Tag Archives: Munaf Patel

Can Umesh and Aaron break the trend?

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron will have their tasks cut off when the grueling Indian season begins in a month’s time

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron were like a breath of fresh air when they took the new ball against the touring West Indies side at home. Both bowled with extreme pace troubling the West Indies batters on pretty flat wickets in India. Both bowlers capable of bowling in the excess of 150 will now have to concentrate on cementing their place in the Indian squad. The Indian fast bowling cupboard has not been fuller than the last decade or so. We had fast bowlers appearing left right and center only to disappear after a year.

We have had bowlers with enormous talent making their debuts, only to lose their way within a year. The reason to the same has never been analyzed. Talented bowlers like Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, and RP Singh etc… All had a great beginning to their career only to lose their way and finally disappear from the radar. When Umesh Yadav came on to the scene, I was little skeptic. India plays a lot of cricket throughout the year including the IPL and champions League. For a bowler to remain fit through this grueling schedule requires meticulous planning from the team management as well the bowler himself. It is not an easy task.

But after almost a year, Umesh has done quite well to withstand the pressure and has still maintained his speed. This shows that the boy has great work ethic and tremendous fitness. Aaron though wasn’t that lucky, he missed the Australia tour due to injury but made a good comeback bowling at 150 k’s even after his return in the IPL. These two have for sure have for now broken the trend of Indian bowlers losing their pace.

The next hurdle to cross will be to pass the grade from promising to good. This will be something which will separate them from the rest of the pack. Umesh Yadav had a great start to his test career and was very impressive in Australia. Aaron too had a decent debut test against the West Indies. Fast bowlers need to be looked after. There are only a hand full currently in international cricket who can bowl 90+ mph consistently. The Indian think tank needs to understand that. Aaron and Umesh are the future of Indian bowling and I hope the rigorous schedule of the Indian team does not consume them too.

It will be interesting to see how these to shape up in the coming year or two. It will be interesting to see if the Indian think tank has the courage to play both these players together in the test team. India has finally found genuine pace bowlers and my hope is that we don’t lose them to mismanagement and greed once again.

Karun to test for Lotus and Sreesanth replaces Praveen Kumar

Karun Chandhok will be testing for team Lotus, this Sunday at Valencia, Spain. Karun Chandhok who said that he was considering an opportunity as a third driver in a good team would want to grab this opportunity with both hands. Good performances here would for surely help him to return to the starting grid in 2012. Team Lotus Principal Tony Fernandes said that Karun was with the team as a guest in the pre-season testing in Valencia last week and now will have some time in the car.

On a telephonic conversation from Malaysia Tony Fernandes said

“We would like him to be reserve driver but we’ve got to see whether it all works out, that’s the plan,”

“He is going to get a couple of slots in the testing now in Jerez and Barcelona,” added the AirAsia airline boss. And then we’ll decide after that.”

“(Technical head) Mike (Gascoyne) and (team CEO) Riad (Asmat) and everyone else feel he’s the right guy to add value to the team.” He added.

Elsewhere in cricket India’s world cup preparation hit a road block when injured pacer Praveen Kumar was deemed unfit to take part in the event. Sreesanth has replaced Praveen Kumar in the world cup squad. Sreesanth would be really happy with this opportunity and would want to take advantage of the same with some good performances.

Speaking to the media a visibly elated Sreesanth said “It is a great opportunity and a great challenge to be a part of Indian team for the World Cup. I am lucky to be a part of it and am looking forward to giving my best in the tournament,”

“I am just looking forward to giving my best in the World Cup. I am absolutely fine with any role given to me. Whatever I would be asked to do I will perform accordingly.” He added.

So Sreesanth will join the pace attack along with Zaheer, Nehra and Munaf. Praveen’s absence for sure will be a big blow to Indian chances as he provides a steady option with the new ball. Praveen has been economical with the new ball for India and often provided the team with crucial breakthroughs. Sreesanth for sure will have to match that consistency when he does get a chance. So injury claims yet another victim for the Indians ahead of a major event. Let’s hope that it not a major loss and Sreesanth Justifies his position and delivers for team India.

A tour of missed opportunities for the men in blue

Yusuf pathan was the biggest positive to emerge out of the ODI series for the Indians

The Indian team is back after a grueling two month tour to South Africa, where the team drew the test series and lost the close ODI series. The team will be a bit disappointed with the result though. Even though the tour started with a humiliating innings defeat in the first test, India was in the best position to win their first test series in South Africa. The biggest gain of the series was India’s back to the wall comebacks throughout the tour. After the humiliating loss in the first test, the stunning comeback by the team in Durban was an amazing effort. The bowling which looked toothless in the first test performed brilliantly to level the series.

Even though the series was a hard fought one, the Indian team will be really disappointed with their efforts in the third test match. With the scores even after the first innings in the third test, India had the hosts 130/6 in the second innings. India was unable to dislodge the Boucher/Kallis pair to let them stretch the lead to over 300. I would probably say that this was our best chance of a series win in South Africa with all the greats still in the team. I am sure that Dhoni will consider this as a missed opportunity.

The series was once again a brilliant one for Sachin Tendulkar as he emerged as our best batsmen along with VVS Laxman who has now made rescuing his team under pressure a habit. The biggest positive to emerge out of the series was the response of the Indian bowling unit after the thrashing in the first test. The bowling of Sreesanth and Harbajan Singh were the stand out and obviously Zaheer was very consistent. Cheteshwar Pujara, even though did not score any runs looks like a player who belongs at this level and needs to be persisted with. The biggest disappointment of the series was Ishant Sharma; never in this series did he look like picking up any wickets.

The ODI series too was really close and in the absence of Sehwag, Ghambir and Sachin, it kind of gave us an insight on future of Indian cricket team. The insight though was not that pretty to be honest. The Indian batting struggled to counter the pace attack of the South Africans. The top order batting with the exception of Virat Kohli struggled.

The ODI series also followed familiar pattern to that of the test series, big loss in the first game and stunning comeback in the second. India went into the fourth ODI with a chance of winning their first ODI series in South Africa and once again the bowling and fielding let us down. With South Africa 117/5, JP Duminy did a Kallis on India this time. India was unable to separate Duminy/Botha pair who played brilliantly to rescue the home team to a match winning 265 from a precarious position. The Indian batting once again collapsed losing the game comfortably and thereby squandering a chance to win the series.

The one thing which was noticeable with the Indian ODI performance was that young Indian batsmen, baring Kohli did not have the necessary patience to hang in there. For example in the third ODI, Kohli and Raina had formed a decent partnership and Kohli had just hit a six earlier in the over. Raina, who was under no pressure to go for a big hit, charged the bowler and got stumped. There were various scenarios in the series where some patience was necessary in the middle and the Indian batsmen played some atrocious shots to hand their wickets. The biggest plus for India was the form of Yusuf Pathan who almost singlehandedly won the series for India with a brilliant hundred in the final game and also the bowling form of Harbajan Singh and Munaf Patel who performed brilliantly throughout the series. Yusuf’s performance has almost put paid to the all-rounder debate at least for the world cup.

Overall this wasn’t a bad tour for the Indians as they came unscathed in the test series with a 1-1 draw. The ODI series was disappointing though very close. The biggest worry for Dhoni was lack of form his batsman displayed. With just a month left for the World Cup we have 3 batsman who lack practice (Sachin, Ghambir and Sehwag), 3 who are out of form (Dhoni, Raina and Yuvraj) and one in crackling for but cannot get into the X1 (Kohli). So there are plenty of headaches for Dhoni and Kirsten when they sit down to pick the X1 for their first game against Bangladesh. Will they play Kohli and drop either Raina or Yuvraj? We have to wait and see.

World Cup 2011 Preview – Indian Bowling

Time is running out for Sreesanth to stake his claim for a world cup berth

World Cup 2011 is back in the sub continent and while everyone is hoping this to be the magical farewell Sachin deserves let’s look at India’s chances in a two step exercise. The first major discipline the Indian team most often struggles is their bowling. India has failed to get a consistent bowling partner for Zaheer over the past couple of years thereby putting lots of pressure on our premier bowler. Zaheer to his credit has responded incredibly well but let’s look at the possible bowling combinations India could try in the lead up to the World Cup.

Even though we have struggled in the bowling department, India has still managed to find some sort of consistency in the selection of the ODI squad. Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra have done a commendable job over the past year in the absence of Zaheer Khan. There have been few others tried in the meanwhile with limited success. So going by the latest trend, India might open the bowling with Praveen and Zaheer with Nehra being the first change. Since the world cup takes place in the subcontinent, I feel that pace is a very important factor rather than the swing. Unless we are playing in the northern part of India under cloudy skies, I don’t see the bowlers getting too much of swing. Praveen Kumar might have a lot of struggle under conditions which are not favorable to the bowlers.

So who could be the backup options? Ishant Sharma is one of them and of course Sreesanth might be in the squad too. Both of them have the pace but both of them are way too inconsistent to bank on. The unfortunate part is that Ishant Sharma got injured when he was looking like getting back to some sort of rhythm against the Aussies and Sreesanth who replaced him for the next game looked very rusty. India has around 10 ODI’s to try various combinations and I hope we do try everyone who might be part of the squad in all those games and make sure that the main bowlers are fit for the major event.

So currently the pace bowling list looks like this, Zaheer, Ishant, Praveen, Nehra and Sreesanth. There are other names too in the list who have played on and off in the team like Munaf Patel, Abhinav Mithun and Vinay Kumar. Since the world cup is in the subcontinent I am thinking that we will not be looking at more than 4 pacers in the 16. I wouldn’t want to be one of the selectors for sure when they sit down to pick the team for such a major event. A home tournament means that you at least have easy access to replacements when someone gets injured. The spin department too throws quite a lot of names with Bajji being the only settled bowler in the X1. The other spinners who could make the 16 are Ashwin, Ojha, Mishra and Jadeja. The chances of Ashwin and Jadeja being the second spinner is more likely as they both are in the squad as the allrounders. The BCCI’s plan of sending the Indian test squad early to South Africa to get acclimatized to those conditions would mean that the selectors can try out different combinations in the home series against New Zealand.

Even though we should have identified our combinations by now, it seems like we have fallen little back on trying out few players. Ravichandran Ashwin has just played couple of ODI’s till date and Ojha has never gotten a consistent run in the team. Mishra too has not been part of the squad for a considerable length of time. This probably shows that we are one of the most underprepared team right now among the favorites in the bowling department. With teams like South Africa, England and Sri Lanka playing with almost settled squads for close to a year now, India is still looking for the right combination ahead of the world cup.

Captain Dhoni said in his latest interview that he will be looking to play the full team in the ODI series against the proteas, which leaves the selectors with just the ODI series against the Kiwis to experiment. With various combinations to try and with bowlers like Vinay Kumar and Mithun in the wings, I am not sure how we are going to pick a 16 at the moment. Except for Zaheer, Nehra, Bajji and Praveen the rest of the bowling just looks like a lottery at the moment. It will an interesting selection and the coming months will give us a clearer picture. Whatever may be the squad, I just feel that the selectors have left this too late for comfort. We just have to hope that the prime contenders hit form at the right moment for the big tournament.

Mysterious ways of the Indian selectors

When India decided to send a second string team to Zimbabwe, everyone in unison was in approval of the same as the Indian team has a packed schedule ahead of the World cup. But what transpired as the final squad left everyone little bit bemused. There were three squads announced, one for the ODI tri series, and the other for the T20 and finally the squad for India A tour to England.

One thing which was noticeable with all the three squads was that most of the players selected weren’t even in fray to make it to the national squad. People like Ishant, Irfan, Munaf, Sreesanth, Yuvraj and few others were ignored in the squads selected. This is the fact which makes us question the planning by the BCCI and the selectors. Now the team for Sri Lanka has been selected and Ishant and Sreesanth have been included in the same. Both of them have been cooling their heels for some time now and are coming in with zero match practice.

The A tours should be used to give much needed practice to the fringe players but that is not the case with the squad currently playing in England. This would have been a perfect platform for someone like Irfan Pathan to get back into form. The BCCI have also denied the contracted players from playing the county cricket, which means that during the domestic offseason, the players have basically no match practice. So on what basis are the players getting picked in the national squad? What have Yuvraj, Ishant or Sreesanth done to make a comeback in the squad, since they were dropped?

Cheteshwar Pujara’s non inclusion is also shocking. The youngster has been piling on the runs like a machine over the past couple of years and he is nowhere in the vicinity of a National selection. We have listened to countless experts speaking about him as the future of Indian batting but for some reason the selectors don’t think so. The guy is 22 years old, scoring hundreds at will wherever he plays and for me should have been in the squad to Sri Lanka. Saha’s selection over Dinesh Karthik is another baffling one as the keeper from Tamil Nadu would have been ideal as a backup keeper and a opener in case of an injury to either of the first choice openers.

With the world cup less than a year away, the selectors have to really wake up to the fact that we don’t have a settled set of 15-20 players to pick from for the major event. The selections over the past year or so have been pretty inconsistent and I hope that it changes over the coming months as India is playing a lot of cricket before the 2011 world cup.

India look for a series win

India leads 1-0 in the 3 test match series against New Zealand after the comprehensive win in Hamilton last week. India will take on the hosts again and this time in Napier for the second test of the series. Dhoni and Gary Kirsten would want to wrap up the series in Napier. If this happens, it will be a great achievement from the team India.

India have announced an unchanged team for the second test match and understandably so. The batting looked good in Hamilton and the bowling was persistent. Munaf Patel has for now sealed the third seamer position in the team and Harbajan with his 6 wicket haul has solved the spin problem for now. Batting for the Indians has not been a problem in this series. Daniel Vettori knows that they have to do something different in the second game to upset the Indian batting line up. Their bowling looked toothless in the first test and did not look like taking 20 wickets.

New Zealand batting also struggled against Harbajan on a flat batting track. It was a bad loss for the hosts and it seems like on a good wicket they are no match for the Indians. Vettori wanted Jacob Oram to be back for the second test but that isn’t a possibility right now. It seems for the Kiwis Jeetan Patel will be back in the squad. The Kiwis will also worry about the form of their No1 bowler Kyle Mills who has been largely ineffective in this series in all formats.

All in all this will be another interesting game and I guess the toss will be important again for the home team. Dhoni and India would want to get the series win here to cap off a wonderful series. Best of luck to the team and hopefully we will win the series in Napier.

India look for a series win

India leads 1-0 in the 3 test match series against New Zealand after the comprehensive win in Hamilton last week. India will take on the hosts again and this time in Napier for the second test of the series. Dhoni and Gary Kirsten would want to wrap up the series in Napier. If this happens, it will be a great achievement from the team India.

India have announced an unchanged team for the second test match and understandably so. The batting looked good in Hamilton and the bowling was persistent. Munaf Patel has for now sealed the third seamer position in the team and Harbajan with his 6 wicket haul has solved the spin problem for now. Batting for the Indians has not been a problem in this series. Daniel Vettori knows that they have to do something different in the second game to upset the Indian batting line up. Their bowling looked toothless in the first test and did not look like taking 20 wickets.

New Zealand batting also struggled against Harbajan on a flat batting track. It was a bad loss for the hosts and it seems like on a good wicket they are no match for the Indians. Vettori wanted Jacob Oram to be back for the second test but that isn’t a possibility right now. It seems for the Kiwis Jeetan Patel will be back in the squad. The Kiwis will also worry about the form of their No1 bowler Kyle Mills who has been largely ineffective in this series in all formats.

All in all this will be another interesting game and I guess the toss will be important again for the home team. Dhoni and India would want to get the series win here to cap off a wonderful series. Best of luck to the team and hopefully we will win the series in Napier.