Indian Batting – World Cup 2011

Here is the second installment of my team India preview for the world cup 2011, this time we take a look at our batting. As we saw India’s bowling resources are thin and pose quite a lot of selection headaches, the Indian batting though has no such issues. This is one discipline India is quite settled ahead of the world cup. The batting order picks itself and even though Sachin Tendulkar hasn’t played in too many ODI’s this year, he will automatically return to the top of the order with Sehwag. So this means that Ghambir will have to fall to number three in the order. Sachin returning also means that Virat Kohli has to step aside from the X1 unless India decides to go with 7 batsmen.

Yuvraj in all probability should return to his customary number 4 spot followed by Raina and Dhoni. The reserves should be Kohli, Karthik/Uthappa (Any one of them can be keeping back up for Dhoni if the need arises) and probably Vijay or Pujara as the other backup. India has a settled top 6 and the number 7 spot is where the team management will be in a fix. The confusion would be to whether play Jadeja/Ashwin as the all-rounder or to play an extra batsman at number 7.

Even though such decisions can be based on the pitch conditions, this will be something which India needs to think about in the coming months. Ravindra Jadeja has hardly done anything spectacular with the bat and Ashwin is rather untested at this level. So this will be an interesting selection. The best way to determine who of these two will be the best fit is to give them chances in all the 5 ODI’s against New Zealand. Since most probably Bajji will be rested, it will be a great opportunity to play both Jadeja and Ashwin in the X1 together. It will also be important to give both these players an opportunity to bat in these games to see who can handle pressure at this level.

Now let’s look at the reserve batting options, Kohli sure will be in the squad and is actually very unlucky to miss out from the X1. In a big tournament like the world cup you surely need a keeping backup for Dhoni and the options in that case is very limited. Since Dhoni has hardly missed a game, none of the probable options have been tested. The only option who has played few games is Dinesh Karthik who opened the batting a few times during the absence of either Sehwag or Ghambir. The other interesting option is Robin Uthappa, who offers an attacking option with the bat and is decent behind the stumps. With Kohli sealing one spot in the batting, there might be just enough space for another player in the squad which will be an interesting pick. Vijay has struggled in the ODI’s and so has Rohit Sharma. The dark horse though might be Cheteshwar Pujara who impressed one and all with his match winning fifty against the Aussies. So again a lot can change in 3 months and some new candidates can emerge for contention.

But unlike our bowling the batting though looks pretty much settled with 7 batsmen almost sure of making the squad. India’s strength over the years has been their batting and they have bailed out the team very many times after an insipid bowling display. So even in this World Cup, India’s trump card will be their batsmen. If the batting clicks, India has a very good chance of giving the title a shot, but the bowlers have to do their bit too for that to happen. A great bowling performance in a tournament like the world cup can lift any side and India will be looking for such a hero in the 2011 edition.

India crush Aussies to go one up

Zaheer Cleans up Brad Haddin on the 5th morning

Zaheer Cleans up Brad Haddin on the 5th morning

India crushed the world champions to win the second test and go one up in the series. The Indians will be really pleased with the win as this was a total team performance and was not achieved on a typical dust bowl. Almost everyone in the team contributed to the win with Dhoni brilliantly leading from the front. Dhoni had temporarily taken the responsibility of captaining the team in the absence of injured Kumble and proved that he is ready to take over the reigns when the great leggie steps down.

The Indians dominated the proceeding starting with the toss on the first day. A great start by the openers, fantastic century by Ganguly, good batting from Sachin and Dhoni made sure that India got to a competetive 469 in the first innings. Sachin and Sourav both reached singnificant landmarks during their respective knocks in the Indian first innings as Sachin became the higest run getter in tests and Sourav passed 7000 test runs.

The Indian bowlers complemented their batsmen splendidly by bowling out the Australians for 268 giving a lead of 201 runs. Zaheer and Ishant were impressive at the start with Mishra and Harbajan running through the middle and lower order. Amit Mishra had a fantastic start to test cricket grabbing 5 wickets on debut. He finished with 7 wickets in the match and seemed ready to take over the baton from Kumble whenever he decides to call it a day.

The Australians chasing an impossible 516 for a victory after yet another great batting display by the Indians in the second innings collapsed to a dismal 195 to hand a 320 run victory to the host. Ishant and Zaheer again among the wickets with Harbajan and Mishra combining well again in the second essay. Australians though will be really dissapointed with their performance as none of their top order batsmen were able to stay long enough to string a partnership and their bowlers were clueless against the aggressive Indian batsmen.

All in all it was a excellent display by the Indians to go one up in the series. It seems like Kumble will be back in the third test which means that Mishra would not be playing. Mishra has taken a gaint step towards the Indian test team with his performance which will stand him in good state once Kumble decides to hang his boots.

Even though the Indians have handed the Aussies their largest defeat in over a decade, they should not let complacency to set into their games. The Australians are still the number one team and it requires just one good innings or one good spell to reverse the situation for the visitors. Indians should continue their same ruthless approach in Delhi too and make sure that the series is won when the reach Kanpur for the final game.

Indian Batsmen need to step up

The Indian team lost the last two ODI’s in the ongoing CB series. The Indian batting has failed to fire in this series and has never looked convincing. The batting is lacking experiance in the middle order and the constant failures of Sachin, Sehwag and Yuvraj is causing Dhoni lots of headaches on the eve of their crucial match against the Lankans.

The Indian bowling has been fantastic throughout the series and has been let down by some irresponsible batting. The game against the Australians should have been won by the Indians, if only there was someone who displayed a mature head as Clarke did for the Aussies. Dhoni has been the only batsman in this series who has shown the will to stick it out in the middle and play according to the situation. The rest of the batting has struggled to handle anu sort of pressure.

Sachin has been throwing his wicket away after getting starts in almost all the matches. Being the most senior member in the squad, I guess he needs to be more responsible and guide the youngsters in the team. India is missing the solidity of Rahul Dravid in the middle order. India also needs to stop experimenting with Irfan Pathan at number 3 as Robin Uthappa is getting wasted at number 7. He is an attacking player and needs to be playing in the top order. Irfan can be more effective at number 6 or 7 rather than in the top 3.

Once in a while Pathan can be used at number 3 to surprise the opponents but not everytime. On the positive side the Indian bowling led by Ishant Sharma has performed brilliantly. They had set up the game against Australia, only to be squandered by the batsmen. I wouldnt say that it was a easy target but was definitely gettable. India now face the tough task of winning two of the next 3 games and their next game against the lankans being the most important. India winning this game would put lots of pressure on the Lankans as they would remain in the third spot in the table.

The Indian batsmen need to fire and make a big enough score to give the team an opportunity to put pressure on the Lankans. Well this game is sort of Do or Die scenario for the Indians and hope that they rise up to the occasion.