Indian batsman will have to relinquish T20 mode


It is usual for the Indians to lose the first game of a series outside the sub-continent because they have not had enough time to acclimatize to the conditions and get the body clock on par with the local time zone. The pitches also have much more for the new ball bowlers than in India. All that means the team loses sometimes quite miserably and if it is a three-Test series, then they are playing catch up with the opposition who have gone one up.
Here in Jamaica, the Indians were not entirely comfortable with the pitch but thanks to Rahul Dravid who stuck it out, they got enough runs on the board in the second innings. In the first innings too, Dravid showed the way which was finely emulated by Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina who has shown that he is a quick and willing learner.
The way Raina stayed out of harm’s way of the short ball indicated that not only had he done the hard yards in the nets but also talked a lot with the seniors about how to handle those deliveries. Wisely he did not go for the hook or the pull shot and made the bowler feel that he was wasting his time bowling that length.
Virat Kohli is a spirited young player with the typical attitude of a youngster for whom nothing is impossible but he would do well to just walk away and gather his thoughts rather than indulge in a stare contest with the fast bowlers.
India will hope that on the Barbados pitch which is expected to be as bouncy as the Sabina Park wicket if not more, those of their batsmen who get set would not waste the starts they have got but go on like Dravid did. In Test cricket it is 100s that make the difference and the bigger the hundred the bigger the difference to the result.
India’s batsmen have looked as if they are still in the T20 mode for most of them are playing with hard hands and with quick bat speed which is what they do in limited overs cricket. Batting in Tests where the ball is bouncing and spinning, the batsmen have to play with soft hands so that they can control the ball. Once they are set and have the measure of the pitch then they can increase the bat speed and look to accelerate.
The openers are lucky that there is only Parthiv Patel as a reserve opener in the squad and unless the openers fail abysmally in Barbados, Patel is unlikely to get a look in. So the openers have two more Tests in which to show that they belong at this level. Vijay already has a Test century so he knows how to get there, but he too is still in the mind space of the T20 format.
India’s spin bowlers could have done better but they bowled a tad too short and down the wrong line to exploit a pitch that had turn and bounce. The seamers too were a bit short. Praveen was outstanding but he has a problem with his follow through and needs to work on that aspect. Mishra was taken for runs in the second innings so India may well go in with three seamers if Munaf is fit and also because the Barbados pitch has invariably been a bouncy one.
India were positive in Jamaica despite losing the one-dayer there and if they stay that way in Barbados then the series could well be won there.