Team and approach for the Sri Lanka match…


After having accounted for the usual suspects in the Indian team-sheet, the first name that will go into my Team India book for the all-important Sri Lanka game this weekend would be that of Harbhajan Singh. With as many as five left-handers in the Sri Lanka team — Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Russell Arnold, Upul Tharanga, Chaminda Vaas — an off-spinner would be handy to have. Furthermore, I’d get Virender Sehwag to further fine-tune his bowling. I’d play Harbhajan Singh instead of Kumble for the Sri Lanka game.

The only other consideration would be that of Robin Uthappa.

There are two options here: (a) Play Robin Uthappa and have him open with Sourav Ganguly, (b) Play Irfan Pathan and have him come in at #3 with Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly opening.

My preference would be for option (a).

I thought for a minute about replacing Agarkar with Sreesanth. Agarkar has come out as Shockarkar in the first two games. However, this is too important a game to try out a nuance.

In that event, the team would read:
Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel.

An alternative team sheet would exchange Pathan for Uthappa and would read:
Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel.

My preference is for the former option.

Either way, the seniors are going to have to stand up and be counted. Despite the post-Bermuda-victory chest-beats that I am reading (even on CricInfo) I believe the Indian team has to tighten up its act in several departments.


  • Virender Sehwag is totally there yet. He played and missed several times at the start of his innings. His game will need to be much more tighter for India to come good.
  • Uthappa should tighten up his off-side game too.
  • Ganguly should rotate the strike much more than he has in the first two games.
  • Agarkar sould stop thinking he is either Shockarkar or Agar-hoga-to-kar.
  • The team should really watch the running between wickets. By my reckoning, the team lost nearly 20 runs through lazy running.
  • There were far too many wides and no-balls.
  • The fielding… oh well…

On the positive side, Yuvraj Singh is timing the ball incredibly well. I haven’t seen any Indian player hit the ball as cleanly as Yuvraj has in the game against Bermuda. Sachin Tendulkar is playing brilliantly too. Agreed, he is not the Tendulkar of old. But this is a more mature, sensible Tendulkar who is playing well within himself. Dhoni will feel good about the stint he had. He was timing the ball well too. Ganguly’s game is much tighter and it looks like he wants to stay and make his innings count. Dravid is Dravid.

— Mohan

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12 responses to “Team and approach for the Sri Lanka match…

  1. Quite right, Mohan. Before we get consumed by the euphoria of the win, we have to look at the negatives that need fixing. Here are a couple more in my opinion –

    1.After having Bermuda on the ropes at 63 for 5, they let them off the hook. They allowed the last 5 wickets to score 93 runs! India start getting complacent as soon as they get the upper hand on the match. They will have to get rid of the complacency against stronger teams.

    2. Munaf bowled wicket to wicket, but there was no venom in the bowling. He needs to mix it up with a few bouncers as well.

    As you mentioned, Agarkar needs to get his act together, or give way to someone else. If the Bermudians can hit him easily for a couple of sixes, then imagine how many more the Lankans will hit him for…

    -Mahesh-

  2. Pingback: News in brief: Tuesday 20 March 2007 « i3j3Cricket :: A blog for fans of Indian cricket…

  3. Brilliant innings from Yuvraj and Sachin’s innings was also very good. I did not like Dhoni batting at No.3. It should have been Yuvraj or Sachin.

    Dhoni is not such a good batsman IMHO. A total “Gada” – His bottom handed straight drive – argh…… a purist’s nightmare.

    Bowling was rather mediocre, other than Kumble in patches. I think India should have gone with Harbhajan and Kumble for this match. Both spinners would gotten Bermuda within 100, which was very important for run-rate.

    Indian team selection, batting order lacks strategic thinking. Now, I wonder about the coaching skills of Greg Chappell. In contrast, I admire Dave Whatmore for going with 3 – left arm spinners against India – instead of some quota based scheme. His answer to that question was ” This is the best set of bowlers, so, we went with 3 – left arm spinners.”

  4. Dravud should stay Dravid because one end should be steady. As for Sehwagg, the bermuda innings seems more like a fluke cnosidering the number of times he missed as you have pointed out. Irfan should be definitely in for this crucial match.

  5. Mahesh,

    I pray each time Agarkar runs in to bowl. He has such a small head on capable shoulders! All he needs, it seems, for him to press that I-need-to-fall-apart button in his body is to be spanked for a few lusty blows. I have a feeling it is all in his head.

    I am not sure I agree with your point on closing off the Bermuda. They weren’t complacent. You could see the will in the faces of the players. If anything they tried too hard and hence, tightened up. However, the main issue of “closure” in that game was one of “approach” by the Bermudans. As I was saying to a friend of mine, if the target was (say) 260 and the Bermudans were “going for it”, we’d have got them all out for 60 on that pitch. Given that they were going for 413, the Bermudans pulled down the shutters and proceeded to occupy the crease. As Dravid pointed out, on that pitch, if ones approach was to see out 2-3 overs, one could stay longer. And that’s what the Bermudans did. They stayed and accumulated. If a team plays in that manner, one should expect that they will make 150 instead of 100. It is a convoluted point and I am perhaps not making it well, I think. But hope I am getting it across.

    Mohan

  6. gnbmdr,

    At the time, I did not think that sending Dhoni and Yuvraj ahead of Tendulkar. In retrospect, it was a brilliant decision by Dravid. We should recognise that.

    Dhoni is not there for the purists. He is there to score runs. He is doing that really well.

    I don’t think Dravid and Yuvraj should play anywhere other than #5 and #6. Shastri wrote a compelling piece on this sometime in February on HT-Cricket. Yuvraj is a wonderful combination of a Michael Bevan and a Mike Hussey. The best place for these sorts of players in #5 or #6. Greg Chappell identified this very early in his term and groomed Yuvraj for this specific role. As a result, I believe that Yuvraj is on the cusp of a very very special run.

    Tendulkar is best at #4. It didn’t work against Bangladesh. But that is his place.

    So, in my view 4, 5, 6, 7 is sorted in the team and should not be touched at all. Respectively, these are Tendulkar, Dravid, Yuvraj, Dhoni. There will always be variants depending on the match situation and the requirements. And this is a tactical issue for the day.

    The issue is then only about 1, 2, and 3.

    Either Uthappa-Ganguly-Sehwag

    Or Ganguly-Sehwag-Pathan

    Simple really…

    Mohan

  7. Mohan
    Your batting order on paper looks good. But we need a different batting line up for Sri Lanka.

    Vaas and Malinga will sort out Sehwag at the top with their spearing inswingers. I can see it all happen in my mind…. Sehwag cleaned up by Malinga attempting an expansive drive or plumb LB to Vaas playing across.

    Over the years Tendulkar has handled Vaas and Malinga wonderfully well and I think he is the best guy at the top for this game.

    Sehwag should play in the lower middle order when the ball is not doing much in the air.

    If I was the captain, my order will be Tendulkar, Ganguly, Uthappa, Dravid, Yuvraj, Sehwag, Dhoni….

    Also, it is important that either Dravid or Ganguly tackle Murali well. Lately, Tendulkar’s only answer to good spin bowling seems to be the paddle sweep and he needs to work out how he is going to score of Murali.

    Having said that, I will be extremely pleased if I am proven totally wrong and Sehwag comes out with all guns blazing at the top.

    -Vish

  8. While I can visualize Vish’s point about Sehwag at the opening slot, if I am not mistaken, a lef-right combination at the top has tended to cause problems to both Vaas and Malinga in the past. I am willing to take the gamble of playing Sehwag at the top this time around. It may also be worthwhile considering Dhoni as a possible opener, after all, he scored a hundred against this Lankan combo as an opener and play Sehwag at 3. If Pathan plays, and I think he should instead of Uthappa, the batting options are mindblowing. Honestly, my renewed optimism says Sri Lanka will humble Bangladesh and India will have a comfortable win against them.

    My conspiracy mind also says, some of the corporates who have poured money into the WC and into India especially will be lining up at the doors of the Bangladesh Cricket Board enticing them to bigger and brighter things for a small favor……

  9. One possible variation for the team composition for the SL contest could be Kumble instead of Agarkar, i.e, 2 mps & 2 spinners.

  10. Against a strong SL bowling attack I would like to see Dravid come up at 3. My ideal line up would be Ganguly, Uthappa, Dravid, Sachin, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni. With 20 overs of power play we cannot afford to play only 2 medium pacers and 2 spinners. This could work if Pathan can guarantee 10 overs for 40 and a wicket or too. Or the batsmen fire so much that we play 5 bowlers.

  11. Against SL, I think it is better to go with 3 seamers – one spinner. SL batsmen play spinners very well. If Agarkar is so insipid, why can’t they include Sreesanth. This is a crucial match – make or break – no margin for error.

    If Uthappa gets out quickly, my guess is that India will send Sehwag again at No. 3. If Sehwag gets out quickly, then we are back to Bangladesh situation. Chaminda Vaas is a very clever bowler. Uttappa is in the side, only because Indian team is not comfortable with Sehwag or Sachin opening the innings.

    Uthappa can be dropped, and Dravid can open the innings with Ganguly.

    Greg, I hope you are listening :-))

  12. Dravid opening with Ganguly? Greg, I hope you are listening to everyone on this site other than gnbmdr!

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