Bangalore: Former left-arm spinner and selector Venkatapathy Raju feels that the England batsmen played right into the Indian spinners' hands by either being too adventurous or going into their shell instead of taking the middle path of rotating the strike in the ongoing first Test match in Chennai.
"I think they should blame themselves for the position they are in after one and a half days of play simply because they did not have any plan to tackle our spinners," Raju told Cricketnext on Friday. "The most successful batsmen in the world, who have successfully negotiated our spinners on the sub-continent wickets, will tell you that you should keep rotating the strike to counter top-class spin but the Englishmen seem to have come here without getting their basics right."
Raju said England could have taken a cue from Andrew Strauss, who notched up a patient century on the first day.
"The other England batsmen should have learnt from Strauss, who I think handled our spinners magnificently," he said. "He was neither too defensive nor was he over attacking in his approach but still kept the scoreboard ticking despite seeing wickets tumble from the other end. After getting a superb start from Strauss and (Alastair) Cook, I think the tourists lost the initiative by getting too bogged down or becoming over ambitious at times."
Matt Prior's valiant half-century took England above 300 before being bowled out for 316, but Raju thinks it isn't enough.
"On this wicket, anything less than 350 runs should be considered unsafe and England's 316 all out is definitely not enough," he said. "I think the Indian bowlers, particularly the spinners have done a very good job by restricting England, now it is their batsmen's job to put up a huge total in quick time so that their bowlers get enough time to bowl out the opposition for the second time."
Impressed with young leg-spinner Amit Mishra's showing, Raju said the Haryana spinner will go a long way as he has his basics right and does not mind tossing the ball up.
"I think Amit will go a long way and I am truly impressed with his bowling," he said. "He has his basics right and the best part is he does not mind tossing the ball up like legendary Indian spinners Erapalli Prasanna and Bishen Singh Bedi used to do during their prime. By flighting the ball, he is making sure that the batsmen are in two minds and this uncertainty has helped him get wickets on a regular basis."
"Even Yuvraj bowled like a front-line spinner and Harbhajan as usual been very hungry for wickets and has the ability to hit the right spots straight away," he added. "However, the good sign for Indian cricket is like Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra too is a very fast learner and their progress only suggests that the Indian team is in safe hands. If you look at the bench strength with youngsters like Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha waiting in the wings you are certain that the team is moving in the right direction."
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