Daily Archives: 9 July 2007

India A team

As we were discussing the teams for the Twenty20 Worldcup and the first test between India and England, the selectors announced the squad for the India A tour to Kenya and Zimbabwe. Here is the team –

  • Mohd. Kaif (Captain) – Middle order Batsman
  • Parthiv Patel (Vice-captain) – WK, but picked as batsman
  • Robin Uthappa – Opening batsman
  • C Pujara – Middle order batsman
  • S Badrinath – Middle order batsman
  • Rohit Sharma – Middle order batsman
  • Rajesh Pawar – Left Arm Spin
  • Mahesh Rawat  – Wicket Keeper
  • Piyush Chawla – Leg Break Bowler
  • Arjun Yadav – Middle order batsman
  • Pragyan Ojha – Left Arm Spin
  • Irfan Pathan – Left Arm Medium Pace/Left hand batsman
  • Yo Mahesh – Right Arm Medium Pace
  • Pankaj Singh – Right Arm Medium Pace
  • Niraj Patel – Middle Order batsman

So, whats wrong with this team? Plenty.

  • Opening batsmen – India currently has a lack of opening batsmen and it is time to try out genuine openers. It was pointed out by this article too (Thanks, Chandan). Apart from Uthappa, there is no one. Why wasn’t M Vijay picked? He is an opener and barring Uthappa and Tiwary has scored more runs than anyone else in the Ranjis. He is also only 23 years old. Sure Parthiv now opens the batting for Gujarat, but c’mon…Apparently, Chopra wasn’t picked because of his age (29 years!), while Rajesh Pawar (28 years) finds a place in the team. IMHO, trying out Chopra before the Aussie tour should have ranked high on the selectors agenda.
  • Fast bowlers – Yo Mahesh and Irfan Pathan are good choices, but why weren’t Munaf and Ishant picked? Or VRV Singh?? Pankaj Singh is definitely a surprise selection.
  • Left arm spinners – Do we really need two? Why not pick one offspinner instead? Yusuf Pathan has been picked up for the Twenty20 shortlist. Surely, he could have been given a try. Or R. Aswhin, the off spinner who took 31 scalps in 4 matches and was named bowler of the year in domestic cricket, could have been given a go.
  •  Arjun Yadav – Will someone please explain to me why he was picked? Apart from being Shivlal Yadav’s son and being able to threaten people with a stump, please give me one good reason.
  • Suresh Raina – Why wasn’t he picked? In an interview to Hindustan Times a day before the team was announced, Raina says he is now fully fit, but he wasn’t picked. Apparently, Manoj Tiwary is also not fully fit to be included in the team.
  • Joginder Sharma – He had a good domestic season and India is looking out for all rounders. Why wasn’t he picked? I think this is a shocking omission.
  • Sehwag – I think India needs Sehwag. It’s a pity he is not in the Seniors team and doesn’t find a place in the  A team either. They could have named him captain and Kaif vice captain. Bajji must be glad he is playing for Surrey, chalking up much needed match practice and experience, while Sehwag must be hoping to score some runs in the local Buchi Babu tournament.

Ok, now that I’ve let my steam out, I do agree that there can only be 15 people in the team and selection is not an easy task. But the team(s) that Mohan picked earlier had a good combination of people trying to get back into the team and people in the fringes of national selection. On the other hand, this team contains people like Arjun Yadav….


India’s XI for the First Test

From this rather forthright set of statements by captain Rahul Dravid, it appears as if Team India’s playing XI for the first Test against England (at Lord’s from July 19 to 23) has been virtually decided.

Rahul Dravid indicated that he was expecting big things from V. V. S. Laxman and appears to have given the stylish middle-order batsman the all-clear to play in the starting XI.

We can connect the dots between the following two statements and surmise that Laxman will play.

“I back Laxman to have a big tour this time. The last time he didn’t have as great a tour as the other guys. I can see that he’s determined to correct it this time. He looks hungry.”

“I know my best top order. I’m pretty clear about the top six going into the first Test match. In the next game (against England ‘A’) we will be playing our top six batsmen.”

Any lingering doubts may have been sealed by the sparkling 95 that Laxman scored in India’s tour opener against Sussex.

Given Dinesh Karthik’s impressive outing and given the fact that Jaffer scored a century in his last outing — albeit against Bangladesh — I don’t believe the opening combination will be tampered with. So, we can expect a top-six of: Karthik, Jaffer, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman.

The only question would be if India will play five bowlers or M. S. Dhoni and four bowlers.

Here again, Dravid puts paid to any speculation on the matter with yet another forthright comment. That the team expects to play both Karthik and Dhoni and four bowlers is sealed in the following two comments:

“We will probably go in with four bowlers. Depending upon the weather and the pitch we will have to decide whether it’s two spinners and two fast bowlers, or three pacers and a spinner.”

“Dhoni is coming here for the first time and the people here will be seeing him for the first time. Dinesh Karthik too has been very impressive in his short career. Had a lot of success in South Africa. We will be expecting both of them to deliver the goods.”

Given this scenario, we can expect that the only selection conundrum would be whether India plays two pacers and two spinners (unlikely) and if they play three pace-men, who these will be. Although most scribes are pointing to Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan and R. P. Singh as the combination, I’d like to see them play Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan and Ranadeb Bose.

So, my team for the First Test would be:

Karthik, Jaffer, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman, Dhoni, Kumble, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Ranadeb Bose.

— Mohan

When will they learn to shut up?

I was absolutely shocked to read this piece in The Telegraph today. We often hear of players getting wrapped on the knuckles for irresponsible leaks and squeaks to the media. However, officialdom normally has a way of getting away with it. Greg Chappell did. Several BCCI officials do… regularly.

But this latest leak defies belief!

Let’s sample this peach, for example: “It’s tough to say anything definitely, but my feeling is that Sachin Tendulkar alone would have been an absolute certainty for the probables’ list… There could well have been a long debate over Rahul and Sourav” one of the five selectors told The Telegraph on Sunday.

Why is it not possible for the selectors to adopt a “What is said in the rooms stays in the rooms policy”? If they cannot adopt that fundamental principle, they should really not be on the committee! They should not be raising issues that would arouse needless speculation in the media, thereby fanning an already burning forest; the forest of cricket-mania that the media regularly indulges in.

This wise selector then goes on to suggest that “even if Sachin was among the probables, the captaincy would still go to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.”

Ok! So the rest of the selectors are going to pretend to look the other way while this one selector thumps the table?

I just don’t get it. Why are these people in office?

— Mohan

Musings on the Twenty20 team

I was writing up my comments to Sanjay’s post, but decided to write a separate post as it was getting too long 🙂

In my opinion, here are the pre-requisites for picking up a Twenty20 side –

  • For a batsman, you should have a good strike rate and the ability  to improvise.
  • All players in the team should be able to field really well (this probably disqualifies someone like Munaf and Ishant)
  • As a bowler, you should have the ability to contain runs more than the ability to take wickets. If you can also take wickets, it is a bonus. (My logic is that if you can contain the flow of runs in Twenty20, the wickets will automatically fall)
  • Wicket keepers must be good batsmen.
  • The team should have a good mix of allrounders (at least 3 in the playing XI). The definition of an allrounder for a Twenty20 is very different to an allrounder in other forms of the game. In Twenty20, if you are batsman who can bowl at 2-3 overs every match, you can be considered to be an all rounder. Or if you are a bowler who can be relied to get around 25 runs. (I would consider people like Dinesh Mongia, Sehwag and Yuvraj to be “batting” allrounders, whereas people like Irfan Pathan can be considered “bowling” allrounders. It’s a pity Mongia wasn’t considered)
  • Bowlers who can throw their bat about to score some quick runs is also a bonus.

So dividing up the team into batsmen, allrounders, bowlers and WK Batsmen, this is what we get –

Batsmen Allrounder Bowler WK Batsmen
M Kaif
S Raina
M Tiwary
K Goel
C Pujara
R Sharma
G Gambhir
A Srikkanth
R Uthappa
Niraj Patel
V Sehwag
Yuvraj Singh
I Pathan
Y Pathan
J Sharma
N Behera
Praveen Kumar
Z Khan
RP Singh
I Sharma
R Pawar
P Chawla
H Singh
M Patel
Ramesh Powar
MS Dhoni
D Karthik


Of this lot, Manoj Tiwary, Rohit Sharma, Karan Goel and Niraj Patel can bowl a few overs, but I have still listed them as batsmen. Similarly Agarkar, Powar and Chawla can bat a bit, but I’ve listed them as bowlers. In fact they have all got hundreds to their name either in tests (Agarkar),  Ranjis (Powar) or U-19 cricket (Chawla). Zaheer and Bhajji are also capable of swinging the bat around for a few runs – but none of them can claim the tag of all rounder.

I can understand Goel and Niraj Patel being named in the short list – they had both scored over 300 runs in the domestic Twenty20 competition. Even Srikkanth Anirudha’s inclusion can be justified – he had scored 285 runs at a good strike rate. His fellow opener Devendran should consider himself very unlucky to have been left out of the squad after also making 285 in the competition.  What baffles me is the selection of Abhishek Jhunjhunwala. Jhunjhunwala didn’t have a great Twenty20 competition nor a great Ranji One Day tournament. I hope he is not in to fill up the “zonal” quota. Maybe he is a really good bat and the selectors see potential in him.

Y Pathan, Behera and Praveen Kumar are probably in the team mainly because the selectors are looking for more allrounders.

I think the following 12 have a very high probability of being picked in the XV –

Sehwag, Uthappa, Raina, Yuvraj, Karthik, Dhoni, Tiwary, Z Khan, Sreesanth, Agarkar, Powar, Chawla

This makes up 5 batsmen, 2 allrounders and 5 bowlers.

The remaining three places could go to anyone, but I think it will be split between a batsman, bowler and an allrounder. Irfan Pathan could get the all rounder spot, while Goel, Patel, Rohit Sharma, Gambhir and Anirudha Srikkanth could be fighting for the one batsman spot. RP Singh will probably edge out Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma. If the tournament was played in the subcontinent then Bhajji would have probably been a better choice. I would have personally preferred to go with one additional all rounder in the XV, but we may have to make do with the odd over from someone like Tiwary or Raina.

So, the likely XV could end up being –

Sehwag, Uthappa, Raina, Yuvraj, Karthik, Dhoni, Tiwary, Z Khan, Sreesanth, Agarkar, Powar, Chawla, I Pathan, RP Singh, Rohit Sharma.