The advantage of having a bowling all-rounder was evident when Irfan Pathan combined with Suresh Raina to take India home in a tense game. Be it a 50 overs game or a T20 game, and especially the latter it is crucial to have bowlers, who can bat more than a bit and who are not liabilities in the field.
The reason is quite simple. Unlike batsmen who can bat through the overs, a bowler has a limited quota and so his usefulness to the team in limited overs cricket is limited to those overs. If he can wield the bat effectively as Irfan does and also stop boundaries with his fielding then he is more than useful indeed.
A bowler who leaks runs and that unfortunately is the nature of limited overs cricket is not much use if he is not going to bowl his full quota of overs and cannot contribute with bat and is an ordinary fielder. He has to be a wicket taking bowler if he can’t add to the team with the bat and in the field.
India has had its ups and downs in limited overs cricket because of the lack of a quality all-rounder, but with Irfan Pathan coming good, picking up the early wicket and batting as he did in the third game, the Indian team balance is looking good. There is also Ashwin, who has added value with ball and bat and when Yuvraj Singh comes back the Indians will have more options with the ball and the skipper will have more flexibility too.
It was good to see Jayawardene strike form. There are few better sights in the game than when he is batting. He makes it look ridiculously easy and his range of shots is nothing short of phenomenal. He doesn’t quite get the kudos that he should because he comes from Sri Lanka, while lesser players from the old powers get more simply because off the field the subcontinent has still to shrug off its complexes.
He and his good friend Kumar Sangakkara have been the rocks of the Lankan team for so long now, they are going to be missed when they finally decide to hang up their bats which hopefully is a long way off. They bring a rare aesthetic quality to their craft which with the advent of heavier bats has become more a question of strength and power than finesse. Sri Lanka is unlucky that Sangakkara won’t be there for the last two games for he is in the form of his life.
For India too Gautam Gambhir is batting beautifully. He is a man who gives his best to any side that he turns out for and his intensity is infectious. When he is at the crease there is a sense of calm and of method. He loves the tense situation for that makes him focus even more and he knew that after the fall of his partner Sehwag, India needed a century innings from at least one batsman.
It is this awareness of what the team needs that makes him such a good reader of the game. Suresh Raina is another, who relishes a scrap and he has now played some tremendous match winning innings for the team.
India is fortunate that they don’t have to depend on any one batsman to deliver, but it is the bowling that they have to look at and decide whether slowing the pace down will be a better option than the seamers, whose pace is being used to whack them all over the park. They still are in a better space than the hosts, who have more problems to sort out than the visitors.
Professional Management Group