Category Archives: Jayasuriya

What’s happening to Tendulkar?

Sachin Tendulkar, the toast of the nation just a few seasons ago finds himself in an unfamiliar role of facing up to the wrath of his fans. He is now ridiculed by his once staunch supporters. The press has added their own spin on it and the cricket pundits yet another. Meanwhile, the coach questioned his attitude and finally, the BCCI have ‘rested’ him for the Bangladesh ODIs. These events would have hurt him badly.

We all know about the fickle nature of the fans and the press. Perhaps no one knows more about it than Tendulkar himself after 17 years of International cricket. I am sure he realises that the fans by their standard, have given him the longest rope of all.

In recent times we have been led to believe that Tendulkar has donned a new role for the ‘benefit’ of the team. I cannot imagine a more nonsensical reason. Does he and the think-tank mean to say that for nearly 15 years he has been the premier batsman and match winner, but they no longer want him in that role; but instead require a plodder? This seems to be a classic case of denial both by the team management and more importantly himself.

It is common knowledge that Tendulkar over the last 3 years has been gradually loosing is touch. The problem has been both physical and mental. Physically he is that much older and as a result, that much slower. His reflex degeneration has been rapid compared to others such as Lara and Jayasuriya. But that alone cannot be the reason for his failures. There are technical flaws. Too many times we see him get bowled; and too many times we see mediocre spinners get him out.

Bob Simpson thinks that Tendulkar is not watching the ball out of the bowler’s hand thereby depriving him of a few milli-seconds to get into position. While we are not totally sure what Tendulkar’s flaws are he nevertheless had the time, resources and above all the experience to iron out the kinks. If he has attempted to correct it but failed trying, then it is time to quit the game as suggested by Ian Chappell. But if has’nt tried hard enough, his attitude needs questioning.

The way he got out against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the world cup suggests that the flaws are very much there and unless he takes some immediate steps to address them, I cannot see him play beyond the England tour.

Tendulkar once feared and admired by his opponents is merely acknowledged these days mainly for his past deeds. The truth is no team looses sleep over him.

As a huge admirer of Tendulkar, I hope there is another twist to his tale and he turns things around. I would love to see him bow out on a high note; and more importantly on his own terms.

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Should Pathan replace Agarkar?

Mohan’s excellent blog ‘Team and approach for the Sri Lanka match…’ got me thinking about the team composition, and more so about Pathan’s possible role. Pathan or Agarkar?  is the question Indian fans will be asking after Agarkar’s insipid effort against Bermuda.  

Agarkar’s batting has fallen away by the wayside and there has been no innings of note recently. In comparison, Pathan’s batting ability is not in question and if required, he can be used in a floating position anywhere between No 3 to No 8. 

Stating the blooming obvious, it is his bowling that is a cause of worry. This is where Dravid should not look to bowl Pathan his full quota. If he can get 7 overs off him for around 35, that should suffice. Even better, if he can squeeze out around 4 overs during the power plays. 

But it is up to Pathan to bowl a consistent line on one side of the wicket and not try too many variations. I guess if the in-dipper is not working well, let him stick to the delivery going away.  In my opinion, too much is made out of Pathan loosing pace. Ian Bradshaw and Syed Rasel bowl around 125 kph and don’t ever look threatening but are very effective.  

Having said that, there is a big risk in selecting Pathan and Dravid should have a mitigation strategy or Plan B.  

Plan B  – If Pathan gets clobbered, take him out and put him back in after the power plays. Do not expose him to Jayasuriya. If after 3 overs Pathan is a liability, the back up bowlers should step up.

If you think about it, Pathan, Sehwag, Tendulkar and Yuvraj together need to contribute only 20 overs. Dravid has played enough cricket with Agarkar to know that there are no guarantees that Agarkar will bowl much better than what Pathan might have. So, will India choose Pathan over Agarkar and play the percentages or stick to Agarkar?

Any thoughts? …But before that have a look at what Travis Basevi and George Binoy have to say about Agarkar’s economy while Anand Vasu discusses our perceived notions and actual facts of his performance 

-Vish

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.

-Vish

Current Worlds’ Best ODI Team

At the outset, let me confess that I am not a great fan of retrosptective Best-Of lists. I say this although I have participated in some such lists in the past and also on this blog. As I have mentioned in some of my comments here, it is really hard — and somewhat pointless, in my view — to compare across eras and time-periods. Having said that, I applaud previous attempts at list construction on this blogsite, such as:

People say that Bradman was the best batsman ever. Sure, given what the great batsman had achieved, it would be extremely hard to argue against that. I would find it hard to agree against a hypothesis that he was probably the best batsmen ever! But how do we know whether or not Joel Garner (or Michael Holding or Malcolm Marshall or Richard Hadlee or Bishen Bedi) would have torn Bradman’s technique apart? At best, we could say that, given the way he played against his esteemed contemporary bowlers such as Jardine and Larwood, it is likely that he would have coped well against and combatted everything that the wily Garner, Holding, et al had to offer!

Then again, he may have been much better than what he was had he played against Joel Garner (or Michael Holding or Malcolm Marshall or Richard Hadlee or Bishen Bedi)!

Therefore, my preference is to compile best-current player lists. I much rather prefer to compile “best of the current lot” — BOCL — lists. If the BOCL for a country is not its national team, then that team is in trouble! So necessarily (and by definition) BOCL is a worlds’ best sort of thing.

So what is the Worlds’ Best ODI Team at the moment — based on performances over the last year or so?

One way of constructing such a list would be to take the current best batsmen and bowlers from the ICC ODI player rankings and see what comes out of the wash!

I decided to have a look at the top-8 batsmen, the top-8 bowlers and the top-5 allrounders.

The top-8 batsmen are:

Mike Hussey
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Ricky Ponting
Kevin Pietersen
Chris Gayle
Andrew Symonds
Kumar Sangakkara
Mohammad Yousuf

The top-8 bowlers are:

Shaun Pollock
Glenn McGrath
Makhaya Ntini
Daniel Vettori
Chamindaa Vaas
Brett Lee
Shane Bond
Nathan Bracken

The top-5 allrounders are:

Shaun Pollock
Chris Gayle
Andrew Flintoff
Jacques Kallis
Sanath Jayasuriya

It is interesting to note that Pollock and Gayle are the only allrounders who are on the top-bowling-list and the top-batting-list respectively.

The union of these three sets is a list with a total of 19 players. Of these, it is somewhat interesting to see that Muthiah Muralitharan, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara are absent. Just because they are proven match winners, I will add them to the list to give a total of 22 players. Given Glenn McGrath is retiring from all forms of cricket after the World Cup, it makes little sense to have him in this ODI team-compilation. So, out he goes! I know I will get into trouble with my Australian friends for this, but I just don’t rate Nathan Bracken. So, although he is 8th on the top-bowling list, he goes too!

So, the combined list of 20 players (in suggested batting order) is:

01. Chris Gayle
02. Sanath Jayasuriya / Sachin Tendulkar
03. Ricky Ponting (captain)
04. Jacques Kallis
05. Mike Hussey / Mohammad Yousuf / Kevin Pietersen / Brian Lara
06. Andrew Symonds / Andrew Flintoff
07. Mahendra Singh Dhoni / Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper)
08. Shaun Pollock
09. Brett Lee / Shane Bond
10. Makhaya Ntini / Chamindaa Vaas
11. Daniel Vettori / Muthiah Muralitharan

This seems to me to be a reasonable team that perhaps represents the best collection of current ODI players.

— Mohan

Beware of “Old” Teams

Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka’s vice-captain has commented about this 2007 World Cup edition belonging to the veterans of the game: Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Sanath Jayasuriya.

I would go one step further in this regard.

In terms of overall ODI experience, Team India with a combined total of 2203 games among its World Cup fifteen is only 14 games behind the Sri Lanka team total. Australia is in the third place on this metric. I did not bother looking at other teams since I do not believe they would even come close.

On paper, as a result, India and Sri Lanka are seemingly the most experienced sides in the World Cup. The World Cup is a different beast altogether when compared to a low-intensity ODI game. In these games, as countries like South Africa, New Zealand, and England for that matter, have realized, cumulative experience makes a big difference to the overall end-result. While youth and fitness are important factors in determining victory chances, I do believe big-match experience counts significantly when it comes winning the World Cup.

With the added complexity of uncertain pitches in the West Indies, this World Cup will most certainly be a tournament that is played out as much in the minds as it is on the grounds. India and Sri Lanka are most definitely ahead of the pack.

As a result, I would actually add more to the list of names that Sangakkara has referred to. Players such as Anil Kumble (Sanjay Subrahmanyan and Mohan Krishnamoorthy have already discussed his utility at length), Sourav Ganguly, Marvan Attapattu, Muthiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Rahul Dravid and Ajit Agarkar are all going to be key figures.

I am predicting that this going to be World Cup for the experienced.

I am predicting that we are going to witness an India v Sri Lanka final.

-Srikanth