Category Archives: Tours

How are the hopefuls going?

While all the action has been around India’s tour of England, India-A has been playing in Kenya and India U-19 has been playing in Sri Lanka.

In Kenya, Parthiv Patel is batting like a dream while Mohammed Kaif has been stuttering. Parthiv Patel has pushed himself up the order and is batting at #1 and even opened in one match raising the distinct possibility of India playing 3 ‘keepers in a game soon! After a rather insipid start, Irfan Pathan looks like he is coming good. He has been taking wickets in most matches. After strong initial contributions with the ball from Piyush Chawla, Pragyan Ojha has stepped up to the plate as a convincing bowling left-arm-spin alternative for the future. One standout in the entire tour has been S. Badrinath. He has been making the runs steadily and he has been making them in quick time too! Of course, India has been winning everything on this tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya!

The real test will come when these lads travel to England, South Africa, West Indies and Australia. But it is certainly nice to follow the travails of the India-A team.

We have kept our eyes focussed on the U-19 tour of Sri Lanka too. There, one of the key interests was in the travels of Tanmay Srivastava and Abhinav Mukund. They both travelled well in the second match of the series, with Abhinav Mukund scoring a double century and a century in the same game!

— Mohan

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Zimbabwe Select Vs India-A

India-A won the first match of its tour of Zimbabwe convincingly. Piyush Chawla was destroyer-in-chief, with 4 for 30, in Zimbabwe Select’s second innings. The 69 runs that were needed for victory were polished off by Irfan Pathan, the opener, who made 39 off 49 balls.

The second match of the series sees Zimbabwe Select staring down the barrel! Zimbabwe Select first allowed India-A to score 524 for 8 declared. Cheteshwar Pujara, the opener, Parthiv Patel and S. Badrinath made centuries. Irfan Pathan made a duck! In response, Zimbabwe Select are 67 for 5 with Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha being the chief-wreckers.

I just don’t see the point of tours of Zimbabwe. Perhaps the next tour will be to France and then Holland and then USA, followed by a gruelling tour to Tahiti! Bah!

— Mohan

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….

-Mahesh-

India-Australia ODI Glut…

Tim May has lashed out at the glut of India-Australia games that are being planned over the next year or so. We have pointed out on this blog a few times over the last few weeks that India has an extremely crowded schedule in 2007 through to mid-2008.

What seemed like a brief respite in the schedule in May 2007 has now been filled with a meaningless India-Australia series in Ireland. Ricky Ponting immediately expressed his exasperation at this announcement. The Ireland games are mainly to accommodate India’s TV Rights commitments — India have to play a minimum number of overseas games a year. This was after an attempt to play an India-Australia ODI series in New York — of all places — fell through. According to CricInfo, “Under the conditions of an agreement signed between Zee TV and the Indian Cricket Board, India have to play 25 offshore ODIs over a five-year period.”

Ponting expressed concern over the crazy scheduling of the Ireland series.

Now Tim May has weighed in to the glut-argument. He says, “Australia will play India 21 times in the eight months from June this year. From the perspective of players and spectators, it’s going to dampen your interest. And it detracts from the commercial value of the product. Vision has been lost about what’s important and what is not.”

— Mohan

Are we playing too much cricket?

The world cup is just a few weeks away and apart from one more game between Australia and NZ, there will be nothing between now and the World cup. This break will give teams a chance to rest, rejuvenate and recuperate from the injury woes that they have been facing. Most of the teams have been playing non-stop cricket the last few weeks, and sooner or later, ICC and the cricket boards will have to recognize that this overload is the reason for this spate of injuries and do something about it.

Let us look at the games each team has played since the beginning of this year:

Team ODIs Tests
Australia 12 1
England 10 1
India 8 1
New Zealand     13       
Pakistan 5 3
South Africa 5 4
Sri Lanka 7
West Indies 4

That is an awful number of games, considering the fact that it has just been 50 days since the beginning of this year and the premier event in world cricket is due to start shortly.

If we look at Australia’s schedule, they’ve just finished the Ashes, followed it up with a tri-series involving England and NZ and ended it with a three match ODI series against NZ. Their injury list includes Lee (left ankle), Symonds (biceps), Clarke (hip) and  Ponting (back). They are probably both mentally and physically tired after all this cricket and their results show it – 5 losses in 6 games! Not the ideal scenario before the start of the world cup.

England have had a tough tour in Australia and their team is filled with people recovering from injuries. Their injury woes started with Vaughn not making it for the Ashes and it has followed with Trescothick (stress), James Anderson, Jon Lewis and Peiterson.

In India, Sachin is nursing a stiff back and Pathan is not fully fit. Munaf and Yuvraj are just back from Injury. For New Zealand, Kyle Mills has completely missed the cup owing to Knee Surgery; Jacob Oram is going to miss a few games and no one knows when the fragile Bond is going to break down. Pakistan has had its whole fast bowling contingent under an injury cloud – Shoaib Akthar(knee), Mohammad Asif (elbow), Umar Gul (ankle), Shabbir Ahmed (groin), Mohammed Sami (back). If some of them have been taking performance enhancing drugs, it surely hasn’t helped with the injuries 🙂

Apparently(!), every team’s schedule has been planned well in advance to give the players the best chance of match practice and be their best before the World Cup. But it seems, this has had the exact opposite effect on players. We are looking at the possibility of teams such as Australia struggling to play their best eleven. There really is no thrill in beating a team like Australia if its top players are not playing due to injury.

So, what is the solution to this? Quite simple – play less number of matches.

Or use a radical approach – reduce the number of overs in all ODIs. Even a reduction of 10 overs per team will probably give players a big relief. If we continue to play more matches, we should reduce this even further. We could even substitute ODIs with more Twenty20 matches. It is also time to reduce the number of matches played in a test series (like the Ashes) to just 3.  

Until ICC takes the cue and takes some serious action, we are going to see more and more injuries – and careers of good cricketers cut short.

-Mahesh- 

Now a series in Ireland!

Just when we all thought that India’s Tour programme for 2007 was crowded, although settled, we hear that India is playing yet another ODI series — against Australia! Right! And that too, in Ireland! So, Ireland and Malaysia are the new Sharjah-like locations for Indian cricket? Here’s a report on this on Cricinfo.

India will play these games in June as a lead up to the tour of England. So, scratch the sentence in yesterdays’ posting on this Blog wherein I wrote, “June appears to be an “off” month [for Team India].” It is not!

So, in the next year or so, India will have played Australia in at least 15 ODIs (and upto a maximum of 19 times)!

  • one of these matches will be in the World Cup Super Eight (plus a maximum of one more — either in the semi-final or final),
  • three will be in this hastily organised Ireland series,
  • seven of these will be in October when Australia visits India
  • a minumum of four will be played inthe 2008 Commonwealth Bank series (plus a maximum of three further games if India makes the finals of that series and if the finals series needs all three games to be played)

I don’t know about you, but I suspect that that is at least 15 too many India-Australia ODI games for my liking!

— Mohan

India Australia Series 2007-08

The cricket calendar for 2007 is going to be quite crowded team India.

After the current 4 ODIs against Sri Lanka, India prepare to go to the World Cup.

The World Cup will see out March and April 2007.

In May, India play Bangladesh in 2 Tests and 3 ODIs. Clearly, this is nothing but an opportunity for the India players to shore up their averages before the year becomes gruelling again!

June appears to be an “off” month.

India will tour England from July to September to play 3 Tests and 7 ODIs. Playing 7 ODIs in England in a World Cup year — and that too, after the World Cup — seems a bit bizzarre to me! Nevertheless, that’s the plan.

In October, Australia visits India to play 7 ODIs.

India then hosts Pakistan for 3 Tests and 5 ODIs.

As a result of the Pakistan tour of India in November, the Indian tour to Australia from December through to March 2008 has been postponed by 3 weeks or so. In fact, while most previous tours of Australia have traditionally commenced in late-November, India’s tour of Australia in 2007-08 will probably only commence in the second week of December!

As a result, the 1st Test of the series will be the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, with the 2nd Test starting immediately after the conclusion of the 1st Test (on 2 Jan 2008). Two other Tests follow in January. The ODI tournament — which also involves Sri Lanka — would commence only in February!

An article on this re-scheduling appears in the Sydney Morning Herald today.

A busy cricket calendar for Team India!

— Mohan