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Friday, June 24, 2011

Dravid provides a fascinating glimpse into his batting methods

S. Dinakar for The Hindu
Raina, particularly in the second innings, handled the short-ball well
Rahul Dravid lives in the ‘present moment' at the crease but has this precious ability to look deep into a contest.
This insightful batsman breaks the innings into compartments, wear downs the attack in the most demanding of conditions. Dravid can visualise an innings mentally, move into what professional sportsmen call the ‘zone.'
During his outstanding innings of 112 at Sabina Park, the steely batsman provided us a fascinating glimpse into his methods.
On a surface of variable bounce, he played with the full face of the willow when the ball was on a good length or pitched up.
He collected runs between extra cover and ‘straightish' mid-wicket with push-drives rather than full-fledged drives. Only when the bowler erred in line did he venture into those wristy flicks.
Seizing scoring chances
And he was quick to seize in on the scoring opportunities with horizontal bat strokes when the delivery was lacking in length; an important element of batting on such tracks.
There were occasions when he shortened his back-lift; this was again in keeping with the nature of the pitch. The erudite Dravid is someone who is always willing to make subtle technical adjustments.
Dravid was short of runs going into the second Test against England at Mohali in 2008. This was a phase when he was a tad vulnerable outside the off-stump.
The thoughtful Dravid adopted a different, two-eyed stance in the Test. While an open stance can limit a batsman's driving off the front foot on the off-side, the two-eyed stance allows him to have a clear look at deliveries on or outside the off-stump.
Dravid made a determined 136 in the Indian first innings. Once he rediscovered his batting rhythm, he reverted to his classical side-on stance.
Raina impresses
Suresh Raina is deeply influenced by Dravid's batsmanship. The left-hander impressed with his solid, focused ways in the Test.
Raina, particularly in the second innings when Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul bent their backs, handled the short-ball well. Importantly, he did not take his eye off the sphere.
The same cannot be said of Virat Kohli whose feet movement froze when Edwards pounded him with some vicious, lifting deliveries. Word travels quickly in cricketing circles and Kohli is bound to be targeted in the coming days. Test cricket is a different ball game.
Creditably for someone who made a huge jump from domestic cricket to facing a charged-up Edwards at Sabina Park, Abhinav Mukund was not found wanting.
Mukund unruffled
The left-hander was sure about his off-stump and appeared comfortable off the back-foot which is an essential attribute at this level. Mukund was unruffled by the short-pitched deliveries.
Another debutant, Praveen Kumar, was buzzing. He moved the new and the old ball either way with a wristy, whippy action that made it difficult for the batsmen to pick the delivery at the point of release.
Praveen opened up the right-handers with his out-swing and shifted his line admirably to the southpaws.
Actually, skipper Dhoni deserves credit for switching Praveen's ends — he was brought on from the Michael Holding end — that resulted in the medium-pacer sending down the game-opening spell on day two. Dhoni's move enabled Praveen to bowl against the breeze that enhanced his out-swing.
And Ishant Sharma operated with speed, bounce and intensity. The tall Ishant, with his hit-the-deck methods, and the much shorter Praveen, with his deceptive movement in the air, form an interesting combination.
Praveen, however, got into serious problems for running on to the danger area. Skipper Dhoni explained, “That's one of the problems when you graduate from 10-over-bowling (in the ODIs) to Tests where a bowler has to be a lot more careful about such things.”
Harbhajan batted with typical spunk but should have attempted to spin the ball into the right-hander from at least half a foot outside the off-stump. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra impressed only in patches.
Harper's goof-ups
Umpire Daryl Harper had an ordinary game and at least four decisions went against India. But then, BCCI's opposition to UDRS is not without logic.
The Hawk Eye has its limitations. And if the Hot Spot technology — which is at the heart of the UDRS — is not available for all series, then the system makes little sense. In a level-playing international field, you cannot have Hot Spot for a series in England or Australia and not have the same for the contests in the West Indies or Sri Lanka.


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