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India v England: The Case For 6 Indian Batsman...

...as opposed to five bowlers and five batsman - the preferred strategy of Indian captain Rahul Dravid. The said case is best made by a fleeting glance at Cricinfo's text commentary and full scorecard of the tour match between India and Sussex.

In the first innings, after having Sussex on the ropes at 5/144, the Indian bowling attack was back to its frustrating best. It was unable to finish off the tail, allowing the home side to declare only six wickets down, only 88 runs behind. Admittedly, Zaheer Khan has been rested for this match and his presence, in place of Ranadeb Bose (yes, he of "torment the batsmen" fame), might have given this story a different plot.

In a bizarre twist, Team India allegedly started chasing quick runs and are currently 8 wickets down for a meagre 124 runs, at lunch on the fourth day! All this against a rather unspectacular combination of bowlers. This collapse proves three things:
  1. Save for MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, to an extent, no other batsman is capable of materially increasing the scoring rate.
  2. Save for Sachin Tendulkar and Dravid, no other batsman is able to consistently and successfully get the side out of a potentially tricky situation.
  3. As opposed to a fifth bowler, a sixth batsman (if his stars are perfectly aligned) is more likely to make a significant difference to his team's chances of winning - either by helping mount an insurmountable total or somehow dig the side out of a hole.
Most importantly, leaving aside the odd aberration (such as the performance in this match), the Indian bowling attack has achieved more consistent success over the last season and a bit, as compared to their willow-wielding counterparts.

This is not the time to dupe ourselves into misjudging our real strengths.

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