Tag Archives: World T20

Indian home season – Time for test cricket

With the ICC World T20 out of the way, the focus now shifts to test cricket. The Indian team takes on England in a highly anticipated 4 match series. India was blanked 4-0 on their England tour in 2011 which has made this series much more important for the hosts. The English team struggled in UAE against the Pakistani spinners. They struggled to cope up with the spinners in the recently concluded World T20 where Harbhajan and Chawla bowled them out for 80. In the absence of Kevin Pieterson, the English team will be thoroughly tested in unfamiliar conditions and it will be interesting to see how they hold up against the Indian spin combination.

The team selection will be an interesting one. Harbhajan Singh’s comeback might trigger confusion to the newly formed selection committee. Ashwin and Ojha have done extremely well but considering England’s frailties against spin, India might look to add Harbhajan’s experience to the squad. The pace combination will be an interesting one. Ishant Sharma has come back from injury and has been playing domestic cricket. Praveen Kumar was India’s best bowler in the England and West Indies tour last year. So it will be interesting as to whom India would pick as the third seamer in the squad with Zaheer and Umesh being certainties.

The batting combination too will be an interesting one. Rahane and Rohit are already knocking on the doors of test selection with Rohit being the popular choice. Suresh Raina hasn’t done anything of note at number 6 in the test team so his place might be up for grabs. In all probability Sehwag and Gambhir will return to their respective spots followed by Pujara, Tendulkar and Kohli. The other school of thought is to drop Sehwag to number 6 and get Rahane to open with Gambhir. This will be an interesting option considering Sehwag’s comfort in playing in that position by his own admission.

The new selection committee will be under the scanner considering the amount of flak the former committee under Kris Srikkanth received. The challenge for the new committee will be to make the correct choices with some many options at their disposal.There are other players who might be up for consideration too, such as Manoj Tiwary who hasn’t done much wrong in the chances given to him in the Indian team till now. He will be in consideration for the middle order spot too along with Rohit Sharma.

Will India go for Harbhajan Singh as the third spinner or will they go with Rahul Sharma as the third option considering the variety he provides? This will be an interesting selection. With Zaheer and Umesh fit, they are most likely to take the new ball. The third seamer spot is up for grabs with Praveen or Ishant battling out. We will have to wait and watch what combination the selection committee puts out for the first test.

Below is my X1 for the first test:

Ajinkya Rahane, G Gambhir, C Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, V Sehwag, MS Dhoni (Capt. Wkt.), R Ashwin, P Ojha, Z Khan, U Yadav

12th man – Rohit Sharma

Problems galore for team India

Indian bowling has always been under the scanner. Every premier tournament starts with same concerns for India and this time is no different. In the 2011 World Cup India’s bowling was brilliantly led by Zaheer Khan. He was not only economical but also ended up as the highest wicket taker of the tournament. Zaheer also received great support from Nehra and Munaf in the crucial games.

The biggest issue for Indian in the ongoing T20 World Cup is the lack of form Zaheer has displayed. He has struggled with the new ball and his death bowling has been awful. The important thing to note is that Zaheer has never been a great T20 bowler. He has always struggled even in the IPL to control the flow of runs. The other two pacers have struggled too. Irfan Pathan has gone for runs and so has Balaji. The Afghanistan match was an eye opener where the pace bowlers were largely ineffective with the new ball.

So India currently just relies on Ravichandran Ashwin and the part-time spin of Yuvraj Singh to put the brakes on the scoring. This is surely not an ideal scenario and for sure not a strategy for a team which is considered as one of the favorites to win it all. India does have Dinda in the dugout who probably could get a look in. Even though Dinda hasn’t played too many international games he seems to be someone suited for the shorter formats. He has a decent international record in the few games he has played and his IPL record is impressive. So India should look to play him in the game against England and probably rest Zaheer for a game? This is something which the think tank needs to weigh in before the super 8’s start.

The selectors have ignored Praveen who would have been handful in Sri Lankan conditions and also someone like Munaf Patel would have been an asset. The lack of Yorkers in the bowling armory of the Indian pacers is disappointing. India has more often than not gone at 10-11 runs an over against good sides in the death overs.

The other major issue for the Indian team has been their openers. Sehwag and Gambhir have struggled to put up decent partnership and in the current scenario look completely out of touch. Gambhir especially has been struggling for form and his confidence seems to be really low at the moment. India probably should try and test out Manoj Tiwary in the middle order and possibly move Kohli to open with Sehwag for the game against England to see how he goes. I would have thought the think tank doing something like that for the warm up games but that was not to be. India have won their easy first game and have booked their spot in the Super 8’s and will have to seriously think about their options.

The bowling surely needs to improve and the batsmen need to find form. In the previous two editions India failed to win a single game in the second stage of the world T20 and on the current evidence it seems like this year might be no different.

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.

World T20 squad and India’s future bowling options

Ashoke Dinda was one of the few Indian pacers to impress in IPL III

The Indian team for the World T20 was announced couple of weeks back and there was hardly any surprises in the squad. Vinay Kumar got his maiden call up to the national team, a reward for his excellent performances in the domestic arena. Piyush Chawla too gets a call up ahead of Ojha and Mishra as the second specialist spinner in the squad. The rest of the team picked themselves.

The fact that Ashish Nehra makes it to the squad right after a prolonged injury break with hardly any practice proves how much the selectors are deprived of options. Praveen Kumar the other pace bowler in the squad has been pretty ordinary in the IPL after few good games at the start. Mithun and Tyagi have been pretty disappointing in the IPL and don’t look like T20 bowlers, similar to Ishant. Ishant himself has been pretty ordinary for the past couple of years.

So we are going into the world cup with two world class bowlers in Zaheer Khan and Harbajan Singh, one debutant, one bowler coming back from injury and one bowler making a comeback into the team. The selection pretty much emphasizes the problem we have with the bowling. So basically the selectors have done the best they can with the limited resources at their disposal.

But heartening thing is that after a pretty bad beginning by the Indian bowlers in the IPL III the second leg has showcased some good young bowlers. Ashoke Dinda of KKR, Sid Trivedi of Rajasthan Royals, Harmeet Singh of Deccan Chargers and Umesh Yadav of Delhi Daredevils have all impressed with their bowling at crucial junctures for their respective teams. The spinners also have been on song like Ravichandran Aswin, Pragyan Ojha and Jakati have been fantastic throughout the tournament.

So it seems we have some gas left in the tank after all. The problem is tapping the talent and giving them breaks at the right time. Bowlers like Mithun and Tyagi should not be ignored either. More than having talents at your disposal, knowing when and how to give them chances are important. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the bowlers and using them appropriately is something the selectors have to look into.

Even though the bowling looks thin for India in the World T20, I am happy that the selectors at least tried something different by giving a break to Vinay Kumar.

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.

Tactical errors cost India a place in the semis

India crashed out of the World T20 this Sunday after they lost to England by 3 runs at Lords. Needing 154 to win, the Indian batsmen made 150/5 to lose the game to England. The Indian top order was found out by the WI pace bowlers in the previous game when they bowled short pitched stuff to Rohit, Ghambir and Raina who looked unsettled against the same.

England used the same tactics and was successful again. I know that there was only a day between the two matches but why didn’t Indian coach and captain find a way to counter it. It was a given that the English bowlers would try the short pitched stuff again. The overall captaincy of Dhoni in the World T20 was strange and sometimes hard to understand. He made too many tactical errors which cost India at crucial times.

First of all Yuvraj being the senior member in the team, should have always batted at number 4. I don’t understand why you need to hide a batsman who is the best in the side and could have made the English bowlers nervous. Sending Jadeja ahead of Yuvraj was baffling to me.

The other striking error was not bowling RP Singh at the death. RP Singh replaced Irfan Pathan for this crucial game and bowled a brilliant first spell just giving away 13 runs in his first 3 overs for the wicket of Luke Wright but still Dhoni decided to bowl Ishant and Zaheer who were more expensive. It’s a known fact that Ishant is not a good bowler at the death but RP Singh is. Ishant and Zaheer went for too many runs in the end giving England an easy passage to 150 when they had no chances of getting there at one stage.

England scored 53 runs in the last 5 overs and they did not have to take any risks. Harbajan bowled 2 wides which went for 4 and that too in the crucial last over when the first 5 balls had only yielded 2 runs and a wicket. The only thing Bajji had to do it to bowl straight and India would have won the game. The extra 5 runs given pushed the score beyond 150.

Overall the batting and the bowling in the campaign for India was too inconsistent to say the least. Well all in all it was a pathetic performance and India for sure will be hurt by this. The next series will commence pretty soon against the WI where we play 4 ODI’s and hopefully we can do well. The Indian youngsters need to work hard against the short pitched bowling as WI has a good pace attack.

It seems like Sachin might not go to WI which will be a huge blow to the Indian chances. Sehwag might come back to the side which will boost the top order and I hope that we get back Sreesanth in the team along with Munaf. WI pitches are slow and low and we need bowlers with pace in the team. Zaheer might also not play in the series due to injury.

India plays SA later today in their final game of the ICC WorldT20 and they have nothing at stake but the pride. I am sure that Dhoni and his men would want to end the tournament with a win which will give them some confidence ahead of the WI tour.