Low targets can be slippery. How do you approach them? Bide your time or go after the bowling? Pacing the innings can be a challenge.
The pressure is on the batting side; it is expected to win. And the bowling unit, with nothing to lose, can go all out on a deteriorating pitch that can lend it a fair measure of assistance.
Ask former India seam bowler Venkatesh Prasad. He was part of the Indian team that, pursuing just 120, was astonishingly shot out for 81 by West Indies in the Barbados Test of 1997.
An attack of the legendary Curtly Ambrose, Ian Bishop and Franklyn Rose made serious inroads with only V. V. S. Laxman reaching double figures.
Prasad had an outstanding Test with an eight-wicket match haul but ended up on the wrong end of the result.
“The pitch played difficult from the end where Ambrose was bowling. There was a spot. Some balls climbed while others shot through” Prasad recalled to Sportstar on Saturday.
Prasad felt, “We should have attacked from the other end, the one from where Ambrose was not bowling. We had a strong batting side but missed a trick and paid the price.”
The former India seamer believed the present Indian team lacked someone such as Virender Sehwag, opening the innings, who could take the attack to the opposition, disrupt bowling plans and scatter the field.
“Particularly when you chase a low total below 200 as at Birmingham, a Sehwag sizzler can make all the difference. He can get the field to spread out which can make things easier for the other batsmen too,” Prasad noted.
The former India paceman said, “In the present Indian team, too much hinges on Virat Kohli. The others should contribute too. They need to get their footwork worked out to counter the swing and seam movement in England.”
Prasad opined while Kohli held firm in the Indian second innings at Birmingham, India should have attacked the bowling from other end. While defending low scores, if runs come quickly, the bowling side can panic,” he said.
“Despite the defeat, Kohli’s form and the bowling of R. Ashwin and Ishant Sharma augured well for India. The team needs to keep the belief,” Prasad said.
But then, much like the setback at Bridgetown, the Birmingham capitulation will haunt India for some time to come.
Simply put, a solid game plan and clear role definitions are crucial while chasing low scores.
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