Tag Archives: Team Selection

Champions Trophy – Confusing team selection

The Indian team for the upcoming Champions Trophy was announced a few days back and there were for sure some surprises. The biggest surprise was the selection of Murali Vijay. Vijay had a great home series against Australia in tests but he hasn’t done anything for India in shorter format to inspire any confidence among the fans. He has struggled for CSK in the ongoing IPL season and does not look like a right candidate for the ODI’s.

The selector’s argument is that Vijay is technically equipped to see off the new ball in England but again is he the right candidate to accelerate in the ODI format is the question everyone has in their mind. This seemed in the lines of Rahul Dravid’s selection in the 2009 Champions Trophy. Gautham Gambhir should probably have been selected in the squad for some experience in the top of the order. Gambhir has struggled in the recent times in all forms of cricket but again in the absence of Sehwag, Gambhir would have been an ideal player to have in those conditions.

Dinesh Karthik’s selection raised little concerns considering his brilliant form in recent times. He has been in excellent form in domestic cricket and also has done brilliantly well for Mumbai Indians in the current IPL edition. Shikhar Dhawan is another expected selection as he has been in wonderful form recently. He has been in brilliant form after returning from injury for the SRH in the current IPL season. Irfan Pathan makes a comeback to the Indian team as the bowling all-rounder. His comeback was expected as the champions trophy is being held in England and a pace bowling all-rounder in the X1 is an asset.

Amit Mishra’s selection raised a few eyebrows too as India already have Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja already in the squad. Mishra has been in brilliant form and his IPL performances this year have probably forced the selectors to include him in the squad. It will be interesting to see how he fits into the overall picture considering India already have two inform spinners in the squad.

The bowling attack is on the expected lines. Ishant Sharma will be leading the pace attack in the absence of Zaheer Khan. Umesh Yadav is back in the squad after a long injury layoff and so is Bhuvneshwar Kumar after his brilliant performances in the home series against Pakistan and England. Ashwin will lead the spin attack with Jadeja taking the spin all-rounder spot. Vinay Kumar is yet another baffling selection. His good performances for RCB notwithstanding, he hasn’t done anything great in the past in Indian colors. Shami Ahmed who impressed one and all with his pace in the home series against England and Pakistan would have been a better choice. It will be a huge disappointment for the youngster to lose out after a good performance in the home series.

The team overall seems to light on experience especially in the batting department. The absence of Gambhir at the top of the order and Yuvraj in the middle will be a huge disadvantage for the team. In the absence of the experienced campaigners the onus will be completely on the trio of Dhoni, Raina and Kohli, since the rest of the batting order is either inexperienced or inconsistent.

The absence of Manoj Tiwary due to injury also played a part in selection but one would have expected Pujara to be selected in the squad to add some solidity. It will be very interesting to see the combination India would play in the tournament. It is going to be a tough tournament for India and it will be a challenging one for Dhoni and Fletcher to get the combination right.

Squad: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik (wk), M Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Vinay Kumar

Indian Batting – World Cup 2011

Here is the second installment of my team India preview for the world cup 2011, this time we take a look at our batting. As we saw India’s bowling resources are thin and pose quite a lot of selection headaches, the Indian batting though has no such issues. This is one discipline India is quite settled ahead of the world cup. The batting order picks itself and even though Sachin Tendulkar hasn’t played in too many ODI’s this year, he will automatically return to the top of the order with Sehwag. So this means that Ghambir will have to fall to number three in the order. Sachin returning also means that Virat Kohli has to step aside from the X1 unless India decides to go with 7 batsmen.

Yuvraj in all probability should return to his customary number 4 spot followed by Raina and Dhoni. The reserves should be Kohli, Karthik/Uthappa (Any one of them can be keeping back up for Dhoni if the need arises) and probably Vijay or Pujara as the other backup. India has a settled top 6 and the number 7 spot is where the team management will be in a fix. The confusion would be to whether play Jadeja/Ashwin as the all-rounder or to play an extra batsman at number 7.

Even though such decisions can be based on the pitch conditions, this will be something which India needs to think about in the coming months. Ravindra Jadeja has hardly done anything spectacular with the bat and Ashwin is rather untested at this level. So this will be an interesting selection. The best way to determine who of these two will be the best fit is to give them chances in all the 5 ODI’s against New Zealand. Since most probably Bajji will be rested, it will be a great opportunity to play both Jadeja and Ashwin in the X1 together. It will also be important to give both these players an opportunity to bat in these games to see who can handle pressure at this level.

Now let’s look at the reserve batting options, Kohli sure will be in the squad and is actually very unlucky to miss out from the X1. In a big tournament like the world cup you surely need a keeping backup for Dhoni and the options in that case is very limited. Since Dhoni has hardly missed a game, none of the probable options have been tested. The only option who has played few games is Dinesh Karthik who opened the batting a few times during the absence of either Sehwag or Ghambir. The other interesting option is Robin Uthappa, who offers an attacking option with the bat and is decent behind the stumps. With Kohli sealing one spot in the batting, there might be just enough space for another player in the squad which will be an interesting pick. Vijay has struggled in the ODI’s and so has Rohit Sharma. The dark horse though might be Cheteshwar Pujara who impressed one and all with his match winning fifty against the Aussies. So again a lot can change in 3 months and some new candidates can emerge for contention.

But unlike our bowling the batting though looks pretty much settled with 7 batsmen almost sure of making the squad. India’s strength over the years has been their batting and they have bailed out the team very many times after an insipid bowling display. So even in this World Cup, India’s trump card will be their batsmen. If the batting clicks, India has a very good chance of giving the title a shot, but the bowlers have to do their bit too for that to happen. A great bowling performance in a tournament like the world cup can lift any side and India will be looking for such a hero in the 2011 edition.

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.

Dravid gets the boot, Ishant stays on

The team for the upcoming Australian series was announced earlier today and there were few surprises in the squad. This team was only for the first two games of the series. The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja in the squad. After his performances in the World T20 I thought that it will take a long time for him to make a comeback but apparently I was wrong. The selectors named him in the 15 for the first two games based on his performance in the Irani trophy.

Sehwag and Yuvi have made it back to the team after missing out due to injuries in the champions Trophy as expected. Munaf also receives a call back after his exploits in the Irani trophy and the challenger Trophy where he was the highest wicket taker. Sudeep Tyagi gets a call which I thought was always on the cards as he has been consistently performing well in the domestic arena. His performance in the challenger Trophy and “Emerging players” trophy has catapulted him to the National squad fairly early.

The rest of the team is on the expected lines as Kohli and Mishra have been retained in the squad after some good showings in the CT. Ashish Nehra will be leading the pace bowling department and Bajji will be taking care of the spin. The other big surprise in the squad is the inclusion of Ishant Sharma, in spite of his mediocre performances in ODI cricket for the past year or so. His performances in the challenger trophy were also not up to the mark as he was constantly out bowled by Tyagi and Munaf. This shows the confidence the management has on the youngster and I hope he doesn’t disappoint.

Rahul Dravid unfortunately does not enjoy such confidence from the selectors who have dropped him from the squad. Rahul made a comeback to the side after 2 years since the selectors thought that the youngsters were suspect against the bouncing ball in SA but has been discarded for the home series against the Australians. I am actually really disappointed with the way the great man has been treated as he has done whatever was asked of him throughout his career. He has batted in all positions, kept wickets to maintain the balance in the squad without complaining but still continues to be treated badly by the selectors.

Yusuf Pathan has been shown the door but this was expected after his performances in SL and CT. Irfan Pathan could not be considered as he is currently injured. Ravichandran Aswin has not been considered for the all rounders spot and none of the good performers from the challenger’s trophy have got a look in.

All in all the team looks solid with the inclusion of Yuvi and Sehwag. It will be interesting to see where Sachin bats, since Sehwag is back in the squad now. I am assuming that Ghambir will drop down the order to accommodate Sehwag at the top with Sachin. The bowling selection will also be interesting as India don’t have a good all rounder in the team. I am not sure if they would want to go with two spinners or 3 pacers as most of the wickets for this series will be batsmen friendly. When looking at the squad selected for the series, Nehra and Bajji seem to be the only sure starters in the lineup.

All in all even though there have been few surprises, the squad looks solid and has capabilities to put it past the Aussies. The series begins in 10 days time and I hope that we put up a good show. I am going for a 4-3 win for the home team. Go India!!

Squad from the first two ODI’s against the Aussies:

Squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Sudeep Tyagi, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma.

Selection conundrum

Dravid makes a surprise comeback to the Indian ODI squad after a two year hiatus

Dravid makes a surprise comeback to the Indian ODI squad after a two year hiatus

The team for the Tri-Series in Sri Lanka and Champions trophy has been announced and there are quite a few surprises in the final 15. First let’s concentrate on the omissions. Sehwag is yet to recover from the injury he sustained in the IPL, so he is the most high profile absentee from the squad. Rohit Sharma has been shown the door after some mediocre performances over the past year. Ravindra Jadeja also doesn’t find a spot in the team after his indifferent performance in the World T20.

The major disappointment was the non inclusion of Virat Kohli. I don’t understand the reason for the same from the selectors. He hasn’t played a single ODI for India since 2008 series against the Sri Lankans where he was very consistent and handled the M & M threat with competence. Kohli’s brilliant performance in the Emerging players tournament recently concluded in Australia has not had an effect on the selectors it seems. I hope that they don’t keep wasting a talent and give him a chance pretty soon.

Badrinath and Vijay have been dropped from the squad and I don’t know why. I guess probably an effect of the comments from Yusuf when the 30 probables were announced. Except for Dinesh Karthik, there are no Chennaites in the squad, should please Yusuf Pathan now. Badri again is being given a hard time by the selectors and there is no reason for the same. Vijay at least I agree is more suited to the longer format. Badri played a crucial knock in the 2008 series against the SL to steer India home and it just required 2 failures for the selectors to discard him. Rohit Sharma though had been playing in the squad for the past year and a half on one match winning innings in Australia. I guess Yusuf should realize where the bias is. I just hope that Badri doesn’t become another Sharath or Sriram.

Amit Mishra has been given a go after his great performance in the Emerging players trophy and suddenly Ojha doesn’t find a place in the squad. Ojha has done nothing wrong till date and has been performing brilliantly whenever he has played for the team and it’s unfortunate that the selectors are not consistent with his selection. Ojha will be disappointed and rightly so. The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Rahul Dravid in the ODI squad. He is making a comeback after a two year hiatus and it is a huge surprise.

Dravid’s comeback was always on the cards after the Indian youngsters struggled against short pitched bowling in the recently concluded World T20. This might provide the team with necessary solidity in the absence of Sehwag but I think it’s not the right move by the selectors. It’s like we took 5 steps forward in the past couple of years and this selection has pulled us two steps back. When Dhoni requested an all youth team couple of years back, everyone blasted him but after seeing the results people started backing the young team. Getting Virat Kohli in the team would have been much wiser decision I feel.

Rahul is a great player and does not need to prove anything regarding his credentials as an ODI player and I am sure he will do well. The rest of the team is almost same as the one which went to the Caribbean couple of months back. The team travels to SL to play a Tri-Series, with the third team being NZ before flying to SA to participate in the Champion’s trophy.

Let’s hope that we win both the series coming our way in the next couple of months.

Team selection on Wednesday

The Indian selectors get together this wednesday to pick the team for the upcoming test series against the Aussies. Everyone is keen to find out if Ganguly who was left out of the ROI team in the Irani trophy would be considered for the test series or not. The team selection itself proves to be quite interesting if Ganguly is left out of the team which will be the most likely scenario.

The top four for the first test at least pick themselves. Sehwag and Ghambir are most certain to open the innings followed by Dravid at number 3 and Sachin at 4. Laxman might bat at number 5 but there is one spot which will be vacant in the Indian middle order. It will be interesting to see who will replace Ganguly at that spot. There are quite a few contenders fighting for that one spot in the Indian middle order. The two most likely to occupy that spot would be either Badrinath or Rohit Sharma but there are few others with an outside chance. Mohammed kaif with a good knock in Irani trophy could have got himself in contention but his twin failures could work against him. Then there is Virat Kohli who had great Srilankan tour performing with great consistancy in the one day series.

A year ago if some one had asked me as to who would be the likely candidate to replace Sourav in the test team, I would have no hesitation to say Yuvraj’s name. But in the current scenario he has as much chance as the guy we are talking he can replace to make the team. It seems though that either Badrinath or Rohit Sharma might make the test team this time. So I guess the top 6 might look something like this,

1. Sehwag
2. Ghambir
3. Dravid
4. Sachin
5. Badrinath or Rohit Sharma
6. Laxman

The top 6 will be followed by Mahindra Singh Dhoni who will be proceeded by the bowlers. The first test might see Kumble and Harbajan bowling in tandem with Ishant and Zaheer taking the new ball. Munaf might be in the 15 but may not play at least in the first test.

All in all its going to be an interesting selection with a possibility of Sourav still making the team.

Team selection on Wednesday

Rahul Dravid at the Bangalore Camp

Rahul Dravid at the Bangalore Camp

The Indian selectors get together this wednesday to pick the team for the upcoming test series against the Aussies. Everyone is keen to find out if Ganguly who was left out of the ROI team in the Irani trophy would be considered for the test series or not. The team selection itself proves to be quite interesting if Ganguly is left out of the team which will be the most likely scenario.

The top four for the first test at least pick themselves. Sehwag and Ghambir are most certain to open the innings followed by Dravid at number 3 and Sachin at 4. Laxman might bat at number 5 but there is one spot which will be vacant in the Indian middle order. It will be interesting to see who will replace Ganguly at that spot. There are quite a few contenders fighting for that one spot in the Indian middle order. The two most likely to occupy that spot would be either Badrinath or Rohit Sharma but there are few others with an outside chance. Mohammed kaif with a good knock in Irani trophy could have got himself in contention but his twin failures could work against him. Then there is Virat Kohli who had great Srilankan tour performing with great consistancy in the one day series.

A year ago if some one had asked me as to who would be the likely candidate to replace Sourav in the test team, I would have no hesitation to say Yuvraj’s name. But in the current scenario he has as much chance as the guy we are talking he can replace to make the team. It seems though that either Badrinath or Rohit Sharma might make the test team this time. So I guess the top 6 might look something like this,

1. Sehwag

2. Ghambir

3. Dravid

4. Sachin

5. Badrinath or Rohit Sharma

6. Laxman

The top 6 will be followed by Mahindra Singh Dhoni who will be proceeded by the bowlers. The first test might see Kumble and Harbajan bowling in tandem with Ishant and Zaheer taking the new ball. Munaf might be in the 15 but may not play at least in the first test.

All in all its going to be an interesting selection with a possibility of Sourav still making the team.