Fast bowlers are a rare breed in India. India haven’t had many world class fast men and have only 3 bowlers in their entire cricketing history who have gone past 200 test wickets. Zaheer Khan is the last fast bowler who has gotten anywhere close to being world class. In the 90’s India struggled to find a decent third seamer to consolidate the good first spells of Srinath and Prasad but at the end of the decade there were some promising additions. Zaheer was the first to emerge in 2000, followed by a plethora of young fast men who promised a lot but faltered to deceive in the long run.
The problem with the Indian pace men over the years has been their fitness. Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Sreesanth etc. All began their career with lots of promise bowling quick and swinging the ball. But none of them were able to convert their earlier promise into performance over a sustained period of time. The trend is extremely disturbing. The emphasis on fitness is something which seems to be lacking in these fast men. Within just a year in international cricket, these bowlers have lost their fitness, pace and ability to swing the ball.
The number seems to be increasing over the years. In 2007 India possessed one of the best pace attack for a long time. Zaheer, Sreesanth and RP Singh bowling in the excess of 135 KMPH and swinging the ball both ways was a great sight for an Indian fan. The joy just lasted for a year before RP Singh lost his way and pace. Sreesanth has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. Ishant Sharma who bowled India’s fastest delivery in Australia and troubled the best batsmen in business with his length and bounce has lost the attributes which made him an instant success in his first year of international cricket.
It is hard to understand how a cricketing board can turn deaf to the problems causing this decline of the fast bowlers. Fitness is an important aspect for a bowler in International cricket. It is also important for the bowlers to keep evolving and learn new tricks as they advance their careers. The Indian pace men have faltered on both counts. The reason can be many and one of the most important reasons in the recent times has been the excessive cricket the bowlers have been subjected to. The IPL/CLT20 followed by countless international games can only break a bowler.
Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav spend more time recouping from an injury than to play for their country. Playing excessive T20 games also gives no option for the bowlers to work on their bowling. The Indian board has to realize that Zaheer’s stint in county cricket in England was the reason for his evolution as one of the best bowler in the world for about 4 years. The BCCI has blocked that avenue too. The county cricket can be a great learning ground for these bowlers and will be much more beneficial than playing in meaningless T20 games in India.
Now we again have talented new crop of bowlers like B Kumar and Shami Ahmed and it will be interesting to see how the board handle these bowlers. The BCCI have the finances and resources to keep the promising Indian bowlers away from the T20 leagues and keep them fresh for International cricket. It will be great to have Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, B Kumar, Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and Shami Ahmed fit and available for an international series. Constant cricket can only be detrimental to Indian cricket future. If India needs to become a force to reckon with at the international level we need a pool of good pace bowlers and this is the time to preserve the resources we have.
The colored clothing and the white ball seem to bring out the fighting spirit in the men in blue. The team playing in the CB series does not look anywhere close to the clueless test team earlier in the series. Dhoni seems at ease leading this young team and the young team is responding brilliantly. Dhoni himself has looked in brilliant touch and the performance of the team has improved considerably.
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India is about to begin their test series against Australia in few days and as it was in England earlier this year; the team is struggling with injuries. India had lost Varun Aaron and Praveen Kumar already before leaving the Indian shores and now it seems like Ishant Sharma would also struggle to make to the test team. If Ishant misses out India might field a very inexperience attack unless the replacement/cover is Irfan Pathan.
This scenario makes the presence of Zaheer very important for India throughout the series.
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Few months ago, the Indian team was at the top of the world. Number 1 test team, World cup winners and the captain Dhoni could do nothing wrong. One English tour later everything came crashing down. Even though India are still one of the top 3 teams in the world, the old quote “Tigers at home, paper tigers abroad” came to fore again. The English tour was an absolute disaster, an organization nightmare and the entire Indian cricket management needed to take the blame, not the cricketers alone.
The biggest factor on the English tour was the sudden spate of injuries to key Indian players. In spite of majority of them missing the West Indies series for rest, most of them ended up injured during the important English tour. The lack of practice games were another reason as the team had no time to acclimatize to the conditions. It seems like the Indian selectors and management have learnt the lesson the hard way. This time the players are there sooner and will be playing two practice games and will have enough time to get used to the conditions.
This tour is very important for the Dhoni and Fletcher combination. English tour scars still fresh in their minds, they will be keen to prove that the performance on that series was merely an aberration. The team this time is well prepared and most of the members are available for selection. Zaheer will be back to spearhead the attack, which is extremely important. The team management will be observing his fitness very closely as the English tour emphasized how important he is for the team. We have Ishant and Umesh to add to the pace department, literally speaking. Ishant too had a mild injury scare in the practice game but the team management has assured it wasn’t serious. Ashwin will lead the spin attack and the batting will be back to its full strength. India are coming into this tour with a good home season which started with blanking England 5-0 in a ODI series and winning the test and ODI series against the Windies.
Even though the injuries to Praveen Kumar and Aaron are a great setback, the team needs to move on with whatever resources they have. As Dhoni said ahead of the series, lack of practice cannot be the excuse this time and he is absolutely right. A series win here will restore the confidence the team might have lost during the disastrous English tour. A reputation which was built brick by brick by the Sourav Ganguly team since 2000 of a fighting unit away from home is something Dhoni would like to restore. The seniors will once again be the key and the middle order of Dravid, Sachin and Laxman for one last time will be back battling the Aussies in their own den.
A contest which has become a memorable battle since one of the greatest series in cricketing history took place in 2001. The series will be exciting and both teams have a lot to play for. The tour has already began on a good not with Dravid’s excellent speech in Bradman’s oration which was received with a standing ovation. The only thing Indian cricket fan would hope for is that India return with their first ever series win Down under. Dhoni and Fletcher know that this is their best chance and hopefully the team will click together to make that happen.
The venue was Sydney and it was the 4th test of a fascinating series between India and Australia. Irfan Pathan who made his debut for India earlier in the series was bowling to Steve Waugh with Australia comfortably placed at 311/4. Pathan bowled a quick full outswinger which took the outside edge of Steve Waugh’s bat and watching that I thought here is another brilliant quick bowler for the future. Pathan then bowled Adam Gilchrist with a searing Yorker which reminded me of Zaheer’s debut against Kenya few years back.
Pathan was a brilliant find for India then. A bowler capable of swinging the ball both ways at speeds in the excess of 140 + was something India were looking for.
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Recently while lecturing at the cricket club of India, India’s legendary fast bowler Kapil Dev said that Indian fast bowlers lack the attitude and fitness. It’s an age old debate which has been going on forever and in spite of having a steady supply of bowlers in the recent years we haven’t found a single decent partner for Zaheer in the test team. There have been various debates and discussions over this matter in the past and none of them have conclusively come up with any plausible explanation for this scenario.
Whenever a bowler makes his debut for India, it seems like he comes with an expiration date. He bowls fast and is fit for a year and then his speed drops and his accuracy deserts him and finally loses his spot in the team. What causes this decline? Is it fitness and attitude, like Kapil said in his lecture or is it general unwillingness to do hard work. I feel that it’s the combination of all three. There has been a cry over too much cricket all the time but even then we see cricketers hardly missing the Champions League and IPL unless they are unfit to play.
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By now everyone knows the Randhiv no-ball incident, so I will directly cut down to the chase. Yes Randhiv bowled a no-ball and Sehwag was denied a hundred, so what? It has been happening for ages in cricket. I agree that the spirit of the game was breached but this is not an isolated incident. Even though the deliberate over stepping by Randhiv looks bad, the banning of him for a game is even worse.
If this is taken as a precedent then no international cricketer would be able to play two games in a row. Randhiv did not break any laws and spirit of cricket has always been a grey area in cricket. So what would you call a fielder kicking the ball over the boundary to keep a tail ender on strike? Isn’t that against the spirit of the game? Bowler appealing, perfectly knowing that the batsman is not out and Batsman standing his ground knowing that he has nicked the ball etc are examples where the spirit of the game is brought to disrepute. Players play the game hard and there are lots of scenarios where we can argue that the spirit of the game has been compromised. We can’t be banning people for such things.
It was absolutely ridiculous to ban the player for this; a simple warning would have sufficed. Randhiv apologized to Sehwag after the game and that should have been enough. Now by over-reacting on this one, the Sri Lankan board has set themselves a precedent which will be hard to follow. ICC has some rules defined and if any player breaches that code of conduct then it is a different scenario but this incident isn’t one of them.
Randhiv has been harshly dealt with and there was no necessity for him to have been imposed with such a punishment. Sehwag himself should not have tweeted that Randhiv apologized to him when SLC had told that they were going to probe the incident. Sangakkara was right on that count when he said that you cannot expect just one side making advances. Sehwag sensationalizing the issue was not the right thing to do. Overall the handling of the scenario was messy which should not have been an issue at all. Indian media is always happy when such things happen and their over the top reaction to any on field incident is a known fact. Bishen Singh Bedi never loses a chance to undermine modern cricketers. I know that he was a great bowler once but sometime he comes across as a very bitter person to me.
I hope that poor Randhiv is able to put this behind him and concentrates on his bowling. He is a wonderful young cricketer and has a bright future for Sri Lanka. I hope that he has learnt his lesson after this incident.
It seems like Ishant leart nothing during his stint with the legendary Wasim Akram
Sri Lankan batsmen hammered the Indian attack on day 1 at Galle when they finished on 256/2 in just 68 overs. The bowling performance by the Indians was lackluster and without any imagination for most part of the day. Abhinav Mithun though did not do himself any harm as he turned out to be the best bowler on view on a day when the bat dominated the proceedings.
When Sreesanth and Zaheer pulled out due to injuries everyone knew that the Indian bowling would struggle but one thought that with added responsibility Ishant might get his form back. But it seems like Ishant hasn’t learnt anything during his sabbatical from the Indian team. His stint at Kolkata Knight Rider’s camp under the tutelage of the legendry Wasim Akram seems to have had no impact on the lanky pacer. Ishant Sharma is a classic case of modern Indian bowlers who start their careers with a bang and lose their steam with one full year of International cricket. As my numerous articles on this topic suggests the list is endless. Zaheer was the only one who managed to escape the trend with an inspired comeback couple of years back.
With the day 2 washed out it seems like this test might meander to a boring draw unless the Indian batting fails dramatically. It’s unfortunate that the last test of the great Murali has to end this way. If the rain continues he might not have the opportunity to go past 800 test wickets which begs the question whether he should have retired after this series rather than just the first test.
All in all it was a disappointing performance by the Indians as the bowlers looked pretty flat on the opening day. Sri Lankan batsmen were untroubled for most part of the day and Indian bowlers, pace and spin alike did not have any impact on the batsmen. If the play resumes on the 3rd day, it seems like the batsmen would continue to dominate and the Indians are facing a huge first innings total. I am thinking that the Indian batsmen would be praying for more rain in the coming three days of the test.
Doug Bollinger takes 5 to hand India a series defeat
India lost yet another bilateral series to Australia yesterday after an inept batting display by the home side. The Indian batting display in this series would be a great cause for concern in the Indian camp. The Australian team though has done a wonderful job with a depleted side, missing almost 7-8 regular players in the squad. The Indian captain would be very disappointed with result as after the first 3 games it seemed as though the home team were the frontrunners.
The Indian problems though are 3 fold, batting, fielding and bowling. Australia were better in the above three disciplines. This has been the problem with the Indian team over the past few months. When the batting clicks, they are a very hard team to beat as they usually rake up a huge total but if it fails the bowlers are not good enough to win those games. The fielding has been a problem too, lots of drop catches and misfield punctuates Indian efforts in the field these days.
When the team was doing well all these faults were overlooked as winning was more important at that time but recently we have seen that this team is far from becoming the number one team in the world. India has to seriously look into their ODI combination as we are just over a year away from the WC. The bowling looks thin and the batting inconsistent and this in addition to poor fielding makes India’s chances in the 2011 WC very slim.
A 4-2 series loss against a severely depleted Aussie team will not go well with the fans and the management alike but Dhoni and Kirsten would be relieved that the Sri Lankan series starts right away.