They need to rein in their tongues

At variance… India skipper M. S. Dhoni and opener Gautam Gambhir didn't see eye to eye with the former's batting strategy of slow start and explosive finish.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

The talk of a rift in the Indian camp gains momentum. Some say there is a communication break-down. This time, however, the cricketers have only themselves to blame. They should have been more careful with their words. By S. Dinakar.

The Gabba is a very Australian venue. In the past, the Australians would invariably play the first Test of a series here and roll over the opposition. The visiting team, unable to adjust to the pace and bounce of the pitches here, would struggle.

Several Aussie pacemen, steaming in from the iconic Vulture Street end, have run through line-ups. The Gabba is also a venue that rewards a very direct form of pace bowling. Aggressive pace bowlers have reaped rewards here.

The venue, a pride of Brisbane, did not stage any match in the India-Australia Test series. The Indians, though, face a serious challenge in the two back-to-back games here. They have some momentum going for them, entering the double-header at The Gabba in the Commonwealth Bank ODI series. With two wins and a tie and with 10 points from four matches, the side is comfortably placed.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni talks about rotating players to keep them fit for the finals. He might have spoken too soon.

The bowlers get the length wrong at The Gabba. They bowl too full, try too many slower balls and are punished by the Australian batsmen. On a hit-the-deck pitch where the three-quarter length is often the answer, the Indian bowlers get their game-plan wrong. Then the batting fades out under the lights and the Indians slump to defeat.

Meanwhile things hot up in the Indian camp. If one thinks Gautam Gambhir's disagreement with skipper Dhoni's batting strategy — slow start and explosive finish — is the last of the controversial statements coming out of the Indian camp, he is wrong.

After the defeat at The Gabba, Dhoni says playing the three seniors — Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir in the same XI — can cost the team 20 runs on the field. He adds if India talks about its best eleven, then fielding too should be taken into consideration. He says 20 additional runs are not quite what the team wants. Dhoni indicates that the trio is safe on the field but rather slow. He dwells on fielding lifting the morale in the side. He also talks about an additional run conceded making a big difference to the result of the match.

“It might only be a single but the strike changes and the next batsman could hit a six or a four,” he says. In the process, the Indian captain has also reignited the controversy over the rotation policy.

There is some bad news awaiting Dhoni too. News comes in after the press conference that Dhoni will be suspended from the next game — against Sri Lanka at The Gabba — due to slow over-rate.

Will vice-captain Sehwag, who did not play two matches due to ‘back spasm,' be fit enough to lead the side?

Dhoni's comments do not appear to go down well with Sehwag. India turns in a listless performance against Sri Lanka to suffer another setback. Sehwag, who recovers rather swiftly from a ‘back spasm', adds more fuel to fire after the game. He says the three seniors have not been informed about the ‘slow fielding' by Dhoni when he spoke to them about the rotation policy and the need to give the youngsters opportunities in these conditions before the 2015 World Cup.

When asked about his fielding, Sehwag snaps back, “Have you seen my catch today? (He had taken a brilliant catch to dismiss Mahela Jayawardene earlier in the day).

Not surprisingly, news of dissension in the side breaks out. Many believe there is an open rift in the camp. And some say there is a communication break-down.

This time, however, the cricketers have only themselves to blame. They should have been more careful with their words.