The Indian team has been on the road for the past couple of months and they are yet to win an international game. The major concern for India is their bowling and batting has failed collectively in the one day games. The bowling after the new ball has struggled to maintain any sort of control over the scoring and the spinners haven’t been able to exert pressure in the middle overs. The only silver lining for the Indian team was that Shami and Bhuvneshwar bowled well in the death overs in the first ODI in Napier.
India needs to revisit their team composition. The batting has struggled against short pitched bowling except for Kohli and Dhoni and the bowling has struggled with control. Ishant Sharma has struggled to exert pressure with the ball. His spell completely negated the great start India had with the new ball. Ishant needs to be replaced with Varun Aaron. Ishant has struggled over the past couple of months and his economy rate is too high to be in the ODI team at the moment. Varun Aaron has pace and he had shown in the past that he can be accurate too.
The other position India need to look at is the all-rounder spot. Jadeja had done that effectively in the past but India needs to pick between him and Ashwin as the lone spinner in the team. Stuart Binny needs to get a look in as the bowling all-rounder. Binny bowls seam up and is a handy hitter down the order. He might give India the variety Dhoni has been looking for in these conditions. Dhoni needs to realize that it was bowlers like Binny who did wonderfully well in the New Zealand teams of the past. India has Rohit Sharma and Raina to bowl some part time spin if needed.
The batting also has struggled a bit with the start. Rohit Sharma who was in great form before the SA tour is really struggling at the moment. India needs to consider the possibility of pushing Rahane up the order. Rahane is a very good player of short pitched bowling and has been in great form. Dhawan showed some glimpses of regaining his touch in the first ODI and hopefully he can cash in on the same to play a long innings in the second game. Kohli has been in great touch and so has been the captain Dhoni.
The Indian team has played with the tried and tested combination over the past couple of months and it has not worked. The team needs to bite the bullet and take some harsh decisions. The current combination isn’t working and it is only prudent to change the team according to the conditions you are playing in. It will be interesting to see if Dhoni and Fletcher do make these changes for the important second ODI. Indian needs to win the second ODI to remain at the top of the rankings and this will be an important game for the visitors.
Another overseas tour comes to an end and the Indian bowlers come under the scanner as usual.The Indian bowlers struggled to get wickets and except for the first innings in Wanderers they struggled to bowl out South Africa. The Indian pacers took 18 wickets at an average of 47.94 and at a strike rate of 82.1. The biggest disappointment is the economy rate, SA batsmen scored at the rate of 3.50 against the Indian pacers. There were no 5 wicket hauls by the Indian pacers. This is a major cause of concern for the Indian team.
Shami Ahmed was playing his first overseas tour but there is no such excuse for Zaheer and Ishant. The Indian team almost lost the first test trying to defend a humungous 458 in the 4th innings. The bowling lost its sting and looked completely clueless against the South African batting. Ishant Sharma is a major enigma in Indian cricket. The guy has played 50 test matches and still isn’t the bowler India wants him to be. It is strange that he continues to make it to the Indian team in spite of mediocre performances. He plays in the team only based on his experience but I guess time has come for India to look past Ishant as a test bowler.
Zaheer Khan is on his last legs and agreed that he was coming back from a long break from cricket but lot was expected of the veteran fast bowler. Zaheer was expected to lead a young bowling attack in South Africa but he lost his steam after the first test. India needs a firing Zaheer if they have to groom the young fast men. It is good to see that Ishwar Pandey has been selected for the New Zealand tour and the selection of Varun Aaron for the ODI games is also a welcome move.
The New Zealand tour gives India with an opportunity to play a completely new attack and test out these youngsters. Varun Aaron should play in the ODI team along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed. India needs to play Umesh Yadav in the test team ahead of Ishant Sharma. India needs to find a way to give Ishwar Pandey few chances in the series and not just have him to carry drinks. This series gives them a great chance to test out some young bowlers and hope for couple of them to come through.
India have a chopper block schedule this year and with IPL and Champions trophy thrown in India needs to make sure that their bowlers are fresh and fit for the 2015 world cup. Since India will be on the road throughout the year, it is going to be mentally and physically taxing for the bowlers and India needs to take care of that. This year also gives Dhoni and Fletcher ample opportunities to test some new bowling talent and India needs to rotate their bowlers to keep them fit and ready.
New Zealand series is going to be an important one. Even though India did not win anything in South Africa, they showed fight and application which was rarely seen during the 8-0 whitewash in Australia/England in 2012. The young Indian team will be hoping to carry on with their good performance with the bat and will be hoping for the bowling to step up. This will be a good series and I hope that the Indian team can unearth couple of good bowlers for the future.
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 handles 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.