Thursday, August 02, 2007

WHY AFRAID OF MONTY?

It is true that Indian batsmen are short of the ability and technique needed to handle faster bowlers, especially on foreign soil. But over the last few years, Indian batsmen have not shone the confidence that was the hallmark of their predecessors when it came to the spinners.

The latest show was put up the Indian batsmen while facing the English left-armer Monty Panesar. In the first test at Lords’, the wickets of Panesar included Sachin Tendulkar. The batsman played with the pad and not with the bat and to a straighter one, it was judged out by the Umpire. In the second test, the Indian openers put up a solid start. One delivery to Karthick looked like crashing into the wickets, but the batsmen was saved by the Umpire. Rahul Dravid played a Panesar delivery straight into the hands of one of the short extra covers.

In all these deliveries, there was nothing extraordinary despite the observations of the commentators. It was the batsmen who became so circumspect that the bowler had an easy job. There are many left-arm spinners in the domestic scene in India who are better than Panesar. Things are a bit off the mark when even Sunil Gavaskar heaps praise on the showing of Panesar. Give a wicket similar to the one at Bangalore where Gavaskar played his last innings of a test and scored 96. Surely none of the present day Indian batsmen appear capable of scoring a total of 96.

Sachin Tendulkar has taken on a rampaging Shane Warne and the Aussie confessed of having nightmares over the assault. Laxman can dismantle the best spinners on his day. But suddenly, those appear things of the distant past. Sachin looked a batsman with unsure footwork in the first test. Dravid was once a bunny of Warne while Ganguly and Laxman made it a point not to take on Panesar. A big hitter like Dhoni also preferred to go on the defensive against Panesar.

The lack of quality spinners on the domestic circuit and the top players not taking interest in domestic cricket seems the most likely cause of the difficulties facing the spinners. Most of the present day Indian batsman do not rely on footwork but merely thrust their pads to the spinners. The replay of Dravid’s dismissal in the second test is ample proof.

Panesar is a good bowler from the point of view of the supporters of English cricket. But why should Indians be so prolific in their appreciation of the bowler? So much so that an Indian news channel has engaged Panesar to talk about cricket at the end of the play each day.


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