Daily Archives: 9 December 2007

What’s the team for Australia going to be?

I am sure there is strong reason for postponing the the team selection for the tour of Australia.  But as I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t see any reason to name 24 probables to only cull the list a week later – they might as well have waited a few more days and named the actual team.

In any case, here is the list of 24 players –

Batsmen Bowlers Keepers
Jaffer Kumble Dhoni
Tendulkar RP Singh Karthik
Dravid Munaf Patel Parthiv Patel
Ganguly Zaheer Khan  
Laxman VRV Singh  
Yuvraj Singh Pankaj Singh  
Chopra Ishant Sharma  
Gambhir Murali Karthik  
  Harbhajan Singh  
  Piyush Chawla  
  Bose  
  Pathan  
  Agarkar  

 

It is funny how the probables list has 13 bowlers, even more than the batsmen and wicket keepers combined.

The ones in italics are certain to tour – Jaffer, Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Kumble, RP Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Dhoni. That leaves room for another 5 players. I would think that of the 16 players – the break down would be 7 batsmen, 7 bowlers and 2 keepers.

Based on that, there is room for just one regular batsman and based on current form, this is most likely to go to Gambhir although Chopra has prior experience playing in Australia. My preference would have been Sehwag, but he is not in the mix here.

Of the bowlers – taking more than 2 spinners would be a luxury, so Murali Karthik and Chawla will have to miss out. For the other 3 spots, Munaf should get the nod ahead of the others and Pathan may be picked based on his all round ability. The other seamer slot is a tough one to pick. As Ishant Sharma was picked for the last test, it is very likely that he may get the nod ahead of the others, but Agarkar has a knack of getting into the team when you least expect him to.

I really don’t expect the fifth player to play any games unless the others are injured. Why not have an  extra batsman instead? My preference would be Sehwag, but he is not in the mix here. Did I say that already? Doesn’t matter how many times I say it – he is unlikely to be included now. Maybe, the selectors should think of including someone like Badrinath in team. Oh, he is not in the list of 24 either! Oh, well…The only option the selectors have is to pick Chopra, and this may very well happen.

The 2nd keeper is probably not that easy to pick either. Parthiv Patel is in very good nick in domestic cricket and has played well when he has represented India A and Karthik has had a poor run with the bat in the current series. Parthiv Patel has played in Australia before and he plays the pull and cut quite well, which could come in handy down under. But, if the selectors still have faith in Karthik based on his showing in England he still has a chance of making it to the squad. He is my also my choice ahead of Parthiv Patel.

Assuming that the players who missed out the last test are all declared fit, here is what the team would end up looking –

Jaffer, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni, Karthik, Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma/Chopra.

-Mahesh-

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The Sehwag gamble

Ian Chappell in his column has asked “Where’s Viru?”  and I concur with his assessment that India have made a big mistake in not short listing him for the Australia tour.

Chappell has this to say in his article –

Now was not the right time to give up on Virender Sehwag. His selection for Australia would have been a gamble worth taking. Forget about whose nose might have been put out of joint, the Australians still fear Sehwag from the last tour, and it’s rarely that you have a chance to put one over on the Baggy Green caps, so when the opportunity arises, you grab it with both hands

As soon as the shortlist was announced, I was expressing similar thoughts to a friend of mine. As a matter of fact, I do not even understand why the selectors had to announce an interim 24 member short list if they couldn’t decide on the exact players. What purpose does it serve? (Visas, maybe?) IMHO, they could have waited till one more round of Ranji games had finished to see how Sehwag goes against Maharashtra.

I also felt that India should have included Sehwag in the squad for the Pakistan series in preparation for the Australian tour. He has a Bradmanque average against them and it would have been ideal preparation for him – it would have helped him regain both his confidence and form.

Australia has this ability to choke the opposition of runs and the wickets automatically fall due to the pressure. This is where someone like Sehwag would be have been invaluable as he scores both against fast bowlers and spinners at an excellent strike rate. This not only helps in putting the pressure back on the bowlers, it helps the other batsmen playing around him to take their own sweet time to settle down and then start scoring.

The selectors have not recognised this and the selection this year has been a bit short sighted by relying on a makeshift opener (even though Karthik did a terrific job in that role in both South Africa and England) to fill an important role in the team.

From their point of view, Sehwag’s run in the domestic competition has not been that great. Both his Delhi team mates Aakash Chopra and Gautam Gambhir have done better than him and someone like Parthiv Patel or Dinesh Karthik fill in the role of reserve ‘Keeper, while also filling the opener’s slot for India.

With Yuvraj’s success against Pakistan with the bat, I have a feeling that Dravid will be asked to open with Jaffar for the Australian tour so that they can somehow fit Yuvraj into the playing XI. Although, Dravid is more than capable of opening the batting for India, it is a role he has had reservations with in the past. Being a team man, I am sure he will oblige.

Although I am not sure whether this move will work out, I have a feeling that is where we are heading towards…

-Mahesh-