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Sunil Gavaskar - Master's words

Non-regular bowlers almost cost hosts the fourth ODI, but India's stocks have improved

Monday, November 24, 2021
India need to look for a fifth bowler

India held their nerve laying off a spirited effort by England, to win the fourth one-day international at Bengaluru. England fell 19 runs short in the end, and they have to look at their openers who dawdled through the first six overs of powerplay, and thus increased the asking rate.

The late charge from Owais Shah and Andrew Flintoff would have given some anxious moments to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, as he constantly tried to juggle his bowlers around in an effort to stop the duo. India are clearly missing a fifth bowler, and though they have wrapped up the series it is something that they need to look at for the future.

In a scenario where the opposition is going to go hammer and tongs, the non-regular bowlers are short on experience, as well as variety and confidence, and so leak runs very badly. But for the D/L method England would have won the game quite easily, and in fact they had crossed what India had actually made with the bat in the fifth ball of the 21st over.

The D/L method gave the Indians the license to throw their bats without worrying how many wickets they lost in the five overs that they had to play after the second interruption. To be fair there were some stunning shots played by Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan to take India to their final total.

Sehwag started with a boundary over cover off the first ball of the game as if he knew that rain was going to play a big part in the day's proceedings. When he is in that mood not too many bowlers can stop him, and Gambhir egged him on simply by matching him stroke for stroke. It was exhilarating stuff till the rains came and played spoilsport. What it did was to convert the game into a T20 kind of situation, which made it an exciting one in the end.

The series win gives the Indians the chance to experiment and more importantly rest Zaheer Khan who was magnificent when England were going after the others. It was Zak who made sure that England did not get off to a flying start and then later stopped the pair of Owais Shah and Flintoff with some canny bowling and he was on hand at mid-off or mid-on to talk to Ishant and the others and guide them through a tricky period. Harbhajan too benefitted from that though if he looks back at his bowling he will realise that the slower he bowls the tougher it is for the batsmen to go after him. The wicket he got of Ian Bell was off a delivery bowled at 87 kmph while when he fired it at more than 100 kmph he was getting smashed all over the ground.

The win shows how improved the Indian team is in limited-overs cricket and the youthful brigade is adding to the edge by their athleticism on the field. These are certainly good times for Indian cricket and they must be aware that if they win all the games then they will be just behind Australia in the rankings and that should be a great incentive to keep the tempo up.