My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Dravid

With just a day to go for the first test between India and South Africa at Centurion to begin, the excitement is already in the air. Players of both the teams have been pretty vocal and there has been lot of things said and written about the strategies and plans of the two teams. The South African coach has been pretty vocal in the media but on the contrary his counterpart Kirsten has remained in the background.

So what combination will India field for the first test? If the reports in the media are to be believed, the pitch will be fast and bouncy. Pace bowlers will rule the roost in the first test for sure. South Africa only naming one spinner in their 12 for the first test seems to suggest that there will be no respite for the Indians. South Africa has a great advantage of having a genuine pace bowling all-rounder in their lineup which gives them the edge. So they can play 3 pace bowlers with kallis as the fourth seaming option.

India though do not have that luxury. Anyways let’s look at the likely combination India could field in the first test. The batting is almost set with Sehwag and Ghambir to open followed by the experienced middle order of Dravid, Sachin and Laxman. I am guessing that Raina (Even though I will prefer Pujara at 3 and Dravid at 5) will for sure occupy the number 6 slot for the first test followed by Dhoni. So that makes the top 7 for India with Sehwag becoming the spinning all-rounder in the squad.

Now comes the most important part the bowling. With the pitch sure to assist the pace men, the bowling lineup for sure is going to be Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth with Bajji being the lone spinner in the squad. The Indian selectors have gone for inexperienced pace backup options with Umesh Yadav and Jaidev Unadkat in the squad. Looking at the reports this morning it seems like there is a concern over the fitness of Zaheer Khan which kind of upsets the plans a little. But in case of him missing out, I would believe that Unadkat might get his first test cap. Unadkat being a left-arm bowler himself will pip Umesh yadav as he will add the variety to the line up in the absence of Zaheer as the other two (Sreesanth and Ishant) are right arm bowlers.

India’s X1 for the first test should look like this:

Sehwag, Ghambir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Raina, Dhoni, Harbajan, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth.

12th Man – Jaidev Unadkat

The first test which starts on the 16th promises a mouth watering contest between two equal teams. The pitch though will play an important part and I am sure that we will see a result at the end of the 5th day. Best of luck for Dhoni and his men and I hope that they can come back victorious and prove that they are the best team in the world beyond dispute.

Dhoni (right) and Kirsten (Left) know that this will be a make of break series for the Indian test team

We are just a week away from India’s first test against South Africa at Centurion and Dhoni is about to face his biggest challenge as a captain. Since he took over as the Indian skipper in 2008, he has been only on three overseas tours and two of them have been in the subcontinent. Whatever the world says, Dhoni does have an impressive resume as a captain. He hasn’t lost a test series and has lost very few games as a captain of the Indian team.

India does not have any practice game ahead of the first test which is a worry but the BCCI did the right thing by sending the test specialists ahead of the schedule to get the feel of the conditions. The Indian coach Gary Kirsten and the bowling coach Eric Simmons being South Africans might be the trump cards India need. Their combined knowledge of the conditions there might help the Indian bowlers and the batsmen to prepare for the South African challenge. So does India realistically have a chance to topple South Africa in their home turf? I think they do.

When India visited South Africa in 2006 they were expected to be rolled over and after a 4-0 drubbing in the ODI series it did not seem otherwise. India on the contrary rolled over the hosts in the first test and South Africa had to dig deep to come out of that hole. South Africa finally won the series 2-1 and if not for the poor batting on the 4th day of the final test, the result would have been otherwise. That series showed that India can compete on those pitches and looking at the current team they can in fact do more than just compete this time. The biggest advantage for the visitors this time is their pace attack. In 2006 it was just Zaheer and Sreesanth, the third pace option (VRV Singh) wasn’t that effective which was a huge setback with the lack of all round option in the team. This time though we have three in form pacers in the squad, Sreesanth and Zaheer are back with Ishant as the third seamer.

If the tracks are pace friendly these three can trouble any batting team. Ishant bowling brilliantly against New Zealand in the third test should give the Indian team management loads of confidence ahead of the much important series. The biggest worry for Dhoni though will be the spinners. Harbajan’s form with the ball will be a huge worry for the team management and he bowling well in tandem with the pacers for me will decide the series. I am not sure if Ojha will get any chances in the series but he did not look that threatening either in the home series against the Kiwis. Even though the SA series is all about the fast men, spinners are equally important as well to keep the pressure up.

The Indian batting though hasn’t changed that much since the 2006 tour. The core of the team still remains with Sehwag, Sachin, Laxman and Dravid still in the team with the welcome additions of Ghambir and Raina/Pujara. The Ghambir/Sehwag opening combination will be very important for the team against the South African new ball pair of Steyn and Morkel. I am not sure who their third pacer would be but the new ball bowlers from the home team will attack the Indian openers. India has loads of experience at 3, 4 and 5 followed by the edgy Raina at number 6.

Sourav Ganguly did a brilliant job at number 6 in India’s previous tour and after his retirement the team management has failed to find an able replacement for that spot. After trying Yuvraj unsuccessfully for few games, the management has now kept faith on young Suresh Raina. They probably expect his enormous ODI experience to finally show through in tests as well. Raina though had a disastrous home series against New Zealand and his frailty against the short pitched stuff will surely be exploited by the South African fast bowlers. He needs to figure out a way to counter the barrage. If he fails to do so, I am thinking that Dhoni has to seriously consider replacing him with much more technically sound Pujara. The other important batting spot will be the captain himself at number 7. He needs to shed his poor form and perform consistently for the team with the bat at that position and of course his leadership on the field will be very important.

The Indians will be entering this series as the best side in the world and a win would give them tremendous boost and confidence. Dhoni and Kirsten will be aware that in case of a slip up, their rankings will be questioned again. They are playing a team who are second in the rankings and have been fantastic over a sustained period of time. They are a hard team to beat anywhere, especially at home. Their pace attack will be a threat and their batting led by Amla and Kallis will be hard to dislodge. The Indians will be very much aware that they will face much sterner test of character than the just concluded home series against the Kiwis. Dhoni I guess has all the ammunitions this time to turn this series onto a memorable one for the Indians. If they manage to win the series they will for sure be undisputed number 1 team in the world and I hope that Dhoni and his men put up a great performance in this series.

The test series came to an end earlier this week with a convincing win from the home team. India virtually demolished the Kiwis in the final test to win the series 1-0. New Zealand though hung in well in the series until their wings came off in the final test. It seemed like they had given it all till then in the series and did not have much to contribute in the final test. But Vettori’s men should be proud of what they achieved in India after their disastrous campaign in Bangladesh. Playing against the number 1 team in the world they gave quite a scare to the home team in the first test, only to be denied by Harbajan Singh’s brilliance.

For the home team though this wasn’t the performance they would have hoped at the start of the series. India was starring down the barrel in the first test only to be saved by Laxman and Bajji and their bowling looked listless in the second test after claiming a huge first innings lead. So to be frank the final test win would have been more of a relief to Dhoni and India. India came into the series with a chance of improving their ranking points but ended up losing one point due to the final margin of victory. The good thing for India was that even South Africa did not have a great time in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan where they drew both their tests.

The series though had some positives for the Indian team. Rahul Dravid getting back to his best was the best thing for the Indian team ahead of a touch South African tour. Ishant Sharma getting his form back was another highlight of the series. Even Sreesanth gradually improved as the series wore on and was bowling brilliantly at Nagpur along with Ishant. It was heartening to see Ishant bowling quick and accurate after a long time. Gautham Ghambir also returned to some sort of a form in the final test and Dhoni’s runs should also give the Indians some confidence.

The other positives include Bajji’s batting, even though he could have taken more wickets as he himself admitted after the conclusion of the series. Laxman and Sehwag have continued their good form with the bat which will also be one of the major positives from the series. There were lots of good induvidual performances in the series but as a team they could have performed better. Their fielding for instance, as the captain himself mentioned after the series wasn’t special as there were far too many drop catches. The bowling from the spinners wasn’t that special either. Both Ojha and Harbajan did not look like running through sides at any time in the series.

All in all a convincing performance in the final test of the series but overall the team management will be disappointed with the victory margin. The focus now shifts to the ODI series which is all set to begin on Sunday and Ghambir has been named the captain for the first couple of ODI’s. The decision to rest the senior members of the squad for the one-day series is definitely a good move by the selectors as they could do with some rest before an important series against the proteas.

After the brilliant win over Sri Lanka last week in the Asia cup finals, India now will face up to the same team in a 3 test series. The Indian squad for the series was selected on Saturday and the team was very much on the expected lines. The selectors did not go for any new names except for couple of surprises thrown in.

As expected Dravid and Laxman return to the squad in the middle order and so does Sachin. With Ghambir and Sehwag settled at the top of the order, it just leaves one vacant spot in the middle order at number 6 which is still unclaimed. Even though Yuvraj has occupied that spot over the last couple of series, he has hardly made an impact to warrant an immediate selection in the test team. There were few more names thrown in before the selection like Pujara, Badri etc but the selectors have gone with Raina who has had a brilliant year in the shorter formats.

Yet another disappointment for Pujara as the youngster has been piling on the runs in the domestic as well as on the A tours. I hope that he gets a chance soon. Vijay retains his spot as the backup opener, even though Dhawan and Mukund are right on his heals with brilliant performances on the A tour. Dhoni remains the skipper and the number one keeper for India on this tour. Dhoni’s back up though left everyone surprised as Saha was selected out of the blue.

Karthik has been Dhoni’s backup for a long time now and considering his experience one would have expected him to join the team to Sri Lanka but was not to be. Karthik will be really disappointed as he was pretty good with the bat in the Asia cup, winning the man of the match in the finals. The bowling too lacked any surprises as India went with the experience of Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth in the pace department and Harbajan, Mishra and Ojha as the spinners.

Sreesanth and Ishant get a call back after both of them were overlooked for the shorter formats. This begs the question as to why these two did not get picked for the A tour to England or to Zimbabwe for that matter. Both these bowlers haven’t had any competitive cricket for a while and getting some games on the A tour would have helped them to get some confidence back. BCCI’s planning is lot left to be desired as they would have known way before that these two have very good chance of partnering Zaheer in the upcoming test series.

All in all I feel that this is a decent team with the experienced hands returning to their favorite format. I hope that Dhoni and his men put up a great performance and win the series which has been eluding us for 17 years now. As Dravid said India will not worry about Mendis anymore as he seems to have been worked out by the Indians. Still the batting needs to be careful as Mendis and Murali in Sri Lanka will be more threatening than their exploits earlier in India. Hope for a great contest and a win to the Indian team to maintain their status as number one team in the world.

Bajji and Ishant need a break from test cricket

With 2 days to go the Indian team is starring down the barrel in first test of a two test series in Nagpur. Sehwag’s positive comments notwithstanding, it would be a miraculous escape if India does manage to save this game. This match is the exact replica of the 2008 series where South inflicted an innings defeat on India in the first test.

The batting yesterday was for sure a disappointment and in spite of the heroics of the debutant Badrinath the Indian team fell 325 runs behind the South African first innings total. Sehwag and Badri held the Indian innings together after a top order collapse which left India 50 odd for 3 wickets. The partnership, which added 136, looked to have pulled the hosts out of the woods but a late order collapse meant that India is fighting for survival at the start of the fourth day.

Dale Steyn was the chief wrecker for the tourists as he picked up 7 wickets in the Indian first innings, one more than what the Indian bowlers managed collectively. It’s amazing to know how the focus always remains on the batting failures as no one seems to be critical of the pathetic Indian bowling performance. The South African bowlers have managed to bag 12 wickets on the pitch where the Indian bowlers toiled just less than 2 days for a grand total of 6.

The Indian bowling is a real cause for concern, there is no support for Zaheer in the pace department and as far as the spin bowling is concerned less said the better. Harbhajan Singh has been really disappointing and has really struggled to step into the shoes of Anil Kumble. Amit Mishra also has failed to fulfill his early promise which leaves India with not many options in the spin department. Pragyan Ojha and Piyush Chawla are the only options left for the selectors.

Ishant is nowhere near international standards and has looked clueless. His performance against Bangladesh has been ordinary and for sure needs an extended stay away from the team. The Indian team somehow needs to unearth some decent bowlers if they have to stay on the top of the rankings. It seems like the team has to look past Harbhajan and Ishant for the test matches. Sreesanth will be available for selection for the second test and I am sure he will be replacing Ishant Sharma. I would have really liked to see Abhimanyu Mithun in the lineup as I am sure he couldn’t have done worse than Ishant. This test match seems all but lost barring a miracle so I guess the think tank would already be thinking about the second test in Kolkata.

Dravid and Laxman were both injured during the test series in Bangladesh

When the selectors meet tomorrow to pick the squad for the upcoming home series against the South Africans, they have quite a few headaches. The injuries to Laxman, Dravid and Yuvraj has created quite a few vacancies in the squad. Even though Laxman hasn’t been ruled out yet there is a possibility that he might not make it. This series is one of the most important one for India as they have to at least secure a draw to retain their number 1 ranking and South Africa has to win the series to snatch it from the hosts.

The good news for India is that Sachin was in the field on the fourth day of the second test match against Bangladesh, which means that he will play. In the absence of Dravid and Yuvraj, the selectors need to fill two vacant spots in the batting order. It’s safe to assume that Vijay will occupy one of the spots but there are quite a few contenders for the second spot in the lineup.

So the options are Kaif, Raina, Badrinath, Pujara, and Manish Pandey. I will rule out Raina as he is more suited to the shorter format and also due to his well known weakness to short pitched bowling he might struggle against Steyn & Co. Among the other four, I will eliminate Manish too. In spite of his good showing in the domestic season, he is too young and lacks experience for as important a series as this one. So that leaves Kaif, Pujara and Badrinath. All three of them have been in great form and have been knocking at the door for some time now. I would personally prefer to have either Pujara or Badri in the squad as selecting Kaif would be a backward step for the team.

The bowling department needs a replacement too with the injury to Sreesanth. I hope that the selectors tryout either Tyagi or Mithun in the squad rather than going back to Munaf or RP Singh, who have failed to grab on to the opportunities given to them. Irfan Pathan also is an option as the third seamer as he would give the team an all-around option. He has been performing well in the domestic season. I am thinking that the spinners who played against Bangladesh will be retained for the home series too. All in all this is going to be an interesting selection.

India’s 2-0 win over Bangladesh has extended Dhoni’s unbeaten run to 11 (out of which India have won 8 ) tests now. I hope that his dream run continues against the saffers too. South Africa is in quite a quandary themselves now with the sudden resignation of Coach Mickey Arthur, after which the Cricket South Africa sacked all their selectors.

The team for the upcoming Australian series was announced earlier today and there were few surprises in the squad. This team was only for the first two games of the series. The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja in the squad. After his performances in the World T20 I thought that it will take a long time for him to make a comeback but apparently I was wrong. The selectors named him in the 15 for the first two games based on his performance in the Irani trophy.

Sehwag and Yuvi have made it back to the team after missing out due to injuries in the champions Trophy as expected. Munaf also receives a call back after his exploits in the Irani trophy and the challenger Trophy where he was the highest wicket taker. Sudeep Tyagi gets a call which I thought was always on the cards as he has been consistently performing well in the domestic arena. His performance in the challenger Trophy and “Emerging players” trophy has catapulted him to the National squad fairly early.

The rest of the team is on the expected lines as Kohli and Mishra have been retained in the squad after some good showings in the CT. Ashish Nehra will be leading the pace bowling department and Bajji will be taking care of the spin. The other big surprise in the squad is the inclusion of Ishant Sharma, in spite of his mediocre performances in ODI cricket for the past year or so. His performances in the challenger trophy were also not up to the mark as he was constantly out bowled by Tyagi and Munaf. This shows the confidence the management has on the youngster and I hope he doesn’t disappoint.

Rahul Dravid unfortunately does not enjoy such confidence from the selectors who have dropped him from the squad. Rahul made a comeback to the side after 2 years since the selectors thought that the youngsters were suspect against the bouncing ball in SA but has been discarded for the home series against the Australians. I am actually really disappointed with the way the great man has been treated as he has done whatever was asked of him throughout his career. He has batted in all positions, kept wickets to maintain the balance in the squad without complaining but still continues to be treated badly by the selectors.

Yusuf Pathan has been shown the door but this was expected after his performances in SL and CT. Irfan Pathan could not be considered as he is currently injured. Ravichandran Aswin has not been considered for the all rounders spot and none of the good performers from the challenger’s trophy have got a look in.

All in all the team looks solid with the inclusion of Yuvi and Sehwag. It will be interesting to see where Sachin bats, since Sehwag is back in the squad now. I am assuming that Ghambir will drop down the order to accommodate Sehwag at the top with Sachin. The bowling selection will also be interesting as India don’t have a good all rounder in the team. I am not sure if they would want to go with two spinners or 3 pacers as most of the wickets for this series will be batsmen friendly. When looking at the squad selected for the series, Nehra and Bajji seem to be the only sure starters in the lineup.

All in all even though there have been few surprises, the squad looks solid and has capabilities to put it past the Aussies. The series begins in 10 days time and I hope that we put up a good show. I am going for a 4-3 win for the home team. Go India!!

Squad from the first two ODI’s against the Aussies:

Squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Sudeep Tyagi, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma.

Captains should take Batting PP seriously to take advantage of the concept

Captains should take Batting PP seriously to take advantage of the concept

Batting power play is the latest innovation by the ICC to spice up the 50 over format. Over the past year when this new concept has been in place it seems like the teams have found this hard to comprehend. It seem like the teams have found it hard to determine how to use this new concept to their advantage. Previously the ODI format had a 15 over field restriction rule when the batsmen can go berserk trying to muster as many runs as possible within that period. This gave birth to the pinch hitters and unconventional openers in the mid nineties.

The 15 over rule has been there for ages now and it seems like the teams are still stuck in that time in spite of the latest changes in the power play rule. The current power play (PP) has been extended to 20 overs with 15 bowling PP overs and 5 batting PP overs. The first 10 overs of PP are continuous but the bowling captain can choose when to take the rest of the 5 bowling PP overs. Then there are 5 PP overs which the batting team can take as and when they please within the 50 overs. If the batting team fails to take it by the end of the 45th over it is automatically applied or forced on the batting team.

Sounds simple enough but when you look at the ODI games in the recent times, it seems like the concept is more complicated for the captains then it actually looks. The bowling team takes the easy way out by taking the PP at a stretch for the first 15 overs keeping the older format in mind. So it works out simple for them, since the captain need not strategize and is happy to get the PP away. But the batting PP is the one which has got the teams napping. In the recent times most of the teams have been either forced to take it or have taken it one or two overs too late.

I guess the problem comes with the age old adage in ODI cricket that the slog overs start from the 40th over. The teams wait till the 40th over to decide whether they want to take the PP or not. Sometimes it works but most of the times the teams lose too many wickets which makes the PP almost useless. For example in the recent ODI between India and Pakistan, India was 190 odd for the loss of 5 wickets with two settled batsmen at the crease. The required RR was just over a run a ball and a perfect time to take PP. Suresh Raina was taking risks with the fielders on the boundary which made no sense as the PP was available for the Indians to take. India for some strange reason wait and Suresh Raina gets out and by the time India decides to take the PP they are 7 wickets down, virtually making the PP useless.

So what is the ideal time to take the batting PP? This is something the teams should discuss in their meetings prior to the games. They have to work out a strategy as to when they should take it and in what situation. The best situation as far as I am concerned is when two batsmen are going strong and are well set take the PP and score 40-45 runs which will put enormous pressure on the fielding team. The best example for timing was again a game involving India, when Sachin and Yuvraj where blasting the NZ bowlers earlier this year. They decided to take the PP as early as 22nd over and blasted 69 runs in those 5 overs. Brilliant decision whoever made the call to take the PP that early. India ended up with 392 on the board.

But these things are easier said than done. It’s very difficult to determine what goes through a cricketers mind when he is at the middle and yes there are team instructions to follow as well. We don’t even know if the players in the middle are actually allowed to take that call or not. Probably the coach sends out a message to take the PP. whatever may be the scenario if we take a sample of 50 odd games in the recent times, we will see that most teams have wasted the batting PP. If the ICC isn’t smart about it, this concept will also die down as the super sub did couple of years ago.

I guess the best way would be to put the pressure on the captains by saying that they have to take the PP themselves before the 46th over is bowled and will not be automatically applied if they don’t take it. It will be assumed that the team has given up the right to take the PP and it should work to the advantage of the bowling team. I guess if such a rule is put in place, it probably might receive more serious thinking by the teams during their discussions and probably will become part of their strategy. Unless something is done to make it more interesting, I guess the ODI game will still follow the same old adage of 15 overs of field restriction and last 10 overs of slog and the innovations will have no effect.

Del Potro stunned Roger Federer to win the US Open

Del Potro stunned Roger Federer to win the US Open

Since there have been quite a few happenings in the sports world in the past week, I thought I can club all of those into one post.

Tennis – Del Porto stuns Federer, Leander does it again in doubles

The last grand slam of the year concluded yesterday when Juan Martin Del Potro stunned one and all by winning the championship. Del Potro made it to the finals after a strong win against Nadal in the semi-final but was not given too much of a chance against the world #1 Federer. The match began in the familiar fashion as Fed won the first set 6-3. But Del Potro was not the one to give up. The second set went into a tie break which the Argentinean took 7-5 to win the second set 7-6.

The third set went to Fed again with a break 6-4 and the fourth to Del Potro 7-6 (7-4) again in a tie break. This was a classic game and Del Potro for sure did not make it easy for the champion. Federer was chasing history again here at the US Open as he was trying to win his 6th consecutive title. The final set though was a bit of an anti-climax as Del Potro won it 6-2 to claim the title. This was his first grand slam victory and what a win it was beating both Federer and Nadal in consecutive games. For Federer though this was a great year, reaching four finals and winning two and losing two classic games in Australian and US. Congrats to Del Potro on winning his maiden title and hope he builds up on his win.

Kim Clijsters claimed the Women's crown on her comeback

Kim Clijsters claimed the Women's crown on her comeback

In the women’s section there was a surprise winner too. Kim Clijsters returning after two year hiatus from the game played brilliantly to win the US Open by beating C. Wozniacki who played her first finals. Clijsters who was a wild card in this year’s championship won the title after beating Serena Williams in the controversial semi-final game on Saturday. Congrats to Kim Clijsters on a brilliant return and also winning the title against all odds.

Leander and Doulghy won the Men's doubles title

Leander and Doulghy won the Men's doubles title

For India though this year’s open began very promisingly with Somdev and Sania reaching second round in singles. Even though they lost in the second round, it was a good performance from both of them in singles. Leander and Mahesh again carried the Indian hopes for a grand slam title and they did not disappoint. Leander reached the finals of both Mixed and Men’s doubles and Mahesh reached the Men’s doubles finals. Leander lost the mixed finals but played brilliantly with Dloughy to win the Men’s doubles finals beating the combination of Mahesh and Knowles. It was a fantastic game which went to the third set before Paes/Dloughy combination won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to claim the title.

This was the second title of the year for the combination as they had won the French earlier this year. Yuki Bhambri the world number 1 junior player from India though suffered an upset losing in the quarters of the junior championship. He is just 17 and I hope that he becomes a good player for India in the future.

Cricket – India win the Compaq cup, England struggling in the ODI series

Victorious Indian team with the Compaq Cup

Victorious Indian team with the Compaq Cup

India finally won a title in SL after 12 years and this was a great performance from Dhoni’s men. India stuttered their way to the title as drop catches and misfields marked their efforts in the field. India was thrashed by SL in the previous game on the same ground so a quick turnaround was needed for the visitors. Dhoni started on the right note when he called right at the toss. India batted first with Dravid and Sachin opening the innings. Dinesh Karthik was replaced by Virat Kohli for this all important finals.

Sachin and Dravid laid the foundation with a solid 95 run partnership with Sachin looking in sublime touch. Sachin later shared important partnerships with Dhoni (56) and Yuvraj (56*) on his way to yet another brilliant hundred. When he departed after scoring 138 (133) India were already on 276. With some late hitting from Yuvraj India posted an imposing 319/5 in their 50 overs.

SL started their innings with their typical flourish with Jayasuriya and Dilshan helped by some mediocre bowling by Indian pacers. The fielding also was at an all time low as the Indians constantly misfielded and it became worse when Kohli dropped Jayasuriya of the bowling of RP Singh. Even though with the introduction of the spinners India pulled things back with 3 quick wickets, the fielding did not improve much. Raina and Yuvraj bowled brilliantly in the middle overs to keep the host batsmen in check picking up a wicket each for their efforts.

The pacers though were very inconsistent, leaking runs at will to keep the SL batsmen in the hunt. It was hard to believe that the Indian batsmen folded for 168 on the same ground just a day back. But eventually SL batsmen ran out of steam when Bajji returned for his final spell and lost the game by 46 runs. Overall it was a good performance by the team but could have been better with some tight fielding. This win should give them confidence for the upcoming champions trophy in SA. Hope they rectify their mistakes and do well in the CT. Congrats to Dhoni and his men on yet another series win.

England on the other hand have been struggling against a below par Aussie line up. After winning the Ashes 2-1, they are down 4-0 against the Aussies in the ODI series. Andrew Strauss would like to restore some pride by winning couple of games at least but in the current scenario it looks like a 7-0 whitewash to the Aussies which has never been achieved before.

The Victorious Indian team with the trophy

The Victorious Indian team with the trophy

India won their 5th straight series and their 3rd straight overseas. Looking at such a record it would seem that India has no issues but that’s not the case with the Indian team right now. Both Gary Kirsten and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will know that they have lots to think about in the coming two months. The record of Dhoni has been brilliant since he has taken over the captaincy. Except for the bad performance in the T20 WC, the Indian team has had a great year and a half.

They have won away ODI series in Australia, New Zealand and Srilanka (Twice) and won a test series in NZ. They also beat Australia and England at home and drew a series against the South Africans. They are sitting pretty at the number 3 spot in both forms of the game which is fantastic and the current scrappy series win adds to that brilliant record of Dhoni as a captain.

Even though Dhoni has an envious record as a captain he will know that things are only going to get tough. After the World T20 the picture has become little bit hazy for the Indian team. The team which had brilliant youngsters just few months ago is now questioning their talent at the big stage. The recall of Rahul Dravid in the probable’s for the Champions trophy reflects the state of mind of the selectors at the moment.

The English and the West Indian bowlers peppered the Indian youngsters with the short pitched stuff and they had no answers to counter the same. The same continued in the short series in the WI. If not for some individual brilliance India might have lost this series. Yuvraj in the first game and Dhoni in the third game saved the day for the Indians. Rohit Sharma has been struggling and for me needs a break from International cricket for some time. He needs to play more cricket at the domestic level and work on his inadequacies. The same goes for the other Indian youngsters.

If Rahul Dravid does get selected for the Champions trophy it will be a huge step backward for the Indian team. Even though it is a huge step back,the selection in itself cannot be questioned after the performance of the Indian youngsters in the World T20 and WI series. Jadeja needs to go and I am not sure if he will ever make it back to the Indian team. Karthik’s performance in the WI will also put a lot of pressure on the selectors when Sachin and Sehwag come back. Badri needs to get a chance in the middle order and so does Murali Vijay. Both of them are technically sound would be adding the much needed solidity for the Indian batting.

How long are we going to rely on Sachin at the top of the order? He probably has couple of years of cricket left in him and the youngsters need to show that they can take over the mantle. Raina and other youngsters can make use of this time off to work on their game. They need to figure out a way to effectively handle the short pitched stuff. The word travels pretty fast in the cricketing circles and I am sure that when India play in the champions trophy the youngsters will be tested again.

The bowling also needs some work but the return of Nehra to form will be good for the Indians. Ishant has to work on his variations, Harbajan has to control his faster ones and RP Singh needs to get back his zing. India would also be happy with Piyush Chawla’s fantastic all round performance for Sussex in the county cricket. He might find his way back to the team.

But all the issues aside this has been another good series win for the Indians and another overseas one. The team will be enjoying the welcome break from cricket but they will know that they have a tough season ahead.


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