Vantage point

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why 5 Bowlers?

I am not a big fan of the 5-bowler theory for the Indian test team right now.

The reason is very simple. A 5-bowler strategy will be perfect for a team that isn't able to win test matches. Is the current Indian team unable to win test matches? Yes. So what is my problem?

Let me elucidate. By a team which isn't able to win test matches, I mean a team which ends up drawing a lot of matches that it should win. As of now the Indian team is not doing that. The Indian team is actually losing a lot of matches that it should at least draw. When a team is losing a lot of matches it should at least be drawing, the problem is more with the batsmen than with the bowlers.

People keep repeating the fact that you need 20 wickets to win a test. Well, duh. But it is also true that you need to get a first innings lead more often than not if you want to win the test... at least save it. India has not been able to bat long enough to get a first innings lead.

With Tendulkar injured, and the middle order in patchy form, persisting with the 5-bowler strategy would be very dangerous.

Even more dangerous at a ground like Antigua which has traditionally been a draw-friendly pitch. Teams rack up huge totals, Lara scores triple and quadruple centuries, and there are never any results. If the Indian batting collapses even on a pitch like this, it is a sureshot recipe for disaster.