Tag Archives: Munaf

Selectors hurl a googly again

The Indian team for the ODI/T20 leg of the West Indies tour was announced last Friday. Even though the team was on the expected lines, as it has been a routine these days with our selection committee we do have one surprising selection. In the world cup it was Piyush Chawla and now it is Wriddhimaan Saha. While everyone was expecting a call up for Ambati Rayudu who also is a wicketkeeper, the selectors once again surprised one and all with their choice. There was no doubt that Parthiv was going to be the first keeper but his deputy was the one in question.

Saha probably is a very good keeper but I haven’t seen him do anything special in the domestic level or in the IPL to warrant a place ahead of Dinesh Kartik or Ambati Rayudu. Rayudu who is a decent wicketkeeper and an excellent attacking batsman in the top and middle order and would feel extremely disappointed on being left out. This again is a very controversial selection by the Indian selection committee and it will be interesting to see how Ghambir and the team management will utilize Saha on this tour. I hope that he will have a better time on this tour than what Chawla had in the world cup

The rest of the team though was on expected lines. With the absence of Dhoni and Sehwag, Ghambir has been appointed as the captain for the ODI/T20 leg. Rohit Sharma and Badrinath make the team, based on their excellent domestic season and IPL performances. Ishant Sharma makes a comeback to the team and so does Praveen kumar who missed out from the World Cup due to injury. Vinay Kumar also makes a comeback to the team on the basis of good consistent performances at the domestic level. Munaf Patel retains his position in the squad after some wonderful performances in the shorter format of the game over the past few months. The selectors have gone with three spinners, Mishra, Ashwin and Harbajan. Mishra has been rewarded for having bowled brilliantly in the IPL and for probably being the best leg spinner in the country at the moment. Ashwin and Bajji made the squad as expected.

Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan make the rest of the squad. It’s overall a good team and the selectors have played it safe this time. They probably did not want to repeat the mistake of the Zimbabwe tri-series in 2010. The selectors also warded off the temptation of picking the young Rahul Sharma, who is having a brilliant IPL this year. He probably needs more time at the domestic level. It’s nice to see that the selectors have not taken the IPL performances entirely for the team selection and have awarded consistent performers in the domestic arena too. Apart from that one controversial selection, I feel that the selectors have done a great job in picking a good squad with fine balance. I hope that the young players under Ghambir do well and emerge victorious in this campaign.

Team for the ODI and T20:

Gautam Gambhir (captain), Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, S Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Vinay Kumar, Yusuf Pathan, Amit Mishra, Wriddhiman Saha (wk).

World Cup 2011 – India’s bowling conundrum

Dhoni and Kirsten will have serious headache when sitting down to decide on India’s bowling combination for the next game against Ireland. After watching the Irish win against England, the Indians would have known that this is anything but an easy game. The Indians tried 3 pace/1 spin option in the first game and then tried 2 pace/2 spin in the second but both combination met with limited success. The failure of the Indian bowling attack to defend an imposing 338 runs against England at home will be a bitter pill to swallow.

The problem for the Indian team right now is that except for Bajji and Zaheer there is no sure starter in the bowling department. Munaf Patel has been steady without being threatening and Chawla was treated with disdain by the English batting who are traditionally suspect against legspin. So there lies a problem for the Indians. The team does not have too many options either. There is Ashish Nehra in the pace department who hasn’t been tried and there is Ashwin who is yet to get a chance. Sreesanth was poor in one game he played and so was Chawla. One thing which is certain is that we will see a change in the bowling for the Sunday’s game.

The confusion though would be whether to go with the tried and tested formula of 3 pacers or give the 2 spin option another try? This will be something for the Indian think tank to ponder over the next 48 hours. The Indian team would know that Nehra is prone to injuries and should be played only if he is 100% fit. The other option they would want to look at is Ravichandran Ashwin, but that would make too many offspin options in the team. As far as I am concerned, even though Chawla had one bad game he still gives the team an attacking option. The Irish struggled against Swann, so spin I feel is the best way to contain them as the pitches aren’t pace friendly.

The batting of the Indians again will be the most important factor in Sunday’s game. The Indian batting order needs to make another huge score as we know that any team can chase over 300 runs. The pitches are so flat that it does not matter if you are playing Ireland, Netherlands or England, the result could be the same. India doesn’t have the firepower of the Aussies in pace nor the variety of a Pakistan or South Africa so they need to play on their strength. As Dhoni said it seems like the batsmen need to score 350 every time they step on the field. It’s daunting but that’s how it is right now. Whatever may be the combination India goes with, a good solid performance in the field will go a long way in resurrecting India’s campaign. Dhoni and India will for sure know that.

Will Tyagi follow the familiar pattern?

Sudeep Tyagi is the only new face in the Indian squad for the Australian series (Pic: courtesy Cricinfo)

Sudeep Tyagi is the only new face in the Indian squad for the Australian series (Pic: courtesy Cricinfo)

The Indian team for the upcoming Australian series was announced last week and the only new face in the squad was Sudeep Tyagi. Tyagi is the latest addition to the search for a good young Indian fast bowler. Tyagi had a great beginning to his domestic career but could not repeat the same in his second year of the championship. His success in the shorter format of the game has resulted in his selection in the Indian ODI team.

Tyagi is not an out and out quick bowler and fortunately he does not claim to be one. He bowls around 135-140 Km/hr and swings the ball both ways. He had an impressive showing in the Emerging Players tournament in Australia and also in the recently concluded Challenger Series in India. India will be playing the Aussies later this month in a 7 match ODI series where I am sure the selectors would want to test him out. Only time will tell if he breaks the familiar pattern of the current and past Indian seamers have been following.

Since 2000 the Indian team has had promising entrants in the pace bowling department like Zaheer, Nehra, RP Singh, Irfan, Sreesanth, Munaf, Ishant, Balaji, VRV Singh etc. If you take the careers of all the above mentioned bowlers one thing is common among them which is lack of consistency. All the above mentioned bowlers had a great beginning and an impressive first year in the International scene but could not sustain the same in the coming years. Bowlers starting to bowl at 135-140 to start with, in their second year average around 130 or lower. They lose their swing and pace and look pretty mediocre.

Ishant who had an impressive Australian tour earlier last year bowling consistently over 140 K is now looking ordinary averaging less than 130 K in speed and bowling freebees. What is causing such a drop in performance is something to be investigated. The BCCI have now taken the easy way out by sacking the bowling coach, which I don’t think is a solution to this conundrum.

Lots of theories have been floating around in the media to explain this situation like, too much cricket, too much money etc and I feel that it’s a bit of both. The adulation and recognition the players receive is tremendous and I feel that it becomes too much for them to handle. Players like Zaheer, Nehra and Munaf had to be dropped from the team for them to come back as better bowlers. The treatment seems to work, which means that the bowlers need a kick on their back side once in a while.

The other aspect is too much cricket which cannot be ignored either. Tests, ODI, and T20 which includes two BCCI tournaments now every year cannot be good for the bowlers. The big money and fan following so soon in their careers can only lead to drop in performance of these youngsters who are barely 20 when they make the side. Either the BCCI should follow the Aussie path by bringing in the players who have considerable domestic experience or should have performance based points system which will mean that their IPL place or the Indian team contract will be affected.

Now that another youngster is making his debut we have to be careful the way he is treated. We don’t want to hype him too much after couple of good performances. My suggestion would be that once the player makes his debut in the International arena, he should be made to concentrate on the National side rather than playing in the IPL or any other meaningless tournaments. Tyagi needs to understand that he has the best chance now to cement his position in the squad and not follow the path of his seniors.

In a recent interview he mentioned that he wants to perform like Zaheer Khan and I hope he was talking about the performances of Zaheer in the last two years only. Hopefully we can see a break in the trend of the last few years in the pace bowling department. Once Zaheer comes back we can have a good pool of bowlers which can augur well for the future of Indian cricket. I sincerely hope that BCCI does something about the bowling problem rather than adapting the drop and pick option.

Challenger Trophy – India Red wins

India Red captain badrinath with the challenger Trophy

India Red captain badrinath with the challenger Trophy

The challenger trophy featuring three teams comprising of the best talents from the Indian domestic scene ended in Nagpur over the weekend. India Red beat India Blue to claim the Challenger Trophy. The challenger trophy, once the primary competition to showcase the talent of best players from the Indian domestic scene in the limited overs version was totally overshadowed by the CLT20. I am not even sure if any selectors or the viewers expressed any interest on this year’s tournament.

I don’t understand the logic of having both the competitions at the same time when the BCCI knows that India is due to play Australia in an ODI series. As MS Dhoni himself does not consider T20 as a yardstick for ODI selections, the BCCI could have had the probable Indian players to participate in the Challenger series instead of the CLT20. It would have been better if Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and others had played in the challengers rather than the bang bash CLT20.

Since challengers Trophy is a short tournament, the players could have been back for the second round if their respective IPL teams had qualified for the same. Anyways that aside, the tournament itself was interesting. There were lots of youngsters in view and few of them impressed with their performances. India Red was amazingly the strongest of the three teams this year as traditionally India blue used to be the better side comprising of the current Indian players. But unfortunately the Indian seniors were either injured or were playing in the CLT20.

Batting was not that easy in the challenger trophy except for one game in which the India blue scored 350. The batting in the tournament threw some new names like Abhinav Mukund and some known names like Shikar Dhawan, M Vijay, Badrinath, Aniruddha S etc. It was great to see players like M Vijay and Shikar Dhawan playing well as they are considered to be the future of Indian batting. M Vijay especially showed that he can bat in the shorter format of the game too. Tamil Nadu all rounder Ravichandran Aswin also impressed with his bowling in the competition. He was very economical in all the games and also picked some crucial wickets but did not receive too many chances to display his batting capabilities.

He could be an option for the Indians in the upcoming series against the Aussies. It was baffling to see that Pujara never got a game in spite of him being in fray for the selection for the past year or so. He seems to be scoring heavily in the domestic cricket but doesn’t seem to be in the mind of the selectors. The bowling was the strong point for India Red with Munaf and Tyagi being the chief contributors. Munaf was excellent in the series along with Tyagi but Ishant was once again disappointing. Ishant picked up wickets but was very expensive throughout the series. I think that he needs a break from cricket to get back his pace and accuracy. Getting bashed around in every single game cannot do any good for his confidence. Munaf has been bowling pretty well in the recent times and Tyagi even though started badly finished very well in the last couple of games.

It was a good tournament and threw some interesting names for the selectors to look at when they sit down for team selection on the 15th of this month. I am hoping to see some new names in the squad for the upcoming series against the Aussies.15 or 16 selected for the first few games but we have to wait and see.

CLT20 – Another meaningless BCCI money making venture

Sehwag will be playing for Delhi Daredevils in the upcoming CLT20 (Pic Courtesy Cricinfo)

Sehwag will be playing for Delhi Daredevils in the upcoming CLT20 (Pic Courtesy Cricinfo)

The CLT20 starts in few days and no one is excited about the same. India’s early exit from the CT has barely evaporated our minds and we have this meaningless tournament from BCCI. CLT20 is money making venture from BCCI to cash in on the success of IPL. It has domestic teams from other countries too but I can care less as to whom they are. Deccan Chargers (IPL Champions), Delhi Daredevils and Bangalore Royal challengers will participate from the IPL in this event which is set to begin in few days time.

India’s exit from the CT and also the World T20 has left people questioning their rankings and I hope that the players take this time to work on their weakness. India is going to take on the Aussies at the end of this month and this extravagant circus cannot be an ideal preparation. I am happy that Ishant and Bajji aren’t a part of this. I would have been happy if the Indian players hit the nets and practice harder on developing their skills rather than participate in this meaningless tournament.

No matter what Amit Mishra says, the Indian bowling has been a disappointment over the past year and Dhoni was right to criticize the same. No matter how good your batting is, you cannot expect them to score 300 every time they walk out to bat. Ishant Sharma has lost his pace and seems pedestrian and so does RP Singh. It seemed as though the Indian bowlers are just going through the motions thinking that the batsmen would dig them out of the hole as they have done often in the past. When that does not happen, the Indian bowling gets shown pretty badly.

Bowlers have to be rotated especially in a busy season like this. We cannot keep going back to the same bowlers again and again. If RP was injured, he should have played domestic cricket to prove himself before making a comeback into the Indian team. He looked pretty listless in the CT. The selectors have to get Sreesanth back into the team and have to try out Sudeep Tyagi in the X1 against the Aussies. It seems like Munaf also looked good in the recently concluded Irani Cup game. If kick on the backside is something what the Indian bowlers are looking for then the selectors have to give it to them. It has been proven in the past that the Indian bowlers start well but within their first year lose their effectiveness.

Does money and adulation play a part? Yes it does. Ishant Sharma gets paid $950000 to play 40 days of cricket in the IPL, so why will he work on his fitness and improve? If getting bashed around for 40 days can earn you that much why work on your bowling and improve? It seems like only the players who want to make a comeback to the Indian team take even IPL seriously. India has a long season ahead of them and just a year and a half away from the WC. I hope that the selectors take the hint from the captain and blood some youngsters in the team.

Dhoni’s comment of IPL not being the gauge to pick players for the longer format is not far from the truth. Yusuf has proved the same over the past year. India needs to do something with their bowling otherwise they will be left behind in the race. I hope that India becomes the number 1 team in both the formats but for that to happen, we need a good bowling attack. Sudeep Tyagi, Sreesanth, Ishant, RP, Nehra, Munaf, Zaheer, Mishra, chawla and Bajji are the bowlers for India for coming few years and we have to identify the right combination by rotating them often.

Tactical errors cost India a place in the semis

India crashed out of the World T20 this Sunday after they lost to England by 3 runs at Lords. Needing 154 to win, the Indian batsmen made 150/5 to lose the game to England. The Indian top order was found out by the WI pace bowlers in the previous game when they bowled short pitched stuff to Rohit, Ghambir and Raina who looked unsettled against the same.

England used the same tactics and was successful again. I know that there was only a day between the two matches but why didn’t Indian coach and captain find a way to counter it. It was a given that the English bowlers would try the short pitched stuff again. The overall captaincy of Dhoni in the World T20 was strange and sometimes hard to understand. He made too many tactical errors which cost India at crucial times.

First of all Yuvraj being the senior member in the team, should have always batted at number 4. I don’t understand why you need to hide a batsman who is the best in the side and could have made the English bowlers nervous. Sending Jadeja ahead of Yuvraj was baffling to me.

The other striking error was not bowling RP Singh at the death. RP Singh replaced Irfan Pathan for this crucial game and bowled a brilliant first spell just giving away 13 runs in his first 3 overs for the wicket of Luke Wright but still Dhoni decided to bowl Ishant and Zaheer who were more expensive. It’s a known fact that Ishant is not a good bowler at the death but RP Singh is. Ishant and Zaheer went for too many runs in the end giving England an easy passage to 150 when they had no chances of getting there at one stage.

England scored 53 runs in the last 5 overs and they did not have to take any risks. Harbajan bowled 2 wides which went for 4 and that too in the crucial last over when the first 5 balls had only yielded 2 runs and a wicket. The only thing Bajji had to do it to bowl straight and India would have won the game. The extra 5 runs given pushed the score beyond 150.

Overall the batting and the bowling in the campaign for India was too inconsistent to say the least. Well all in all it was a pathetic performance and India for sure will be hurt by this. The next series will commence pretty soon against the WI where we play 4 ODI’s and hopefully we can do well. The Indian youngsters need to work hard against the short pitched bowling as WI has a good pace attack.

It seems like Sachin might not go to WI which will be a huge blow to the Indian chances. Sehwag might come back to the side which will boost the top order and I hope that we get back Sreesanth in the team along with Munaf. WI pitches are slow and low and we need bowlers with pace in the team. Zaheer might also not play in the series due to injury.

India plays SA later today in their final game of the ICC WorldT20 and they have nothing at stake but the pride. I am sure that Dhoni and his men would want to end the tournament with a win which will give them some confidence ahead of the WI tour.

India wins in New Zealand after 41 years

Dhoni with the trophy after India completed a 1-0 win in the test series against the Kiwis

Dhoni with the trophy after India completed a 1-0 win in the test series against the Kiwis

41 years of wait finally ended as India completed 1-0 series win in New Zealand. This win will be particularly sweet for the seniors in the team as they have been on the receiving end on more than one occasion. It was a fantastic performance by the Indian team and was a total team effort.

I was little bit disappointed that we were unable to close out the 3rd test and win the series by 2-0 margin. When the rain halted the proceedings on day 5 with New Zealand on 284/8 the only thing which came on every Indian supporter’s mind was If only we had 10 more overs. If we look back at the 4th day’s play India batted too long I thought. We should have probably given NZ a target of 550-575. I don’t think that the Kiwis would have had a realistic chance of scaling that score against the Indian bowling attack.

Anyways that’s just in the hindsight. Nothing should be taken away though from the team as they have completed another major victory. They just have two more mountains to climb, Australia and South Africa. If they can achieve this while Sachin, Dravid and Laxman are still in the team it will be really great. Yeah there is one more location India hasn’t won that often which is Sri Lanka. Twice in last ten years we lost the series after going in to the final test with 1-1 score line.

For India to win in Australia and SA they have to improve their fielding and catching as this let them down badly in New Zealand. If Ishant hadn’t spilled a sitter of Ian O’ Brian of Sachin India probably would have won 2-0. So that’s one area which we have to work on. The second area of concern is the third seamer. I would prefer Sreesanth to come into the squad in the place of Munaf. Munaf is a good bowler but sometimes he looks lifeless on the field. I am not even talking about his bowling but just his body language which sometimes is not that encouraging.

Well overall this has been a fantastic series for the Indians. Winning the one-day series 3-1 and later winning the test series 1-0 will give lots of satisfaction to the Indian captain. There were some great individual performances from Ghambir, Zaheer and Harbajan. Sachin, Dravid and Laxman also batted brilliantly and gave consistent performances throughout the tour. Dhoni’s captaincy throughout the tour was excellent and aggressive. All in all a fantastic performance and a great win by Team India.