India lacks potency in bowling

It will be interesting to see the path that Dhoni takes in this series as he has not shown enough imagination as a captain abroad.

The FIFA World Cup will hold the centre stage till the end of the first fortnight this month and in the process might overshadow the first Test between India and England. However, the staunch supporters of Team India will strike a balance and make it a point to see how their heroes fare at Trent Bridge. Team India has a big challenge ahead given that it lacks the experience collectively. The lead up matches did not provide the much needed competitive edge and therefore, the players who make the cut have to turn it on in the Test.

Dhoni was optimistic in his pre-tour press conference but the biggest worry for him will be the lack of potency in the bowling department. The supposed spearhead, Ishant Sharma, needs to get his act right and lead the charge. Whether India has the teeth to pick up 20 wickets remains to be seen but it will also depend on the plans of the team management. Dhoni has to bite the bullet and back himself to bat at No. 6 to accommodate five full fledged bowlers if India has ambitions of winning Test matches. He might bank on his team not repeating the mistakes of the last tour of England but he also needs to remember that India could not complete the kill due to the four bowlers getting jaded in South Africa.

The idea to rope in Dravid for guiding the young batters is welcome but matches are won on the ability of the bowlers to get wickets. There were few problems as far as the batters were concerned in South Africa and as such, they can be expected to stonewall the English attack. The other big advantage for Team India is that they will have an opportunity to come back should they struggle to get off the blocks initially, this being a five-Test series. Despite the cushion that a five-Test series provides, it is of paramount importance to be quick on the draw to pile the pressure on the hosts.

The current England side is looking to settle down under a new team management and hence it is critical not to allow the team any leeway first up. One thing is for sure, the England batsmen are brought up on swing and in the past they have struggled against genuine pace. That being the case, Dhoni will need to bank on bowlers who can make the batsmen hurry. We did see Praveen Kumar make the ball swing prodigiously last time around, but he did not pick up enough wickets to wrest the initiative despite being the best Indian bowler on view.

It is always a pleasure to see a bowler get a good shape but what is important is incisiveness. It will be interesting to see the path that Dhoni takes in this series as he has not shown enough imagination as a captain abroad. There is no doubt that he can be inspirational when he chooses to, but somehow he has shown hesitancy while playing abroad. I am not suggesting anything untoward but he needs to take a few risks to achieve the success he is seeking outside the Sub-Continent.

Dhoni will solve a lot of conundrums if he starts backing himself as a batsman in Tests. There is no doubt at all that he will do a grand job at the crease for he is one who does well when he puts his mind to it. He needs to make a statement to his team by taking the bull by its horns if Team India has to win the series. It remains to be seen if the bearer of the most flexible of minds can shift his mindset and approach a Test series abroad differently.