SPORT

Indian spinners disappoint

That New Zealand has a chance to avoid the follow on does not reflect well on the Indian bowling on the third day. I was extremely disappointed with the manner the home spinners bowled on Friday.

The Kiwis dealt with Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh comfortably and there were not many occasions when the ball beat the bat. There is little point in blaming the pitch and calling it a slow turner.

The onus is on the spinners to achieve spin on any surface. I felt there was a distinct lack of flight and guile.

On surfaces not offering too much help to the spinners, a strong case can be made for attempting to deceive the batsmen in the air. I saw little evidence of this from Harbhajan and Kumble.

The Kiwis, tottering at 16 for three late on day two, have now managed to stage a reasonable recovery, with the bowlers failing to apply pressure consistently.

This after Zaheer Khan had provided Indian with a wonderful start, knocking over three batsmen with his zestful opening burst, a creditable achievement for a paceman on this Motera pitch.

Zaheer Khan's confidence is there for all to see and the left-arm seamer has worked hard on his bowling. The role of India's pace spearhead appears to be bringing the best out of him.

All credit to Nathan Astle for notching up a hundred under pressure. He has always been a batsman with a positive mind-set; his is the right kind of approach to deal with difficult situations. Craig McMillan played his part too and he did look good for more before falling to a brilliant catch by Akash Chopra.

Astle has returned to big-time cricket following a knee surgery after the World Cup and McMillan had a rough time in Tests last season. Not many would have backed them to come good so soon. And Daniel Vettori, as always, was tenacious down the order.

Coming to the Indian innings, full marks to Rahul Dravid for his double hundred. I liked the manner in which he speeded up the run-rate and took charge after his 150. The knock once again showed his commitment.

Captain Sourav Ganguly's century would have done his confidence a world of good.

He cleverly gave much of the strike to Dravid in the early stages and then played a lot more strokes.

The match is interestingly poised at the end of the third day.

The Indians can still go on to win from here, while the Kiwis have an opportunity to script a great escape act.

The Indians bowlers, the spinners in particular, will have to attack more.

And not wait for things to happen. www.kris-srikkanth.com