Can't just play for survival on turning tracks: Dilip Vengsarkar

By, Mumbai
Feb 09, 2023 10:31 PM IST

The former India captain offered insight on the current way to bat on ‘dustbowls’.

What should a batter do when there are puffs of dust and visibly rough patches to deal with as early as the opening session of a Test?

Former India cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar(Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)
Former India cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar(Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)

Teams visiting the subcontinent have historically grappled for answers. The ball may not bite and spin prodigiously right away, but the challenge of playing even the straighter delivery becomes that much harder when the odd ball is up to mischief.

Australia found that out in Nagpur on Thursday as they were bowled out for 177 on a surface that will only become harder to tackle as the Test progresses. A few balls turned viciously while some went straight on, which can be put down to natural variation. Take the dismissal of Steve Smith, who played for the turn when there was none from Ravindra Jadeja. In response, India showed that runs can be made on the surface, ending the day on 77/1 albeit against a bowling attack with nowhere near the expertise and experience that the hosts possess.

Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar offered insight on what needs to be done on such ‘dustbowls’.

“The thing is it requires skills, play the ball as late as possible and you need luck,” said Vengsarkar, who played 116 Tests for India.

Reading the length and precise shot selection become imperative.

“The shots depend on the field placings. If the bowlers pitch it up and if they make you drive, then the batter has to be careful because then he has to wait for short-of-length deliveries to play square of the wicket. You have to choose based on the length and adjust accordingly,” he said.

Marnus Labuschagne, in particular, will have to take note. Having played solidly to make 49, he went for an expansive drive against Jadeja and was done in by the left-arm spinner’s flight and turn. While many people advocate for batters to step out and use their feet against spin, Vengsarkar pointed out the pitfalls on a turning track. “I don’t know about the use of feet because when the ball is turning, stepping out and driving will be a bit risky.”

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Australia on Thursday. Aside from Labuschagne and Smith’s 82-run stand, Alex Carey and Peter Handscomb, too, showed the merits of being proactive during their 53-run alliance in 67 deliveries.

“You just can’t get bogged down on this pitch and just try and survive. The thing is you have to look for runs, that is important. You have to keep the scoreboard moving. You can’t allow the bowlers to get on top,” Vengsarkar said.

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