BIRMINGHAM, England, (Reuters) – India’s famous batting lineup has flopped for a fifth successive innings as they are struggling to handle the swinging and seaming conditions in England, India coach Duncan Fletcher said yesterday.
So far India, a team which includes the two highest test run scorers in Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, have failed to score 300 runs in a single innings during this series and are in danger of relinquishing the top test ranking to England after being walloped in the first two matches.
India were bowled out for 224 on the first day of the third test after losing the toss, before England’s openers cruised to 84 without loss at stumps.
Apart from Dravid, who scored hundreds in the first two tests, the other batsmen have struggled, including world record holder Tendulkar and fellow veteran Vangipurappu Laxman.
“It’s been pretty difficult for the batsmen to adapt,” Fletcher admitted after being quizzed by reporters on another batting let-down. “And I have not seen three pitches, even when I was with England (from 1999 to 2007), that have swung and seamed around as much as these have here.
“Our guys are finding it difficult at the moment to handle the swing and seam. They have practiced and there’s not much more they can do. It’s about getting out in the middle and putting things into practice.”
Surprisingly, one of England’s bowling heroes at Edgbaston, Tim Bresnan, said that the conditions did not assist the hosts as much as they had expected when skipper Andrew Strauss elected to field after winning the toss.
“As a seamer you look at the wicket and think ‘I’d prefer to bowl on there than watch someone bat on it’,” Bresnan said after finishing with four for 62 on Wednesday.
“But it didn’t really do that much. We were expecting it to be a bit quicker and seam a bit more than it did – so it’s a good effort. It swung a bit but not like Trent Bridge did. So it was a case of building pressure.”
While Dravid fell for 22 this time, after Bresnan bowled him with a delightful delivery that swung away from him late, Tendulkar again missed an opportunity to register his 100th international century. He scored just one.
Tendulkar, though, still averages 54 in tests in England, while Laxman’s is a shade under 40 in England.
Bresnan rejected any notion that India’s batsmen were underperforming and preferred to believe that the credit deserves to go to the bowling unit.
“It goes to show how well we’re bowling as a unit,” Bresnan added. “There’s definitely that ‘hunting-in-a-pack’ mentality, and we do enjoy each other’s success. It’s good to watch your mate get four or five… or have a really good day with the bat.
“The Indians have not really got themselves out. We’ve bowled really well and stuck to our plans. It’s not like they’re inventing ways to get out, put it that way.”