My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘One day cricket

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.

Dhoni - During his hundred against the Aussies
Recently there have been calls in the media to scrap the 50 over format to accommodate the rising number of T20’s played around the world. There have been various theories like reducing the number of overs to 40, playing ODI in a two inning format etc. ODI cricket has been around for a long time now and definitely needs an overhaul but I guess it still has a place in the hearts of a cricket lover.

ECB recently scrapped their domestic 50 over tournament and replaced the same with a 40 over version. We did see in the media recently where the ECB has suggested the same to the ICC. We cannot fault the ECB for doing so as their National team has been pretty poor in the 50 over version. I hope that the ICC dont follow that route.

One thing I have to agree is that there is too much of ODI cricket played these days adding up to the numerous T20 leagues going around. This is where ICC needs to step up and do something about the ever growing T20 leagues. Having IPLT20 and CLT20 in the same year is ridiculous. Now since Australia is starting their own T20 league which might leave players no time to play International cricket, it’s the right time for ICC to step in. They should bring some sort of a regulation which would reduce the number of ODI’s and T20’s played in a year to sustain interest among the fans. I am not sure why the Test championship is not taking wings as it is an interesting concept. It will for sure induct lots of interest among the viewers for the oldest format of the game.

The 50 over format provides a great variation to the fans from the bang bash T20 format. The teams are allowed to strategize, plan and execute over a 50 over format. Even though IPL and CLT20 have become so successful in India, people still love the ODI’s. ODI matches in India still play to packed houses. The major problem though which needs to be addressed immediately is the player burnout.

Too many ODI’s are played these days and most of them are meaningless. A 7 match ODI series is a tad too long I feel. I guess a bilateral ODI series should be limited to no more than 5 games. The champions Trophy and ODI world cup need to be the premier multinational events. Limit the amount of other tri series which are played around the world other than the above two major events.

ICC also has to work towards reducing the number of T20 leagues which are going around these days. The ODI cricket format itself needs an overhaul to make it more interesting and reducing the number of overs isn’t the way to go. The 2 innings format is something which the ICC can look into. They have tried couple of innovations in the past which haven’t worked like the “Super-sub”. More thought needs to be put in towards that line.

ODI cricket has a rich history and has been around for a long time. ODI World Cup still remains a special event for every cricketer around the world. Test cricket as every International player would agree is the pinnacle of cricket and will remain for a long time to come. The format which needs preservation is the ODI. Players still prefer this format over T20 any day. The advent of T20 has cast some doubts over the future of this format but with some innovations, the 50 over format can hang on. Reduce the number of games played around at the moment and make some changes to the existing format and we might have a winning formula. The short and sweet Champions Trophy breathed some life into ODI’s and we hope that the ICC can learn something from this. I am a fan of 50 over format and would not want to see it die.


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