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Can't take 20 wickets by dropping catches: Kapil Dev

Manchester: Former India captain Kapil Dev has criticised the team for dropping catches that allowed England's batsmen to take control of the third Test in Southampton. As a result, India lost by 266 runs, squandering
PTI August 03, 2014 21:20 IST
Manchester: Former India captain Kapil Dev has criticised the team for dropping catches that allowed England's batsmen to take control of the third Test in Southampton.

As a result, India lost by 266 runs, squandering their lead in the five-match series that now stands at 1-1. The visitors had won the second Test at Lord's by 95 runs after the first Test in Nottingham was drawn. The fourth Test begins in Manchester on Thursday, August 7.

The likes of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, struggling for form, scored runs finally as did debutant Jos Buttler and in-form Gary Ballance, all of them taking advantages of chances missed by India in both the English innings. Perhaps the key moment was when Cook, on 15*, was dropped by Ravindra Jadeja in the first innings, the bowler missing out was debutant Pankaj Singh, who then went for not so impressive figures of 0-179 in the Test.

"Poor chap (referring to Pankaj). He was bowling first-time in international cricket. On a flat wicket like this, he bowls well enough to take the edge and you drop it. Then he doesn't get a wicket in the whole match. He bowled well in the Test, but poor chap!" Kapil remarked about the luck-less debutant.

"There is no easy fix for this," he added, referring to the catches-dropped in the slip-cordon that is almost becoming a trend with the Indian team.

"You just have to keep practising, because you cannot take 20 wickets if you keep dropping catches. It becomes very difficult for bowlers. We were good in this department at Lord's. But in Southampton there were quite a few drops and on pitches like these, for our bowlers there's not much. So you cannot let these chances go away."

England went on to score 569/7 before declaring their first innings, and from there onwards, exerted pressure on the Indians throughout thereby not letting the opposition win even a single session in the Test match.

"It was a similar wicket to the one at Nottingham and just look at the difference in bowling from there to here. Overall, the bowling could have done better.

"There were just too many loose deliveries and England played well enough to make them count. When the other team goes on to score nearly 600 runs, it shows that you have a lack of discipline in your bowling," said Kapil Dev.

When asked if this was potentially because of fatigue induced by playing back-to-back Tests, he replied,"This is Test cricket. This is international cricket. You cannot talk about fatigue. The difference is that one team plays well and the other team plays badly, we must accept that.
"At Lord's, India should have been bowled out for 160 but they nearly got 300 runs. So, England lost. Similarly, India bowled badly and lost in Southampton."

While he was sufficiently impressed by the debutant bowler, the one-time world record holder of most Test wickets felt that senior Indian bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami let their team down in the absence of Ishant Sharma who was deemed unfit on the morning of the match.

"Bhuvi is moving the ball well and he tried hard at Southampton. But I think it was because he is a little slower that he didn't get enough movement there. If he can increase his pace a yard or two that will help on such pitches," Kapil said.

"But I am disappointed with Shami. He is a good bowler but he is trying to bowl too fast. There is no point bowling too fast if you don't pick up the right line and length. In England, you have to first bowl on a good line and length and then think about pace, only then you can get better," he added.

The general consensus though is that the Indian bowling was severely hampered on a drying pitch with the lack of a fifth bowling option. Especially, when captain MS Dhoni had opted to deploy this option in the first two Tests and then chose a seventh batsman at Southampton. It is in such times that the absence of someone like Kapil Dev himself is sorely missed.

"If you ask on that note, yes, every team should have a fifth bowler. But only an all-rounder can fill up that slot and a true all-rounder at that. Someone like Jadeja doesn't fit that slot.

"He has to get more runs and he has to do more with the ball to become a genuine all-rounder. At the moment, Bhuvi is filling that role but he needs to carry on consistently for some time. Then he can be a greater asset to the team," said the legendary all-rounder.

When asked if the absence of R Ashwin in all three Tests has hurt India, particularly at Southampton, Kapil Dev replied,"No, it isn't surprising. It was tough to pick two spinners at both Nottingham and then at Lord's."

"If Ashwin had played and Jadeja had been sitting out, the question would have been other way round then. So it is about picking a team depending on the conditions, the pitch and the composition of the team. A captain knows better than what we know," he added, perhaps lending a supporting shoulder to Dhoni.