Tag Archives: Indian team

Playing County cricket will be good for Ajinkya Rahane

 

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Ajinkya Rahane’s hundred at Lord’s was one of the best innings played by an overseas batter on a difficult wicket

pic Courtesy indiatimes.com

The year 2013 saw a young Indian team under MS Dhoni embark upon a overseas tour leg with their first stop in South Africa for a 2 Test series. The Indian team was touring for the first time with you the legendary trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the squad after a really long time. A young Virat Kohli along with Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara were the considered the lynch pins of the Indian batting on those tours.

India did not win any of the series on those tours but two players clearly emerged as the leader of Indian batting unit and Ajinkya Rahane was one of them. Rahane had a brilliant season with the bat. He scored hundreds in England, Australia and New Zealand and was brilliant in South Africa as well. In just over a year or so he had become India’s most crucial batter in the X1 along with Virat Kohli and was rightly made as the latter’s deputy when MS Dhoni called it a day midway through the Australian series.

Rahane was brilliant and with his technique against quick bowling and his naturally attacking style of play it was a joy to watch him bat on those tours. His 100 in Lord’s was one of the best batting you will see on a spiteful pitch and was a purists delight and his  147 in Melbourne against Mitchell Johnson was one finest attacking knocks you will see by an Indian batter against quick bowling overseas. Even during initial phase of his career Rahane was always a nervous starter with a slight weakness against spin. He did struggle to score runs at home and was always comfortable playing on hard fast wickets overseas. After the overseas leg was done, he had an average close to 50 and was considered one of the leading bats in the world at that time in 2015.

Fast forward to 2018, now an experienced Indian team led by Virat Kohli began yet another overseas leg. In the 3 years between the two sets of tours Ajinkya Rahane went from one of the 2 best batters in the side to being dropped for Rohit Sharma in the first two Tests of the South Africa tour. He did make a come back into the team and played few crucial knocks on all the tours but he was a pale shadow of the confident batter we saw in the 2013-15 season.

Rahane did not score a single hundred in 19 innings he played overseas since 2018 and his average of 27.94 showed the inconsistency that had crept into his batting. He struggled to convert starts and got out playing some uncharacteristic shots during that time. His Test average had dropped from something in high 40’s to just about 40 at the start of 2019. It is very hard to decipher as to how a brilliant player can regress so much in a short span of time. He wasn’t his usual self in this IPL for Rajasthan Royals as well which cost him his captaincy this season.

Ajinkya though who wasn’t picked for the World Cup in England has signed up to play for a first division county side Hampshire this season. A decision which might be god send for him in the current state of his career. Playing endless international cricket when you are not doing well cannot be good for your psyche and have some time away from the Indian team is probably what he needs right now. A good season with Hampshire away from the razzmatazz of the World Cup and media attention will be good for him to try and rediscover his magic with the bat. The responsibility of being a senior member and an overseas player for his county side is probably what is needs to get his career back on track.

Rahane is a crucial member of the Indian Test side and with the ICC Test Championship set to begin after the world cup, him being in form is crucial for the team’s success. I hope that he has a great county season. The runs he scores is not as important as the confidence he gains by playing away against some good competition and some very good bowlers. Players in the past have benefited a lot by playing in England and if he uses this chance well, he can also do so and return as the confident player he once was for India in Tests. India begin the Test Championship in August with a 2 Test series in West Indies and he along with Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara will be once again the batting leaders guiding the young players around them.

Focus now on the World Cup as IPL season comes to an end

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Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri will shift their focus to the world cup as the IPL has now come to an end.

Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings in the IPL finals to clinch the title for the fourth time and the result meant that an incredible close competition came to an end with a huge drama. This also means that with the IPL coming to an end, the focus of the fans and the cricket team squarely back on the World Cup 2019 to be held in England early next month.

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India will be hoping that Kedar Jadhav will recover in time for the World Cup as his replacement isn’t straightforward

The Indian squad had been already announced and it was nice to see that most of the players picked had a reasonably good IPL. The players also looked fit except for few niggles and were in good form by the end of the tournament. The only concern for India right now will be the fitness of Kedar Jadhav. Jadhav is part of Indian World Cup squad and has been a regular fixture in the Indian team over the last few years.

There hasn’t been much news about how his injury is progressing even though it does seem like the management is confident that he will be fit for the marquee tournament. If India are to look for a replacement, the front runners are obviously Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu. Both the players who were left out of the initial 15 announced by the selectors last month. While Ambati Rayudu has played a lot of games for India over the past year the cries for inclusion of Rishabh Pant has never been louder after the youngster once again had a good IPL this season. The biggest problem for India is that neither of these two players provide India with a bowling option which Kedar does in ODIs.

The selection committee will have to weigh in the options and need to make the right decision if at all it comes down to finding a replacement for Kedar Jadhav. It will be unfortunate for Jadhav if he had to miss out due to injury as this may be his final chance to represent India in a 50 over World Cup. The rest of the squad though looked in prime fitness and also looked in good form.

Shikhar Dhawan who was having an indifferent 2019 had a very good IPL for Delhi Capitals. Rohit Sharma once again had a 400+ season, even though he could have been more consistent for his title winning side. Even though Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore once again failed to make the play-offs, he had a good season with the bat with 464 runs. MS Dhoni had a brilliant season behind the stumps and with the bat for Chennai Super Kings.

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Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling form will be a concern for India but again IPL format is different and he is India’s best ODI spinner

The bowlers except for Kuldeep Yadav had a fantastic IPL. Yuzvendra Chahal was brilliant for RCB and Ravindra Jadeja did his bit for CSK with both bat and ball. Jasprit Bumrah was once again in his elements for MI with wickets as well as his economy rate and once again proved why he is India’s spearhead in all formats. The two bowlers India will be concerned about is Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav. Both of them did not have a good tournament this time around and struggled to pick wickets. Even though there is no doubting their skill, India will be hoping that the change of format might help them gain their form back. Mohammad Shami was fantastic for Kings X1 Punjab and looked fit through the season.

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Hardik Pandya was brilliant for Mumbai Indians in this IPL

The biggest gain for India in this IPL was the form of Hardik Pandya. Pandya had been missing in action for India due to non-cricketing reasons earlier this year and he showed why India need him in the team for the world cup. He was brilliant with the bat for Mumbai Indians at crucial times in this season and was good with the ball as well picking 14 wickets. He will be the crucial cog for India in this world cup and will provide us with the X-Factor in the X1.

The selectors will be keeping a close eye on Kedar Jadhav and will have to announce a replacement soon as India will be playing their first warm up game against New Zealand on the 25th at the Kennington Oval, London which is just over 10 days away.

India’s World Cup Schedule:

May 25 – India vs New Zealand (Warm Up)
May 28 – India vs Bangladesh (Warm Up)
Jun 05 – South Africa vs India
Jun 09 – India vs Australia
Jun 13 – India vs New Zealand
Jun 16 – India vs Pakistan
Jun 22 – India vs Afghanistan
Jun 27 – Windies vs India
Jun 30 – England vs India
Jul 02 – Bangladesh Vs India
Jul 06 – Sri Lanka vs India

I will be doing a two part blog later going over India’s opponents and how India have done against them since the last world cup.

Cricket World Cup and Formula 1 – Big year for Sports in India

Team Force India will be in the focus when the first F1 Grand Prix kicks on in India later this year

If 2010 was big for India, 2011 will be even bigger. The 2010 had India host the Commonwealth Games and in spite of being in the news for all the wrong reasons the games was a success. The games were also made memorable by India’s second place finish on the medals tally just behind Australia. Now in 2011 we have the Cricket world cup followed by India’s first Formula 1 race later this year. For a cricket fan it can’t get bigger than a cricket world cup.The kind of euphoria cricket generates in India cannot be matched by any other sporting event.

This will be the third time India will be hosting the world cup and it is a great honor for the country as well as the people to stage the event. India have had pretty good success rate with the world cups hosted in the subcontinent as they made the semis on all the three occasions. They will be hoping that they do better than that this time. As with CWG 2010, the cricket world cup preparation has also started on a wrong note when Eden Gardens was deemed unfit to host the India-England game by the ICC review committee. This has raised questions over the ability of CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) to get the stadium ready soon enough to at least host the rest of the games. The fans for sure will be disappointed with this effort by the administrators involved as losing a high profile game will be a big loss to them. The game was finally moved to Bangalore, so everything is fine now with the schedule. The ICC though will take a call as to whether Eden is ready enough to host the rest of the games in the coming days.

The other major sporting event in India is the Formula 1. India for the first time this year will host their first Formula 1 race in Noida, Delhi. This has been in the pipeline for a long time now but has finally become a reality. The preparations are at full swing and this will give an opportunity for Delhi to repair their image after the controversies over the CWG2010 arrangements. If reports are to be believed, the Delhi track is well ahead of schedule and will be ready before the D-day. The race is scheduled to take place on the 30th of October, so the administrators have ample time to get the track ready.

The F1 race is also made special by having our own F1 team Force India on the grid and also having Narain Karthikeyan racing for HRT this year. It will be fantastic if Force India can get a podium finish in their debut race in India. So 2011 will be great year for Indian sports, with India being the hosts for two major sporting events. The Formula 1 enthusiasts in the country will be really excited with the prospect of having the first F1 race in India. I hope that the organizers of this event leave no stone unturned and make sure that the track is up and running well before the deadline. It will be great if at least the F1 preparations stay away from any major controversies.

The cricket world cup is just couple of weeks away and with India touted as one of the favorites to claim the title; it will be really interesting to see how they respond. In spite of the slight blip with the Eden Gardens, I hope that BCCI pull this off with flying colours.

Selection conundrum

Dravid makes a surprise comeback to the Indian ODI squad after a two year hiatus

Dravid makes a surprise comeback to the Indian ODI squad after a two year hiatus

The team for the Tri-Series in Sri Lanka and Champions trophy has been announced and there are quite a few surprises in the final 15. First let’s concentrate on the omissions. Sehwag is yet to recover from the injury he sustained in the IPL, so he is the most high profile absentee from the squad. Rohit Sharma has been shown the door after some mediocre performances over the past year. Ravindra Jadeja also doesn’t find a spot in the team after his indifferent performance in the World T20.

The major disappointment was the non inclusion of Virat Kohli. I don’t understand the reason for the same from the selectors. He hasn’t played a single ODI for India since 2008 series against the Sri Lankans where he was very consistent and handled the M & M threat with competence. Kohli’s brilliant performance in the Emerging players tournament recently concluded in Australia has not had an effect on the selectors it seems. I hope that they don’t keep wasting a talent and give him a chance pretty soon.

Badrinath and Vijay have been dropped from the squad and I don’t know why. I guess probably an effect of the comments from Yusuf when the 30 probables were announced. Except for Dinesh Karthik, there are no Chennaites in the squad, should please Yusuf Pathan now. Badri again is being given a hard time by the selectors and there is no reason for the same. Vijay at least I agree is more suited to the longer format. Badri played a crucial knock in the 2008 series against the SL to steer India home and it just required 2 failures for the selectors to discard him. Rohit Sharma though had been playing in the squad for the past year and a half on one match winning innings in Australia. I guess Yusuf should realize where the bias is. I just hope that Badri doesn’t become another Sharath or Sriram.

Amit Mishra has been given a go after his great performance in the Emerging players trophy and suddenly Ojha doesn’t find a place in the squad. Ojha has done nothing wrong till date and has been performing brilliantly whenever he has played for the team and it’s unfortunate that the selectors are not consistent with his selection. Ojha will be disappointed and rightly so. The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Rahul Dravid in the ODI squad. He is making a comeback after a two year hiatus and it is a huge surprise.

Dravid’s comeback was always on the cards after the Indian youngsters struggled against short pitched bowling in the recently concluded World T20. This might provide the team with necessary solidity in the absence of Sehwag but I think it’s not the right move by the selectors. It’s like we took 5 steps forward in the past couple of years and this selection has pulled us two steps back. When Dhoni requested an all youth team couple of years back, everyone blasted him but after seeing the results people started backing the young team. Getting Virat Kohli in the team would have been much wiser decision I feel.

Rahul is a great player and does not need to prove anything regarding his credentials as an ODI player and I am sure he will do well. The rest of the team is almost same as the one which went to the Caribbean couple of months back. The team travels to SL to play a Tri-Series, with the third team being NZ before flying to SA to participate in the Champion’s trophy.

Let’s hope that we win both the series coming our way in the next couple of months.

A bold move from the ODI captain

Dhoni is one of the few cricketers in the Indian team to feature regularly in all 3 formats of the game. He has been playing non-stop cricket over the last 12 months and was sure in need of a break, a sentiment shared even by the coach of the Indian team. In the last 18 months Dhoni has been involved in 14 test matches, 56 ODI’s, 8 Twenty20 International games and 16 IPL games. Dhoni recently had mentioned during the Asia cup that back to back matches are causing player fatigue.

Even though Dhoni found support in Anil Kumble and Gary Kirsten, the BCCI was not that happy with his comments. Over the last few years players from different countries have complained about player burnout and India is the country who play most cricket every year. Australia’s famous rotation policy evolved due to this very reason.

Dhoni has now decided to pull out of the Srilankan test series a decision which is being scrutinized in the media over the past few days. Former players are providing their opinions, the seniors in the team are being approached for comments on this subject. Personally I feel that the comments by Sourav Ganguly on this subject was unnecessary. Seriously I dont see a reason for such a reaction, its Dhoni’s decision to take a break and everyone knows that he needed one. The one-day captain might have thought that taking a break from test matches where he is more dispensable might be the appropriate thing to do.

The media is after this decision because of the fact that Dhoni has decided to take the test series off instead of the one-day series which is to follow. They are also complaining that IPL is one of the major reasons for the player burnout and fatigue. Frankly for me I would rather see Dhoni take a break in tests rather than in ODI’s and Twenty20 where his presence is more important. I am sure that Dhoni has put enough thought into this decision and needs to be left alone.

Everyone agrees that he needs a break and as far as I am concerned Dhoni’s decision is spot on.
India is playing a lots of one day matches in the coming 12 months and would require a fit and rested Dhoni leading them. Parthiv and Karthik are good test players and I am sure that team would not be missing Dhoni’s services that much in the test series. Dhoni has made a bold statement by skipping this series knowing the after effects of his decision. Now we have to wait and see if this precedence set by the skipper is followed by rest of the members in the future.

A bold move from the ODI captain

Dhoni takes the test series off

Dhoni takes the test series off

Dhoni is one of the few cricketers in the Indian team to feature regularly in all 3 formats of the game. He has been playing non-stop cricket over the last 12 months and was sure in need of a break, a sentiment shared even by the coach of the Indian team. In the last 18 months Dhoni has been involved in 14 test matches, 56 ODI’s, 8 Twenty20 International games and 16 IPL games. Dhoni recently had mentioned during the Asia cup that back to back matches are causing player fatigue.

Even though Dhoni found support in Anil Kumble and Gary Kirsten, the BCCI was not that happy with his comments. Over the last few years players from different countries have complained about player burnout and India is the country who play most cricket every year. Australia’s famous rotation policy evolved due to this very reason.

Dhoni has now decided to pull out of the Srilankan test series a decision which is being scrutinized in the media over the past few days. Former players are providing their opinions, the seniors in the team are being approached for comments on this subject. Personally I feel that the comments by Sourav Ganguly on this subject was unnecessary. Seriously I dont see a reason for such a reaction, its Dhoni’s decision to take a break and everyone knows that he needed one. The one-day captain might have thought that taking a break from test matches where he is more dispensable might be the appropriate thing to do.

The media is after this decision because of the fact that Dhoni has decided to take the test series off instead of the one-day series which is to follow. They are also complaining that IPL is one of the major reasons for the player burnout and fatigue. Frankly for me I would rather see Dhoni take a break in tests rather than in ODI’s and Twenty20 where his presence is more important. I am sure that Dhoni has put enough thought into this decision and needs to be left alone. Everyone agrees that he needs a break and as far as I am concerned Dhoni’s decision is spot on.

India is playing a lots of one day matches in the coming 12 months and would require a fit and rested Dhoni leading them. Parthiv and Karthik are good test players and I am sure that team would not be missing Dhoni’s services that much in the test series. Dhoni has made a bold statement by skipping this series knowing the after effects of his decision. Now we have to wait and see if this precedence set by the skipper is followed by rest of the members in the future.