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Updated: February 9, 2011 03:38 IST

Praveen not the only bowler to suffer on featherbead Indian pitches

G. Viswanath
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MISSING OUT: Praveen Kumar, who has been ruled out with an injury, has been an important cog in the wheel of India's seam attack. Photo: AFP
MISSING OUT: Praveen Kumar, who has been ruled out with an injury, has been an important cog in the wheel of India's seam attack. Photo: AFP

Praveen Kumar's injured elbow of the bowling hand has ruled him out of the World Cup. For a little over three years he's been an important cog in the wheel of India's seam attack.

His skill to manipulate the seam in the early overs and in heavy atmosphere and also the knack of getting wickets saw him pick up two Man-of-the-match awards in the Commonwealth Bank series against Australia in 2008.

The awards came in his third and fifth One-Day Internationals at Hobart, Tasmania and at the Gabba, Brisbane. All the good tidings came after sending down 20 wicket-less overs for 99 runs against Pakistan at Jaipur and against Australia at Adelaide.

In fact, in three of the next four matches he returned four-wicket hauls, the third one against Bangladesh at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, Mirpur where India begins its World Cup campaign on February 19.

Inconsistent

Thereafter the Meerut-born has been woefully inconsistent, picking up two wickets in six matches. Each one of his nine wickets in 14 home internationals have cost him 67 runs, going wicket-less in eight matches.

His other 48 wickets — taken in Australia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa — have come at a very impressive 27.29.

But the 24-year-old has not been the lone bowler to suffer on featherbed Indian pitches. Facts and figures indicate a highly successful run for India against all teams other than Australia in home ODIs after the ICC Champions Trophy in 2006.

India has won 30 ODIs and lost 15, but won nine series, losing two series by 2-4 margins to Australian team led by Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting.

The victories, however, were achieved because of the batsmen's ability to post big runs on the scoreboard for the bowlers to restrict the rival batsmen. The storyline would be much the same in the forthcoming World Cup.

Experienced hands

Much would depend on the experienced hands of Zaheer Khan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh; their combination in 110 home and away internationals has delivered 279 wickets at 32.05.

Zaheer (252) is only behind Wasim Akram (502) and Chaminda Vaas (400) in the highest wicket aggregate among left-arm fast-medium bowlers.

Zaheer, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar and Harbhajan average in excess of 30 in home matches; but barring Nehra (at 40.45) and Ishant Sharma (at 38.11) look better when they have gone on to win matches.

S. Sreesanth is an exception; his average — bowling in home internationals — is 27.11 and even better at 22.36 in the case of matches won.

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla (in the World Cup squad) and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (not in the squad) have not played a single home ODI.

Exceptional

But off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been exceptional in his first seven matches, six of them being at home, especially while bowling in the power play overs. It's too early for anyone to pass judgment on his bowling though.

At the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, where India takes on Bangladesh, Chawla has been the most successful Indian bowler with eight wickets in four matches at 25.50.

It is five wickets in six matches at 55 for Zaheer, six wickets in three matches at 24 for Harbhajan, four wickets in six matches at 69.50 for Sreesanth, no wicket in two matches at 65 for Munaf Patel, four wickets in four matches at 39.75 for Nehra and two wickets in two matches at 42.50 for Ishant Sharma.

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