Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

India sweat over seamers’ fitness

Mohit Sharma hobbled off the field after bowling just 5.4 overs Mohit Sharma hobbled off the field after bowling just 5.4 overs
Express News Service | Posted: June 17, 2014 3:04 am | Updated: June 17, 2014 9:14 am

India’s ODI tour of Bangladesh is a short, hastily-arranged series to honour a bilateral FTP agreement between the BCCI and the BCB. Separated by a single rest day between matches, there’s very little recovery time and even smaller room for experiment. With Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav struggling for fitness, longer cooling-off periods might have helped.

Sharma hobbled off the field after bowling just 5.4 overs in Sunday’s first ODI. Yadav suffered cramps and couldn’t finish his quota. In Vinay Kumar, the team has a similar replacement for Sharma but if Yadav doesn’t regain his fitness before tomorrow’s match, India will be short of a proper fast-bowling option.

PUJARA’S BIG TEST

Dhaka’s heat took its toll on the bowlers while the batsmen were affected by rain. Only Robin Uthappa and Ajinkya Rahane had good stints in the middle after the target was revised to 150 in 26 overs. Stand-in captain Suresh Raina faced just 11 balls, Ambati Rayudu 19 and Cheteshwar Pujara walked back for a five-ball duck.

Raina is an automatic pick, the odd omission in the Asia Cup notwithstanding. Rayudu, too, is very much in the scheme of things with an eye on the next year’s World Cup but Pujara is yet to establish himself. This is his big test.

The Saurashtra batsman has had very little game time to prove his mettle in limited-overs cricket. He has been with the team for close to a year now but has played only three matches. Two of them were in Zimbabwe last year, where he scored 23 runs in total. On Sunday, he was unlucky to be given out leg before off a Shakib Al Hasan delivery that hit him well above knee roll. He also had very little time to settle down after resumption.

“I can’t score a 50-ball hundred, because I’ve limitations as far as my stroke-play is concerned. But what I can do is to rotate the strike, score at a brisk pace and help the big hitters bat around me,” Pujara had told this paper during the IPL.

BUILDING ON DEBUTS

What is true of Pujara also holds for Parvez Rasool and Akshar Patel. Both made their debuts on Sunday. Patel showed little sign of nerves while Rasool was shaky to start with. Brought on after 18 overs with Bangladesh at 67 for two, a few loose deliveries from Rasool upfront allowed the hosts to up the ante.

The 25-year-old off-spinner pulled things back by dismissing Anamul Haque in this third over and bowled steadily to finish with two for 60 off his 10.

Patel bowled in the power-play overs and also at the death, and looked at ease. The next step will be to build on a good start.

As for Bangladesh, they failed to hit their stride for large parts of the game against a second-string Indian team. Their home ODI continued…

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