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Indian batsmen are not moving their feet says Anshuman Gaekwad
The recently concluded Indo-Pak ODI series has once again shown that Indian batsmen are susceptible when it comes to facing swing bowlers, especially when the swinging ball comes into the batsmen. Pakistan's pace battery, mostly Junaid Khan and Umar Gul, embarrassed the Indians with their in swinging deliveries. Anshuman Gaekwad told this citizen journalist that one explanation is that there are technical flaws, which make the batsmen fall into the trap of playing late or too quickly to inswinging deliveries - the perennial chink in Indian batsmen's armour.

MOST OF the Indian batting line-up always seem to be caught unawares while facing quality inswingers - be it Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, or Yuvraj. Also, there's the issue of orientation on behalf of the batsman while facing an inswinging deliveries. An inswinger to a right-handed batsmen is an outswinger to a left-handed batsmen. Anshuman Gaekwad, one of the finest technicians with the bat during his playing days, says that, “The Indian batsmen are not moving their feet. They are standing at the crease and playing the ball. You need to play late and close to the body to cut the swing of the deliveries.

Every now and then, the Indian batsmen's mode of dismissal has been the same – getting trapped leg before and getting bowled. When these batsmen go for expansive shots, as seen during the recently concluded Indo-Pak ODI series, they leave a huge gap between the bat and the pad – enough for the ball, that too swinging, to sneak in between, and rattle the stumps. Gaekwad says, “The Indian batsmen are playing a lot with their bottom hand, so there is a big gap between the bat and the ball. They are also trying to reach out for the ball. They are not in control of the situation.

Gaekwad particularly points to Gautam Gambhir and says that his bottom hand problem, along with his footwork, has led to his string of low scores. Gambhir, as per Gaekwad, is also having problems with short-length deliveries, as he plays away from his body. More often or not, he chops the ball onto the wicket.

India's performance in the recent series against Pakistan, and the Test series against England, has been a huge failure after the openers, Sehwag and Gambhir, were not able to give a good start to the Indian team. The English bowler, James Anderson, also exploited India's weakness to incoming deliveries.

Lalchand Rajput, former Indian batsman, believes that not able to tackle inswing is an issue of low confidence. “There are not many problems with the Indian batsmen, but they are lacking confidence as of now. If they get the required start, then it would become easier for the batsmen.” Rajput feels that the players needs to start playing in the V (straight drives past mid on and mid off).

But players, while coping with multiple formats of cricket every few weeks, seldom follow the basics. While playing ODIs, following introduction of new rules, Indian batsmen are still finding their feet. Two new balls are used for one innings, which also means that the ball remains hard and new for a longer time – thus giving more chance for the ball to swing.

India played its first ODI series against Pakistan under this new rule changes. It will take time for the Indians to adjust. We need to give them time,” says Rajput, but he has a word of advice for all the Indian batsmen, “We (Indians) have to be a bit more cautious and play close to the body. Don't push for the ball. Let the ball hit the bat.

At the same time, self-correction is needed, observed Gaekwad, “Proper practise makes a player perfect. Nobody needs to tell them about their problems, they need to correct on their own.

Perhaps Indian batsmen can take a leaf out of Sachin Tendulkar's work ethic. In 2004, when Sachin Tendulkar was having some technical batting problems in his batting against Australia, he was very determined to score runs while being aware of his errors in his previous matches. So when he came to bat at number 4 for India in the first innings of the fourth Test match, he did not play any risky shots in the cover region – playing through the off side would have meant exposing his three wickets to the bowler, so he always played in the V region, and through the leg side. He scored 241 runs in that match.

This innings should be a lesson for the current crop of Indian batsmen who have not been able to come to terms with playing inswingers with confidence. It will not be a bad idea for the Indian coach to rope in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan, and upcoming swing bowlers to make Indian batsmen practice in the evenings to sort out their technique against quality inswing bowling.

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