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Indian batsmen's bad habits exposed
Deepti Patwardhan | November 05, 2006 17:19 IST
Though the Indian cricket team was coming from an ODI slump, its supporters would have expected that it would at least rain runs on the placid home wickets and get back into groove during the Champions Trophy. But with the pitches being livelier and helping bowlers, the Indian batting line-up looked as vulnerable as on overseas tours of Australia or South Africa.
Former cricketers say Indian batsmen's bad habits were exposed.
"The wickets have been markedly different during the Champions Trophy. These are not the kind of pitches where you stand and deliver," said former India coach John Wright, during a round table discussion, organised by Cricinfo on Saturday.
"Batsmen have to be patient and be ready to grind out the runs. Unfortunately, batsmen have been found out and haven't been able to adapt to different wickets."
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes that Indian batsmen did not pay heed to the nature of pitches and threw wickets in an attempt to score boundaries.
A telling fact was that none of the subcontinent teams, known for sublime batsmen, made it to the knock-out stage. On the other hand, the four teams that did make it to the semi-finals were the ones ready to take up the challenge, run hard between the wickets and manoeuvre the ball in the field.
Ravi Shastri cited the example of the game between India and Australia in Mohali.
"Most of the Indian grounds are smaller and because the wickets are flat the batsmen can easily hit the fours and sixes. But Mohali is a slightly bigger ground and the Indian batsmen did not work the ball around to post a big enough total," said Shastri.
Another expert on the panel, England's Tony Greig, thought that India's batting performance was a reflection on its inability to adapt to different conditions.
"The Indians have traditionally struggled on foreign soil. They have a problem; Australia don't find it so difficult to adjust to different conditions as much. In Australia, you have a Perth pitch, which has steep bounce, whereas the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) has something for the spinners as well as the faster men. Australia has a healthy mix of grounds, that's why they have been able to adapt better."
Though the tournament did not attract large crowds for non-India games, experts feel the changing nature of wickets brought in lots of tactical changes and it was an even battle between bat and ball.
Not only have the cricketers encountered untypical Indian wickets but they had to made quick shifts since the conditions also varied from venue to venue.
While the green track in Mohali during the first two league games was paradise for pace bowlers, the wicket in Mumbai turned alarmingly.
"Mohali for me was an ideal ground," said Chappell. "It was a good pitch which had something in it for everyone. Bigger boundary also brings in a different mindset. Once you pull the boundary in, the spinner is immediately taken out of the game. But this time the batsmen knew they couldn't just step out and hit over since it is a bigger ground. Also, it brings in the captain and the field placings."
The panelists hoped that tournaments like these are not one-offs in a batsman dominated one-day game. They also believed that television and marketing should not be allowed to interfere and press hosting associations to mend grounds for higher scores, because the game would then get boring and monotonous.
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