Team India missing a death-over specialist
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They might not have been the most graceful movers on the field. But Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel, despite all their athletic deficiencies, did ensure that MS Dhoni could make do without one additional headache.
While the duo was more than useful with the new-ball, what really stood out on their bowling was however their ability to negotiate the death overs without conceding a mountain of runs. Nehra and Munaf remained Dhoni's go-to men at the business end of an ODI innings-regardless of whether India was bowling first or second-and they always rose to the task, without ever minding the resultant ballooning of their economy rates.
Post 2011 World Cup, where both Nehra and Munaf played stellar roles in India's title win, the two have struggled to keep their faith with Dhoni and the selectors. Younger and fitter pacers like Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Ashoke Dinda have emerged on the scene and overtaken them in the fast bowling ranks.
Now Team India boasts of a well-rounded and athletic pace attack, which in addition to being skilful with the ball isn't pedestrian when it comes to fielding. But like they have found to their dismay in Sri Lanka, the absence of Nehra and Munaf has meant a significant lack of control at the back of end of the opposition innings.
While Lanka required less than 20 overs to win the second ODI at Hambantota — they smashed the Indians for 90, 97 and 66 runs in the last ten overs of the other three matches. At the Asia Cup, India conceded 73 runs to Pakistan, 86 to Bangladesh and the Lankans had amassed a staggering 105 runs in Hobart during the tri-series there.
Team India might already have the series title under the belt as they reached Kandy on Thursday. But the expensive displays of their bowlers in the death overs is one aspect of their performance they would want to mend at the quickest. It has increasingly become a pressing problem for Dhoni's world champion team over the past six months. One that requires an immediate solution.
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