Tag Archives: Vijay

South Africa Test series – India team report card

The short and quick tour of South Africa comes to an end and India leave the SA shores with continued concerns with the bowling attack. While Kohli, Pujara and Rahane did exceedingly well with the bat, the Indian bowling continued to struggle to take 20 wickets overseas. The Indian lower order is also a cause for concern as Dhoni and Jadeja do not look reliable number 7 and 8 in tests. Below are the ratings of Indian players based on their performances in SA test series.

Shikhar Dhawan- (Matches: 2, Innings: 4, Runs: 76, Ave: 19, HS: 29) – (Rating: 2)

Shikhar came into this series with some very good performances in ODI’s. Even though there were some concerns over his technique, he was expected to make some runs on this tour. Dhawan had some starts on the tour but failed to convert any of those. His struggle against short pitched stuff would have been noted by bowlers of the other countries. He should be ready to be tested a lot on his upcoming tours. Shikhar will be extremely disappointed with his performance on this tour and will be hoping to correct the same in New Zealand next month.

Murali Vijay – (M: 2, Inn: 4, Runs: 148, Ave: 37, HS: 97) – (Rating: 6)

Murali Vijay showed that he has the technique and patience required to succeed overseas. He did an excellent job seeing off the new ball and played with lots of conviction against Steyn, Morkel and Philander. Vijay though will be extremely disappointed that he did not convert his starts to big scores and he loses some points for that. He would like to correct that in the upcoming tours. Being an opener, he needs to make most of the good starts and score big hundreds as it would take some pressure off the middle order.

Cheteshwar Pujara – (M: 2, Inn: 4, Runs: 280, Ave: 70, HS: 153) – (Rating: 9)

Pujara was one of the success stories on the short tour to South Africa. The youngster once again showed that he has the technique and temperament to carry the Indian batting forward for years to come. He showed excellent technique against the new ball and also proved that he can attack once the bowlers were little tired. His innings of 153 was an absolute gem and the way he attacked the SA bowlers in the final session was great to watch.

Virat Kohli – (M: 2, Inn: 4, Runs: 272, Ave: 68, HS: 119) (Rating: 9)

Before the start of this tour, Virat was the only Indian batsman with a test century outside subcontinent and was expected to lead from the front. Virat did that with flying colors in the first test with a brilliant ton against Steyn, Morkel and Philander on a pitch which was swinging and seaming a lot on the first day. Virat looked extremely comfortable and once against proved that he is one of the best young players in the world at the moment. Along with Pujara, Virat held the Indian batting together in both the tests and with an average of 68, he was one of the rocks of Indian batting on this tour.

Rohit Sharma – (M: 2, Inn: 4, Runs: 45, Ave: 11.25, HS: 25) (Rating: 2)

Rohit Sharma had an extremely poor tour and there is no two ways about it. It is not that he is not talented but his penchant for chasing wide deliveries outside off stump came back to haunt him again in this series. An average of 11.25 with a high score of 25 shows the predicament India find themselves with Rohit. He was the in form player at the start of this series and a lot was expected of him in this series. Rohit would want to quickly forget about this tour and would want to make an impact in the upcoming New Zealand tour. The only reason he gets any ratings at all is because he took couple of catches in the slips.

Ajinkya Rahane – (M: 2, Inn: 4, Runs: 209, Ave: 69.66, HS: 96) (Rating: 9)

Ajinkya Rahane was the surprise package of the tour. Everyone knew that this young man was talented but the ease with which he played the South African pacers was something unexpected. Rahane showed that he is one for the future and can serve the Indian middle order for a long time. Most of the times in the series he ran out of partners, if not he would have scored more runs. India needs to stick with him and along with Virat and Pujara; he can form a great middle order for years to come.

MS Dhoni – (M: 2 Inn: 4, Runs: 87, Ave: 21.25, HS: 29, Cat: 3) (Rating: 4)

MS Dhoni will be extremely disappointed with the way he batted in this series. It is a known fact that Dhoni isn’t a reliable batting option overseas but on this tour he was guilty of throwing away few good starts. Especially in the first innings of the Durban test when India were 320 odd for 5, Dhoni had a great opportunity to drive home the advantage with a good partnership with Rahane but it was not to be. Knowing how fragile the Indian lower order is, India cannot afford to have a non-performing Wicket keeping option. Dhoni needs to contribute more with the bat overseas if he wants to continue as the Indian wicket keeper. His captaincy too came in for lots of criticism and his usage of bowlers were bizarre in the first test while India were pressing for victory.

Ravindra Jadeja – (M: 1, Inn: 2, R: 8, Ave: 4, HS: 8, W: 6, Ave: 25.66, SR: 62.3) (Rating: 7)

Ravindra Jadeja played in the Indian team in the second test as the specialist spinner and as an all-round option. He was brilliant with the ball and troubled the South African batsmen. He was kind of a lone warrior in the first innings in Durban where he picked 6 wickets while the rest of the bowling struggled. He has probably sealed his spot as the premier spinning option overseas with this performance. The only thing which will concern the Indian think tank is his batting. His irresponsible batting in the second innings in Durban when India was looking to save the test was shocking. He had Rahane batting beautifully at the other end but decided to attack Peterson and got caught. Considering how poor Indian lower order has been India needs substantial contribution with the bat from Jadeja who is playing in the team as an bowling all-rounder.

Ravichandran Ashwin – (M: 1, Inn: 2, R: 18, Ave: 18, HS: 11*, W: 0) (Rating: 2)

Ashwin began this tour as India’s premier spinner but at the end of the series has lost out to Jadeja. Ashwin did not have any redeeming factors in the first test. He did not bowl well and his batting too did not set the world on fire. He did bowl economically in the second innings of the first test but as the premier spinner he was expected to take wickets which he did not. It will be interesting to see his role in the future tours as Jadeja looks a sure starter in the first test against New Zealand next month.

Ishant Sharma – (M: 2, Inn: 4, W: 5, Ave: 62.60, SR: 108.0, BB: 4/79) (Rating: 3)

It was yet another frustrating tour for Ishant Sharma. An average of 62 and a Strike rate of 108 will do a batsman proud but for the premier bowler of a team with 50 tests behind him those are shocking numbers. The only reason Ishant finds himself in the team is because of his experience and I am not sure how long the selectors will continue placing faith in him. India needs to look past Ishant as he has been mediocre over the years. He needs to get back to the basics and probably spend couple of years in domestic cricket. The only reason he gets a rating is because of his good spell in the first innings of the first test.

Zaheer Khan – (M: 2, Inn: 4, W: 7, Ave: 45.71, SR: 75.8, BB: 4/88) (Rating: 4)

This was the comeback series for Zaheer and much was expected from him as the leader of the back. Zaheer has been with the Indian team thrice to South Africa prior to this series and was expected to use all of his experience to guide an inexperienced team on this tour. He started off well in the first test but lost steam by the time India reached Durban. The veteran though went past 300 test wickets becoming only second Indian pacer after Kapil Dev to reach that number. Zaheer will be hoping to do better in the New Zealand test series where he has a brilliant record in the past. We need him to guide the Indian pacers in some vicinity, if not a player at least as a consultant.

Mohammed Shami – (M: 2, Inn: 4, W: 6, Ave: 43.83, SR: 75, BB: 3/107) (Rating: 5)

Shami was the least experienced Indian bowler on this tour and even though his numbers don’t show it, he bowled with great heart. He was the only bowler who looked threatening and was always attacking the stumps. Shami needs to be persisted with and hopefully he will become a reliable bowler India has been looking for a long time. India would be hoping that he will continue to develop and will lead the Indian bowling for years to come after Zaheer hangs up his boots.

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 T20 update – Sehwag’s injury a definite blow to the Indians

Virendar Sehwag ruled out of World T20

With just a week left for the start of World T20, India received a body blow when Virendar Sehwag was declared unfit due to a shoulder injury. This is indeed a huge setback for the Indians as Sehwag is a key member at the top of the order along with Ghambir. Sehwag had missed the 2009 version of the tournament too under similar circumstances.

Sehwag absence means that Murali Vijay gets a chance at the top of the order. Vijay has been in brilliant form for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL III but I am not sure whether he would be able to replicate the same at the international level. Sehwag played all the games for the Dare Devils in the IPL III, so his shoulder injury is kind of a surprise to me. He couldn’t have suddenly picked up the injury, so he should have been having it for a while. This raises the question as to whether the franchises should be more careful with the Indian recruits when they have a major tournament coming up right after the IPL.

IPL is a long tournament and I would be happy if the Franchises kind of rotate the Indian team players over the course of the series. I don’t think it is necessary for the players to play the entire tournament. Especially when the Indian team is going to participate in a major tournament right after the IPL, the team management needs to be little bit careful. I know that an injury can be picked anytime as we have seen players getting injured on the morning of the match while training but with a hectic tournament like IPL the possibilities are more.

With number of games increased for the next year’s edition, the teams have to be more careful about player fatigue. Resting major players in the team for few games in between shouldn’t hurt I feel. Indian Players representing CSK (Chennai Super Kings) and Mumbai Indians hardly get any rest before they fly to WI and will have to immediately get going. India does not even have breaks between matches as both their games are back to back in the World T20.

There is just couple of games left for the conclusion of the IPL and I hope that none of our bowlers get injured in the process as Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer and Bajji will be playing over the next two days. Sehwag’s injury should be lesson to the team management and the Franchises as representing India is more important.

Sehwag’s absence was felt in last year’s world cup when the youngsters struggled against short pitched bowling. Whether Vijay will be able to step into the shoes of Sehwag is something we have to wait and see. Ghambir will have the added responsibility of guiding the youngster through in a major event like the World T20. Hope that the rest of the team can pull their weight and guide the Indian team to their second title.

Team Selection Is Tomorrow For India’s Cricket Series Against South Africa (SA)

Dravid and Laxman were both injured during the test series in Bangladesh

When the selectors meet tomorrow to pick the squad for the upcoming home series against the South Africans, they have quite a few headaches. The injuries to Laxman, Dravid and Yuvraj has created quite a few vacancies in the squad. Even though Laxman hasn’t been ruled out yet there is a possibility that he might not make it. This series is one of the most important one for India as they have to at least secure a draw to retain their number 1 ranking and South Africa has to win the series to snatch it from the hosts.

The good news for India is that Sachin was in the field on the fourth day of the second test match against Bangladesh, which means that he will play. In the absence of Dravid and Yuvraj, the selectors need to fill two vacant spots in the batting order. It’s safe to assume that Vijay will occupy one of the spots but there are quite a few contenders for the second spot in the lineup.

So the options are Kaif, Raina, Badrinath, Pujara, and Manish Pandey. I will rule out Raina as he is more suited to the shorter format and also due to his well known weakness to short pitched bowling he might struggle against Steyn & Co. Among the other four, I will eliminate Manish too. In spite of his good showing in the domestic season, he is too young and lacks experience for as important a series as this one. So that leaves Kaif, Pujara and Badrinath. All three of them have been in great form and have been knocking at the door for some time now. I would personally prefer to have either Pujara or Badri in the squad as selecting Kaif would be a backward step for the team.

The bowling department needs a replacement too with the injury to Sreesanth. I hope that the selectors tryout either Tyagi or Mithun in the squad rather than going back to Munaf or RP Singh, who have failed to grab on to the opportunities given to them. Irfan Pathan also is an option as the third seamer as he would give the team an all-around option. He has been performing well in the domestic season. I am thinking that the spinners who played against Bangladesh will be retained for the home series too. All in all this is going to be an interesting selection.

India’s 2-0 win over Bangladesh has extended Dhoni’s unbeaten run to 11 (out of which India have won 8 ) tests now. I hope that his dream run continues against the saffers too. South Africa is in quite a quandary themselves now with the sudden resignation of Coach Mickey Arthur, after which the Cricket South Africa sacked all their selectors.

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.

Young Indian batsmen need to take more responsibility

After 2 games both teams are tied with a win each and WI has looked better than the jaded Indian team. The Indian batting except for Dhoni and Yuvraj has struggled since the World T20. The pathetic show by the Indian top order on the World T20 seems to be continuing in the series against the WI too. If not for the brilliance of Yuvraj in the first game the Indians would have been 2-0 by now.

As Dhoni rightly pointed out after the loss in the second ODI, the Indian youngsters need to play with more responsibility. They cannot walk in to bat with the mindset of swinging their willows around. It does not work that way all the time. The Indian youngsters have also been badly scarred by what happened in T20 with the bouncer barrage by the WI and the English team. It seems like they have completely lost their plot.

I guess along with the coach they have to sit and work out a plan to counter the WI tactics of bouncing the Indian youngsters. As far as the team selection goes for the final two ODI’s, Jadeja has to definitely go and make way for either Badrinath or Vijay in the X1. Jadeja has struggled and cannot score a run if his life depended on it at the moment. I guess bringing in Vijay or Badri will give more solidity to the top order. Dhoni should be worried about the bowling as well. I know that 188 was not a great target to defend on that pitch but the bowling was not that great. Ishant has looked bad for a while now and Zaheer is still recovering from injury and was not that effective in the T20 WC.

I guess the argument that the players were tired doesn’t apply to RP Singh and Nehra who haven’t played much international cricket over the last one year. Yes they both played in the IPL but still that was just a month of cricket. Indian bowling has been toothless against the WI and the fielding shoddy. Lots of mistakes committed on the field and lots of extras by the pacers and the spinners alike. I don’t understand why Bajji and Pathan bowl so many wides and most of the times its 5 wides.

There were lots of theories as to why we lost so badly in the World T20 but mine is that the bowling wasn’t that disciplined as they should have been. If you see in the crucial game against England Bajji bowled 2 wides which went for fours in the last 2 overs which were probably the only big scoring deliveries in the last few overs. The English batsmen were struggling to score runs of Bajji but for those two wides. India eventually lost by 3 runs and those were 10 runs proved costly.

Anyways with just two games to go and the series on the line, Dhoni has some harsh decisions to take and choose the right combination from the available 16. Hopefully India manage to win the series and come back at least with their pride intact.