|A sizzling start that fizzled out for the Indians|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Feb 03, 2006|
Indian cricket has long been plagued by the lack of
ability of our bowlers to finish off the job.
A sense of déjà vu would no doubt have enveloped many
of those who witnessed the opening session of the
third and final Test at Karachi last week.
Thanks to Irfan Pathan's unique first-over hat-trick,
India had Pakistan on their knees at 39 for 6. The
home side recovered to 245 all out and went onto
complete a crushing victory.
Go back to 1999 and the Asian Test championship match
at Kolkata. This time an opening burst by Javagal
Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad had Pakistan reeling at
26 for 6. They made it to 185 all out and won the Test
by 46 runs.
Remarkably, on both the occasions it was the
wicket-keeper (Kamran Akmal at Karachi and Moin Khan
seven years ago) who led the recovery.
Those with even longer memories will recall with
bitter regret how back in December 1969 we had
Australia pinned down in the fifth and final Test at
Madras. At 24 for 6 and leading by 95 runs on the
first innings, Australia were struggling to save the
Test. They not only went onto reach 153, but come out
winners by 77 runs. A series that India could have
drawn 2-2 was instead squandered away 1-3.
There have been innumerable other instances dotting India's
As mentioned in an earlier column, the success of
Rahul Dravid as opener in the first Test at Lahore
sent out all the wrong signals. The Faisalabad wicket
for the second Test too turned out to be a feather-bed
and this gave the Indian batsmen a false sense of
In his desperation to include Sourav Ganguly in the
playing XI, Dravid not only over-ruled coach Greg
Chappell, he also upset the balance of the side when a
specialist to partner Virender Sehwag at the top of
the order was the need of the hour, particularly at
The sameness of the Indian seam attack - three left-arm
bowlers--in the third Test also made things
predictable for the Pakistani batsmen once they had
got over the initial shock of Pathan's opening burst.
The fact that both Irfan and Zaheer Khan have dropped
in pace over the last two to three years is a cause
The Indian team prides itself on having a number of
specialists among the support staff. But what it
sorely lacks is a bowling coach.
Reportedly, Aussie speed legend Dennis Lillee has
expressed his willingness to take up the post. Having
had plenty of experience with Indian bowlers over the
last 20 years at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai,
Lillee would be the perfect choice. Lillee was part of
the legendary Australian team of the 70s and 80s and
has the right chemistry with his ex-captain Chappell.
The Indians need to regroup and hopefully come back
stronger in the one-day series. They should also
ignore the offensive comments which former Pakistan
players specialize in and which are unfortunately
given wide coverage in the Indian media.