24 August 2007

One down is the key

I won't focus on the fielding or the running between the wickets. With this team, we should assume that we start out with a 50-run deficit against England. Maybe 35 at Bristol because it is a much smaller ground than the Rosebowl. Even then, the Indian batting is touted to be far too good to be outbatted by an England batting lineup that was till very recently, pathetic. Anything less than 300 is a score that the batting should be able to chase down anywhere and against any bowling. And that is why they carry seven batsmen, hoping to chase down any target that the opposition is able to set. Which should make us wonder: why did India lose a match by a hundred runs? After it looked like India did well to restrict England to 288 especially after the kind of platform they had? Bad batting. If we need to criticize the strategy of playing four bowlers, we cannot do so on the evidence of one match. And not so long back, during the dream ODI run, when Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Dhoni were winning us matches, nobody had too many complaints.

This is where an in-form Irfan Pathan could have been handy. But until such time as he manages to break down the door to the national team, I have a feeling that Dravid is comfortable leaving ten overs to Yuvraj, Tendulkar and Ganguy.

In my opinion, the only major selection question that Dravid should ask himself is: who should bat at one down? Apart from thinking of Gambhir, Uthappa and Karthik, Dravid should also think about Rohit Sharma. Uthappa may replace Gambhir at the top of the order. Or Karthik can come up the order and Rohit Sharma can bring up the rear. There is also the conventional wisdom of palying one of the best batsmen at one-down, which could mean that Yuvraj could come in.

For all we know, Dravid may even go with five bowlers, and draft in either Powar (two spinners, small ground = big risk) or Munaf, in place of Gambir.