Tag Archives: Kohli

Change is unavoidable but needs to be planned

As Dhoni said after India’s loss at Perth, the seniors need to be phased out. The Indian selectors during the golden Dhoni-Kirsten period did not try too many middle order candidates and sudden influx of young players isn’t going to help the situation. India needs to start by giving Rahane and Rohit Sharma a chance in the final test. The series is already lost and this will be a great chance to try out these youngsters.

The phasing out should be carefully planned. There are reports that VVS Laxman might retire after this series so this will be ideal time to test out Rohit Sharma at number 5

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Time to think ahead for team India

The Indian test team has hit a road block and has pretty much gone downhill over the past year or so. In spite of the high of winning the world cup in 2011, the Indian team has for sure taken a step back in test cricket. The legends Sachin, Dravid and Laxman are at the cusp of retirement and we still havent got any replacement tested at this level. The big three have been great servants for the Indian team and with more than 35000 test runs and close to 100 centuries between them they have been one of the best players in the world. Replacing them is going to be hard task for the management. Let us look at some possible candidates for the middle order.

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Sehwag’s blitz slays the tigers

India began their 2011 campaign yesterday with a convincing win against the Bangladesh. With the memories of the 2007 game still fresh in the mind of players and fans alike, the Indian team needed to get to a good start against Bangladesh. Sakib putting India in after winning the toss was a blessing in disguise for the nervous Indian team. All the talks of revenge before the game by the players only showed how much the team was hurt by that loss in 2007. So the last thing the team needed was a chase under lights against the host.

So when Sachin and Sehwag went into bat the intent was pretty clear. They wanted to attack the new ball and they did that with style. Sachin’s run out brought Ghambir to the crease with whom Sehwag shared another 83 runs. When Ghambir was dismissed for 39 India was placed pretty well with Sehwag already blazing way. This was the perfect time for world cup debutant Virat Kohli to make an entrance. With the game excellently setup, he just had to play and second fiddle to a rampant Sehwag. Sehwag and Kohli plundered the tigers attack, to share a brilliant 203 run partnership and by the time Sehwag exited for a brilliant 175 the match was already beyond Bangladesh. India finished with a mammoth 370/4 with hundreds from Sehwag and Kohli and for sure would have been a great relief for the Indian camp.

Bangladesh began their improbable chase in the right earnest. Kayes and Tamim started in a blazing fashion hammering Sreesanth for 24 runs in one over. After Kayes was dismissed by Munaf, Bangladesh even though did not lose too many wickets, seemed to be in no hurry. Tamim and captain Sakib shared a good partnership without being overly aggressive and the pressure finally got to the host. The final 5 wickets fell in a jiffy and they finished with 283/9 in 50 overs losing by 87 runs to India. India though would have been extremely happy with the performance of the top order as everyone looked in great touch.

Sehwag was brilliant throughout as he attacked the Bangladesh bowlers mercilessly on his way to his highest ODI score. Virat Kohli too justified his inclusion in the team ahead of Suresh Raina with a measured hundred. It was not all smooth sailing for the Indians though, the bowling and fielding surely needs a lots of improvement ahead of the important game against the English. India would surely want to revisit the bowling combination ahead of the next game. Sreesanth looked terribly out of form and was all over the place. Considering how well Munaf and Zaheer bowled, it was surely a bad performance by the Kerala speedster.

I am thinking India should seriously consider going with 2 spin/2 pace attack against all the teams. India’s strength is spin and I think no matter whom the opposition is India should play two spinners. The other aspect India should improve a lot is the fielding as the captain himself suggested after the game. The fielders barring a few in the game looked pretty lethargic and there were lots of misfields in the outfield. This might come to haunt us in the big and crucial games. So even though there is some scope for improvement for the Indian team ahead of their next game this was a very good performance. The batting which is India’s strength seems to be in excellent form which bodes well for the rest of the tournament.

Bangladesh has been taken care of and the early jitters seem to have been passed. India now would be playing England in their next game who is a much tougher opposition. The game will be played in Bangalore where the Indian spinners troubled the Aussies a lot in the warm up game. So Chawla might be included in the place of Sreesanth for that game. All in all this was a good beginning for the Indians to kick off their campaign. Dhoni will be extremely thrilled to have gotten the first game out of the way.

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.

Asia Cup squad – Seniors return as expected

Mahindra Singh Dhoni will want a good performance from the team after the debacle at the World T20 and Zimbabwe

The team for Asia cup was announced earlier this week and as expected the seniors have returned to the squad after being rested for the tri-series in Zimbabwe. The experiment of playing an A team in Zimbabwe back fired badly as India crashed out without making the finals losing twice to Zimbabwe. The Indian bowling was poor and the batsmen were inconsistent. The star performers from that tri series have been retained though in the squad to Srilanka for the Asia cup (The other two teams being Pakistan and Bangladesh).

Rohit Sharma who made two centuries in Zimbabwe makes the squad, so does Virat Kohli. The selectors have given another chance to Dinda who was ordinary in Zimbabwe and also Ravichandran Aswin who turned in a decent performance in the only chance he got on the tour. Ravindra Jadeja has been retained in the squad after he scored couple of valuable 50’s on the tour, even though his bowling and fielding has been largely disappointing.

Yuvraj Singh has been dropped for the Asia cup due to his poor form and fitness. He was one of the members in the squad pointed out by Gary Kirsten as being unfit to play any form of cricket. Yuvraj’s form has deserted him since his return from injury and I hope that he takes this break on his stride and really works on his fitness and form. He is a brilliant limited overs player and India would want him fit and firing for the World Cup next year in India.

Sachin Tendulkar has been rested for the Asia cup as per his request to be able to spend more time with his family. The rest of the squad pick themselves with Dhoni returning as the captain of the team. Ghambir and Sehwag will return to the top of the order with Raina, Kohli and Rohit forming the middle order. The all-rounder spot will be up for grabs and will be a tossup between Aswin and Jadeja. Dhoni will be back donning the gloves followed by Bajji, Zaheer, Praveen and Nehra completing the X1.

Saurabh Tiwary makes his India debut after a brilliant IPL for the Mumbai Indians. I doubt that he will make it to the final X1 though unless there is a injury or a dead game where India can experiment. I hope that he gets a chance though as he is an exciting talent.

All in all a decent job by the selectors considering the options they had. The onus will be on the experience of Sehwag, Ghambir and Dhoni. The bowling even though experienced might do okay on the slow Lankan pitches. Bajji will be crucial and so will the part-time spinners. I hope that we put up a decent performance this time and hopefully will reach the finals.

Squad: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha, Ashok Dinda, R Ashwin, Saurabh Tiwary.

Sports this week

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.