India’s long home season ended with a brilliant series win over touring Australian team. India were brilliant throughout the season and it was a dominant home performance. India also reached the top of the rankings table during the season and have taken a nice lead over the second ranked team. The team had lots of positives over the season which spanned 13 tests none more satisfying than the performances of the pacers. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami were excellent and provided timely breakthrough’s throughout the season. They both were pacy and kept their intensity whenever they were called up on by the captain. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also was brilliant in the chances he received and pocketed couple of 5 wicket hauls on wickets which assisted him. Ishant Sharma did not play a lot during the home season but he did give his all whenever he made the X1.
The spin combination of Ashwin and Jadeja were devastating throughout the home season. Ashwin was brilliant in West Indies as well when India toured last year for a 4 match test series. Jadeja though kept improving throughout the season and ended up as the number 1 bowler in the world at the end of it. The left-armer was brilliant with the ball and by the end of the season was contributing with the bat as well. The duo was also received good support from Jayanth Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav in the games they made the X1. The biggest positive for India though was the fact that they played as a team throughout and most of the wins were a thorough team efforts. There were many instances of young players stepping up to the challenge and putting in match/series defining performances. Jayanth Yadav’s maiden test hundred against England, Karun Nair’s triple hundred and Kuldeep Yadav’s 4-fer all were extremely important in the context of the match and the series.
The senior members also stepped up to the plate when required. The captain himself was brilliant throughout the season except for the Australian series. Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Saha, Ashwin, Jadeja, Lokesh Rahul all made crucial contributions throughout the season. The all-round contributions from Jadeja and Ashwin, gave Kohli the opportunity to play 5 bowlers when required. The solidity which Saha discovered during the home season also gave Kohli a great chance to experiment with the X1.
Now that the home season is done and dusted, the team would know that they are in for much tougher challenges in the coming year or so. Overseas tours are not something new for this bunch. Most of the members from this present team were part of India’s long overseas season from 2013-2015. The team already knows what to expect and would hope to be better prepared this time around. Kohli’s first challenge obviously would be to defend India’s Champions Trophy crown which would be right after the IPL. This Indian team has shown that they could compete on any type of wicket and now they would want to put in more consistent performances overseas. Things are really looking exciting for team India under the leadership of Virat Kohli and as Ashwin had mentioned in his interview, hope he can take India to the newer heights in the coming years.
Ashoke Dinda was one of the few Indian pacers to impress in IPL III
The Indian team for the World T20 was announced couple of weeks back and there was hardly any surprises in the squad. Vinay Kumar got his maiden call up to the national team, a reward for his excellent performances in the domestic arena. Piyush Chawla too gets a call up ahead of Ojha and Mishra as the second specialist spinner in the squad. The rest of the team picked themselves.
The fact that Ashish Nehra makes it to the squad right after a prolonged injury break with hardly any practice proves how much the selectors are deprived of options. Praveen Kumar the other pace bowler in the squad has been pretty ordinary in the IPL after few good games at the start. Mithun and Tyagi have been pretty disappointing in the IPL and don’t look like T20 bowlers, similar to Ishant. Ishant himself has been pretty ordinary for the past couple of years.
So we are going into the world cup with two world class bowlers in Zaheer Khan and Harbajan Singh, one debutant, one bowler coming back from injury and one bowler making a comeback into the team. The selection pretty much emphasizes the problem we have with the bowling. So basically the selectors have done the best they can with the limited resources at their disposal.
But heartening thing is that after a pretty bad beginning by the Indian bowlers in the IPL III the second leg has showcased some good young bowlers. Ashoke Dinda of KKR, Sid Trivedi of Rajasthan Royals, Harmeet Singh of Deccan Chargers and Umesh Yadav of Delhi Daredevils have all impressed with their bowling at crucial junctures for their respective teams. The spinners also have been on song like Ravichandran Aswin, Pragyan Ojha and Jakati have been fantastic throughout the tournament.
So it seems we have some gas left in the tank after all. The problem is tapping the talent and giving them breaks at the right time. Bowlers like Mithun and Tyagi should not be ignored either. More than having talents at your disposal, knowing when and how to give them chances are important. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the bowlers and using them appropriately is something the selectors have to look into.
Even though the bowling looks thin for India in the World T20, I am happy that the selectors at least tried something different by giving a break to Vinay Kumar.
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.