India vs Windies | Takeaways: Ashwin’s seam position lesson and Pant’s wicket-keeping conundrum

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BCCI

India vs Windies | Takeaways: Ashwin’s seam position lesson and Pant’s wicket-keeping conundrum

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Bastab K Parida

10/06/2018

India secured a convincing victory by a margin of an innings and 272 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the series. While there have been so many positives for India, our takeaways bring what India missed out in the Test match and how Rishabh Pant needs to work on his balance a lot more as a wicket-keeper.

Did India miss a trick by enforcing the follow-on?

Indian bowlers have been on a spree of their own and a fine eight-match run in South Africa and England have made them one of the most balanced bowling units in the world. However, on the contrary, they have not been good travellers with the bat, which have put a burden on Virat Kohli’s shoulders in recent times. After a lot of promise and some borderline over-confident talks, India have lost two consecutive Test series and the year-ending Australia series is not going to be that easy either. While Windies are no match to the Australians, this flat Rajkot deck also doesn’t come close to what Adelaide and Perth would offer. Hence, batting in the second innings would have at least offered some match time to underfire KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane

Rahul’s problems against inswinging deliveries have been a huge concern for him, and Rahane, well, has almost forgotten when was the last time he scored something of substance. The first innings of 41 runs was another frightening illustration of his struggle and if India would have decided not to enforce the follow-on, then they might have gotten few more chances to gain their mojo back. Instead, India, after securing a huge lead of 468 runs in the first innings, opted to enforce the follow-on and dismissed the touring party for a paltry 196 runs to secure an innings victory. Of course, the match ended in three days and they will get some more days of rest ahead of the second game in Hyderabad. But, had they batted again and sent KL Rahul to open and Ajinkya Rahane at No.3, it would have made a lot of sense.

Ashwin demonstrates the importance of perfect seam position for a spinner

For a pacer, seam position holds a very big importance as it is an indicator of where the ball is likely to go. While many people think it is an exclusive pacer thing, spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin would disagree as some spinners use the seam to extract drift in the air and response from the pitch. For an Ashwin stock delivery to a right-handed batsman, the seam points towards fine leg and in Rajkot, as the ball was reverse swinging, the shine was taking the ball away from the batsman in the air and then spinning into him after pitching. On a placid wicket like that, some balls land on the seam and turn, while some land on the leather and go straight. 

Windies were confused with drift in the first session today and Ashwin took the full benefit of the same. The ball that dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite in the second innings can be considered as a perfect example of the confusion that was going on in the batsman's mind. Brathwaite decided to use his feet to understand the pitch and instead of picking the ball from the bowler’s hand, he waited for the pitch of the ball to make a decision. However, Ashwin was intelligent enough to understand that and gave more drift to the ball on the air which resulted in the Caribbean opener being trapped in front. 

Pant is good but is he actually good behind the stumps?

The way Rishabh Pant batted in the last two matches, it gave hope to millions of Indians that India have its next wicket-keeper batsman sorted, who can rise to the level of Adam Gilchrist. While his bat is yet to do any mistakes, his keeping has been lackadaisical, to say the least. Standing close to the stumps, he was completely clueless and couldn’t understand where the ball was moving. He gave away a lot of byes in between, but more than that, his one technical deficiency came out to fore that might prove costly for India. 

Due to his wide stance near the stumps, he doesn’t stand still and tends to move his hands across. Those who have followed Pant extensively during the Indian Premier League would tell you, the Delhi wicket-keeper batsman has a knack of falling down while hitting slog sweep that tells a lot about his body balance. Given the fact that he fails there, it is a no-brainer that transferring the weight while keeping the ball behind the stumps is a problem for him. Let me tell you, that minor chink doesn’t affect his keeping, but due to the lack of balance, it severely affects him to focus on the trajectory of the ball. A captain, at least, needs his keeper to do this job to assist him with the DRS decision, but as things stand, Pant is not the ideal one for the same. While there have been cases of Pant’s inclusion in limited-overs cricket ahead of MS Dhoni for the upcoming World Cup in 2019, one needs to look at these two issues clearly.

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