson
'We should build 150-run stands'
"As for today's ball, it would've been difficult to leave a delivery pitching on leg and going across you. A lot of left-handers could've been out to it," Fletcher said.
Gambhir departed for nought in the very first over and set the tone of India's collapse, which saw the tourists fold up after tea.
The only point that the Zimbabwe-born coach was willing to concede was that Rahul Dravid has lost a bit of form and that his batters need to string together bigger partnerships.
"It's crucial when we've a partnership going, we take advantage of it. Whenever it's happening, we are losing wickets. It's crucial, those stands should be extended to 100 and 150 runs," he said."Batters do try to adapt and at times they do it. But sometimes it's difficult to concentrate for long period," Fletcher added.
Image: James Pattinson is jubilant after dismissing Virender Sehwag
'Sometimes fortune goes against us'
"Rahul has a little bit of form here but Sachin (Tendulkar) is striking well. Sometimes you need good fortune...how many times you would see a batsman drag that kind of width on to your stumps? Normally, it would've been put through covers for four. Sometimes the (fortune) goes against us."
Fletcher, however, insisted that the struggle of his wards is nothing to be surprised about.
"It's just the same as England struggled in India. In India, opposition has the same problem adapting to slow conditions and spin bowling. When it seams here, India struggles a bit," stated Fletcher.India has scored 300 only once in 11 Test innings abroad since Fletcher took over as coach.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar is bowled by James Pattinson
'Australia has a useful bowling unit at the moment'
Fletcher praised the Australian bowling but felt spin could prove to be their problem. He also felt India is also a good bowling attack in making once young bowlers like Umesh Yadav gain enough experience.
"Australia has a useful bowling unit at the moment. They've bowled well. At times, our bowling attack has too. If they gain experience, they will be as useful a unit as Australia is.
"Australia is developing nicely but they need to develop spinners. We are confident, once Umesh starts going and Ishant is firing, with Zak's (Zaheer Khan) experience there, and the good spinners we have, we have the potential to be a very good bowling attack."
Image: James Pattinson
'Batting first was the right decision'
Fletcher rued that Australian captain Michael Clarke, despite the loose start he made, has given his team a good foundation. He said if India could strike a blow or two on Wednesday morning, the match can again swing the visiting team's way.
"If we can get Australia down to the same score, and if we bat well in the second innings, we could put pressure on the Australian team.
"While Clarke was very positive, he also played loose shots and could have nicked one early in his innings and they would've been four down," Fletcher said.
India's coach also backed the decision of his captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, to bat first in swing-friendly conditions."I think it was the right decision. We were confident we wanted to bat on. The first two hours were crucial and they put us in a lot of pressure. You have got to give credit to the Australian bowlers."
Image: Virat Kohli walks back after being dismissed
'Sachin's 100th ton not putting pressure on the team'
Fletcher was emphatic that Tendulkar's elusive 100th century was not putting any pressure on his side.
"Everyone's supporting Sachin. It's not putting pressure on the rest of the side. You have got to ask Sachin if it is putting pressure on himself.
"It's also not mentioned in the change room that we've never won in Australia (and that this could be our chance). It might be at the back of the mind but it's not mentioned."
Though Fletcher has supported the use of the controversial Umpire Decision Review System in his book, he stated he presently backs the BCCI decision of not supporting the technology."I support the BCCI. They have put some measurements and on that basis they don't back the technology. I back the BCCI," he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar