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Posts Tagged ‘Robin Uthappa

The IPL has just reached it’s half way mark and this is when the tournament starts to get interesting. There are always a few teams clubbed together on the points table with very less margin for error. Rajasthan Royals are one such team who are involved in a mid table scrum with few other teams in the tournament. With 3 wins and 5 losses, RR are still very much in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs but again they would need to fix their batting order confusion before it is too late.

RR started the tournament with Yashasvi Jaiswal opening the batting with captain Steven Smith in the absence of Jos Buttler. Once Buttler returned Jaiswal wasn’t picked anymore until later with Steven Smith opening the batting in the first few games. All this while they had a solid experienced opener Robin Uthappa in the XI playing in the middle order. RR have been all over the place with their batting order. They haven’t been able to be consistent with the batting order which means that none of their batters are settled in a particular batting position. Steven Smith himself has moved around quite a bit and so did Sanju Samson.

Ben Stokes who returned to RR mid tournament found himself opening the batting out of nowhere in his very first game. Stokes as well all know is a brilliant middle order bat for England in limited overs format. He has done brilliantly as a finisher for England in all formats and has been brilliant for them in positions 5 and 6. Ben Stokes has so far played 121 LO games and he hasn’t opened one in those number of games. His strongest position has been number 5 for England and it is hard to understand the rationale behind sending him to open the batting by the RR team management.

Rajasthan Royals do have issues with the middle order where they for sure lack experience and Ben Stokes coming in at number 5 would be the ideal scenario for their team. They have young Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia batting lower down the order and having Stokes guiding them would mean they would finish more games successfully. Robin Uthappa at number 5 hasn’t been working for RR but again him at the top of the order would give the perfect balance to the batting order. Uthappa has been Indian ODI opener and has opened successfully for KKR for years and it boggles my mind why RR would keep him lower down the order.

Uthappa not only has the shots to score quickly, he can drop anchor and bat through if Buttler gets going as well. This would mean Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia would make a brilliant middle order for RR. Rajasthan Royals have toyed with that opening spot since the start of the tournament and they haven’t been able to settle on the same yet. Ben Stokes did score 41 in last nights game but again RR did lose the match in the end as they lacked experienced finisher at 5 or 6. Stokes value to RR would surely be in the middle order and not at the top. RR don’t have much room for mistake anymore and they have reached a point in the tournament where every game is almost a must win. They would have to settle their batting order soon and if they do that consistency in results will follow.

Right batting order for RR:

Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi

After starting the season with two wins, Rajasthan Royals have now lost three games in a row. It is interesting though that their two wins came at Sharjah and all their losses have been in Abu Dhabi & in Dubai. Batting has been the major issue for RR this season. While their batters have been brilliant in Sharjah, they haven’t been able to replicate the same on bigger grounds of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

RR have a very good batting line up but it does seem like their thinking is little muddled in terms of selection. They have played around with the opening combination in the five games so far. While they started with Yashasvi Jaiswal in their first game, they dropped him in their second to go with Steven Smith and Jos Buttler. After 4 games they once again decided to bring Jaiswal back to have him open with Buttler dropping Smith to number 3. This shows lack of clarity in the team management and moving players around so much normally does not yield consistent results.

The interesting fact is that they also have Robin Uthappa in their squad who was played in the middle order for the first few games only to be dropped in their last game against Mumbai Indians. Robin Uthappa being a opener himself wasn’t tried at that spot before being dropped from the team. For young Jaiswal though the pressure will be immense as he would know that another failure could see him getting dropped again. The other problem for RR has been the lack of consistency from their star player Sanju Samson. While Samson was unstoppable on tiny Sharjah ground, he has struggled on the other grounds this season.

He hasn’t tried to stick it out and has thrown his wicket away in the last three game his team has played. The pattern so far has been similar to last year for RR as Samson who started brilliantly then too fell off later in the season. Jos Buttler has looked good and has played couple of good knocks and so has Steven Smith. The fact that their middle order keeps changing every game does not help matters. Riyan Parag has played a few games, David Miller has gotten a game and there have been few others who have been hastily changed without proper chances.

They still have Manan Vohra in their squad who hasn’t gotten a chance to try out which considering their season they might do. While CSK has a problem of not having enough options, RR have the opposite issue. Sometimes to kick start a season some sort of consistency in selection is required which RR haven’t been able to achieve in the 5 games they have played so far.

While they are playing the best team of the tournament in the game tonight, they would be happy to their happy hunting ground Sharjah. Scoring freely against a varied bowling attack of Delhi Capitals will not be easy but again they will be hoping for their stars to perform. For RR to turn this season around they would need to pick their best XI and give them 2-3 games in a row. Tonight’s game will be crucial for RR and another loss might see the season slipping away from them once again.

My XI for tonight’s game:

Robin Uthappa, Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Mahipal Lomror, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Tom Curran, Shreyas Gopal, Kartik Tyagi, Ankit Rajpoot/Jaidev Unadkat

When Rohit Sharma walked into bat in the 2008 Commonwealth Bank Series final in Australia, India were in a bit of strife. Chasing 240 to win India were 87/3 in the 20th over. Rohit Sharma joined a set Sachin Tendulkar in the middle and played one of the most mature innings you would see a youngster play. Rohit was only 20 then and the kind of composure and confidence he showed at the crease made everyone think that here is a guy for the future.

Unfortunately for the Indian cricket team and fans Rohit was never able to consistently replicate that performance in the 5 years he has been part of the Indian set up. The 2007/08 season was probably the best time in Rohit’s career as a player. Rohit Sharma has received unanimous support from the selectors and the team management over the years but he hasn’t been able to fulfill the early promise he had shown. In the last few years he has been able to sparingly remind the Indian cricket fans what he is capable of but has lacked consistency.

Table 1:

Performances of Indian batsmen since Rohit’s debut:

stats1

The above table further emphasizes Rohit’s struggle with the bat. He features near bottom of the table just ahead of Rahul Dravid and R Jadeja. Rohit’s struggle with the bat can be attributed to his lack of temperament. His constant swipes across the line to straight deliveries and playing ridiculous shots to get out after a decent start shows that he does not have the temperament to play at this level.

Rohit needs a break from International cricket and needs to play couple of seasons in domestic cricket. There are lots of players in domestic cricket who haven’t received the kind of chances Rohit has in the past few years and they would be feeling hard done by the selectors. Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu and Manoj Tiwary need long run in the ODI team and it is time we look past Rohit Sharma in the ODI squad.

Rohit is a great talent but talent alone isn’t sufficient to succeed at the highest level. The Mumbai batsman needs to work on the mental aspect of his game to be successful at the highest level. The only way he can do that is to play lot of games away from international cricket. If possible Rohit should consider playing county cricket for a season if he is offered an opportunity. Rohit can still be India’s future middle order batsman in all formats but at this point he is not the answer to our batting woes.

5 years and 86 games is a long time to judge a player and I feel Rohit has been given enough time to succeed and now is the time to reprise the same faith on other youngsters to see how they do.

The Indian team’s performance in the World T20 was not a bad one but the think tank must now think ahead. The biggest problem for India in the championship was their bowling. The next T20 world cup is in 2014 and this is time for India to build for that tournament. The fact that India improved quite a lot from the last two editions should not pull down the wool over the frailties of the bowling attack.

The Indian team was highly reliant on Ashwin and Yuvraj with the ball and the new ball pair of Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan was not consistent enough. The rest of spin attack wasn’t given that many opportunities but again the sight of Chawla and Harbhajan with the ball did not instill the necessary confidence among the Indian fans. The Indian batting too struggled with the consistency. The lack of runs from the openers was a huge disappointment and it is time for India to look past Sehwag in the T20 format.

India needs to probably take the queue out of the 2007 T20 world cup. The team was in shambles after the shock exit from the World Cup and the decision to go to South Africa with a young team worked wonders. I am not sure if Dhoni is the right captain for this format either. He is good but probably the time has come to bite the bullet and make Kohli the captain of the T20 team. India also needs to identify a good wicket keeper for this format. The name of Robin Uthappa comes to mind immediately. He did keep wickets for Royal Bangalore Challengers in the IPL and he is pretty good with the bat too. Ambati Rayudu is another player who will be excellent in this format and he kept wickets too for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

Ajinkya Rahane needs to get a look in as an opener. The bowling too needs a rethink. It is hard to imagine Zaheer and Balaji playing in the 2014 T20 world cup, so I guess India need to unearth some quality pacers suited for this format. Varun Aaron comes to mind and he seems well suited for the shorter format. The spin combination too needs to be rethought too. Piyush Chawla isn’t consistent enough in this format to be a regular, so probably someone like Rahul Sharma can get a look in. He has the bowling style of Anil Kumble and can be more suited to this form of the game than Piyush. Again like Zaheer it is hard to imagine Harbhajan playing for India in the T20 World cup in 2014.

India needs to look to have a young set of players in the T20 format and needs to implement the same starting immediately. Even though people will argue that 4 wins out of 5 isn’t a bad result, the team combination just did not look right. The selection by the team management wasn’t smart either in the individual games but those are just in the hindsight now. India hasn’t been great in this format for a long time now and the selection committee needs to completely revamp this side with some young blood. The selection committee has changed and possibly will have some tough decision to take in the coming months. Let’s hope that the committee comes in with some fresh ideas and gets the right kind of people for this format.

Sehwag, Dhoni, Harbhajan and Zaheer have been brilliant for India over the years but the time has come for them to bid adieu to this format. They are still the key players for India in the other two formats but realistically India needs to look past these legends keeping the 2014 world cup in mind.


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