Tag Archives: Munaf

Indian Pace Bowling Academy

The end of a long Australian summer was capped by India’s stirring win against Australia in the CB Series Final. At the end of the series, I reflected on the fact that the win in the last game was achieved without the services of India’s front-line pace-attack: Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh and Ishant Sharma. All three were nursing injuries in that game. The fact that Ishant Sharma had propelled himself into the front-line was itself testimony to the impact he has had over the Australian summer!

I then realised that, for the Test Series in Australia, we had two additional pacemen in Pankaj Singh and V. R. V. Singh who made up the numbers.

But then, the heroes of the CB series final match were actually Praveen Kumar, Sree Santh and Irfan Pathan! Munaf Patel can be a very good bowler on his day too!

If you then throw into the mix, Pradeep Sangwan, Siddharth Kaul and Ajitesh Argal — pace-bowling architects of India’s U19 triumph, the Indian fan can smile!

The Indian Pace Academy is then: Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Sree Santh, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar, V. R. V. Singh, Pankaj Singh, Pradeep Sangwan, Siddharth Kaul, Ajitesh Argal.

Not a bad pace bowling lineup in my view! India’s pace bowling stocks over the next 5 years will come from this lot of 12 bowlers. There will be, no doubt, a few surprise packages here and there along the way. But my feeling is that the above group of 12 will be the ones doing the rounds over the next few years. If all else fails, there is always Ajit Agarkar! It is quite likely that, of these 12 players, 3-4 will be injured. Team India has to learn to shrug and call up the next bowler in the ranks and if they are as good as Praveen Kumar, Sree Santh or Munaf Patel, it can’t really be too bad, can it?

Team India has to nurture these pace bowlers and ensure that they do not fade away from the scene like L. Balaji did. It is time, in my view, to appoint Venkatesh Prasad as India’s long-term pace-bowling coach. He should be entrusted with the task of developing concrete development plans for each bowler and for these to be conditioned and supervised even when the players aren’t playing for Team India.

Unfortunately, Team India is not that flush with options when it comes to spin-stocks. More on that later.

— Mohan

The Pyjama Cricket circus commences…

In a few days from now the pyjama stuff starts with the Twenty20 game at the MCG on Friday 1 Feb 2008 between Australia and India.

The Australians have lost a few Twenty20 games on the trot to India and will be gunning for the visitors. There is no love lost between these teams. With the recent downgrading of the racism charge against Harbhajan Singh, there will be much more at stake than just the game. The Australians will want to win badly.

The Indians will not have four of their five senior stalwarts. Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V. V. S. Laxman will have departed. In their place, we have a few fiery youngsters from the “New India”. They have said, even before the opening salvo has been fired, that they will fight fire with fire!

Robin Uthappa has said that he would “give it back if the Australians sledge”!

Controversial paceman, Sree Santh added to the rumbles when he said, “I’m not scared of anyone. On the contrary, I think Australia should be scared of me because I’m back. And I’m back after a rest too.”

We live in interesting times! We are set for a cracker of a game and a cracker of an ODI series after that!

Even though R. P. Singh has been withdrawn through a hamstring injury and even though Zaheer Khan is absent from the make-up, I believe that this is a well-balanced team. The Indian team has a good look to it in my view:

It is likely that the following will be the Indian Twenty20 team (in batting order)

Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Rohit Sharma / Dinesh Karthik
Yuvraj Singh / Suresh Raina / Manoj Tiwary
MS Dhoni
Robin Uthappa
Irfan Pathan
Praveen Kumar
Harbhajan Singh / Piyush Chawla
Ishant Sharma / Munaf Patel
Sree Santh

If Yuvraj Singh is injured, I’d think that India would find it hard to beat Australia at the MCG. I suspect Sachin Tendulkar will sit out the Twenty20 game.

One thing is certain. With the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, et al, in the mix, the visitors’ fielding and the running between wickets is certainly going to be much better than what we have seen in this summer thus far!

The ODI team is likely to be (again in batting order):

Gautam Gambhir
Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag / Rohit Sharma / Dinesh Karthik
Yuvraj Singh / Suresh Raina / Manoj Tiwary
MS Dhoni
Robin Uthappa
Irfan Pathan
Praveen Kumar
Harbhajan Singh / Piyush Chawla
Ishant Sharma / Munaf Patel
Sree Santh

Hopefully we will be entertained. Hopefully we will see no new controversies. Hopefully the cricket will be memorable for the right reasons.

— Mohan

Team India for Australian Test Series :: Virender Sehwag in!

In a surprise move, Virender Sehwag has been drafted in to the Indian Test team for the 4-Test tour of Australia!

Sehwag wasn’t in the initial list of 24-probables. However, he got the call ahead of Gautam Gambhir who has been advised three weeks rest with a sore shoulder. The Indian fan cannot be blamed for being a tad cynical of these mysterious injuries that do have a habit of troubling Indian players when tough selectorial decisions have to be made! And here we have yet another instance of a mysterious injury rearing its ugly head again!

Ian Chappell did write a few days back that the Indian selectors erred in not picking Sehwag in the initial list of 24 probables. Were the selectors swayed by his outpourings? Were they honest outpourings or was it a red-herring? One never knows. Many on this blogsite too felt that Sehwag ought to have been included. However, this move to induct him from outside the list of 24 makes a bit of a mockery of the whole selection process. In particular, Aakash Chopra would be right to feel a bit miffed at the craziness of the selection process! Having said that, I do think that Sehwag’s choice is a smart decision. He has performed well against Australia and his aggression at the top will work well for India. One slight problem is that he hasn’t been setting the Ranji world alight with his bat in recent times.

The 16-member squad also includes Pankaj Singh, the young Rajasthan pacer. This is again, in my view, a smart move. He has bowled impressively in the U-19 squad and has started his Ranji season well this year. Pankaj Singh ejects Munaf Patel from the team. Patel has been advised to play more domestic cricket.

If nothing else, Pankaj Singh’s pick can be seen as a smart move because the unhealthy ghost of Ajit Agarkar was hovering around in the list of probables 🙂

Ishant Sharma probably picks himself after a decent showing in the 3rd Test against Pakistan. However, as I said in my post yesterday, a day after bagging the world record for the maximum number of byes in a Test innings, Dinesh Kartik can consider himself a tad lucky to be on the plane, although it is probably the right decision in my view.

Team India (probably in batting order for the 1st Test):
Wasim Jaffer
Virender Sehwag / Dinesh Karthik
Rahul Dravid
Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly
VVS Laxman / Yuvraj Singh
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk)
Anil Kumble (capt)
Irfan Pathan / Harbhajan Singh
Zaheer Khan
Ishant Sharma / RP Singh / Pankaj Singh

A good selection effort in my opinion especially when considered in the background of the recent form that V. V. S. Laxman an Sourav Ganguly have shown. Sourav Ganguly, in my view, is in the form of his life. Although I have always been an unabashed Ganguly-fan, I can say — with a degree of objectivity — that I haven’t seen him bat as effectively, doggedly and in as determined a manner as I have seen in the last 6 months or so. Of course, all of this can come to naught in the bouncy pitches of Australia. However, his defence has tightened. He doesn’t hang his bat out to dry outside off as often as he used to. And more than ever before, he has developed a dogged mental edge to his game.

The team appears to be right for Australia.

  • The right batsmen are there.
  • Ishant Sharma is peaking at the right time.
  • A rookie pacer like Pankaj Singh is better than a break-down specialist (Munaf Patel) especially when the break-dance specialist is injured! Pankaj Singh will learn a lot from this tour even if he doesn’t get a game.
  • Ajit Agarkar is not there!
  • Virender Sehwag’s omission from the initial 24 was befuddling. He just had to go. He is.
  • The team has only 2 spinners — the second spinner would be mostly irrelevant on this tour apart from, perhaps, Sydney.
  • The captain is a good one.

Anil Kumble appears to be captaining the team well, although I will point out that he delayed the declaration in todays’ 3rd Test against Pakistan by about 10 overs. A ruthless captain would not have waited for a teammate — Dinesh Karthik in this case — to score a 50 in Test cricket! However, he has shown enough inventiveness and aggression to convince me that his “better late than never” quip on being chosen as Team India captain is a truism of sorts!

However, there is no time for the team to settle and for that, once again, the BCCI should take a bow. Team India has to play its Test XI in the 2-day tour match – the only practice game before the Melbourne Test match!

— Mohan

Ranji player watch – bowlers

Who are the players to watch out for in the Ranjis this season? Thought I’d compile my list starting with the bowlers.

Fast/Medium bowlers

  • Ishant Sharma, New Delhi 
  • Ranadeb Bose, Bengal 
  • Munaf Patel, Maharashtra
  • VRV Singh, Punjab
  • YoMahesh, TN

Apart from Bose and YoMahesh the other fast bowlers have represented India and Munaf Patel (not withstanding his Challenger Trophy performance) looks the most likely to break back in to the team first. But first he has to play a full season without breaking down. Pankaj Singh from Rajasthan didn’t make the cut into my list, but I’ll still be watching how he performs.

There are some notable exceptions in this list, such as Joginder Sharma and Praveen Kumar, but I thought they are better of falling into the allrounder category.

Spinners

  • Piyush Chawla (Leg spin/Googly), UP
  • Pragyan Ojha (Left arm orthodox), Hyderabad
  • R Ashwin (Right arm off spin), TN
  • KP Appanna (Left arm orthodox), Karnataka
  • Abdulla (Left arm orthodox), Mumbai

Amit Mishra, the legspinner who has played for India missed the cut from my list. He hasn’t had the kind of impact some one like Piyush Chawla has had, but it would be interesting to see how he goes. Chawla  has already broken into the India ODI squad and there is talks that he may eventually replace Kumble when he retires. Ojha has been very impressive for India A and looked the most likely left arm spinner to break into the Indian squad. But that was before Murali Karthik’s comeback. Appanna and Abdulla show a lot of promise and it would be interesting to see how they perform a full season. I would also like to see how Shahbaz Nadeem (another left arm spinner) who is not in my list performs this season.

Every so often during this season, I’ll try and post on how these people are going.

-Mahesh-

RoI win Irani Trophy

Rest of India won the Irani Trophy season opener convincingly. In Mumbai’s first innings, Kukreja (110 off 210 balls) and Abhishek Nayar (118 off 108 balls) scored tons to get Mumbai to a decent total of 453 all out.

Abhishek Nayar is shaping up as a really useful allrounder to watch out for in the future. He bats left handed and is a right-arm fast medium bowler. In this match, Nayar bowled more overs than any other Mumbai bowler. Not that this fact alone counted for much in the end, but it talks of the confidence that the team has in this 24-year-old!

After a shaky start in response to this large total, RoI responded soundly, with Parthiv Patel (179 off 235) and Manoj Tiwary (130 off 184) scoring brisk centuries. Parthiv Patel opened the innings with Akash Chopra and has been in stunning form with the bat! In the end, RoI had a slender 1st innings lead. Badrinath had made 29.

It was around this time that news may have leaked of Badrinath’s impending selection in the India team. He may have hoped for the Irani Trophy match to get over soon so that he could pack up is kit and join Team India! But even Badrinath, — who commented, “I can’t leave till this match gets over. I hope we win it tomorrow.” — would not have expected the swiftness of the RoI victory!

In the second innings, Mumbai folded for 106 off 33.3 overs in a mere 166 minutes! RoI had to make 90 to win, which they did for the loss of only 1 wicket! Parthiv Patel smashed a 48-ball 59 to continue his dream run with the bat.

There were several positives and some questions asked from this match:

  • Parthiv Patel will continue to put pressure on Dinesh Karthik for a place in the team, especially since Patel is opening too!
  • For Manoj Tiwary, this century represents a timely reminder to the selectors that he can’t be forgotten.
  • Mohammed Kaif continues to be the most successful representative captain who probably didn’t play much for his country!
  • Ramesh Powar didn’t make any impression on anyone!
  • Ajit Agarkar continued to bowl like a millionaire that he is not.
  • Young Iqbal Abdullah continues to impress and so does Pragyan Ojha.
  • But most interestingly, after an insipid first innings, Munaf Patel bowled with fire in the 2nd innings for RoI. His 5-for-25 off 7.3 overs wrecked Mumbai and caused them to crumble to 106 all out (and his fighting partnership with Ranadeb Bose in the RoI 1st innings to take RoI to a lead will perhaps help his cause too)!

Ps: Who is Omkar Gurav? What happend to Vinayak Mane?

EDIT: Vinayak Mane is injured.

— Mohan

Probably the best team that could have been chosen?

First up, I think it is a good thing that the selectors decided to delink the selection of captain and vice-captain for the shorter version of the game and the longer version of the game. It is good, in my opinion, that the choice of captain for the Tests will be delayed until after the ODI series against Australia.

M. S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh were probably the best choices for captain and vice-captain respectively.

The dropping of Ajit Agarkar and Munaf Patel is also a step in the right direction. The ODI game is not for sloppy cricketers who need to be hidden on the field. Ajit Agarkar needs to be hidden when he is bowling and batting while Munaf Patel needs to be hidden when he is fielding. Unless Ajit Agarkar and Munaf Patel improve, respectively, on their mental and physical approach to the game, they may well have played their last ODIs for India.

Venkatesh Prasad, who was quite open and scathing in his criticism of Munaf Patel’s selection for the ODI tour of England has been heard. The coach, particularly a specialist coach — in this case, a bowling coach — should be consulted on matters of form and fitness. Munaf Patel was just not fit enough and played a very small role in the ODI series against England. After having let India down on her tours of South Africa (broke down midway through a Test after being selected), Bangladesh (had to return home after breaking down) and England (played a bit-role in one ODI), the player needed a kick up his backside and that is precisely what he got.

Ajit Agarkar will remain an enigma lost to Indian cricket. He arrived with a lot of promise, delivered for a while and then, despite a string of no-shows and oh-oh-I-got-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-bed-again-appearances, has continued to hang around like a pimple that will just not go away!

Gautam Gambhir continues to get a spot, perhaps as a result of his 50 against New Zealand in the T20 World Cup. He did play brilliantly in that game. But I continue to be amazed by this persistence in Gautam Gambhir. I am not quite convinced of Gambir’s place and his role in the team. Time will tell.

I do not see the need for 3 spinners — Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar — in the team. That is a luxury in an ODI series, in my view. I am not sure why spinners cannot be rotated in much the same way as batsmen are. An extra bat or an investment in a potential future allrounder may have been a better option. I’d have gone with someone like Badrinath for one of the spinners.

Sreesanth appears to have served his penance and is back in the fold.

Irfan Pathan had two good outings in the T20 series and gets the nod. He appears to have lost a bit in pace and is only bowling at about 130kmph. But his accuracy and swing — his forte — appear to have re-appeared and that can only be good. His fielding also appears to have improved!

Dilip Vengsarkar did talk about a rotation policy. Hopefully, this policy will allow them a look at players like Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, S. Badrinath, Mohammed Kaif, Rohit Sharma, Joginder Sharma, Ishant Sharma, et al.

The team (in possible batting order):

Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly
Robin Uthappa / Gautam Gambhir / Dinesh Karthik
Rahul Dravid
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt)
Irfan Pathan
Piyush Chawla
Ramesh Powar / Harbhajan Singh
RP Singh / Sreesanth
Zaheer Khan

— Mohan

ODI Team and Captain named for Australia ODI series

Predictably, Dhoni has been named the captain. Ajit Agarkar and Munaf get the chop and there are no surprises there. Rohit Sharma should probably consider himself unlucky for being dropped despite doing nothing wrong (or right)  – it is possible he may yet get another chance in the ODIs against Australia as the team has been picked for the first 3 games alone. Vengsarkar has  said that Sehwag will also get a look in. Meanwhile Pathan, Sreesanth and Bhajji have been re-called into the ODI squad. When the playing XI is selected,  it will be an interesting toss up between Bhajji (who has been doing well in T20) and Ramesh Powar (who did well in the ODIs in England)

I wonder if Suresh Raina and Manoj Tiwary will also be rotated into the team for the subsequent games. They are both fully fit and are currently in the India A team picked to play South Africa A. It will also be interesting to see if anyone from the India A team (like Badrinath or Chopra) make the test squad for the Pakistan tour.

Here is the team:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt) ,Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, RP Singh, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh

-Mahesh-