March 8, 2006

Second Test in Mohali.

India is planning to go with five bowlers for the second test in Mohali. That is a positive sign. Firstly, it shows a recognition of the fact that we need more fire power to get 20 England wickets and a willingness to go out of the comfort zone created by 6 specialist batsmen. Secondly, it places lot of faith in the ability of the five top order batsman to deliver. Notwithstanding the potential of Dhoni, Pathan (and Kumble too) it is our top five who need to do the bulk of the scoring. And it is time they did that in a convincing fashion.

Of course, this necessitates the exclusion of Laxman and Kaif. The later's exclusion is particularly painful, but there is really no other option, with the return of Yuvraj. As for bowling, Pathan and Kumble pick themselves. Munaf Patel is also a fairly obvious inclusion given Sreesanth's illness. I personally believe that there should be one more seamer (RP Singh) in stead of both Harbhajan and Chawla playing. The Mohali pitch traditionally had lot of bounce and helped seamers. Moreover, spinners have not delivered recently (spinners got only 4 of the 13 England wickets that fell in Nagpur). The remaining spot will probably go to Harbhajan. But it is not a bad idea to give Chawla a go. Harbhajan's record lately has not been breathtaking (he has only 16 wickets from the last six tests at an average of 50).

Finally, the pitch in Mohali. That it assists seamers is generally believed and there is certainly some truth in that. But that assistance has not resulted in pacy attacks cantering to victories (except in the first game played here between India and West Indies). In fact, batting has been rather rewarding on this pitch. And out of the six tests played here four have been draws.

So one should expect lots of runs for the batsmen and toil for bowlers.


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