x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

No end in sight for India's bowling slump

It has become Indian cricket's chicken-and-egg question. Is it dire pitches that sap the enthusiasm of young bowlers? Or have the surfaces become an excuse for a lack of skill and heart?

Ravindra Jadeja was just one of India's bowling flops in the recent Test series defeat by England. Eranga Jayawardena / AP Photo
Ravindra Jadeja was just one of India's bowling flops in the recent Test series defeat by England. Eranga Jayawardena / AP Photo

During the Test series defeat to England - only India's third at home in a quarter of a century - there was much heartburn about the state of the Indian bowling. The spinners were comprehensively outbowled by England's, and the pace bowling looked pedestrian once Umesh Yadav got injured.

Look at the scores from the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals though, and it is a wonder that young men even bother to take up the ball. Only one game saw a result, as Services upset Uttar Pradesh. The other three matches saw totals of 718 for nine, 699 for three and 645 for nine.

There were 12 centuries made, and two triple-hundreds - Cheteshwar Pujara's 352 for Saurashtra against Karnataka, and Taruvar Kohli's 300 not out for Punjab against Jharkhand. The only innings to treasure was Rajat Paliwal's 112 for Services in a game where the highest total was 263.

The pitches were awful, so was some of the bowling. Pujara made his triple on a surface where a half-decent spinner would have asked serious questions.

"The bowlers were not mature enough," he said with great candour afterwards. "I feel that it is a kind of wicket where you can easily get 10 wickets but I don't think they bowled well.

"They were not bowling in the right areas. In six balls, they were bowling just one or two good balls and if you defend them, you could score two to three boundaries after that."

It has become Indian cricket's chicken-and-egg question. Is it dire pitches that sap the enthusiasm of young bowlers? Or have the surfaces become an excuse for a lack of skill and heart? There is no answer in sight.

 

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