Daily Archives: 18 May 2007

Injury a worry

What is happening to the Indian fast bowlers? Sreesanth has gone back home injured and Munaf is due to join him. Munaf’s condition is especially worrying given the frequency of his break down. I am not sure of the seriousness of his injury yet, but surely this should put a serious question mark on his inclusion in the England tour.

Unlike the Bangladesh tour, where we could have even done away with just one fast bowler (Zaheer Khan partnering with Ganguly! – Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but not entirely unthinkable), the England tour will need 3 genuine fast bowlers in the playing eleven. Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth should be expected to fill the first two spots, and with Munaf out of the way, the 3rd spot should go to a good swing bowler. It is a pity Irfan Pathan is not in the radar any more. Being a decent bat, he would have been the ideal candidate.

All eyes will be on RP and VRV Singh in this match, and possibly Ishant in the next. But the pitches being unfavourable to fast bowlers, they may just not be able to show what they are capable of. This series is probably going to raise more questions than it answers…

-Mahesh-

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The ‘other’ opener

Who should be the ‘other’ opener to partner Jaffer? Karthik, was specifically chosen for the job because the selectors feel he is the best around. The only other guy who could have made it was Gambhir. Given that Karthik was slotted as an opener, he did come out and score a good fifty to give India some respectability after the fall of Jaffer. But the question is about depth in the batting. We dropped Yuvraj and Laxman and chose Dhoni. Now that is raising a lot of eyebrows. Why two wicketkeepers? Firstly Karthik is not in the wicketkeeping scheme of things at the moment. The conditions do not allow a wk to keep and open the batting. If Laxman or Yuvraj play instead of Dhoni/Karthik then who opens? Dravid should not open. All one drop players in the world should be ready to come in if a wicket falls even on the first ball. But they need not and should not open. Sachin and Sourav are not in the opening scheme of things. Yuvraj is not even in any kind of test form to be asked to open. And Laxman hates that job. So what can be done???

– Sanjay

Team India for 1st test v Bangladesh, 19 May 2007

I do not believe this Indian team that’s been selected for the 1st Test against Bangladesh! I do not believe that this is the right one at all… Surely!

With Munaf Patel injured, I agree they had no choice but to go in with 5 bowlers. With a “fit and searching” Munaf Patel, questions may have been asked of the Bangladeshi players. However, the moment he was injured, the team was perhaps right in opting for a 5-bowler strategy — especially given the hot and humid conditions that the team will, no doubt, face in this Test match. Given the personnel that the team had to chose from, the choice of Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, VRV Singh, Anil Kumble and R. Powar was perhaps right.

What I cannot, however, fathom is the batting. It just lacks depth. And the presence of two wicketkeepers in the team — especially given the five-bowler scenario — is befuddling, to say the least!

Given the hands-tied-behind-back scenario the team had opted for by going in with only one specialist opener, I’d have taken Karthik as opener and ‘keeper and gone in with an additional batsman — either Yuvraj Singh or VVS. Laxman. Currently, this batting lacks depth.

I predict that this will put Tendulkar and Ganguly into 1st gear mode especially if 2-3 wickets wickets fall early (a la the 3rd Test against South Africa).

Expect the worst guys!

— Mohan

Munaf injured – to go back home

Munaf Patel has been declared injured and is to go back home. The Delhi medium pacer Ishant Sharma has been asked to join the team. This explains why RP Singh is in the XI ahead of Munaf.

– Sanjay

Was the team selection right?

The openers

India pretty much shot itself in the foot when they decided to pick just one specialist opener for the tour. But Karthik had proved himself more than capable against a much superior SA attack and the selectors probably thought Why not try him in Bangladesh as well?. One could argue that this is such a short sighted move and couldn’t work in say tours to England or Australia and that would be a valid argument.

But taking the Bangladesh tour alone into consideration, it could probably work well. The question here is  – Aren’t people like Yuvraj, Sehwag and Laxman better players than Karthik? Maybe they are, but Sehwag has been dropped from the test side and I haven’t seen Laxman or Yuvraj put their hands up to open the innings. The only other alternative would have been to open the innings with Dravid and Jaffar. Dravid has expressed his reluctance to open the innings in the past and he probably used the captain’s prerogative to opt out. 

(At the time of writing this report, Jaffar had gone out to a 1st ball duck and Dravid has come out to face the 2nd ball of the innings. IMHO – Dravid would actually make an excellent opener in tests, but his reluctance is something of a surprise to me)

Middle order

The biggest surprise is the dropping of Laxman to accommodate another bowler. There is going to be a lot of debate on whether this is the right move or not. He has performed better than players like Tendulkar in the last 10 games, but his performance has still not been top class. His fitness and fielding also doesn’t work in his favour. In these hot and humid conditions, Dravid probably saw merit in choosing Saurav and Sachin over Laxman, as they can offer some relief to the bowlers by bowling a few overs.

Wicket keeper

Dhoni was the man of the series in the recently concluded ODI series and is the keeper of choice for the Indian team, although Karthik has been offering stiff competition. With Karthik opening the innings, the team management probably thought that performing a dual role of Keeper/Opener in these conditions wasn’t such a good idea – and I agree.

Bowlers

A lot has been written on why we need 5 bowlers in this match. I have felt in the past that India has never benefited with this move and I am not sure they will in this match either. OK – the hot and humid conditions probably warrants 5 bowlers, but the judgement of picking 3 fast bowlers baffles me. They would have been better in picking 3 spinners and 2 fast bowlers if they wanted a 5 bowler attack. If pre-match reports of the pitch is to be believed, it is going to be slow and the bounce low.

It remains to be seen whether the selection moves were actually good or bad. But an easy win will mask any mistakes made… 

-Mahesh-

Dravid leads Indian surge in first session

Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, came in at no 3 to face the seccond ball of the match. In the last 16 overs or so Dravid with 47 off 46 balls and 10 fours has lead the Indian surge. Just what we want from a captain of a side. Get in there and take matters into your hand. Go Dravid!

– Sanjay

Disastrous start for India!

India lose Jaffer to the first ball of the match. Both Dhoni and Karthik are in the team with Laxman and Yuvraj dropped. No Munaf Patel but as expected India opt for 5 bowler team with Zaheer, VRV and RP Singh. Powar to make his test debut.

– Sanjay