Team India struggled in the ODI series on all fronts – the bowlers were erratic and gave away too many runs, which proved too much for the batsmen to chase. However, we saw in South Africa that ODI loss has little effect on India’s Test performance. Expect India to fight harder in the Test series.
In the ODI series, the real problem with the Indian batsmen was that they looked for big shots all the time and didn’t run enough singles. They often played with hard hands and ended up hitting the ball to the fielders. Hopefully, they would have corrected this in the last few days while putting themselves in the Test mode. A little more patience and serenity will serve them well.
They would also do well to take a leaf out of Virat Kohli’s book. An important thing about batting is visualizing small things like what shots and in which areas you will play against a particular bowler and how you will deal with certain situations. When you have played a shot in your mind, it becomes easier to execute it in the middle. Virat seems to be doing just that.
Zaheer Khan and Mohammad Shami will definitely play. It would also be worthwhile to include Bhuvneshwar Kumar because of his ability to swing the ball. If it is overcast, Bhuvneshwar can be more than handful. Later in the innings he can be your stock bowler, bowling full and straight and creating pressure from one end. Ravindra Jadeja’s six-wicket haul in the Durban Test could put him ahead of R Ashwin in the Playing XI at Auckland.
One thing the pacers must do is bowl a fuller line. Indian bowlers lack the extra pace that makes the short ball lethal. They should stick to bowling fuller which will enable them to move the ball.
MS Dhoni is so inventive as a batsman. I want him to take that inventiveness to his captaincy as well. At times, it seems like when his original plan fails, he doesn’t have a backup plan to fall upon. In ODIs it can become difficult to try different things all the time because the opposition could control the game with their tempo. In a Test match you have all the time to try out various combinations, bowlers and fields and outthink the batsmen. That’s one area where Dhoni can get better.
(As told to Shirin Sadikot)