Category Archives: Bermuda

Team selection and toss vital

A lot has been written on team composition since the Bermuda game. Key questions being – 

  • Should Pathan/Sreesanth come in for Agarkar?
  • Should Karthik replace Uthappa?
  • Should India play two spinners?

I think the answer lies in how Dravid and Chappell read Uthappa. Not only his form at nets but also gauge if he is mentally ready to take up the challenge. 

Karthik has proven in the past that he is a gutsy customer who can absorb pressure and an excellent fielder. That can work in his favour. However he is not a natural opener and that is his disadvantage. I will still go with Uthappa since a good start will settle the team’s nerves during this high pressure game.   

Pathan has’nt played recently and lack of match practise will work against him even though the Indian batting will be considerably strengthened. Dravid is likely to go with Agarkar again. 

I will be really surprised if Kumble plays and even more surprised if two spinners play. If the pitch is low and slow like the last game, it might be a good idea to play two spinners but it is very unlikely. 

Reading the pitch correctly is vital in this game and although India has won most of their games chasing against Sri Lanka lately, they have done so without Murali in the ranks. Batting second on a low slow turner against Murali is tough and India may do well setting a target rather than chasing.

And finally, the toss is extremely important – mainly because the team winning the toss can exercise their first  choice – Setting targets or chasing. Since India’s batting is stronger than bowling, the obvious choice looks like they should chase targets. But, the pressure could get to the best of players. Remember Kolkata 1996 semi finals?

I feel India should bat first put a huge total and try their hardest to defend.








SL beating Bangladesh – Good for India

The day after the Bermuda win I kept arguing with people here that an SL win against Bangladesh is good for India. This article just confirms it. Now we just beat SL and go through with 2 points. Bangladesh despite their good showing are more dependent on the outcome of tomorrow’s game and must hope that SL beat India. If India wins tomorrow Bangladesh will have to do much much better than what India did against Bermuda. There is of course another scenario that Cricinfo has forgotten to include. In case India thrash SL tomorrow how much difficult or easy will it be for Bangladesh to get through! After the Bangladesh game, we were generally being written off. Even today just because SL thrashed Bangladesh, a team that we lost to, we are not exactly favorites for tomorrow’s game. But tomorrow is another day!

– Sanjay

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

The mindset was right

India’s triumph over Bermuda was emphatic, but the more encouraging aspect of the win was the team’s mindset. They looked like they were fully focused on the job at hand and went about it without fuss. The Net Run Rate side of things looks a lot better now.

I mentioned in my earlier post (Go for Broke India) that the Indians needed to approach the game with an uncluttered mind and that is what they did. Even if this was a win against the least fancied of teams, they could take away many positives.

Two things are clear:

  1. Virender Sehwag justified his place in the side and definitely needs to be picked for the Sri Lanka game. Many have clamoured for his removal, but Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell kept faith. In my opinion he was not picked in the team because he is the current ‘blue eyed boy’ of the think tank. Actually, far from it. If anyone can identify a cricketing skill and match winning ability, it is Chappell. I for one don’t doubt his integrity and Dravid’s judgement in reading players. That is why Sehwag is in despite his failures and Pathan is not.
  2. Harbajan should come back to the team for Kumble in the next game. I feel Kumble is less effective against the lefties and if you look at the Sri Lankan line up, you have Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakarra, Tharanga, Russell Arnold and Chaminda Vaas. Even against the game against Bermuda, he was unconvincing against Hemp and Minors.

It is pity that Pathan is still not in the scheme of things yet. He is a potential match winner with both bat and ball and his presence will get the balance right. Many will argue that he should have played against Bermuda instead of Agarkar, but even if he had a half-decent game, he is not a certainty for Sri Lanka. One can only hope he discovers his bowling mojo soon.


Good solid performance

When Leverock thudded to the ground with a stunner of a catch, the earth shook on impact and then… Virender Sehwag walked in. The immediate thought that came to my mind was that it was bad decision. I thought Mahendra Dhoni should have come in. Sehwag started tentatively poking his bat at the ball outside off. But he settled in and thankfully proved me wrong. Sehwag then restored the faith of his captain with a wonderful century. When Sehwag got to his hundred, I wasn’t sure who was more relieved — Dravid or Sehwag. Sehwag eventually fell trying to go the aerial route on the penultimate ball of powerplay. So powerful was Sehwag’s hitting that the final powerplay wasn’t taken until the 26th over.

Sourav Ganguly on the other end was finding it hard to pick the gaps unless he went over the top. He eventually perished, out stumped trying to hit another six. This was another gritty knock from Saurav Ganguly — it wasn’t as elegant as the Saurav Ganguly of old, but what he missed in elegance was compensated by grit.

Dhoni performed a quick cameo — 29 of 24 with one six. I had expected Sachin Tendulkar to walk in after Ganguly was out, but in came Yuvraj Singh, which was a very bold move.  

I agree the bowling wasn’t that strong, but India had to get a big score — it had to be as close to 400 as possible to give them a realistic chance of qualifying to the Super8s and Yuvraj Singh ensured that.  Yuvraj Singh completed his 50 with his fourth 6 — all hit over mid wicket. But he wasn’t done yet. He hit three more sixes and when he got out the score was 391. His valuable contribution was 83 of 46 balls. It contained 7 sixes and 3 fours.

If Yuvraj Singh’s batting was outstanding, then it is hard to find a superlative for Sachin Tendulkar’s. He batted at a clip faster than Yuvraj Singh and got to his 50 of just 26 deliveries and finished with 57*. Rahul Dravid hit the last ball of the innings for yet another six and India finished at 413 in its fifty overs.

Only one half of the job has been done. The target for India now would be to get Bermuda out for less than 150.


Go for broke India

India take on Bermuda in less than two hours and the Indian camp although confident of winning will be concerned about the net run rate factor. However as Anand Vasu says in Cricinfo, the focus should be on controlling the controllables and not worry about the rest.

The Indians were over cautious in the Bangladesh game after misreading the pitch and I thought were aiming at a moderate 220-225 mid way through the innings. I am sure the team would have, in retrospect, attacked more. I thought the left arm seamer was given more respect than his bowling deserved and allowed him to dictate terms.

They shouldn’t repeat the same mistakes here and should go into the game with an uncluttered mind. I agree with Sanjay Subrahmanyan that Sehwag should play today and hopefully bat at No 6. He and Dhoni will be the key to get India past 350. I think Kumble will get a game replacing Agarkar.

There is a lot of speculation that Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly will open. It really does’nt matter since Uthappa has shown that he can capitalise on the powerplay field restrictions too. Even if one of them fire and Dhoni or Sehwag can finish it off, we are looking at 350 plus… A lot of confidence going into the Sri Lanka game on the 23rd.


Sachin to open?

Today is the first of the many nervous days that all of us Indian cricket enthusiasts have to go through. We have to win and win well.

So what is winning well? If we bat first we have to win by more than 253 runs (the margin by which Sri Lanka beat Bermuda).

If we field we have to skittle Bermuda out for a low total and then make the requisite runs very very quickly.

Will Sehwag play today? I think he will. In a match like this where runs have to be scored really fast, Sehwag and Dhoni will be crucial. But the most interesting talk doing the rounds is that Sachin may open! The team might get the old firm of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly back at the top to give it inspiration/impetus.

A good choice under the circumstances, I think.

In all probability Dhoni will bat at 3 whatever the situation of the match. With Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid batting down the order, and an ‘out form but likely to score against a minnow in the true sense’ Virender Sehwag, they can afford to send Tendulkar up the order.

And the bowling?

I think Kumble should play. Minnows are not familiar with his brand of spin whereas they may be able to cope with any form of medium pace. Irfan Pathan should also play today.

So the likely team (in likely batting order):

Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, M. S. Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Uthappa/Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel

– Sanjay