Tag Archives: IPL

Do the Indian bowlers actually care?

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Ishant Sharma has been extremely poor in all forms of cricket for India over the last few years

Ishant Sharma has been extremely poor in all forms of cricket for India over the last few years

It is very disappointing when your young pace hopeful goes back to India after the team’s 4-0 drubbing in New Zealand and says to the media that he is excited to take part in IPL 7 and he was disappointed missing the last couple of seasons.  Varun Aaron is a young quick bowler who spent more time recouping from injuries than playing cricket on the field. He did make a comeback in the New Zealand tour but was really wayward, even though clocking really high speeds.

India was hammered 4-0 in the ODI series and the performances of the bowlers was really disappointing. India conceded over 6 runs per over in almost every game and put enormous pressure on the batting line up. The Indian bowling has never been brilliant but the bad part is that it has gotten worse over the last couple of years. The Indian pacers have struggled to get teams out even on pitches that are aiding fast bowling. The bowling has lacked intensity and purpose and it does not seem to be improving. The BCCI does not seem to care about the current situation and is busy making more money.

The IPL has done a lot of damage to the Indian bowling and the young bowlers don’t seem to care about their performances at the International level. Ishant Sharma after reaching 150 wickets has expressed his joy on doing the same. His averages 38 with the ball in test cricket after 50 tests and he should consider himself extremely lucky to be playing for India with such mediocre stats. The Indian team is currently struggling in New Zealand to take 10 wickets leave alone taking 20. The bowling and fielding has been mediocre and it looks like they are on the way to losing another test overseas.

The bowling issue needs to be tackled soon if India wants to be at the top of the pile in world cricket. Varun Aaron’s recent interview suggests that he is more excited playing for IPL and says that he has lots of cricket coming up before the IPL to prepare for the season. This is all that is wrong about the India bowling attack. As a fan you sometimes think if these bowlers even care about improving themselves. India would be travelling to England and then Australia later this year and it does not look good for the team at the moment. The drubbing the team is currently receiving from a team ranked 8th in the world is a huge wakeup call. If India needs to preserve these bowlers they need to keep them away from IPL and have them play lots of four day cricket. The BCCI have the finances to take care of these bowlers and keep them fresh and ready for international cricket.

It is hard to imagine India competing overseas without a decent bowling attack. The bowlers seem to not worry too much about improving themselves after making the Indian team. Sometimes you question, are they working hard to play for the country or they just want to represent the country so that they will be considered in higher pay packet during the auction for IPL? This is a question which only the Indian bowlers can answer. Hopefully BCCI will finally wake up and realize that India needs a good cricket team and the organization is there to ensure that and not just to make money.

 

Champions Trophy – Confusing team selection

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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 T20 team needs a revamp

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The Indian team’s performance in the World T20 was not a bad one but the think tank must now think ahead. The biggest problem for India in the championship was their bowling. The next T20 world cup is in 2014 and this is time for India to build for that tournament. The fact that India improved quite a lot from the last two editions should not pull down the wool over the frailties of the bowling attack.

The Indian team was highly reliant on Ashwin and Yuvraj with the ball and the new ball pair of Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan was not consistent enough. The rest of spin attack wasn’t given that many opportunities but again the sight of Chawla and Harbhajan with the ball did not instill the necessary confidence among the Indian fans. The Indian batting too struggled with the consistency. The lack of runs from the openers was a huge disappointment and it is time for India to look past Sehwag in the T20 format.

India needs to probably take the queue out of the 2007 T20 world cup. The team was in shambles after the shock exit from the World Cup and the decision to go to South Africa with a young team worked wonders. I am not sure if Dhoni is the right captain for this format either. He is good but probably the time has come to bite the bullet and make Kohli the captain of the T20 team. India also needs to identify a good wicket keeper for this format. The name of Robin Uthappa comes to mind immediately. He did keep wickets for Royal Bangalore Challengers in the IPL and he is pretty good with the bat too. Ambati Rayudu is another player who will be excellent in this format and he kept wickets too for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

Ajinkya Rahane needs to get a look in as an opener. The bowling too needs a rethink. It is hard to imagine Zaheer and Balaji playing in the 2014 T20 world cup, so I guess India need to unearth some quality pacers suited for this format. Varun Aaron comes to mind and he seems well suited for the shorter format. The spin combination too needs to be rethought too. Piyush Chawla isn’t consistent enough in this format to be a regular, so probably someone like Rahul Sharma can get a look in. He has the bowling style of Anil Kumble and can be more suited to this form of the game than Piyush. Again like Zaheer it is hard to imagine Harbhajan playing for India in the T20 World cup in 2014.

India needs to look to have a young set of players in the T20 format and needs to implement the same starting immediately. Even though people will argue that 4 wins out of 5 isn’t a bad result, the team combination just did not look right. The selection by the team management wasn’t smart either in the individual games but those are just in the hindsight now. India hasn’t been great in this format for a long time now and the selection committee needs to completely revamp this side with some young blood. The selection committee has changed and possibly will have some tough decision to take in the coming months. Let’s hope that the committee comes in with some fresh ideas and gets the right kind of people for this format.

Sehwag, Dhoni, Harbhajan and Zaheer have been brilliant for India over the years but the time has come for them to bid adieu to this format. They are still the key players for India in the other two formats but realistically India needs to look past these legends keeping the 2014 world cup in mind.

World T20 – Key players for team India

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The 2012 World T20 is just few days away and the Indian team once again enters the competition with lots of hopes. The team though hasn’t played a lot of international T20 this year and will have to make the most of the two warm up games ahead of the competition. India is about to play first of their two warm up games in few days and let us look at few of India’s main players in this year’s competition.

Virat Kohli (M: 11, RS: 278, Ave: 34.75, SR: 134.29)

There is no doubt that Virat Kohli is India’s best player this year across all formats. He has been in scintillating form throughout this year and will be the key for India’s progress in the world T20. Kohli would be hoping to carry on his good form into this competition and will be hoping to make an impact. It was interesting to see Virat opening the batting against New Zealand and it is unclear if that is what the Indian think tank has in mind for the world cup.

Suresh Raina (M: 27, RS: 658, Ave: 32.90, SR: 137.94)

Raina is probably India’s most experienced player in this format. Considering that he has played in all 5 IPL’s for Chennai Super Kings and hasn’t missed many games, he probably has played the most T20 games by an Indian. His explosive style of batting with his amazing fielding makes him a very important member in the T20 squad. He also has India’s only hundred in the International T20 and will be again a key member in the top order. Suresh Raina also provides Dhoni with an extra bowling option. His strike rate and Average in this format is excellent and he will be a huge impact player for India again in 2012 edition of World T20.

Harbhajan Singh (M: 23, W: 18, Ave: 30.5, ER: 6.44)

Even though Harbhajan Singh hasn’t been seen in Indian colors for almost a year, he is expected to play a very important role in the world T20. Ravichandran Ashwin, who is a key component in the Indian ODI and test squads, surprisingly hasn’t done much in the 20 over format. Harbhajan who was part of India’s winning campaign in 2007 is still probably is India’s best spinner in this format. Harbhajan has the experience and his economy rate of 6.44 is brilliant over 20 games. Harbhajan seemed to be getting back to form in his last few games in county cricket and the warm up games will give us more information about his form. Harbhajan will be an important member in the Indian team and I expect him to play most of the games in this tournament.

Zaheer Khan (M: 13, W: 14, Ave: 25.28, ER: 7.75)

Even though Zaheer’s T20 record is nothing to write home about, he is still India’s premier bowler with the new ball. Zaheer’s presence in the team is for sure a great advantage for the Indian team. He is brilliant with the new ball and the Sri Lankan pitches help bowlers who can swing the new ball. He can be handful bowling under lights and India would be hoping for some early wickets from him.

Irfan Pathan (M: 19, W: 23, Ave: 21.60, ER: 7.88)

The return of Irfan to the Indian team earlier this year was a welcome relief. Irfan has been brilliant with both bat and ball since his comeback. He has got his swing back and has been bowling with decent pace. He was just involved in a series in Sri Lanka and the experience would help him a great deal. He has also been striking the ball beautifully with the bat making him the vital member of the team. He will be sharing the new ball with Zaheer and will for sure cause a lot of problems for the batsmen with his late swing.

Yuvraj Singh (M: 24, RS: 601, W: 8, BTAve: 31.63, BLAve: 26, SR: 150.25)

Yuvraj Singh can be called as the superman of cricket. When last year the news broke out about his cancer people were worried about his career. The man though has great heart and the way he has made a speedy recovery shows his dedication and courage. Even though people called the selection of Yuvraj as an emotional one, his presence in the T20 team is a huge bonus. He batted without much match practice against New Zealand and scored a brilliant 36 and it seemed like he had never been away from the team. He also gives Dhoni an option with the ball and also is a fantastic in-fielder. You cannot go wrong with selecting Yuvraj in any short format and he will be India’s trump card in this tournament.

Others players who could make an impact:

G Gambhir (M: 28, RS: 755, Ave: 30.20, SR: 122.56)

Gambhir was India’s premier batsman in 2007 victorious campaign. Gambhir has been struggling for form recently in all formats. He along with Sehwag has struggled to provide good starts at the top of the order. India would hope that both the openers come back to form in the T20 world cup. Everyone knows Gambhir’s expertise against spin and he can be devastating if he gets going. India would be looking to play both Gambhir and Sehwag in both the warm up games and would hope to see them scoring some runs. Gambhir has an impressive T20 record and would want to turn it on at the biggest scene.

The comeback man:

Lakshmipathy Balaji makes a comeback to the Indian team after 5 years. He would most probably be fighting for the one spot with Dinda in the X1. Balaji makes the squad due to his brilliant performance in the IPL 2012 where he was extremely economical and also picked up wickets for KKR. It will be interesting to see how he goes in this tournament. A good performance in the World Cup might give him a decent run in the Indian team again.

The rookies:

Manoj Tiwary and Ajinkya Rahane will be the rookies for the Indian team this tournament. Extremely talented neither of them will be first choice pick in the X1. Rahane impressed one and all with his brilliant batting as an opener in England and Tiwary has done extremely well in the middle order in the limited opportunities he has received in the ODI team. Tiwary will be battling for one spot with Rohit Sharma and Tiwary has a difficult task of competing with Sehwag and Gambhir.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Rohit Sharma form the rest of the squad who could make a huge impact. Both these players are extremely talented and have done very well for their franchises in the IPL. For Rohit Sharma though this might be the make or break tournament and would want to make solid contributions to the Indian middle order. Ravichandran Ashwin’s case is pretty confusing as he is India’s premier spinner in ODI’s and his struggle in T20I’s is rather perplexing. He has done extremely well in the IPL for CSK and it will one be a matter of time before he translates that success to T20I’s. For now though I guess Harbhajan might beat him to make the final X1 considering his experience and current form. MS Dhoni will be India’s captain and wicket keeper. He has struggled to make an impact in this format with the bat and would want to correct the same. His leadership in the shorter format this year has been brilliant and his calm demeanor on the field will be extremely important in a high profile tournament like this.

India has a very balanced squad and has a great chance of repeating 2007 success. So I wish the team best of luck and I hope they put up a good show in the World T20.

Pujara guides India A to a thrilling victory

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Pujara once again proved that he is one of the finest young players in India at the moment with a brilliant match winning 96 in the second innings of the first unofficial test against West Indies. The innings was much more memorable considering the next highest score in the Indian second innings was just 27 by Shami Ahmed. The Indian captain came into bat with his team tottering on 28/4 and played a superb knock without much support by the middle order.

The batting was inconsistent in both the innings. Apart from Pujara and Rohit, the rest of the batting struggled on a pitch which was consistently up and down. The openers Mukund and Dhawan struggled to put up a decent partnership in both the innings where the former grabbed a pair. Rahane too did not get off the blocks but was unlucky getting run out in the first innings though. Tiwary got to a start in the first innings but did not kick on. The batsmen seemed to be in T20 mode as none of them showed any temperament to dig in and graft on a difficult pitch. It will be interesting to see what the management does for the second test. They might probably push Rahane to open with Dhawan and play another middle order bat in the place of Mukund.

The bowling was very good in both the innings. B Kumar and Shami Ahmed were spot on as both of them troubled the WI A batters consistently in both the innings. The team management might be little worried about the performance of Dinda though as he did not make the necessary impact in both the innings. The pitch had a lot for the bowlers and Dinda came up with modest figures in both the innings. We have to wait and see if P Awana gets a game in the second test. Rahul Sharma was decent but was out bowled by Rohit Sharma in the second innings which again is a cause for worry.

But all in all this was a great victory. It was thrilling game and Pujara’s brilliance and S Ahmed’s grittiness got India A just over the line with 2 wickets in hand. Pujara has the temperament and technique to take on the challenge as India’s number 3 in test cricket a position just vacated by the great Rahul Dravid. The biggest disappointment for me though has been the lack of media coverage for this series. This series is much more important in terms of identifying India’s future players but the coverage in the media has been poor to say the least. Now that the IPL is over and India isn’t playing any international cricket the interviews of IPL stars finds more press than this A tour.

With this win India A has taken a 1-0 lead in the 3 match series and it will be interesting to see if there will be any changes for the second test.

Mid-Table scrum makes IPL V interesting

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The IPL V is nearing the Play-offs and we are yet to determine the 4 semi-finalists. The competition this year has been extremely close and we are still unsure of the two teams who will join Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Delhi Daredevils (DD). KKR and DD are without doubt the two strongest teams in the competition. They have won most of their games and have qualified for the play-offs. Both the teams have been excellently led by their respective captains and have a very good bowling attack. The rest of the teams though have been involved in an absolute fight for the final two spots. Let us look at the teams with a chance to make it to the play-offs.

Mumbai Indians - Mumbai Indians are the other strong team who has had a mixed IPL. They have managed to win 3 of their last 4 games and are probably closest to the play-offs with 5 games in hand. Mumbai Indians have struggled with their batting. They have heavily relied on Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar to get them over the line on most of the occasions which has been their undoing. Probably the induction of Dwayne Smith in the middle order might give them the required spark.

Rajasthan Royals - Rajasthan Royals are the other team who have risen above their underdog status and have posted a serious challenge to the play-offs spot. Shane Watson and Shaun Tait in the playing X1 have given them the required balance and are currently looking like a strong squad.

Royal Challengers Bangalore – The major issue for RCB this season has been their bowling attack. In spite of having Murali in their squad they have been unable to play him due to the squad composition. They have often conceded 170+ totals this season which has greatly affected their batting performance. Their batting too has been highly inconsistent. The heavy reliance on Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers has been striking this season but with Dilshan stepping up to the plate in the recent games things might finally look up for the 2011 finalists. It will be interesting to see if they manage to play Murali in the squad who in spite of taking 8 wickets in 4 games finds himself in the sidelines.

Chennai Super Kings – The defending champions probably have had their worst season by a distance. The team has struggled to find the right combination throughout. Their batting has failed to find consistency and their inability to finish off close games has been the bane for the team from the south. They still have 4 games in hand and are currently looking at winning all the games if at all they want to make it to the play-offs. Things aren’t looking that rosy for the two time champions.

Kings X1 Punjab – They are yet another team who started as an underdog but have far surpassed the pre-tournament expectations. They are currently place 5th on the table with a very good chance of qualifying for the play-offs. In the absence of their captain Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey has led the team admirably well and with the addition of Azhar Mahmood they look a good squad capable of defeating anyone on their day. They have a good bowling attack and are looking good to challenge the top teams this season. It will be interesting to see what their combination would be when Gilchrist returns.

This has probably been the first season where the competition has been so close. There are just few games to go and we are still not sure of the semi-final line up. All the teams mentioned above have a great chance of making it to the play-offs. The teams cannot afford a slip up anymore and the captains would be aware of that. The next few days will be extremely interesting and could decide the fate of most of the teams.

IPL V – Youngsters watch

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The IPL every year gets exciting not for the matches but for the young talent on display. Last couple of years we have had talents like Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Ravi Ashwin, who have already made the transition to the senior side. Let us look at my top 5 young players of the IPL so far. I have only considered players who have gotten limited opportunity at the national level and players who aren’t known that well before this season of IPL.

AM Rahane (Rajasthan Royals)
(Runs: 332, Ave: 47.42, SR: 140.67)

AM Rahane has already represented India at the senior level. He has already played a handful of T20 and ODI games for India and has been fighting for that elusive spot in the Indian middle order. Rahane has been a rare case in Indian cricket in recent times who has not thrown into the limelight due to his IPL exploits. Much like Pujara who made the team on the basis of consistency in domestic cricket he too has forced the selectors to take a look at him with some brilliant batting in Domestic cricket. Rahane representing Rajasthan Royals has begun this season brilliantly becoming the highest run getter so far this year. His batting has been a treat to watch with his silken drives and orthodox cricketing shots. You hardly see him slogging yet he has scored at an amazing strike rate of 140.67. The more I look at him the more I am convinced that he should make the Indian squad soon. Rahane is the only batsmen in the list and he is been brilliant and it shows that there is clearly a day light between him and the rest of youngsters in India at the moment.

Nadeem S (Delhi Daredevils)
(Wkts: 6, Ave: 21.16, SR: 21.0, Econ: 6.04)

A young left-arm spinner from Jharkhand is another player who has impressed this season. Playing for arguably the strongest team this season Delhi Daredevils Nadeem has been able to exert control in the middle overs and PP overs chocking batsmen for runs. S Nadeem has been an integral part of DD squad this season as he has been extremely economical and has picked up crucial wickets for his side. Nadeem for sure has time one his side and probably needs to be looked at more closely. His economy rate at this year’s IPL is an amazing 6.04 and seems like he is more suited to the shorter format of the game.

P Awana (Kings X1 Punjab)
(Wkts: 9, Ave: 12.67, SR: 10.67, Econ: 7.25)

Awana is yet another Indian pacer who has impressed with his pace and wicket taking ability this season. He has already become an integral member of Kings X1 set up and has done exceedingly well for them. With 9 wickets already this season he is one of the top wicket takers in initial part of IPL V. Awana is a bowler who can consistently bowl over 140 K and maintain decent line and length. His wicket taking ability is a great asset and hopefully he can last the entire season without injuries. Awana is from Delhi and has a decent first class record with a good strike rate. He is another good addition to the Indian pace bowling list and with good performances in domestic scene might come into the radar of the selector. He is another Indian pace bowler to keep an eye on for the fans.

AB Dinda (Pune Warriors)
(Wkts: 8, Ave: 13.37, SR: 13.5, Econ: 5.94)

Dinda is not a new name for the Indian fans. He has been in radar for few years now but has hardly received consistent chances at the highest level. He has been performing brilliantly for his state side Bengal over the years and has been one of the best bowlers this season in the IPL. He did receive his chance in the Asia cup earlier this year but had two contrasting performances. He has been excellent for Pune Warriors so far and has carried their attack this season without much support. His economy rate proves that he hasn’t been easy to get away in the power play overs and he has also picked up wickets regularly. He has been very good with the old ball too as he proved against Pakistan in the high scoring encounter earlier this year in Bangladesh. He has been a vital member in the Pune Warriors squad and hopefully will continue to churn in good performances this season. A good season here might earn him a call back to the Indian squad.

S Dhawan (Deccan Chargers)
(Runs: 208, Ave: 41.60, SR: 126.82)

S Dhawan is probably someone who seems to be around for ages but yet he is only 26 years old. He has been a solid performer for Delhi and has had some good performances in the IPL over the years. Playing for Deccan Chargers this season he has been very good at the top of the order. He did play for India in few games and the one noticeable aspect of his game was his inability to convert good starts. In this IPL season too he has had similar issues kicking on after a start. He has had some good starts for Deccan but has failed to convert them into big scores. Dhawan again is a good young player who could not get into the Indian squad due to the embarrassment of riches at the top of the order. He has once again had a great start to this season of IPL and would want to keep performing to get the selection committee to notice.

Honorable mention:

KP Appana (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

The rest of the young brigade has been largely disappointing. Sourabh Tiwary (RCB), Mayank Agarwal (RCB), Ashok Maneria (RR) Manish Pandey (PWI), Rahul Sharma (PWI) and Ambati Rayudu (MI) all have been extremely inconsistent. All of them have made some crucial contributions to their sides but have not been consistent enough to make the list. Ambati Rayudu and Sourabh Tiwary have been the biggest disappointments. After a great season in the IPL in 2010 both the players had a forgettable 2011 and it seems like they have carried the bad form again to 2012 season. Even though Rayudu just played a blinder against Kings X1 to take his side home, he has been largely inconsistent. Hopefully this innings will help him to get back to form and stake his claim for the national side once again. The tournament has just begun and any of the above mentioned players can turn it around for their respective sides.

Even though T20 isn’t the right format to judge the capability of a player, these guys have put in their best efforts to get noticed. You can only perform in the stage given to you. These players have not only done well in T20 but have very good first class record to go with it. This means that they have only further emphasized their stature with some good performances in IPL. Performing well in the IPL means that you get noticed instantly and it for sure enhances your chances of getting picked for the national side.

No locals for the IPL teams

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IPL V is in its first few games and again the teams find it hard to find nativity. Even though IPL is an interesting competition, the length is still a worry. The one and a half month tournament is sure to take a toll on the fans.

But the length of the tournament aside the major concern for me this year has been the team composition of the franchises. The teams have basically ignored the local talents in the team in search of glory. I thought that IPL was going to be used as a ground for nurturing and finding young talents but as the years passed by the franchises have gotten greedy. For example Ranji champions Mumbai are unable to find players from the Mumbai team to represent their IPL franchise Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan is even worse as they don’t even have a single local player representing them. The Pune Warriors does not have anyone from Maharashtra/Mumbai team in their X1 in the first game against Mumbai.

Rajasthan has been the worst offender off all the IPL teams. The franchise is been completely made up with Rest of India and the mandatory foreign players but there is no sign of any home grown talent. Ashok Maneria seems to be the only local boy in the Rajasthan Royals team. This I feel is ridiculous and shows how much money hungry the franchises have become. Mumbai Indians play just 2 players out of 8 in their team from the Mumbai team and Deccan Chargers somehow manage to play just one or sometimes 2 local players in their team. How do they expect locals to relate with the team if the entire team is made up of players from different teams? I am not against young Indian players getting a chance but ignoring local players takes away the charm of a city based rivalry.

Ranji teams like Maharashtra might have some good players and need to be explored and I hope that Pune Warriors team gives them a chance in the upcoming games. Creating a city based league is fine but forming a strong team with best talent across the country and the world was not what IPL promised us at the start. BCCI have to think to promote small teams and players. They do not get too much coverage. Rajasthan Royals and Pune Warriors seem to be the biggest offenders this year. The teams should be forced to play at least 2 home players in each team. It is not as if Rajasthan have a poor Ranji team.
This is the exact reason the IPL teams will find less success in the champion’s league. If you take Rajasthan and Pune for example, except for the 4 weeks of IPL none of their team members play together in any form of cricket unless they represent India. Entire year they play against each other and they are suddenly thrown together and are expected to gel as a team immediately. They will be playing teams in the CLT20 who play an entire year together and are more cohesive units in comparison to the IPL teams. The locals who play for team Rajasthan in Ranji trophy might actually feel little hard done by this situation. Teams like them who compete in the plate championship of the Ranji trophy hardly get any visibility with the selectors and a global tournament like the IPL should be used to showcase their talents.

Even though the tournament has been a success and is here to stay, the organizers need to look to correct the above glaring anomalies.

The one thing you can beat Sachin at?

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This was a question posted to Ravichandran Ashwin, can you believe it? The constant need for the journalists to drag Sachin’s name to every article or interview in India is mind boggling. Ashwin gave a very honest and straightforward answer that he knows his trade very well (off-spin bowling). He did not bring Sachin into his answer. Now a bunch of kids (on the comments section) jump on Ashwin criticizing him for the answer he gave. They would have been happy if he had said “Sachin is the greatest cricketer and I cannot do anything better than him”. Sachin is arguably the greatest batsman of his era but he cannot be good at everything.

Ashwin’s answer was spot on and there is no reason for Sachin fans to jump up and down.

Chennai Super Kings will start as favorites again

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The IPL season 5 is all set to begin tomorrow in Chennai with a grand opening ceremony. Like in 2011, CSK (Chennai Super Kings) will again start as the favorites. They have been the most consistent team across the seasons with 2 wins, 1 finals and 1 semi-final appearance. The success of the CSK team has been their squad. They were able to retain almost all their key players who made their franchise a grand success. Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, Mike Hussey, Badrinath and Dhoni have been pillars of CSK batting since season one. Albie Morkel and Dwayne Bravo have fitted perfectly well as the all-rounders in the middle order with Ashwin and Bollinger being the bowling stars.

Ravindra Jadeja has been the only addition to the already strong CSK side. He will probably play in the place of Jakati or Bravo in the squad. The addition of Ben Hilfenhaus will for sure bolster their weak pace attack this season. So overall like all the other seasons, it will be hard to write of Dhoni’s Chennai super kings. They will for be one of the favorites to at least reach the knock-out rounds.

Mumbai Indians (MI) has been the other strong side across the seasons. They were the losing finalists in 2010 and made the semis last year. With Tendulkar stepping down as the captain, this will be a great opportunity for Harbajan Singh to take MI over the line this time. The Mumbai team also has some great batters but their strength has been their bowling. The biggest drawback for the MI team has been their over reliance on Sachin Tendulkar to hold their innings together. The form of Pollard might give some relief to the Mumbai lower order this season.

RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) is the other team with an opportunity to win this year. The team is extremely talented and has Chris Gayle in their ranks. The in-form Indian sensation Virat Kohli was the only one retained in the squad from the season 1. The batting in spite of having some good hitters has heavily relied on Chris Gayle to provide them with a blistering start. This strategy of RCB cost them dearly in the finals in 2011. The teams realized that they just had to get Gayle early and they couple pressurize their middle order. They CSK bowlers succeeded doing the same in the one-sided finals last year.

KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) are the fourth team with a shot at the title this year. The team led by Ghambir had a great 2011 IPL and finally looked like a team playing to their potential. The KKR management completely revamped their side and it worked wonders for the franchise and they will be hoping that their team can go all the way this time too.

The other teams have been hardly consistent and will have to play out of their skins to challenge the top four. The IPL begins tomorrow with a clash between the defending champions Chennai versus Mumbai Indians in the MA Chidambaram stadium. It will be a keen contest but both teams for sure will be little rusty. Even though the tournament is exciting the length of the tournament is definitely a dampener. Hopefully we will see some good young talents coming out at the end of this season.