Former India opener Gautam Gambhir was highly critical of Team India’s batting performance against spin on slow and turning wickets after they were bundled out for 213 against Sri Lanka in Colombo on September 12. However, following a clinical start where India scored a score of 80 in 11 overs, the hosts used their spinners, who dismantled the Indian batting lineup as well. The primary wrecker-in-chief was left-arm spinner Dunith Wellalage, who claimed his maiden ODI five-wicket haul. His wickets also included the fulcrum of the Indian top order of Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Hardik Pandya as well.
Speaking to Star Sports during the innings break, Gambhir shared similar struggles of Indian batters against Australia in the deciding ODI earlier this year on a turning track in Chennai and he said this is a matter of concern.
“This is becoming a pattern. You remember that match against Australia in Chennai when the ball was gripping a bit and India were chasing some 260-odd runs against spinners like Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. And we couldn’t chase it. Whenever the ball grips, we struggle and we don’t even know whether we can take the game deep,” Gambhir said.
However, Gautam Gambhir also asked the batters to adjust when the ball grips, citing Virat Kohli and KL Rahul as soft dismissals.
“This is not a 350-run wicket…it’s of 270,” he continued. “Imagine if in 40 overs you are three down for 160 or 170, then when the ball grips, it is very important for the batters to adjust. Virat Kohli and KL Rahul’s were soft dismissals, but rest were beaten by the front foot. Rohit Sharma was beaten by pace, Gill by…that was a brilliant ball. You expect better from Indian batters.”
However, Gautam Gambhir also opined on playing on the backfoot as the ideal way to tackle spin attacks on turning tracks so that both edges do not get exposed as well. He also shared how it becomes harder to deal with spinners who bowl from wide of the crease and the angle they create as well.
“As a batsman, we often try to play the angle, but if the ball spins from there then things become difficult. If you deliver it closer to the wicket then it becomes easier, but when you deliver it wider from the crease then it becomes difficult. And that is why it is necessary to play it off the backfoot rather than front foot, where both the edges are tested,” Gautam Gambhir concluded. “Gill could have defended that ball. You cannot say that it was an unplayable delivery. Look at the bat face, it is towards the leg side… towards mid-on. Against such deliveries, you should always play it towards mid-off or towards the bowler. The moment you go for mid-on you are giving the chance for an outside edge.”