Monday, May 10, 2010


What is the progress made by Indian cricket in the last 12 months?

o India has climbed to the No. 1 spot in ICC Test Rankings
o India is placed at No. 2 spot in ICC ODI Rankings
o India defeated Sri Lanka 2-0 in Tests at home, drew 1-1 with South Africa
o Sachin Tendulkar became the 1st man to score an ODI 200
o MS Dhoni became the first Indian captain to lift the IPL
o Gautam Gambhir equalled Sir Viv Richards' reccord of a 50+ score in 11 consecutive Tests and also scored 100s in 4 consecutive Tests
o Sachin Tendulkar has also managed a 100 in each of his last 4 Tests

Yet, the youngsters in the squad still cannot play short and pacy bowling. And our team, the captain included, do not seem to learn from their mistakes at all. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been witnessing a repeat of England 2009 at West Indies 2010.

MS Dhoni won the toss, and committed the same error again of inserting the opposition into bat. But even before that error, he had already made another one - an erroneous team selection. For the second game in a row, he went with a part-time spinner laden attack of a pacy and bouncy Kensington Oval wicket. When you have a decent backup seamer in the form of R Vinay Kumar in your ranks, you pick him... even if he is a new to this level. I'd have thought that Dhoni must have learnt his lessons from the defeat at the hands of Australia... but no, the learning is just not happenning. May be if Shashank Manohar had talked to Dhoni yesterday and said that he was confident that the team would qualify, then Dhoni would have hit a couple of sixes out of Barbados in the end and helped India into the semi-finals. Shashank Manohar needs to learn a few lessons on motivation from N Srinivasan, the owner of Chennai Super Kings.

I will also never be able to understand why he gave Harbhajan 3 overs in the Powerplay. The pitch was never a turner... and he wasted some tidy overs that were needed in the middle right at the start. He had already tried this strategy a couple of days back... and it had failed (pretty miserably at that!). So why try it again?

Apart from all the strategies, I still don't get it why Dhoni wanted to take the 2nd run and risk getting run out, which is exactly what happenned. Did he think that Harbhajan would be better against 5 more Kemar Roach deliveries? May be, he was right! Roach was so scared of Bhajji that he kept on spraying wides.

Gambhir needs to sort out his approach towards short pitched bowling in limited overs cricket. In Tests, he does not need to attack every short ball, and thus he can survive there. In ODIs and T20s, it is a different matter altogether. As for Suresh Raina, if he is not comfortable with the pull shot, he needs to find out alternative ways of scoring off short ones. Maybe, make-some-room-and-slap-over-point is an option that can be used. A session with Sourav Ganguly should help as well. The solution for Yuvraj's problem is simple: lose some weight.

Yusuf Pathan needs to realise that is he wants to become a good finisher for Team India, he needs to be adept at playing fast bowling... because its pacers who usually finish an innings for a bowling side. Bullying the medium pacers on the domestic circuit will not help in international cricket.

Ravindra Jadeja: what should I say? I like the lad... but he did not seem to learn from his mistakes in the previous match and continued bowling fast half trackers here as well. When Sammy hit him for a 4, I was relieved to see a 4 being hit off him. Otherwise, he just gives 6-hitting balls. The Watson 6s knocked the confidence out of him... and the Warner 6s ensured that he'll not be able to regain that confidence in quick time. So a rest for him in this game, and an opportunity for R Vinay Kumar seemed the ideal choice for me. Strangely though, Dhoni had some other ideas.

Though Zaheer is not playing well, I am not worried about him. He will need some time to get back into a good rhythm... a Test series could help him out here. Ashish Nehra has performed satisfactorily. Harbhajan has not taken wickets, but he has bowled extremely well... never letting the opposition relax. And as for Rohit Sharma, despite his 79* against Australia, I have had enough of him. I liked him in Australia 2008, but his perform-for-Deccan-Chargers-and-fail-in-Indian-colours scenario has frustrated me and many others enough now.

I am also tired of Dhoni's irrelevant comments to the media. Before the match, at the press conference, when asked whether he was expecting a barrage of short-pitched stuff, he said that all the Indian teams have been facing this kind of bowling for the last 10-15-20 years... yet some of the best batsmen in the world have been Indians. He conveniently forgot that none of those 'best batsmen in the world' are a part of his team, and that he was asked a question about his team and not the past Indian teams.

I know a small opportunity still exists. But if Sri Lanka win against Australia now, even that window of opportunity will be shut. And given that Australia are currently 4 down for 45 in 7.2 overs (with Michael Clarke at crease, I might add), the chances look bleak. God help Team India!

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