Saurav “dada” Ganguly has retired and that has opened up a slot in the middle order, that is up for grabs. The race is truly on. The list of contenders has been doing the rounds for a while now and here is my take on them. I’ve also included their form guide since start of October.
This man is an enigma. He has been in International cricket for over 8 years, won matches for India, fields brilliantly and yet has struggled to find a spot in the Test team. In 36 innings, he has 3 hundreds and 3 fifties – not good. If he does not find a spot in the side soon, he will become the Michael Bevan of India – Great one day player, forgettable Test player. Currently the leading contender for the berth – a fact that has been confirmed by Kris Srikkanth, the chairman of selectors.
|India vs England 3rd ODI||38|
|India vs England 2nd ODI||118|
|India vs England 1st ODI||138*|
|Punjab vs Delhi||0, 38|
|India Blue vs India Red||8*|
|India Blue vs India Green||3|
|India Blue vs India Red||6|
|Board Presidents XI vs Australia||29, 113|
Cons: Suspect against spin, questionable attitude, recent form slump, injury woes. A confidence player.
Pros: The two match winning performances against England should give his confidence and chances a boost. He loves the English bowling (remember the 6 sixes against Broad). Still young (26), but has loads of experience and can absorb pressure. Being left handed in an otherwise right handed middle-order is also a good thing.
Showed he belongs in the big league with good performance against Australia in Australia and before that in the T20 World Cup, but is yet to get a big score in his 28 outings in ODIs – his highest score has only been 70* and he averages just under 25 – but that could be due to the fact that he comes down the order and hasn’t played enough matches yet.
|India vs England 3rd ODI||28|
|India vs England 2nd ODI||3|
|India vs England 1st ODI||11*|
|Mumbai vs Rajasthan||62, 128|
|India Red vs India Blue||1|
|India Red vs India Green||117*|
|India Red vs India Blue||2|
|Board Presidents XI vs Australia||105, 29*|
Cons: Lack of consistency, Poor string of scores in International cricket.
Pros: Good technique. Big match player. Like Sehwag, he may not score heavily in first class matches. But on the big stage, he can absorb pressure and play well. Playing well of late – a 100 against the Aussies playing for the Board President’s XI and good scores (62 & 129) against Rajasthan in the Ranji match before the ODI series began. Like most of the contenders, has age on his side (only 21)
Being the blue eyed boy of Greg Chappell probably put more pressure than him than it was worth. Only 21 and has already had a bit of rollercoaster ride in his short career which started off with a first ball duck. Huge potential and it is really a question of when he will play in the Test side – not if.
|India vs England 3rd ODI||1|
|India vs England 2nd ODI||4|
|India vs England 1st ODI||43|
|Uttar Pradesh vs Andhra||22|
|India Green vs India Blue||16|
|India Green vs India Red||58|
|India A vs New Zealand A||11, 5|
Cons: Hasn’t had s good run of scores since the start of October.
Pros: Fielding. Technique. Only 21, but has already played high pressure situations and handled them well. Left handed batsman.
Consistent performances in the Ranji could not be ignored and he was drafted into the Test squad as a replacement for the suspended Gambhir. Although didn’t cross fifty in either innings, impressed everyone with the way he handled the Aussie fast bowlers.
|India vs Australia 4th Test||33, 41|
|Tamil Nadu vs Maharashtra||243|
|India Red vs India Blue||30|
|India Red vs India Green||45|
|India Red vs India Blue||89|
|India A vs New Zealand A||98, 0|
Cons: Plays as an opener and that may act against him. India usually play a middle order batsman as on opener – not the other way around!
Pros: In form. Good technique. Impressed everyone with his fielding which included a couple of run outs in his debut test.
This man is on a roll. 3 Triple-hundreds since September – granted that two of them were in the U-22, but you still can’t ignore that. And he just scored another big hundred (189) against Punjab. If you are looking for an in-form batsman to fit into the middle order – he is your man.
|Saurashtra vs Punjab||189|
|Saurashtra vs Orissa||302*|
|Saurashtra vs Gujarat||8, 0|
|India Green vs India Blue||65|
|India Green vs India Red||18*|
|Saurashtra U-19 vs Maharashtra U-19||309|
|India A vs New Zealand A||89, 0|
Cons: No international exposure as yet. Batsmen in India usually get picked in ODIs first (you do have exceptions like Murali Vijay)
Pros: A good technique well suited for test cricket. Good temperament to play long innings. He is still young – under 21.
S. Badrinath has had strong scores in India A matches and in domestic cricket. As a result, he has been in the frame of the selectors for a while now, but has failed to click in key matches that would give him a promotion to the test spot. He has just scored a century for Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy, but that is probably too little too late. He still has an outside chance of getting into the team though.
|Tamil Nadu vs Uttar Pradesh||123|
|Tamil Nadi vs Karnataka||7|
|India Red vs India Blue||56|
|India Red vs India Green||27|
|India Red vs India Blue||10|
|Indian Board President’s XI vs Austraia||2, 14|
Cons: Failures in key matches. Hasn’t had the big scores this season to push for a place in the side.
Pros: Technique suited for Test cricket. Consistent without being flamboyant. Has been around in domestic cricket for a while and has represented India in the “A” team with a lot of success. So, comes with a lot of experience.
There are few others who could get a look in as well. Virat Kohli and Robin Uthappa and Kaif come to mind straight away – but as of now, they are more of outsiders than contenders.