Wednesday, February 2, 2011


There are rumours that Praveen Kumar may not recover in time for the World Cup. It was reported in the Times of India that Praveen will be flying to the UK for further treatment.

I can already see Sreesanth waiting in eager anticipation of the diagnosis. But from the team point-of-view, it will be a major setback to India. Praveen Kumar can swing the ball with good control when it is new, but the most impressive thing that I find in him is that pressure does not get on to him. It almost seems to me that he is impervious to it. If the batsmen attack him, he gets back to his mark with just a shrug of his shoulders.

Sreesanth is also a swing bowler and can get wickets with the new ball, but he does not offer good control. He may vary from exceptional to horrible! Sreesanth's career economy rate is 6.01 as compared to a 5.07 for Praveen Kumar. That will be India's biggest loss if Praveen were to be ruled out.

India may then well have to employ the services of Munaf Patel in the XI, who offers an even better career economy rate of 4.78, but is a liability on the field and no good with the bat. "No good with the bat" is the point I was going to come to next.

Praveen is a very handy character with the bat. He almost carried India to win in that Hyderabad ODI where Sachin scored that 175. He batted very well in that series. It was because he got run out that Australia were able to seal the game! He has opened in First Class cricket for Uttar Pradesh and his batting is clearly a cut above Munaf's and Sreesanth's.

The reason why I am placing so much of importance of Praveen's batting is that India may well be fielding a 6 batsman - 5 bowler combination sometime during this World Cup (even though I am dead against it). Nothing else explains Piyush Chawla's inclusion in the 15! If India does play 5 bowlers, Praveen Kumar's and Harbhajan Singh's batting becomes very crucial at No. 7 and No. 8, because both of them are way better with the bat than Piyush Chawla, especially when it is time to go for the big hits. I have already mentioned it earlier on this blog that I don't think Chawla has it in him to be able to attack the faster bowlers in front of the wicket. The best he can do is guide the ball behind the wickets, but if he doesn't find the gaps, it will just result in singles.

Harbhajan and Praveen, on the other hand, can hit even the faster bowlers in front of the wicket on the up. Even Zaheer Khan can do that better than Piyush Chawla, which is why it is very important for India to beef up the lower order batting if indeed the 5-bowler strategy is going to be used.

I just hope that Praveen Kumar recovers well in time for the World Cup... he definitely is an essential cog in India's cricket team.

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