It was a disappointing effort by the Indian batsmen in Colombo on Friday and Saturday. Indian batsmen have traditionally always struggled in the first test match of an away series. In 1996 at Durban, India scored 100 and 66 in its two innings against South Africa. But that was against Donald, Pollock, Macmillan and Klusenar on one of the world’s fastest and bounciest wicket. Last week the Indians capitulated on a slow low wicket against two spin bowlers. That surely is a matter of concern.
Infact no batsmen apart from VV.S Laksman looked comfortable against Mendis and Murali. Tendulkar and Ganguly, two very fine players of spin bowling, were more intent on sweeping rather than using their feet. Gambhir and Sehwag looked like they were still in the 20-20 mould and the less I write about Dinesh Karthick the better. The way the Indians played Murali and Mendis reminded me of the way the Englishmen played against Kumble, Raju and Chauhan in 1993-Totally clueless and groping for answers.
However the biggest question that needs to be asked is to about the great wall of India- Rahul Dravid. Statisticians will point out that India’s greatest ever test match player has just scored one meaningful test hundred in his last 18 test matches. (Leave aside Bangladesh). Statistics aside, Dravid has just not looked the part since the tour to England last year. At his best, Dravid has always looked solid, assured and confident at the crease. These days he looks tentative and lost at the crease. Twice this year he has been hit by short deliveries (at Adelaide and Kanpur), something that you never associated with the Dravid of the old. Although he received a beauty in the first innings, he looked out of sorts again in the second innings. The question needs to be asked- is the Wall crumbling. I hope I am proved wrong but it seems that it is.
Overall the Indian team looked very listless. The bowling hardly created an impression and maybe it is about time to look beyond Harbhajan Singh as the second spinner. Bhajji has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this year and he has hardly looked threatening apart from the test match at Kanpur. But come to think of it even if we do look beyond him, whom can we turn to. The cupboard of spin bowlers looks very bare.
The momentum gathered after the Perth test win seems to be lost. India looked to challenge Australia for the number one spot after that win but instead it has won just one of the next five test matches that it has played and has faced two humiliating losses.(at Ahmadabad and Colombo).
The future looks fairly gloomy.