Tag Archives: Nehra

World Cup 2011 – Good win for India but bowling still a concern

India had a rather comfortable win over the giant killers Ireland yesterday. Yuvraj’s great all-round performance was the highlight of yesterday’s game for the Indians. Dhoni won the toss and elected the bowl first and Zaheer struck right away. Zaheer bowled a brilliant line and had the Irish 2 down in quick time and it seemed like Dhoni’s decision to bowl first was vindicated. But when NJ O’Brien joined Porterfield in the middle the balance started to shift. The pair played sensibly to launch a brilliant counterattack. At this point India’s weakness in the bowling department raised its ugly head again.

Pathan, Bajji and Chawla were rather ineffective against the Irish pair as they looked geared up for a big total. Chawla was once again disappointing as he erred on the shorter side time and again to get cut and pulled by the batsmen. Bajji was steady without being threatening and same with Yusuf Pathan. When the proceedings seemed to be running out of control for the Indians, Dhoni introduced Yuvraj into the attack and suddenly everything kind of fell back in place for the men in blue. Yuvi broke the threatening partnership and the wickets started falling in regular intervals for the Irish. They were finally bowled out for 207 with Yuvi finishing with career best 5-31, his first five wickets haul. What a brilliant and timely spell that was for the Indians. After his introduction the luck changed for the Indians so much so that they even had couple of reviews going their way.

India had to chase 208 in 50 overs under lights and this was the first time Dhoni’s team was batting second in the world cup 2011. The top order stuttered a bit during the chase and was struggling at 100/4 when the captain joined India’s bowling hero of the day Yuvraj. Both of them played sensibly picking up ones and twos and hitting occasional boundaries. When Dhoni got out to Dockrell, the game was almost over. Yusuf Pathan came in and calmed the nerves of the fans by hitting couple of sixes. India won the game by 5 wickets with Yuvraj getting to 50 not out. It was a great game for the left hander as he took 5 wickets and a fifty in the same game.

It was a good win for the Indians as this got them back to the top of group B. India play Netherlands on Wednesday and that would be the best time to look at some options in the bowling ahead of the more important games. Chawla for sure needs to be rested as he has looked completely out of depth in the two games. Ashwin can be tried in his place. Munaf has been steady but can be rested for one game to see how Nehra has shaped up after the injury. India needs to try these options to make sure that all the bowlers are match fit. The game against Netherlands could be the last chance for India to try out some new combinations in the bowling department. The bowling and fielding except for the spells from Zaheer and Yuvraj looked rather flat again.

This would for sure be a big worry for the Indian think tank. So I hope that there would be few changes in the squad for the next game.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Selectors Need to Experiment a Bit

Jadeja was the best bowler on view for the Indians in the first ODI against South Africa

Phew! What a game. South Africa almost pulled off a miracle yesterday against India in the first ODI between the two sides in this three match series. When SA was 182/7 requiring more than 7 an over, I thought to myself even our bowlers couldn’t mess this up, but how wrong I was. The Indian bowling as usual melted under pressure in the final overs and allowed No. 10 and 11 to get the visitors to within 1 run of securing a brilliant victory.

To be frank when you have Ravindra Jadeja (5th bowler) as your best bowler on the day then you have serious issues. The Indian selectors seem to be averse to doing any sort of experimentation with the squad at the moment. The bowling selections have been monotonous for the past year or so. It has been Nehra, Zaheer, Praveen, Ishant and Sreesanth doing merry-go-round for the bowling spots. Tyagi received one chance and there has been no other new bowler for the Indians.

Zaheer seems to be the only bowler who is remotely close to being a decent ODI bowler and the rest of them seem ordinary. I would give a few more chances to Praveen Kumar but Sreesanth, Ishant and Nehra need to stay away from the team for some time. The Indian selectors need to be bold with the selections and look ahead to the World Cup. With the current bowling line up India will get hammered in the World Cup which is supposed to take place on these batting paradises in the sub continent.

India needs to give a decent run to Tyagi, Mithun, Irfan and Sangwan etc. to see how they do in this format. I am sure they can’t do worse than the current crop. If not for few lucky decisions going India’s way and a fantastic over by Praveen under pressure India would have lost the match easily.

I hope the selectors are listening and I hope they experiment a little bit with the bowling combinations in the future series.

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.