Bowling cupboard looks bare for team India

Praveen Kumar has been one of the few successful Indian pace bowlers in IPL 3

When 39 year old Anil Kumble is the best bowler in a T20 competition then you have serious issues. This is exactly the story of IPL III this year where Anil Kumble and Muthaih Muralitharan have been the best bowlers by a mile in terms of economy and wickets tally respectively. Even though the overseas pacers have done reasonably well, the Indian pace bowling continues to suffer in the ongoing IPL.

Ishant has been ordinary and the less said about Irfan Pathan’s bowling exploits the better. RP Singh looks jaded and the other young bowlers like Tyagi and Sangwan lack consistency and pace to survive at the international level. So why is India struggling to unearth one good pace bowler to compliment Zaheer in the Indian team? Praveen Kumar has been bowling very well for Bangalore Royal Challengers and Zaheer has been in decent form for Mumbai Indians but that about does it for Indian pacers till date.

Chaminda Vaas who hasn’t played for Sri Lanka for a while has easily out bowled every Indian bowler in this tournament. That says something about the plight of Indian pace bowling in the past few months. So it seems like the selectors are in for a headache when they sit together to pick a team which will best represent India in the upcoming T20 WC in West Indies. Zaheer and Praveen probably will be automatic selections considering current form but who will claim the third seamer spot is anybody’s guess at the moment.

Sreesanth has been poor, Nehra injured and Irfan Pathan not in the 30 probable’s picked for the T20 WC. The selectors might look to play 2 spinner, 2 pacer attack to counter this situation with Mishra or Chawla joining Harbajan in the bowling line up or they could give a chance to a untested youngster such as the promising Mithun or Umesh Yadav who has bowled with pace and heart for Delhi Dare devils. I guess some investigation should be done as to why our bowlers regress after a strong start in their careers to avoid such situations in the future. Is it the money? Is it the fame? Is too much cricket affecting them? Someone has to find an answer to that question.

The team selection will be an interesting one, whatever the combination the selectors come up with. I am not hoping for any drastic changes or any major surprises in the squad so we have to be prepared for Nehra, Ishant to be back in the squad. We will see Indian bowlers leaking lots of runs yet again the onus clearly will be on the batsmen to perform. Bowling continues to be a problem and looking at the IPL performances there seems no light at the end of the tunnel.

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.

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.

Kholi and Badri should be in the Indian team

Virat Kohli deserves an extended run in the Indian ODI squad

Virat Kohli deserves an extended run in the Indian ODI squad

It was a fantastic performance from the Indian Emerging players as they beat the SA Emerging players in Australia to claim the trophy yesterday. The South African team was unbeaten till the finals and unfortunately they chocked like their National squad. For India though this was a sweet victory and players like Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Rahane, Tyagi and Mishra did very well during the course of the tournament.

Virat Kohli I guess has further proven his case as a promising player for India for the future. He should be playing in the Indian team often. He played brilliantly against M & M during India’s one-day series win against the SL last year and has not played in the X1 since. Rohit Sharma has been preferred over him in the middle order. I guess now is the time to give him a look in.

Rohit Sharma has had his chances and has consistently underperformed. During the recent WI tour he was completely out of place and did not score any runs. Rohit Sharma has been in the team since his 66 in the finals against the Aussies last year but since then he has struggled at the International level. Having talent alone shouldn’t guarantee a spot for anyone in the team.

Badrinath again is one of the players who have not got enough chances. He had couple of bad matches and he was discarded. That’s the reason I was unable to comprehend what Yusuf Pathan was saying about the squad being Chennai heavy. Chennai has just 3 players in the reckoning, Vijay, Badri and Karthik and two of them never get a chance in the X1. The underperforming players like Rohit and Irfan have got more chances than the 3 I have mentioned above.

Kohli with his brilliant performance in the Emerging players trophy has reminded the selectors that he is one of the best youngsters we have in the domestic set up. Kohli in alien conditions has scored over 400 runs at a healthy average of 50 with 2 hundreds, one of them coming in the finals. Even though Badrinath doesn’t have a great stat to boost his claim in this series, he did have some important knocks and has been performing consistently for Tamil Nadu. I hope that he does not become one of the other Tamil Nadu players before him who retired with lots of promise without getting a look in.

The other player to impress was Rahane who had a brilliant series too, finishing with the second highest run tally behind Kohli. Sudeep Tyagi ended up with most wickets in the series and Amit Mishra had a good series too. I hope that the selectors are taking a look at these performances. The media coverage has been really poor for this series considering that the national team hasn’t been playing over the past month or so.

Anyways great effort by the Indian probable’s and hopefully Kohli and Badri get their due in the coming months.