Tag Archives: Harbhajan

The 5 bowler strategy will be tested

Virat Kohli has been vocal about the 5 bowler strategy since he took over the test captaincy in Australia. India tried Harbhajan as the 5th bowler in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka hoping that Ashwin, Mishra and Harbhajan can compensate for the 7th batsmen in the team. The biggest problem for India though is that they haven’t found a reliable bowling all-rounder yet to successfully incorporate the 5 bowler strategy.

The other problem the team management will face is the batting combination. It is clear that the team think tank supports the selection of Rohit Sharma in the X1, but with the arrival of Pujara the debate begins once again. Rohit played at number 5 in the second and third tests in Sri Lanka and did reasonably okay at that spot. It is certain that Murali Vijay and Shikar Dhawan will reclaim their spots as the openers in the first test against SA which will push Pujara to number 3 in the order. Virat Kohli will bat at number 4 and Rahane at number 5.

This makes the selection very interesting. Considering Indian think tank still wants to employ 5 bowlers strategy that leaves only one spot open which will be taken by a wicketkeeper. So it will be interesting as to what combination India will play in the first test. The selection of Rohit Sharma is just one end of the stick. The other issue which India will face is getting a bowling all-rounder to occupy the number 7 spot if at all they decide to go with 5 bowlers.

India employed Stuart Binny for the last 2 tests in Sri Lanka. Binny did okay in those games but again he will not be that effective on Indian pitches. He might score some runs but his bowling will not be that effective on pitches which will be aiding spinners in all probability. In Indian conditions the team would need a spin bowling all-rounder to occupy the number 7 spot. India already has Ravichandran Ashwin who is a decent bowling all-rounder and Amit Mishra showed that he can handle the bat competently to score some useful runs down the order. Now the options for a spin bowling all-rounder is minimal.

Couple of years back Ravindra Jadeja was a certainty in the Indian team but his form has gone south in the last couple of years. His performance in the one off game against Bangladesh A was nothing to write home about. The other option India has is Karn Sharma. Karn’s performance in Adelaide on a turning track does not inspire much confidence on his test match bowling ability. His batting too wasn’t too flash in that game. The last and final option India has is Axar Patel. Axar has done well for India in limited opportunities he has received in the shorter formats but his credentials as a test match bowler is questionable.

So considering the above options for the 5th bowler, it will be interesting to see if India does decide to go with the 5 bowler option at all for the tests against SA. The return of the injured players and the arrival of Pujara back in to the X1 leaves the think tank with more headaches than they could handle. The batting combination needs to be worked out and the decision of Pujara or Rohit needs to be made ahead of the first test. This could also mean that India could ditch the 5 bowler strategy and play both Pujara and Rohit in the X1. If they decide to drop Rohit and play an all-rounder, it will be interesting to see whom they will pick. There are plenty of things to worry about for the Indian think tank ahead of the test series against South Africa. It will be interesting to see what combination Kohli & Co will go for in the test series.

World T20 – Key players for team India

The 2012 World T20 is just few days away and the Indian team once again enters the competition with lots of hopes. The team though hasn’t played a lot of international T20 this year and will have to make the most of the two warm up games ahead of the competition. India is about to play first of their two warm up games in few days and let us look at few of India’s main players in this year’s competition.

Virat Kohli (M: 11, RS: 278, Ave: 34.75, SR: 134.29)

There is no doubt that Virat Kohli is India’s best player this year across all formats. He has been in scintillating form throughout this year and will be the key for India’s progress in the world T20. Kohli would be hoping to carry on his good form into this competition and will be hoping to make an impact. It was interesting to see Virat opening the batting against New Zealand and it is unclear if that is what the Indian think tank has in mind for the world cup.

Suresh Raina (M: 27, RS: 658, Ave: 32.90, SR: 137.94)

Raina is probably India’s most experienced player in this format. Considering that he has played in all 5 IPL’s for Chennai Super Kings and hasn’t missed many games, he probably has played the most T20 games by an Indian. His explosive style of batting with his amazing fielding makes him a very important member in the T20 squad. He also has India’s only hundred in the International T20 and will be again a key member in the top order. Suresh Raina also provides Dhoni with an extra bowling option. His strike rate and Average in this format is excellent and he will be a huge impact player for India again in 2012 edition of World T20.

Harbhajan Singh (M: 23, W: 18, Ave: 30.5, ER: 6.44)

Even though Harbhajan Singh hasn’t been seen in Indian colors for almost a year, he is expected to play a very important role in the world T20. Ravichandran Ashwin, who is a key component in the Indian ODI and test squads, surprisingly hasn’t done much in the 20 over format. Harbhajan who was part of India’s winning campaign in 2007 is still probably is India’s best spinner in this format. Harbhajan has the experience and his economy rate of 6.44 is brilliant over 20 games. Harbhajan seemed to be getting back to form in his last few games in county cricket and the warm up games will give us more information about his form. Harbhajan will be an important member in the Indian team and I expect him to play most of the games in this tournament.

Zaheer Khan (M: 13, W: 14, Ave: 25.28, ER: 7.75)

Even though Zaheer’s T20 record is nothing to write home about, he is still India’s premier bowler with the new ball. Zaheer’s presence in the team is for sure a great advantage for the Indian team. He is brilliant with the new ball and the Sri Lankan pitches help bowlers who can swing the new ball. He can be handful bowling under lights and India would be hoping for some early wickets from him.

Irfan Pathan (M: 19, W: 23, Ave: 21.60, ER: 7.88)

The return of Irfan to the Indian team earlier this year was a welcome relief. Irfan has been brilliant with both bat and ball since his comeback. He has got his swing back and has been bowling with decent pace. He was just involved in a series in Sri Lanka and the experience would help him a great deal. He has also been striking the ball beautifully with the bat making him the vital member of the team. He will be sharing the new ball with Zaheer and will for sure cause a lot of problems for the batsmen with his late swing.

Yuvraj Singh (M: 24, RS: 601, W: 8, BTAve: 31.63, BLAve: 26, SR: 150.25)

Yuvraj Singh can be called as the superman of cricket. When last year the news broke out about his cancer people were worried about his career. The man though has great heart and the way he has made a speedy recovery shows his dedication and courage. Even though people called the selection of Yuvraj as an emotional one, his presence in the T20 team is a huge bonus. He batted without much match practice against New Zealand and scored a brilliant 36 and it seemed like he had never been away from the team. He also gives Dhoni an option with the ball and also is a fantastic in-fielder. You cannot go wrong with selecting Yuvraj in any short format and he will be India’s trump card in this tournament.

Others players who could make an impact:

G Gambhir (M: 28, RS: 755, Ave: 30.20, SR: 122.56)

Gambhir was India’s premier batsman in 2007 victorious campaign. Gambhir has been struggling for form recently in all formats. He along with Sehwag has struggled to provide good starts at the top of the order. India would hope that both the openers come back to form in the T20 world cup. Everyone knows Gambhir’s expertise against spin and he can be devastating if he gets going. India would be looking to play both Gambhir and Sehwag in both the warm up games and would hope to see them scoring some runs. Gambhir has an impressive T20 record and would want to turn it on at the biggest scene.

The comeback man:

Lakshmipathy Balaji makes a comeback to the Indian team after 5 years. He would most probably be fighting for the one spot with Dinda in the X1. Balaji makes the squad due to his brilliant performance in the IPL 2012 where he was extremely economical and also picked up wickets for KKR. It will be interesting to see how he goes in this tournament. A good performance in the World Cup might give him a decent run in the Indian team again.

The rookies:

Manoj Tiwary and Ajinkya Rahane will be the rookies for the Indian team this tournament. Extremely talented neither of them will be first choice pick in the X1. Rahane impressed one and all with his brilliant batting as an opener in England and Tiwary has done extremely well in the middle order in the limited opportunities he has received in the ODI team. Tiwary will be battling for one spot with Rohit Sharma and Tiwary has a difficult task of competing with Sehwag and Gambhir.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Rohit Sharma form the rest of the squad who could make a huge impact. Both these players are extremely talented and have done very well for their franchises in the IPL. For Rohit Sharma though this might be the make or break tournament and would want to make solid contributions to the Indian middle order. Ravichandran Ashwin’s case is pretty confusing as he is India’s premier spinner in ODI’s and his struggle in T20I’s is rather perplexing. He has done extremely well in the IPL for CSK and it will one be a matter of time before he translates that success to T20I’s. For now though I guess Harbhajan might beat him to make the final X1 considering his experience and current form. MS Dhoni will be India’s captain and wicket keeper. He has struggled to make an impact in this format with the bat and would want to correct the same. His leadership in the shorter format this year has been brilliant and his calm demeanor on the field will be extremely important in a high profile tournament like this.

India has a very balanced squad and has a great chance of repeating 2007 success. So I wish the team best of luck and I hope they put up a good show in the World T20.

Second Test – Sehwag and Harbajan keep India in the hunt

Harbhajan Celebrates after a wicket

Harbhajan Celebrates after a wicket

Sehwag’s double hundred and Harbhajan’s late 4 wicket burst kept India in the hunt in the second test at Galle. Srilanka finished on 215/5 still 114 runs behind India’s first innings total of 329. Earlier today Indian were bowled out for 329 after resuming on 214/4 on the second day. Sehwag scored a brilliant double hundred (His fifth) to guide India to a competetive total as the rest of the batting struggled. Only Laxman and Ghambir were able to give some sort of support to Sehwag’s lone hand for the visitors.

When Srilanka started their second innings, they lost Vandort early caught by Rahul Dravid of the bowling on Zaheer in the first over but Sangakkara and Warnapura batted with assurance to help their team to 137/1. The hosts seemed to be cruising with none of the Indian bowlers able to make any impact. After Harbhajan picked up Warnapura for 66 he was completely a different bowler and kind of ran through the middle order leaving them on 192/5 when Dilshan got out. Captain Jayawardane along with the other Jayawardane in the team formed a small unbroken partnership of 23 to lead Srilanka to 215/5 at the end of day2.

India would still be wary of the Srilankan captain as he can turn the game in the home team’s favour. Indians would also be worried with the bowling for of their captain as he was unable to make any impact in this series yet. Indians would be hoping to dismiss Srilanka within 300 and would hope to get a slight advantage in the first innings. The pitch will for sure get more difficult to bat on in the 3rd and fourth innings and both the team would want to have as much lead as possible.

Second Test – Sehwag and Harbajan keep India in the hunt

Sehwag’s double hundred and Harbhajan’s late 4 wicket burst kept India in the hunt in the second test at Galle. Srilanka finished on 215/5 still 114 runs behind India’s first innings total of 329. Earlier today Indian were bowled out for 329 after resuming on 214/4 on the second day. Sehwag scored a brilliant double hundred (His fifth) to guide India to a competetive total as the rest of the batting struggled. Only Laxman and Ghambir were able to give some sort of support to Sehwag’s lone hand for the visitors.

When Srilanka started their second innings, they lost Vandort early caught by Rahul Dravid of the bowling on Zaheer in the first over but Sangakkara and Warnapura batted with assurance to help their team to 137/1. The hosts seemed to be cruising with none of the Indian bowlers able to make any impact. After Harbhajan picked up Warnapura for 66 he was completely a different bowler and kind of ran through the middle order leaving them on 192/5 when Dilshan got out. Captain Jayawardane along with the other Jayawardane in the team formed a small unbroken partnership of 23 to lead Srilanka to 215/5 at the end of day2.

India would still be wary of the Srilankan captain as he can turn the game in the home team’s favour. Indians would also be worried with the bowling for of their captain as he was unable to make any impact in this series yet. Indians would be hoping to dismiss Srilanka within 300 and would hope to get a slight advantage in the first innings. The pitch will for sure get more difficult to bat on in the 3rd and fourth innings and both the team would want to have as much lead as possible.

Aggression – A misunderstood concept

I was recently reading a great article on sledging by Harsha Bhogle and it got me thinking what does aggression on the cricket field mean. Aggression on a cricket field has been a hugely misunderstood concept.

I never understood the concept of sledging and mental disintegration. We have never seen a player like Tendulkar resorting to such on field theatrics and has still managed to score runs all around the world.

Australians have been the pioneers in the art of Sledging over the years. What once started as a friendly banter on the field between the batsmen and the bowlers has now become personal attacks in the name of Sledging. The happenings in the recent series between India and Australia has surely proved that sledging needs to be put to an end soon in cricket.

So now coming back to my original question, What is Aggression? What does it mean by being aggressive on a cricket field? Aggression as far as I am concerned is nothing but positive intent by a player on the field. By intent I mean, positive body language. Courtney Walsh, being a great fast bowler was also one of most likeable one. A good ball by him was followed by a stare at the batsmen on his follow through, which was scarier than an offensive comment by our mordern day pacemen. That was more than enough to put the fear in the batsman’s mind. Sachin Tendulkar and Brian lara, two greatest cricketers of our time did not require sledging but are still considered most aggresive cricketers.
The recent Indias tour to Australia will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, even though it was one of the most competetive series involving the world champions. As Harsha had mentioned in his article its really sad to note that Dhoni wanted the youngsters to learn the “Art of sledging” from Australia. Being aggressive means to sledge according to the mordern day cricketer. Pointing the batsmen back to the pavilion, as if he doesnt know get there isnt aggression. Ishant Sharma is a great talent and he should remember that performances on the field are judged by your wickets and not by your words.
The Indian team is a very talented bunch and they should put behind this tour and concentrate on being more consistant and if they do that they will be the number 1 side by the end of this year. India will face Australia, England, Srilanka and SA this year and winning against each of them would mean that they will be the best team by a long way. Things could have been handled little bit better by the management of both the teams in the last couple of months which would reduced the media coverage, putting more emphasis on the action on the field.
I hope that both Kumble and Dhoni, sit with the youngsters and cool them down and explain to them that the Australian series is now behind them and it would be better if they concentrate on the season ahead. There were lots of distractions for both the teams with the IPL auction and also the constant media coverage on anything or everything sorrounding the “Turbunator” but still the focus remained on cricket for the Indians atleast.
I hope that we play good cricket throughout the year and become the number one cricket team in the world and not number 1 sledgers in the world.