Tag Archives: Tendulkar

Team selection defies logic

The Indian team for the first two tests against the visiting English team has been announced and as usual there are some surprising inclusions in the squad. This is the first international series for the newly appointed selection committee and everyone was keen to know how they will go. Looking at the team for the first couple of tests it seems like they are no different from the selection committee they just replaced. They did not make a great impression with the selection of the India A squad which played England about a week back.

The new leadership hasn’t brought about any major changes in the selection of the team. So let us look at the picks. Out of the 15 members selected 10 players pick themselves due to their performances in the recent home series. The only spot which was up for grabs was the number six in the batting order. Raina was preferred in the home tests against West Indies and New Zealand but did not make any impact in both the series. Yuvraj with his good performance in the first tour game for India pretty much sealed the spot. He also provides variety to the bowling attack with this part-time left arm spin. Raina is left out of the 15 which is perplexing as he was persisted with for about a year and now suddenly he finds himself out of favor.

Murali Vijay makes a comeback to the squad due to his performances in domestic cricket this season. This is where it gets confusing. India has Gambhir and Sehwag as the openers and then has Rahane as backup in the squad. The selection of Vijay completely defies logic, that too only for the first two tests. I don’t see a reason to pick 4 openers for a home series. The best logical selection would have been someone like Manoj Tiwary who would have added extra strength to the fragile middle order. Manoj Tiwary seems to find himself out of favor for some reason with the selection committee, no matter who heads them. The guy just scored 90 odd against the touring English side but still finds out of the test team.

The other selection which makes no sense is inclusion of Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan has done nothing of note in recent times and his recall to the Indian side just shows the complete lack of good spinners in domestic cricket. The fact that Ashwin and Ojha are sure starters for the first test makes Harbhajan’s selection even more perplexing. It would have been better for Bajji to play in domestic cricket to regain some form instead of sitting in the dressing room and carry drinks. Unless India is planning to play three spinners (Which I doubt considering India don’t have a pace bowling all-rounder in the squad) and 5 bowlers this selection isn’t making any sense at the moment.

Ishant Sharma as the third pacer also is an interesting selection but we can give benefit of doubt to the selectors on this as he has been India’s third seamer for about a year now. Bowling in home conditions which doesn’t encourage any swing, his type of bowling might be more suited. Even though the squad is mostly on the expected lines, the selectors have basically regressed and made some populist choices without keeping Indian cricket’s future in mind. Let’s just hope that when they sit down to select the team for the final two tests they do make the correct decision and include some good young players in the squad.

The playing X1 though would be a strong one and wouldn’t differ too much from the team which beat New Zealand couple months back.

India X1 (first two tests): Sehwag, Gambhir, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni (Capt. Wkt.), Ashwin, Zaheer, Yadav, Ojha

12th Man: Rahane

The ODI series should mark the start of transition

The disastrous test series is finally over and with yet another overseas whitewash there have been calls for sweeping changes in the team. The fact is that this time it is kind of justified. The Indian middle order which has been the pillar of strength for the team over the years has started to crumble. Changes are meant to happen and this is the right time to do it.

The final test in Adelaide could have been used to blood Rohit Sharma in the middle order an opportunity which I felt was wasted.

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World Cup 2011 – It’s now or never for team India

After a comfortable win against West Indies in Chennai, India now travel to Motera to face their biggest challenge yet. India takes on Australia in the second quarterfinals to be played in Ahmadabad this Thursday. It’s a mouth watering contest considering the recent rivalry between the two teams. The biggest worry for India would be their recent record against the Aussies in the ODI’s. India has lost 9 out of the last 15 games the two teams have played in India. The Australians also haven’t lost to India in a world cup game since their narrow 1 run victory in 1992 world cup.

So if India manages to win this game they will be breaking a plethora of records. The pressure for sure will be on the men in blue. The Indian performance against the WI followed the familiar pattern, good top order batting, middle and lower order collapse and ordinary effort in the field until Zaheer came back for the second spell. The Indian captain will be still worried about the bowling combination. The one thing that went right for India was the inclusion of Ashwin, as the off-spinner from Chennai gave a good account of himself. Yuvraj’s form also would be heartening for the Indian think tank as he has been a star performer for the men in blue with both bat and ball.

The onus again will be on the batsmen for the Indians. Sehwag will for sure return for the crucial game to join Sachin at the top. Gambhir will drop to number 3 followed by Yuvraj, Kohli and Dhoni in the middle. The batsmen will have to be mindful of the late order collapses and will have to utilize the batting power play better. The Indian bowling though again will rely on Zaheer and Bajji. Ashwin is a welcome addition to the squad and his ability to bowl will the new ball is a great advantage for the team. Munaf might retain his spot as the second seamer.

The Australians though will be really disappointed with their performance against Pakistan. Their batting was seriously exposed against the spinners and India would make sure that they play lot of them. Watson, Haddin and Hussey will be extremely important to Australia’s success with the bat. The Australians will also be hoping that their captain Ricky Ponting rediscovers his form to lend solidity to their fragile middle order. Their bowling will rely on pace as I don’t see Krezja troubling Indian batsmen too much. Lee will be extremely crucial for Australia, if they have to keep the Indian top order in check. Johnson and Tait are extremely inconsistent and you never know how which side of them will turn up on a particular day.

The pitch will be the extremely crucial and since both the games played on this venue involved Zimbabwe, the true nature cannot be gauged. It seems little hard to bat on judging by Australia’s struggle to reach 262 against Zimbabwe in their first game. India haven’t had a great time at Motera in the past as they have won 5 and lost 7 in the 12 games they have played. Toss seems extremely crucial as teams winning the toss and batting first have won 8 times out of 12, bowling first have won it 5 times out of 8. Teams winning the toss have distinct advantage at Motera. So toss will be extremely crucial for the Thursday’s game.

All in all this will be a brilliant game for the cricket fans across the world. It will be battle between India’s spin Vs Australia’s pace. Whoever wins that battle will win the contest. Let’s hope we have a great game of cricket.

World Cup 2011 – Race for the top spot is on

India and South Africa clash in one of the most important games in group B. The tournament is nearing towards the business end of the group stages and the teams would be mindful that their position in the table is equally important. India with two decent wins against the Irish and the Dutch are currently perched prettily at the top of the rankings and would want to remain there with another win. South Africa on the other hand would want to get their campaign back on track after their disappointing loss against England.

South Africa will be hurt by the injury to Imran Tahir who has been brilliant so far in this world cup. I don’t think SA would want to risk playing him with injury as they would want him to be fit for the knockout stages. The Indian team combination though is still anybody’s guess. If we go by what Dhoni said after India’s win against Netherlands, it seems like Ravichandran Ashwin might finally get a chance against the proteas replacing Piyush Chawla and Ashish Nehra might retain his place in the side at the expense of Munaf Patel. The batting though will remain unchanged barring any injuries.

South Africa would probably play Botha in the place of injured Tahir and the rest of the team should remain the same. The biggest contest of Saturday’s game is going to be between the Indian openers and Dale Steyn. Steyn hasn’t been all that effective in the limited overs format in the past but Smith would want him to be at his best against a strong Indian batting line up. Sachin and Sehwag both have been in tremendous touch and India would be hoping that they give them a good start once again.

The middle order will be under scrutiny this time as in both their previous games, the Indians slipped from comfortable situation to 4 down within no time. They will have to guard against the same against a much stronger South African outfit. Zaheer will again be the important cog in India’s bowling wheel along with Bajji. Bajji would want to get back to his wicket taking ways as along with Ashwin/Chawla, Yuvraj and Pathan he will be important in restricting South Africa’s progress in the middle overs.

This will be the biggest test for the Indian team and a win most certainly put them at the top of the table. Smith knows that losing this game will put enormous pressure on his team and for sure would want to guard against the same. All in all this is going to be a cracker of a game and it will be interesting to see what kind of strategy the teams will adopt for this important group B fixture. Both these teams know each other’s game pretty well as they were at loggerheads just recently in a full series. Both the teams are pretty even and I would say that there are no clear favorites in this match up. One thing is for certain though, the team which bowls better on this Nagpur belter will for sure be the winners.

Team selection for the first test at Centurion

With just a day to go for the first test between India and South Africa at Centurion to begin, the excitement is already in the air. Players of both the teams have been pretty vocal and there has been lot of things said and written about the strategies and plans of the two teams. The South African coach has been pretty vocal in the media but on the contrary his counterpart Kirsten has remained in the background.

So what combination will India field for the first test? If the reports in the media are to be believed, the pitch will be fast and bouncy. Pace bowlers will rule the roost in the first test for sure. South Africa only naming one spinner in their 12 for the first test seems to suggest that there will be no respite for the Indians. South Africa has a great advantage of having a genuine pace bowling all-rounder in their lineup which gives them the edge. So they can play 3 pace bowlers with kallis as the fourth seaming option.

India though do not have that luxury. Anyways let’s look at the likely combination India could field in the first test. The batting is almost set with Sehwag and Ghambir to open followed by the experienced middle order of Dravid, Sachin and Laxman. I am guessing that Raina (Even though I will prefer Pujara at 3 and Dravid at 5) will for sure occupy the number 6 slot for the first test followed by Dhoni. So that makes the top 7 for India with Sehwag becoming the spinning all-rounder in the squad.

Now comes the most important part the bowling. With the pitch sure to assist the pace men, the bowling lineup for sure is going to be Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth with Bajji being the lone spinner in the squad. The Indian selectors have gone for inexperienced pace backup options with Umesh Yadav and Jaidev Unadkat in the squad. Looking at the reports this morning it seems like there is a concern over the fitness of Zaheer Khan which kind of upsets the plans a little. But in case of him missing out, I would believe that Unadkat might get his first test cap. Unadkat being a left-arm bowler himself will pip Umesh yadav as he will add the variety to the line up in the absence of Zaheer as the other two (Sreesanth and Ishant) are right arm bowlers.

India’s X1 for the first test should look like this:

Sehwag, Ghambir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Raina, Dhoni, Harbajan, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth.

12th Man – Jaidev Unadkat

The first test which starts on the 16th promises a mouth watering contest between two equal teams. The pitch though will play an important part and I am sure that we will see a result at the end of the 5th day. Best of luck for Dhoni and his men and I hope that they can come back victorious and prove that they are the best team in the world beyond dispute.

A good series win but lots to think about for the Indian captain

The Victorious Indian team with the trophy

The Victorious Indian team with the trophy

India won their 5th straight series and their 3rd straight overseas. Looking at such a record it would seem that India has no issues but that’s not the case with the Indian team right now. Both Gary Kirsten and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will know that they have lots to think about in the coming two months. The record of Dhoni has been brilliant since he has taken over the captaincy. Except for the bad performance in the T20 WC, the Indian team has had a great year and a half.

They have won away ODI series in Australia, New Zealand and Srilanka (Twice) and won a test series in NZ. They also beat Australia and England at home and drew a series against the South Africans. They are sitting pretty at the number 3 spot in both forms of the game which is fantastic and the current scrappy series win adds to that brilliant record of Dhoni as a captain.

Even though Dhoni has an envious record as a captain he will know that things are only going to get tough. After the World T20 the picture has become little bit hazy for the Indian team. The team which had brilliant youngsters just few months ago is now questioning their talent at the big stage. The recall of Rahul Dravid in the probable’s for the Champions trophy reflects the state of mind of the selectors at the moment.

The English and the West Indian bowlers peppered the Indian youngsters with the short pitched stuff and they had no answers to counter the same. The same continued in the short series in the WI. If not for some individual brilliance India might have lost this series. Yuvraj in the first game and Dhoni in the third game saved the day for the Indians. Rohit Sharma has been struggling and for me needs a break from International cricket for some time. He needs to play more cricket at the domestic level and work on his inadequacies. The same goes for the other Indian youngsters.

If Rahul Dravid does get selected for the Champions trophy it will be a huge step backward for the Indian team. Even though it is a huge step back,the selection in itself cannot be questioned after the performance of the Indian youngsters in the World T20 and WI series. Jadeja needs to go and I am not sure if he will ever make it back to the Indian team. Karthik’s performance in the WI will also put a lot of pressure on the selectors when Sachin and Sehwag come back. Badri needs to get a chance in the middle order and so does Murali Vijay. Both of them are technically sound would be adding the much needed solidity for the Indian batting.

How long are we going to rely on Sachin at the top of the order? He probably has couple of years of cricket left in him and the youngsters need to show that they can take over the mantle. Raina and other youngsters can make use of this time off to work on their game. They need to figure out a way to effectively handle the short pitched stuff. The word travels pretty fast in the cricketing circles and I am sure that when India play in the champions trophy the youngsters will be tested again.

The bowling also needs some work but the return of Nehra to form will be good for the Indians. Ishant has to work on his variations, Harbajan has to control his faster ones and RP Singh needs to get back his zing. India would also be happy with Piyush Chawla’s fantastic all round performance for Sussex in the county cricket. He might find his way back to the team.

But all the issues aside this has been another good series win for the Indians and another overseas one. The team will be enjoying the welcome break from cricket but they will know that they have a tough season ahead.

A greatly underrated cricketer II

When Srinath made his test debut in 1991 Kapil Dev was almost at the end of his career. Watching Srinath in that tour of Australia was a great experiance as he was by far the fastest Indian bowler at that time. The major problem with Srinath was his stamina in the initial part of his career. He could bowl really quick but always looked tired after a short spell. Srinath was also lucky to have started his career when Kapil was still leading India’s pace attack.
Srinath had a good tour of Australia and was in the team which went on a historic tour to South Africa later. Srinath when he made his debut was different from other Indian bowlers of that time. He was a bowler who hit the deck pretty hard and extracted plenty of bounce using his height and a strong action to his advantage. After the tour of SA, he dissapeared for over a year and returned after Kapil had hung up his boots in the 1994/95 season when WI toured India.

In the initial part of his career Srinath was a one dimensional bowler who mostly bowled in dippers to the right handers which made him very effective against the left handers. Brian Lara always had problems facing Srinath. I guess Srinath was one of the reasons why Brian Lara has a pretty modest record against the Indians. Later in his career Srinath developed a good slower delivery and a leg cutter which made him a more all round bowler at the international level.

Srinath was a perfect team man. His career was shortened due to injuries to his shoulder. Srinath’s career ran parallely with Glenn Mcgrath and Allan Donald. The major disadvantage for Javagal was that he never had the back up which both Mcgrath and Donald enjoyed in their respective teams. Most of the time Srinath was the only pace bowler in the dust bowls of India during the early 90’s when India prepared doctored pitches to suit their spinners.

Srinath lacked any support from the other end till Prasad made his debut in 1996. Srinath could have played more test matches and got more wickets if only India had good pace bowlers to support his initial bursts. He was particulary overbowled during the mid nineties under the captaincy of Sachin Tendulkar. He picked up his shoulder problem after the tour of SA in 1996/97 as he along with Prasad were the only bowlers who looked like taking any wickets on that tour. Srinath manfully toiled hard bowling long spells in mid and late nineties while the rest of the Indian bowlers except for Prasad turned up with mediocre perfromances abroad.
Srinath never got his due as a player as the Indian media is all about the batsmen in the team. Srinath retired after the 2003 WC without much fanfare. Srinath is only pacemen after Kapil Dev to have picked up 200 test wickets for India and the only Indian fast bowler to pick up 300 one day wickets. He was always a team man and stood up to be counted whenever his captain needed him. Srinath was always my favorite Indian bowler. India now can boast of a formidable pace attack with great bench strength which was not the case in the 90’s.

Srinath’s name may not figure in many “All time X1’s” but still he was one of the best India has ever had. I salute Srinath for his great contribution to Indian cricket and for being a wonderful team man that he was. I also wish him all the best in his new role as the ICC Match Refree. I am sure that he would perform this new role with the same passion and commitment as his did for team India as a player.