Tag Archives: Manjrekar

Is Sehwag an opener?

Sanjay Manjrekar, in his opinion piece on M. S. Dhoni’s ODI captaincy, comments about the Indian ODI selection. He says, “I don’t think Virender Sehwag has been able to convince the selectors that he is in top gear. Also with Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, you already have four openers in the side, so it was always going to be difficult for Sehwag.”

The first statement that Manjrekar makes is probably right. Although Sehwag did make a quickfire 40 in the match against New Zealand, he did not look totally convincing. In the previous match against Pakistan, Mohammed Asif found him wanting with a ball that nipped back in. Sehwag has not looked totally convincing.

However, Manjrekar’s second statement is the one that had me raising eyebrows. Classifying Sehwag as an opener just because he has opened in several ODIs is a bit of a furphy, in my view. An opener in an ODI is anyone who can give the ball a bit of a tonk. Sehwag can. He opened in ODIs. And he was successful enough at it that it gave him the right of passage into the Test team as an opener — the only route that he could use to gain entry into the Test team which, by then, had acquired a somewhat impregnable middle order. Let’s not forget that Sehwag is, indeed, a middle-order bat who converted himself into an ODI opener and, later, a Test opener. I am surprised that Manjrekar lost sight of that fact.

I do believe that Sehwag is a useful ODI player and should be part of the mix even if he does not open the innings. He contributes solidly with the bat on most occasions, he can be entrusted with a few overs of tight off spin and he is a reasonably competent outfielder. He also has that Dean Jones effect in ODIs where opposition teams try hard to get him out.

India should also be preparing for a post-fab-four Test team and in this team, in my view, Sehwag would occupy the middle order — perhaps occupying Sourav Ganguly’s position in the batting order. So, even for Tests, I think that the best route back for Sehwag is as a middle-order batsman.

— Mohan

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

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