Category Archives: ODI

No Rahul Dravid yet…

Yesterday, India wrapped up the ODI series against Pakistan with one match to go in the 5-match series.

Yesterday Rahul Dravid, who was asked by Dilip Vengsarkar (Chairman of Selectors for Team India) to find “fitness and form” by playing in the Ranji Trophy, hit another century for Karnataka. Rahul Dravid hit 121 off 180 balls against Himachal Pradesh.

Yesterday, the selectors selected the ODI team for the last, dead-rubber ODI against Pakistan. They have retained the same team that played last nights’ game.

There is no place for Dravid in the ODI Team India yet.

As I said in my earlier post, given it is a dead-rubber game, I’d like to see India play the following team (in batting order) for that game on Sunday:

Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Sree Santh, R. P. Singh

— Mohan

India win ODI series…

India won the fourth match of the ODI series against Pakistan at Gwalior and sealed the ongoing series against Pakistan 3-1 with one match still to go.

The chief architect of this win was Sachin Tendulkar, who hit a masterful 97 — out for the 6th time in the last 21 innings in the 90s. Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and M. S. Dhoni too played sensibly to get India home. This was yet another match in which India didn’t really appear to lose control of the game at any point in time. Much like India’s previous wins by India in this series at Guwahati and at Kanpur, India appeared to be in the drivers’ seat right through the match; if the teams’ hands were not on the wheel itself, the closeness of hand to wheel was reasonably conspicuous.

Every time Pakistan threatened to take the game away from India, either a wicket would fall (when Pakistan batted) or a series of big shots (when India batted) would bring the game back into Indias’ control. In that sense it was a bit of an Australian-performance by India! For example, just when Shoaib Mallik and Younis Khan were threatening to take the game away from India, Zaheer Khan clean bowled Mallik to redress the equation. When Shahid Afridi bowled a few tight overs to cramp Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, suddenly from nowhere, Sehwag belted out a huge six to unconstrain the batsmen. The next over from Afridi saw Tendulkar launch into three sublime 4s!

Tendulkar batted quite wonderfully. Many a commentary talks of the “Tendulkar of old”. This is an unfortunate and, in my view, somewhat senseless trend to compare Tendulkar-of-today with the Tendulkar-of-old or the Bradman-of-old. There seems to be this native and implicit (sometimes frustratingly explicit) expectation that suddenly Tendulkar will start to play like the 1998-vintage Tendulkar. In my view, however, the 1998-Tendulkar was what it was… the 1998-Tendulkar. I am convinced that we will not see the “Tendulkar of old” that L. Sivaramakrishnan and Arun Lal continue to talk about in their game-commentary. It enables me to fully enjoy, appreciate, cherish and value the “Tendulkar of today”. And yesterday’s exhibition was close to perfection by Tendulkar. On a pitch where most batsmen struggled, Tendulkar wrote his own script. He played with nonchalance and confidence — Dileep Premachandran, in his CricInfo article, talks of Tendulkar playing with “confidence of old”, which is perhaps the right way to describe his batting last night.

At one point in time the TV commentary team — another topic for another day — talked about a window of opportunity for Pakistan and possible panic in the Indian dressing room when Sehwag and Tendulkar got out within a few overs of each other. M. S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh were doing battle in the middle. But then Robin Uthappa — India’s new finish-man — and Irfan Pathan were still there in the pavillion! There seemed to be plenty of gas left in this vehicle. In any case, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh played with calm comfort to steer India home again, as they did in Guwahati!

I do strongly believe that India must use the dead-rubber game at Jaipur on Sunday to plan for the months ahead. I believe it would be appropriate for the team to rest Sourav Ganguly for that game. The lack of a 5th bowler could have hurt India if it were playing a stronger team last night. The time is right, in my view to blood Praveen Kumar. Moreover, with a view to the long season coming up for Team India, Zaheer Khan — who, incidentally, bowled with great control in last nights’ game — could be rested too.

I’d like to see India play the following team (in batting order) for that game on Sunday:

Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Sree Santh, R. P. Singh

— Mohan

Same ODI Team… No Rotation Policy!

The Indian selectors decided to, once again, dump the rotation policy that they said they wanted to implement — and have been talking about since around April 2007!

It may be that their collective heads were already spinning from the Team India Test-captain-selection mess — their mess — that they were cleaning up. Given this existing revolution-oriented medical condition and disorientation, they probably did not want to think of rotation at all, even though they had suggested just a week earlier that we would see Rahul Dravid back in the team — thereby suggesting the existence of some revolution-oriented operation.

Was that revolution more of a spin and not rotation, perhaps?

Vengsarkar had said then, that Dravid was only “rested“. “We decided to give him a break. He’s a great player and he will be back soon. Fitness and fielding have become very important in the one-day game so he will have to show it playing for his state [Karnataka].

So, much like the rotation-proclamations ahead of the India-Australia ODI series — when the only thing that rotated was the roulette wheel that paid selectors for the mess they were creating — there was no rotation policy this time either.

India has gone with the same team for the next two ODIs against Pakistan (on Nov 11 and Nov 15). The final ODI of this five-match series will be played on Nov 18th.

— Mohan

India Vs Pakistan, 1st ODI, Guwahati :: Highlights (Pakistan Innings)

[YouTube = http://youtube.com/watch?v=F2BSDSh1CwQ%5D

Likely team for India-Pakistan 1st ODI

And so, another series starts today in India. India play a 5-match ODI series against Pakistan with todays’ first game being played at Guwahati.

oN paper, India appear to start as favourites in the ODI series — at least, in the judgement of Rameez Raja and Sanjay Manjrekar! And I think that is fair enough. The team is more settled under its new captain who seems to exude confidence with every game. Despite the dropping of Rahul Dravid, they have a more settled team that has just been through a tough series against Australia. Although Pakistan have come through a tough series against South Africa, there is an unsettled look to the team and one never knows what Shoaib Akhtar’s presence will do in the dressing room.

This is the team that I think India should go with.

Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly (Gautam Gambhir)
Virender Sehwag (Rohit Sharma)
Yuvraj Singh
Robin Uthappa
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Irfan Pathan
Praveen Kumar
Harbhajan Singh
R. P. Singh (Murali Kartik)
Zaheer Khan (Sreesanth)

My team selection is motivated by a few factors. The early start would necessitate the inclusion of a few pace options. The game commences at 8.30am so that the game can complete by 4.30pm, when the sun starts to set in these parts! Why play in these parts at this time of the year may be a question that one could conceivably pose. But given that the recepient of such questions would be the BCCI and a certain Niranjan Shah, “save breath” would be a safe alternative to a poser that would definitely be met with nothing more than a vague retort!

The ground at Guwahati is, at about 60 yards, quite small by international standards. Dhoni, in his pre-match said, “This is one of the grounds where we could have extended the boundary ropes.” Given this, I doubt India will go with two spinners.

I’d play Virender Sehwag who is supposed to be in “good nick” according to his captain. Unfortunately, this will mean that Gautam Gambhir misses out.

Given the early start and the possible dewey conditions, I would also play the new-lad, Praveen Kumar in the team. However, I feel that the Praveen Kumar play may be a bridge too far for this team. The team may go down the safety-path and select Sreesanth or Murali Kartik instead of this young, capable allrounder who was recently described to be as being “in the James Hopes mould”.

— Mohan

The India ODI team I’d like to see for the games against Pakistan

As I mentioned in an earlier post, keeping in mind the hectic schedule that is on the cards for Team India over the next 6 months and given the importance of the flagship series against Pakistan and Australia coming up, it would be best if the selectors rested Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from ODI duties for the series against Pakistan. That is probably the best thing that can happen for Indian cricket right now provided the alternative is sensible — and this could be tested out somewhat in the Challenger Series that starts tomorrow (25th Oct 2007) at Ahmedabad.

By skipping the Pakistan ODIs that go from 5 November to 18 November, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly would be fresh for the Tests against Pakistan that commence 22 Nov. Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar should turn out Karnataka, West Bengal and Mumbai (respectively). Mumbai plays Karnataka and Bengal plays Hyderabad in the first games of the Ranjis this year! They would be handy matches for the Big-3! In the second round that starts 15 November, although Karnataka has an easy outing against Himachal Pradesh, Bengal plays Baroda and Mumbai plays Tamil Nadu.

Provided the Big-3 get asked to play the Ranji games, following is the ODI team I’d like to see for Team India against Pakistan:

Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Robin Uthappa
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Rohit Sharma / S. Badrinath / Suresh Raina / Manoj Tiwary / Mohammed Kaif [2 of these 5]
M. S. Dhoni
Praveen Kumar / Yusuf Pathan / Joginder Sharma [2 of these 3]
Irfan Pathan
Harbhajan Singh / Murali Kartik / Piyush Chawla [2 of these 3]
Sreesanth
Zaheer Khan / R. P. Singh

Views/comments?

— Mohan

Challenger Series…

The Challenger Series starts tomorrow (October 25 2007) in Ahmedabad. It will run for 4 days with the Final to be played on October 28th at the same venue.

It is a flagship ODI tournament for the N. K. P. Salve Cup and, coming on the heels of the Irani Trophy, signifies the curtain raiser for the domestic season. It has also been the platform for many an impressive showing. Suresh Raina and Piyush Chawla were already good young players when they played the Challengers in the last few years. But their performances in the Challengers shot them into the national conscience — and national team selection.

Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan talks of some strange exclusions and inclusions in this years’ episode in his Cricinfo piece.

Big-name players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh, Irfan Pathan, are not playing. And now, with Piyush Chawla having recovered, Murali Kartik has also been rested! Why? He has only played a handful of games in the last few weeks. Why should Kartik not play on in the Challengers? I just don’t get it. I’d have thought that more time in the middle merely serves to augment match-fitness and match-readiness, especially for a spinner!

I have already mentioned in an earlier post that I find it strange that R. P. Singh, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan are not playing. Yes, the road ahead is littered with matches, but it is not likely that R. P. Singh and Sreesanth will play all of those games and Irfan Pathan is only now getting into a solid rhythm and momentum. In my view, they should have played this series. It is also strange, albeit understandable, that V. V. S. Laxman does not figure. Another strange exclusion is V. R. V. Singh.

As Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan says, the galling feature is the dominance of the West Zone players. Simultanesouly, the absence of players from Rajasthan (finalists in the Ranji ODI Championship last year) apart from Pankaj Singh and Karnataka (quarter-finalists in the Ranji ODI Championship) is quite galling. I’d have thought that at least Shailender Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Barrington Rowland (Karnataka) would have had a look in. This is particularly so in light of some strange inclusions, like Siddharth Trivedi. The case of Satyajit Sathbai’s inclusion makes good comic material even by BCCI standards! Initially, it seems Satyajit Parab’s name was announced. A day later, it was retracted and another Satyajit’s name was included — this time, the right one… Sathbai. But even his inclusion reads silly. I can’t see what Sathbai has done to warrant inclusion in the team! Tanmay Srivatsa, Pradeep Sangwan, M. Vijay, C. Raghu, B. Akhil and J. Arunkumar are others that can feel quite miffed at being left out.

And the name Yadav is apparently worth quite a bit in Indian cricket these days! Young lans will not be blamed for queueing up at magistrates courts across the land to change their surname to Yadav!!

With a growing expectation that the Big 3 will be rested for the Pakistan ODIs, the time is ripe for the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohammed Kaif, S. Badrinath, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, and Manoj Tiwary to make a strong statement or two.

It will also present an opportunity for Munaf Patel to redeem himself in the eyes of the selectors. Yo Mahesh should grab this opportunity too.

I expect Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Joginder Sharma and Pankaj Singh to emerge strongly from this though. This is a wonderful opportunity for these players to make their cases and emerge to give confidence to the selectors that they can address team-balance with these sorts of players. Having said that, Pankaj Singh is less of a batsman than Pathan, Kumar or Sharma. A dark horse in the team-balance stakes with bits-and-pieces players could be Abhishek Nayar. He is a first-change media-fast bowler for Mumbai and is in terrific form for Mumbai (back-to-back centuries against Karachi Blues and RoI).

I know I have been talking up Praveen Kumar quite a bit over the last year or so. I really do expect this lad to be a part of India’s ODI plans for the future. A strong showing here may even propel him into the Pakistan ODI series. It is a chance that he has to grab with both hands.

India Red:
Mohammad Kaif (capt), Karan Goel, Gautam Gambhir, Subramaniam Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Ravneet Ricky, Praveen Kumar, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Pragyan Ojha, Siddharth Trivedi, Ishant Sharma, Pinal Shah, Shrikant Munde, Paresh Patel.
Coach: Lalchand Rajput

India Blue:
Virender Sehwag (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Suresh Raina, Niraj Patel, Arjun Yadav, Joginder Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Amit Mishra, Yo Mahesh, Ranadeb Bose, Swapnil Asnodkar, Rakesh Dhurv, Saurabh Bandekar
Coach: Venkatesh Prasad

India Green:
Parthiv Patel (capt/wk), Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Murali Kartik, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Abhishek Nayar, Niranjan Behera, Iqbal Abdulla, Pankaj Singh, Munaf Patel, Gagandeep Singh, Srikkanth Anirudha, Satyajit Satbhai.
Coach: Praveen Amre

The series schedule is:
Oct 25: India Red v/s India Blue
Oct 26: India Green v/s India Red
Oct 27: India Green v/s India Blue
Oct 28: Final

— Mohan

India Vs Australia, 6th ODI, Nagpur, 14 Oct 2007

The 6th ODI of this long-draw-ot series (yawn!) saw yet another clinical performance from Australia, who won the game, but not after a few flutters.

Australia won the toss on a good wicket and elected to bat first. Despite Michael Clarke’s first-ball duck, which gave India hope, and despite the fall of wickets at regular intervals, Australia made a good score of 317, setting India a gettable target of 318.

The key to the Australian innings was partnerships, a fact that man-of-the-match Andrew Symonds acknowledged in his post-match interview.

One felt that M. S. Dhoni may have missed a trick or two in the bowling!
In the middle overs, the spinners had created a stranglehold on proceedings. Ponting and Gilchrist had just got out off successive overs from Harbhajan Singh (15th over) Irfan Pathan (16th over). Immediately after that, in the 19th over, Symonds was dropped by Sreesanth and Hodge was struggling. That was the time to go for the jugular. And, detecting the slowness of the pitch, Dhoni did just that by bringing on Murali Kartik. In the 22nd over, Hodge was out to a beauty from Kartik. At that stage, Harbhajan had figures of 5-0-30-1. Another few overs of the spinners bowling in tandem would have created more pressure on the Australians. Insead, Dhoni went for a conservation-based caution approach. He brought in Yuvraj Singh instead and the foot was suddenly off the pedal. That over went for 15 runs and although Yuvraj Singh was taken off immediately, and although Sachin Tendulkar bowled four tight overs, one sensed that the pressue was off.

After that it was a Symonds show all the way. This was a well-constructed and carefully-crafted century from the burly Queenslander. His batting has improved tremendously over the last few years and he forms a vital part of the Australian middle-order these days. It is almost impossible to imagine an Australian ODI line-up without him!

The Indians in their reply, batted with purpose initially, lost their wheels completely in the middle and tried valiantly in the end to press for victory. The start that Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar provided was brisk, purposeful and pretty. They put on 140 in 25 overs before Tendulkar was out, brilliantly stumped by Gilchrist off a James Hopes down-the-legside slower ball! Tendulkar had played brilliantly for his run-a-ball 72! Interestingly, at this stage, although Australia had completed their 3rd PowerPlay, they hadn’t taken their 2nd PowerPlay yet.

India sent in Irfan Pathan at #3 and Ponting took the 2nd PowerPlay. The decision to send in Irfan Pathan was fair enough. Dhoni may have felt that India needed to stay in touch with the run-rate. Moreover, with Dravid out of sorts, it may have made more sense to let Pathan pinch-hit a bit. The PowerPlay segment of 5 overs had yielded 34 runs. So perhaps the decision to promote Pathan was vindicated after all? At that point, the as was 144 runs off 20 overs with 9 wickets left — a very gettable target!

Pathan was batting brilliantly, but may have lost his concentration after a verbal clash with Symonds. He was out the very next over — caught at ‘point’ off a lazy lapse-in-concentration shot. A few overs later, Ganguly gave Brad Hogg the charge and was caught at long-on. The wheels fell off completely a few overs later when both Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid were back in the hut!

Uthappa and Dhoni then batted with much purpose to get India within striking distance — 28 runs were needed off the last 2 overs. But a series of brain explosions and a double-wicket-maiden in the 49th over from Mitchell Johnson left India short of its final target by 19 runs.

— Mohan

India retain same side for remaining two ODIs

The Indian selectors, in a strange move, have retained the same team that lost horribly to Australia in the 5th ODI at Vadodhra!

I find this totally strange. At the start of the series, in the context of players like Virender Sehwag the selectors talked of a “rotation polocy”. Perhaps they were talking about their brains being fried and rotated inside out?

With India being 1-3 down in a ‘home series’ with only 2 matches to go in this series, here was an opportunity to have a different throw of the dice! That India is playing against a formidable opponent is well-known. Not many Indian fans would have expected India to win this series. Few would have expected them to win 2 or 3 matches in the series. But, in the wake of the T20 World Chamipionship win, most India fans would have wanted the team to put up a good showing. They were, however, thrashed in Kochi, Hyderabad and yesterday, in Vadodhra. In the only game of the series that India has won so far, Australia was in total control of the game for perhaps 97 of the 100 overs bowled!

So, somewhere the rails have fallen off this train. And, while it is known that the BCCIs’ disorganised state leaves the team without a coach, it is useful to ponder over the contributions made by the selectors in all of this mess.

They have chosen a team that is not too different in structure and composition to the team that fared badly in England.

It would require some bravery on their part to change things around. And in my view, a dramatic re-think was required — a re-think of the type that they carried out for the T20 team-composition.

The starting premise is that this team requires more allrounders. It also needed fresh legs. At the moment, there aren’t too many of either variety around. So, with all to play for and nothing to lose in this series, my feeling is that the selectors ought to have to gambled with an eye to the future.

While Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly should form part of the team-mix for India in future ODIs (and of course in the Tests), I would have thought that it was right for the selectors to let them free, at least for the rest of this series.

But no. They have gone for the same team and more beatings have been ordered!

The team is:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Yuvraj Singh, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Kartik, S Badrinath, Robin Uttappa, Irfan Pathan, R P Singh, Rohit Sharma, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh.

— Mohan

India Vs Australia, 5th ODI, Vadodhra, 11 Oct 2007

India lost heftily to a clinical Australian team. After routing India initially when India batted first, Australia came out as though they played on a different track altogether!

In the end, India paid the price for (a) taking decisions by auto-pilot, (b) not taking enough risks with their team selection, (c) bad strokeplay.

This match and the decision-making in it was certainly a blot in Dhoni’s otherwise neat copy book, thus far.

No doubt Australia were the far superior team today. India had no answers in any of the key departments of the game.

However, a few questions need to be asked.

That India won batting first at Chandigarh did not immediately suggest that that was the only way India would win! So, it was a touch of foolhardiness (or needless bravery?) to choose to bat first on a dicey Vadodhra pitch that offered significant movement and variable bounce early on.

Two weeks back, in the context of the raied-out Bangalore ODI, Gilchrist the Australian captain for that game said that the Australians were keen to play on! In response, M. S. Dhoni said “Bahaduri aur bewakoofi mein bahut kum farq rehta hai” (there is a thin line between bravery and foolhardiness).

Well, Dhoni could repeat those same lines to himself in the context of his toss-decision. It appeared as if the decision was the equivalent of “rote learning” (memorisation by repetition).

It was clear to most who have been watching this series thus far that Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid have been out of sorts. The Vadodhra pitch was known to offer spin. A courageous decision would have meant that the currently struggling stalwarts had to sit out this do-or-die game. This would have required some courage. But it had to be done! A team that had fresh legs and fresh ideas in the sidelines — in the form of Rohit Sharma and S. Badrinath — had to employ them.

Lack of courage in the team composition and the toss-decision cost them the match even before a ball was bowled!

And then, if that wasn’t enough, the India bats proceeded to put forth their worst display on the field. Of coruse, the Australians bowled superbly. But there is no excuse for a lot of the on-field immaturity in the batting display.

All in all, this was a shoddy and unprofessional display by the Indians.

The team will require a dramatic re-think of its personnel, its balance and composition and its approach if it is going to make any impact in the rest of the series.

— Mohan