Tag Archives: Amarnath

All time India One Day XV

The Aussies went through the exercise of picking an all time XI before the World Cup and while discussing in another thread with Mohan Krishnamoorthy, we came up with this idea of an all time India XV.

So, here is my team:

Opening

1. Sachin Tendulkar

2. Sourav Ganguly

Others who were considered for this slot were Virender Sehwag, Kris Srikkanth, Navjot Sidhu, Ravi Shastri and  Sunil Gavaskar.

Kris Srikkanth was one of the first openers in the world who attacked from the get-go. Navjot Sidhu could hit those amazing sixes coming half way down the pitch. But as far as openers go for an all time India XI, you can’t go beyond the peerless Tendulkar and Ganguly combination. Together they have over 25000 ODI runs and over 60 centuries. Moreover, the left-hander-right-hander combination would make this a killer opening pair. Even a Sehwag in his prime would not be able to dislodge this opening combination at its peak.

Middle order

3. Virender Sehwag

4. Rahul Dravid

5. Mohammed Azharuddin

Although I have not penned Sehwag as an opening batsman, with his “near 100” strike rate and attacking game, he would come out at No. 3 in my team. Rahul Dravid, aka ‘The Wall’ will easily slide into No. 4. His 40 plus average and 70-plus strike rate makes him an ideal bat in the middle order. I would slot Mohammed Azharuddin at No. 5. Although he exited International cricket in disgrace, he had accumulated over 9000 runs and was a great batsman and fielder.

The others who were considered but didn’t make the cut included Dilip Vengsarkar, Ajay Jadeja, Mohinder Amarnath, Sandeep Patil, and Yuvraj Singh.

Lower middle order/allrounders

6. Ravi Shastri

7. M. S. Dhoni

8. Kapil Dev

As far as all rounders go, you can’t beat that list. Ravi Shastri swatting the ball for a six after coming in in the 45th over was an awesome sight. Promoting him into the opening slot pretty much killed his slog game in his later years. He was also a useful spinner who could bowl out his 10 overs.

Dhoni’s business card should actually read “Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Wicket keeper, Batsman, Slogger”. Need I say more? He has got a strike rate of 98.49 and an average of 46.61. Dhoni comes in at No. 7 in my team. Kapil Dev, the allrounder, could easily bat up the order, but he would have to settle for No.  8. 

Full time bowlers

9. Zaheer Khan

10. Javagal Srinath

11. Anil Kumble

The No. 9 slot was a tough fight between Zaheer Khan and Manoj Prabhakar. Manoj Prabhakar at his best was a very good bowler at the death and wasn’t bad with the bat either. But for sheer energy and the variety he offers with his left arm pace, Zaheer edges out Manoj Prabhakar for the No. 9 slot.

Srinath would easily grab the No. 10 slot ahead of the likes of Agarkar and Prasad. A lot of people forget that Srinath was the leading wicket taker for India in one dayers until Anil Kumble overtook his record. Bowlers like Chetan Sharma, Roger Binny and Madan Lal shined in the odd game, but they just weren’t good and consistent enough to get into my pick.

Kumble, the highest wicket taker for India would get the lone spinners slot, ahead of the only other person challenging him – Harbhajan Singh.

To make up the XV, I would pick 2 other batsmen and 2 bowlers. The 2 batsmen slots would go to Jadeja and Yuvraj. Both very different players, but excellent fielders. Prabhakar and Agarkar would take up the two bowling slots.

So here is my final XV – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Azharudin, Ravi Shastri, M. S. Dhoni, Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajit Agarkar.

The XI, I have picked contains 5 bowlers who can bowl all of their 10 overs in addition to the “batting” allrounders such as Tendulkar, Ganguly and Sehwag. In some matches where just 4 bowlers would suffice, we would have the flexibility of bringing in an additional batsman such as Jadeja or Yuvraj in to the XI (who can themselves bowl a few overs).

So who would be the captain? The team is filled with players who have captained India, but my choice would be Ravi Shastri. He has a shrewd cricketing brain, but was never given enough chance to lead India.

-Mahesh-

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Rahul Dravid :: The best World Cup batsman India has ever had?

This article was prompted by a statement that Chinaman made in response to an earlier article that I had written on this blog.
In full flow
In that comment, Chinaman said, “I fail to understand why Rahul Dravid is in an ODI team. In the past he has kept, so did perform dual tasks, but now he is occupying a position as a single attribute cricketer. When all players are being encouraged to improve their weaker attribute, why do I not see Dravid bowl? That because he is ‘the wall’ we cannot do without him in ODIs is a myth. He has fallen for low scores time and time again. And when he does so, he has nothing else special to contribute for the rest of the match.

He did raise a few good issues and questions. But if he had a few facts at hand, his fears may have been dispelled!

I could have responded to Chinaman in the comments section. However, I was in the midst of constructing this article anyway! So, here goes…

If we look at the performance of a few top Indian batsmen in World Cups (min qualification of at least 10 matches), we have the following — arranged in the descending order of their batting averages:

Name |M |Runs |HS |Avg |100s |50s |W |Best |BowlAv |
Dravid1977914564.9125
Tendulkar33173215259.7241262/2878.16
Ganguly1884418356.264193/2231.44
Sidhu124549345.4006
Kapil26669175*37.1611285/4331.85
Vengsarkar112526336.0001
Gavaskar19561103*35.0614
Jadeja21522100*34.801232/3247.66
Azharuddin308269339.330853/1921.80
Sehwag112998227.180221/344.00
Srikkanth235217523.68020
Amarnath142548021.1601163/1226.93
Shastri141855718.5001123/2632.41

And yes, I do know that there are other factors to consider in ODIs, such as Strike Rates, fielding, etc. But please humour me as I only consider the batting average metric for this exercise.

It is clear from the above table, that Dravid’s performances in World Cups have been excellent. Given that he also ‘kept wickets in some of the games (in 2003) this makes for a fascinating contribution from a great Indian cricketer. But even if we ignore his ‘keeping, he would be in my ODI team any day just on the strength of his batting.

There are others like Sanjay Manjrekar, who have 11 games, but with an average of 26.81 (as a pure batsman in World Cups), do not really count. I think I have captured all the relevant personnel in the above table.

Let’s now look at performances of the top batsmen in the current Indian scene over their last 20 ODI appearances for India — the number 20 has been picked somewhat arbitrarily; we could carry this analysis over (say) the last 2 years. However, I decided to look at the last 20 games.


Name |M |Runs |HS |Avg |100s |50s |W |Best |BowlAv |
Yuvraj2063010342.001462/3434.50
Tendulkar20637141*39.812462/2550.83
Dhoni2050567*38.8404
Dravid205497834.3106
Ganguly205569832.700511/29105.00
Sehwag204629725.660341/2263.25
Kaif2030966*19.3103
Raina203225318.9401
Dhoni2050567*38.8404

Dinesh Karthik has an average of 21.28 from 10 games and Uthappa has an average of 39.25 from 5 games (clearly, early days yet).

Great Shot from DravidThe fact is that Indian batsmen haven’t been faring that well lately. However, even here, it is clear that Dravid’s place in the team is dictated purely on the basis of his batting strength. He earns his ticket purely as a batsman in form. The other batsmen who bowl a bit haven’t really set the world on fire with their bowling in recent games. Dhoni is the only one in the above list who can claim an effective dual-role. It is also perhaps clear from this why Kaif and Raina were dropped — perhaps they have only themselves to blame!

Given Table-1 which shows Dravid towering above the rest when it comes to performances in World Cup games, it would be safe to assume that he would have been the second (if not the first) name-pencil in the team sheet — just on the strength of his batting prowess!

— Mohan

What are India’s realistic chances?

Let’s face it. Team India lags at 5th place on the ICC ODI table.

As I indicated in a previous article on gurus and pundits, a lot of former Indian cricketers have been incredibly busy lately achieving more exposure than Mallika Sherawat!

Lots of pundits have talked up India’s chances. Sunil Gavaskar says that India will bring home the World Cup “because of the sheer passion generated by the game in the country.” Since when did the passion of a billion cricket fans sitting about 5000 miles away win World Cups! Perhaps he is thinking of a spiritual uplifting in a semi-tantric sense? Who knows what Gavaskar thinks anyway!

Gavaskar’s contemporary, of nose-blowing-fame, I-can-speak-faster-than-you-can-blink-Kris-Srikkanth, opines that India will win. He reckons that, “We have a very well balanced side with experience and all-rounders that has lent stability. The pitches in the West Indies is expected to be similar to those in the sub-continent.

Be that as it may, what are India’s chances? Realistically?

I honestly believe that the team with the best/most allrounders will win the World Cup. Again, I am hapy to be proven wrong and will happily eat humble pie if this is proven wrong. But I feel India missed a few beats in the lead up to the World Cup. I felt that the coach and captain embarked on the right path by egging Pathan on as an allrounder. This, and the making-of-Dhoni (as an allrounder) were both master-strokes when India played that exciting spell of ODI cricket in September-October 2005 agaisnt South Africa and Sri Lanka.

However, it seemed as though coach-and-captain had pinned all their hopes on this one horse. When Pathan’s bowling fell away, they appeared to have no Plan-B. They should have, at that point in time, groomed a Joginder Sharma or someone else. They could have opted to over-bowl Virender Sehwag in an attempt to get that bowling contribution from him going in a much more compelling manner. It is likely that Pathan will come good in the World Cup. But, prima facie evidence suggests that India faces a marginally under-cooked situation in the allrounder stakes. I feel this could hurt India’s chances.

Allrounders give teams amazing flexibility. And that’s most required in the ODI game today. India do not have it — not enough of it anyway, in my view! One could argue that Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly can bowl too. Yes they do. But they are not allrounders in the mould of Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson, Andrew Flinitoff, Jacques Kallis, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, Sanath Jayasuriya, Abdul Razzaq (Azhar Mahmood), Shoaib Mallik, Shaun Pollock and Chris Gayle…

It would be most surprising if the players named above do not bowl-out their 10-overs in most games. In other words, they make telling contributions with the ball and bat quite well too. A misfit in this list, in that sense, is probably Shoaib Mallik.

Be that as it may, the absense of an allrounder may hurt India. India does have the bits-and-pieces bowlers who bat very well in Tendulkar, Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Ganguly. We also have a bits-and-pieces bat who bowls marginally average: Pathan! These do not make allrounders though.

Note that I have not considered M.S.Dhoni in this comparative discussion on allrounders. In my view, Dhoni is India’s best allrounder. However, I have not thrown him into the allrounder discussion above because, in my view, most teams these days have terrific ‘keeper-bats! Australia has Adam Gilchrist. Sri Lanka has Kumar Sangakkara. South Africa has Mark Boucher. Pakistan have Kamran Akmal (although he is in the midst of a form-slump). New Zealand have Brendon McCullum. I feel that in this regard, West Indies will be hurt by Dinesh Ramdin. England will be hurt by Paul Nixon — if he ‘keeps as well as he talks, his game would perhaps be on another plane altogether!

And for this reason, I think it will be quite a good result for India if we make it past the Super8 stage and into the semi-finals. I would be happy to break an egg on my face myself if India advance to the semi-finals. I’ll break two if India reach the finals.

Don’t get me wrong. I want India to win. And I am not dismissing Team India before even a game has been played! Just like any other Team-India fan, I do want this team to do well. As a Team India fan, I am merely setting my realistic expectations from this team. As the tournament unfolds, I expect these expectations to be re-visited.

There is a reason why India lags 5th in the ICC table. A 5th position is perhaps the best that India can hope for, perhaps? My view is that we must depend on other teams to advance into the Top-4.

From there on in, anything can happen…

— Mohan

Indian Team Writers’ XV

It is clear that cricket dominates everything in India at the moment. Indian TV news is dominated by cricket. Panel discussions and audience-based programmes have commenced… Well, they have never stopped really have they? Every second ad on TV apparently has a cricket flavour. There are cricket songs being penned furiously. Even Bollywood has gone cricket — well, they always were, but more so now!

Shah Rukh Khan MC’d a farewell event organised by Pepsi, which featured the new Pepsi Gold bottle — sigh! Apparently the event had, amongst others, Priyanka Chopra and Mandira Bedi — her of noodle-straps-fame. The event also featured songs by Sukhwinder Singh, Adnan Sami and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy who belted out numbers from Salaam-E-Ishq, etc.

Everything is cricket in this cricket-crazed country!

Everyone is talking about cricket. Sunil Gavaskar, Kris Srikkanth, Kapil Dev, Harsha Bhogle and Ravi Shastri have never been busier. They are wheeled from one studio to another to talk about one thing or another. The topics may be incredibly diverse and varied as long as they focus on team composition! Well at one programme Gavaskar talks about team composition. At the same time Srikkanth and Mohinder Amarnath are at another studio, talking about team composition. You may have missed a simultaneous programme on a totally different topic on a rival channel. So you might record it. A later replay would show that at another programme, Shastri, Bhogle and Gavaskar collide to talk about team composition. Fresh eyes. Fresh views. Meanwhile, another programme has developed a scoop on team composition and that gets a lot of airplay and repeats too! Looking for a fresh angle, yet another programme wheels in Gavaskar and Bhogle to talk about team composition. By then, a tired looking Gavaskar, with match-sticks to prop up his eyelids, charges like a wounded bull into yet another studio where he and Srikkanth are going to talk about team composition. Srikkanth is looking fresh although he has hardly had time to blow his nose!

Occasionally, Kapil Dev will say something nasty about Greg Chappell. This merely serves as a temporary distraction before the amazing diversity of topics resumes around… team composition! Diversity is apparently good!

Then at about 1am, when the whole nation has slept, these pundits have to rush home to write articles for the next mornings’ newspapers… articles about team composition!

Then another day begins and so does yet another round of expert-comments, interviews and studio-audience-shows.. on team composition!

Prompted by a lovely article by Shailaja Bajpai in The Indian Express — in which she talks about much of the things that I have talked about in this article — I set about looking at the number of celebrity-cricket-writers that are writing about cricket; the assorted army of now-old cricketers who are providing a healthy dose of sound-bytes about cricket to the various channels — of course, all of them on team composition!

I have seen the following ex-cricketers write about and talk about cricket in the last little while. I may have missed a few, but I think I have captured a fair few of them.

And they have been organised in batting order!

Sunil Gavaskar, Kris Srikkanth, Arun Lal, Mohinder Amarnath, Sanjay Manjrekar, Mohammed Azharuddin, Sandeep Patil, Ashok Malhotra, Yashpal Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Kirti Azad, Syed Kirmani, Kiran More, Madan Lal, Javagal Srinath, Atul Wasson.

That’s about 18 ex-players — not a bad team to field huh?

Virender Sehwag’s form, Sourav Ganguly’s return and Irfan Pathan’s fitness have dominated their bleat-time. But each one is unique. Each one has a voice. Each one has an opinion. Each one is heard… As long as they talk about team composition, everything else is forgiven!

— Mohan