Tag Archives: Pathan

Team India for Bangladesh Tri-Series and Asia Cup

In a week from now, Team India travels to Bangladesh to take on Pakistan and Bangladesh in a tri-series ahead of the Asia Cup, which will also include Sri Lanka.

We at i3j3Cricket had predicted the team makeup and there were no real surprises when the selectors announced a team that was not too different from the one that had won in Australia in February/March this year. Given Sachin Tendulkar’s withdrawal, R. P. Singh’s return to the fold and Dinesh Karthik’s slide, the team make up was not too surprising. Some IPL performances were rewarded — notably Yusuf Pathan and Pragyan Ojha.

The team that has been selected has a balanced and youthful look to it. I will not be surprised if the team that takes to the park on June 10th (a week from now) against Pakistan is (in batting order):

Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Robin Uthappa / Suresh Raina
Yuvraj Singh
Rohit Sharma
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Yusuf Pathan
Irfan Pathan
Piyush Chawla / Pragyan Ojha
Sreesanth / Praveen Kumar / R. P. Singh
Ishant Sharma

On current form, this is, in my view, a very strong team. The opening combination is a winning combination.

— Mohan

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India Vs RSA :: 2nd Test :: Preview

After playing out a laborious, painful and drab draw in Chennai, India and South Africa move to Ahmedabad. Of the three locations for this series, Chennai was most likely to produce a result. Now that that hope was buried I am not holding my breath, awaiting the results of the Ahmedabad and Kanpur Tests. Then again, the BCCI has pulled some surprises in the past and I for one would be most happy to be horribly surprised once again! Matches like the one we had in Chennai are bound to grind Test cricket to the ground in India, as Jamie Alter says on Cricinfo.

Sachin Tendulkar is not playing in this next Test. So that should give the team and opportunity to move Sourav Ganguly and V. V. S. Laxman up the order. This would give them an opportunity to play another bowler. My bet would be on Irfan Pathan playing instead of Sachin Tendulkar. The team would then need to decide on whether or not it wanted a mildly fit and listlessly lethargic R. P. Singh or the spin option of Piyush Chawla. I’d go for the latter. Although there is grass on the pitch, the Motera track has assisted spinners on days 3-5 of Test matches.

This would then give the following Team India: Sehwag, Jaffer, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Dhoni, Pathan, Chawla, Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth

After his splendid innings at Chennai, the South Africans are wary of Virender Sehwag. They have decided to target Sehwag with short stuff aimed at his rib cage! Not a bad ploy particularly if the South Africans are able to bowl rib-cage stuff from around the wicket. After all, Sehwag has shown his ability to handle anything short and outside off-stump! South African coach, Mickey Arthur, indicated, “We had a look at Sehwag’s fantastic innings. He cuts the ball very well but we saw he played his first pull shot only after scoring 312.

It would be interesting to see how Sehwag copes with this approach.

India Vs RSA :: 1st Test :: Preview

After a well-earned, short break, India is going to play some cricket; this time at home against South Africa.

This comes a day after Sunil Gavaskar took careful aim at England and Australia in a newspaper column of his!

The South Africans have been smart with their scheduling — they have spent the last month in Bangladesh and are possibly acclimatised. Even though the opposition wasn’t as strong as India, they should have also acquired a feel for the nature of the pitches they might encounter in India. They toured Pakistan not so long ago too. So even though the only practice game that they had (against India ‘A’) was canceled, South African Coach, Mickey Arthur, wasn’t too concerned. As a result of this confidence in the conditions, the team flew back to South Africa on 14 March for a quick refresh before heading back to the sub-continent.

Although some of their players have hit form at the right time — including Greame Smith — the team has been dogged by a colour-based-selection policy. This even saw Charl Langeveldt pull out of the tour — the player did not wish to be included just on the basis of his colour! Greame Smith, the South African captain said, “We need to find a way to deal with these issues so we can concentrate on the cricket.”

Jacques Kallis weighed in to the selection debate and called the selection-saga “frustrating”. He said it is best that “the task of choosing the side is left solely to the selectors in the future.”

Langeveldt was initially included ahead of Andre Nel to fulfill a quota obligation. This has resulted in the charismatic Andre Nel threatening to quit cricket! And now, we have the Langeveldt pull-out! No replacement has been named for Langeveldt!

Amidst this backdrop, the first Test of the three-match series starts in Chennai on Wednesday 26 March 2008.

The Indians have found themselves in a bit of controversy too, since their victorious return from Australia. This has revolved around M. S. Dhoni’s alleged seniors Vs juniors comment as well as the fitness of a few players. A few have also questioned the need to continue to invest faith in Yuvraj Singh in the Test side. Anil Kumble, Team India Test captain, put down the seniors Vs juniors issue as a pure media-play and nothing else.

The two sides, meanwhile, are evenly matched, in my view. The South Africans have done well in India in the past and although they will play against a Team India Test squad that is largely refreshed by the inclusion of a few well-rested “seniors”, this may be a closer series than many Indians would like to accept!

South Africa (possible): Graeme Smith (c), Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince (vc), A. B. de Villiers, Mark Boucher (wk), Paul Harris, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini

Reserves: Jean-Paul Duminy, Robin Peterson, Monde Zondeki

India (possible): Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V. V. S. Laxman, M. S. Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth/Chawla, R. P. Singh

Reserves: Wasim Jaffer, Yuvraj Singh

While the South Africa lineup does not have too many doubts surrounding it, the Indian squad is, as always, punctuated by the opener conundrum and its corollary — the 4-bowler-policy. Anil Kumble has declared emphatically that Rahul Dravid will bat at #3. So, unless the team decides to go with only 4 bowlers — a risk in the humid and hot Chennai conditions — I do think that Pathan will open to accommodate an extra pace bowler (Sreesanth) or spinner (Chawla). The rest of the team picks itself and has, apart from Harbhajan Singh, Dhoni and Tendulkar, a “well-rested” look to it.

This will be a series which will, to me, indicate whether India now has it in them to add the word “consistent” to the adjectives that are used to describe the team. Indeed, this whole year will present an opportunity for Team India to prove that it can be consistently good at the highest level. A good result for Team India will mean that its #2 spot will be consolidated on the ICC Test Table.

— Mohan

Bring on the Proteas

Now that the Australian tour is over, we can start looking forward to cricket with another challenging team – South Africa. Here is the fixture:

  Venue Dates
1st Test Chennai Mar 26 to 30
2nd Test Ahmedabad Apr 3 to 7
3rd Test Kanpur Apr 11 to 15

 

The last test series between the two countries was a very close one that India eventually lost 1-2, but this time India have the home advantage and SA have to reckon with a team high on confidence. India also have a good mix of experience and youth to pull it off.

So, should we start speculating what the Indian team make up would be?

Openers

I think Sehwag should be an automatic choice and we shouldn’t let his ODI form affect his test chances. Jaffer and Karthik both failed in Australia, but I would imagine that Jaffer being a regular opener would get the nod ahead of Karthik. Chopra and Gambhir would probably also be in the selectors radar, while Dravid and Pathan have an outside chance of being considered as an opener.

Middle Order

Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman are probably automatic choices. Ganguly would probably get the nod too. If Dravid opens the innings, then there is an opening for Yuvraj Singh or Rohit Sharma in the middle order. Gambhir could also be considered. A lot of our readers have expressed an opinion that Badrinath should be considered. I would be very surprised if the selectors made such a bold move (although it wouldn’t be a bad one!) Dhoni will of course don the gloves and come in to bat at No.7

Bowlers

Kumble is an automatic selection and if you are playing in India, Harbhajan Singh is another automatic selection for the second spinner spot. Zaheer Khan is still injured and the other two bowling spots would probably end up going to Ishant Sharma and RP Singh. If the track does take a lot of spin, then including a 3rd spinner (Piyush Chawla) may not be a bad idea, with Pathan opening the batting and also sharing the new ball with Ishant Sharma.

So, here is the final team –

  • Sehwag
  • Jaffer/Pathan
  • Dravid
  • Tendulkar
  • Ganguly/Yuvraj Singh
  • Laxman
  • Dhoni
  • Kumble
  • Harbhajan Singh
  • RP Singh/Chawla
  • Ishant Sharma

That makes up the 14. Not much different from the team that toured Australia, but why should it be?

(I know, I know! – I will probably get a lot of flak for including Yuvraj Singh in the test team 🙂 )

-Mahesh-

Should Dhoni give up his gloves?

Should Dhoni give up his gloves – at least in the ODI format? Dhoni is such an important batsman for India and his batting in the last few one day games has been so matured – he has curbed his natural attacking instinct and played very very sensibly. His scores in the tri-nation tournament has been – 37, 88*, 17*, 31, 37 and 50*. May not sound like a lot, but he rescued India against SL in the rain affected game, played a supporting role with Rohit Sharma against Australia and if he had not been run out against Australia, India could have well won the game. He proved his worth again today with another measured innings that basically won the game for India after they messed up the run chase yet another time. Who would have thought that someone like Dhoni can score a fifty without a single boundary!

Now, a bit about the game.

India got the team right, I think. Bringing in Praveen Kumar instead of Sreesanth was a good move. Sreesanth is a strike bowler, and a better bowler than Praveen Kumar. But Kumar brings in his batting into the equation and without Sehwag, the extra depth in the batting is always a good thing. It is another thing that Kumar didn’t do much with the bat today. Having said that, I am sure India will bring Sreesanth back for other games in the tournament.

The five bowler formula works well for India and it once again kept the score to a very gettable target. The Indian batting continued to be a bit wobbly. Thankfully, Yuvraj Singh found his form and rescued the team with an excellent 76 of 70 balls, when the scoring rate was slow and India was struggling a bit. Even after Yuvraj got out, India seemed to be cruising with a very good partnership between Dhoni and Pathan. With less than 25 runs to win, Pathan went for a wild swish to lose his stump and  brought Sri Lanka back into the game. In the end it was a tense finish and only a cool head from Dhoni won the game for India. Based on the current standing in the Points table (Australia 17, India 12 and Sri Lanka 6), it is very unlikely (not impossible, though) that Sri Lanka will make it to the finals.

Dhoni’s batting is vital to India’s success and  should we be protecting him? He has been struggling a bit with his fitness of late and after keeping wickets and captaining the team for 50 overs, he has been cramping when he is batting.

We can always argue that guys like Gilchrist keep wickets and also open the innings. For SL, Sangakarra comes in at one drop and he is their best batsman (as he proved that once again today). So, why should Dhoni give up his gloves in the one day format to focus on his batting? The answer to that question is, as I said earlier – his fitness.

There is always Karthik who can keep wickets and come in place of Uthappa and this does not have to be a permanent change. Once he gets fully fit again, there can be rethink of this issue.

Your thoughts?

-Mahesh-

Australia v India :: ODI :: A win for India

After four games, this somewhat tiring three-nations series is nicely set up. India won a game at the MCG, Melbourne last night and two of her previous games have been rained out. Sri Lanka has 2 points from a rained out game, while Australia has a win and 2 points from a wash-out. Sri Lanka meets India on Tuesday in what could be a battle that opens up this series or tightens the score-board. Even though they were outplayed in Sydney by a rampant and professional Australia unit, Sri Lanka looks like a capable side. So after many years of tiring one-sided cricket, it looks like this series — ironically, the last tri-series in Australia — will be a cracker of sorts!

In last nights’ game, India out thought and out-bowled Australia. The Indians seemed to have a plan for each batsman and stuck to it. The days that the team had in MCG to themselves seemed to have worked! Ishant Sharma thundered in and bowl a foot outside off to Matthew Hayden. They wanted Hayden to make the running and offered him nothing on his pads or close to the body. Similarly, they had a plan for Michael Clarke and for Ricky Ponting. The fielding was sharper and the catching was good too. It is easy to see why this young Team India has captured the imagination of a few Australians in the commentary box. With the calm and fearless M. S. Dhoni at the helm of affairs it is easy for the Indian fan to dream again!

Australia was all out in some 43.1 overs for 169. This does not happen often. No doubt, the scoreline was benefited by poor umpiring that cost Adam Gilchrist (LBW off an inside edge) and Stuart Clark (seemed to not nick a ball that carried through to M. S. Dhoni). And when India was batting, Sachin Tendulkar got a healthy nick and was pouched behind the stumps — it wasn’t given. It is hard to predict what might have been, had these decisions gone against India.

However, I thought India bowled well and that is heartening to see. Ricky Ponting admitted after the game that Ishant Sharma made a big difference. The young Indian quick got Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds — three top-drawer batsmen. But more importantly, he has improved steadily with each outing. He was entrusted with the new ball in yesterdays’ game and came out trumps. Sree Santh looked dangerous too and Irfan Pathan backed the with some wily stuff of his own. Team India, which is without Zaheer Khan and R. P. Singh, probably its top-2 ODI pacers, is looking sharp at the moment.

In the batting, Rohit Sharma and M. S. Dhoni batted beautifully to get India home. It was disappointing to see India not get the bonus point, but the victory is perhaps more important in the larger scheme of things.

One worry would be the continuing bad form of Yuvraj Singh. Nothing seems to be going right for this young man on this tour. He needs a big innings. India needs it too. With a fit and in-form Yuvraj Singh, this team can reach the finals and create some damage. If not, it may be a bridge too far.

With that in mind, it may not be a bad idea for Team India to think in terms of sending Yuvraj Singh in as opener in the game against Sri Lanka in Canberra. He can play with more freedom and be more carefree. In the last two games he has come in with wicket-preservation mindset and that may not quite be the best frame of mind to be in when one is trying to breakout of a form slump.

— Mohan

Australia v India :: ODI :: “Hard but Fair”

India won the toss and started positively by chosing to bat first in overcast conditions in this, the first match of a tri-series ODI that involves Australia, India and Sri Lanka! Electing to bat first was a bold move. Most of the Channel-9 commentators and ABC commentators felt that this was a wrong move, especially since Australia went into the game with 4 pace bowlers!

Manoj Tiwary was chosen ahead of Praveen Kumar. Rohit Sharma was there, one thought, for an injured Yuvraj Singh. Dinesh Karthik also missed out.

The Channel-9 commentators thought that 240 would be a par score on this pitch under such conditions.

Healey started off by saying that India would be 40-5. Lawry said no way would India be 40-5 and attempted to shut Healey up. The former Australian ‘keeper said “Ok they would be 30-6 then!”

This brings to sharp focus the insular nature of commentary in Australia. Commetartors such as Robin Jackman, Geoff Boycott, Tony Greig, Ian Chappell, Michael Slater, Greg Blewett, Bruce Yardley, et al are regularly invited to Indian homes via TC sets. We still have on Channel-9 a paranoia-stricken and xenofobia-stricken approach that sees a clutch of former Australian cricketers willing Australia on to victory. Nothing wrong with that, but perhaps balance and perspective suffers as a result. But then, as Lalors would have us believe, Australian sport is about being “hard but fair”!

India started off steadily, but in the 4th over, Sehwag chose to cut a Nathan Bracken delivery close to his chest. The resulting under edge crashed onto his leg stump! India was 13-1. Soon after, through a freak hit-wicket dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar, India was 26-2! At the end of 8 overs, India was on 27-2. Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir had to now hold the innings together. The 9th over saw 11 runs come to Gautam Gambhir from 30-year-old Ashley Noffke’s debut over in ODI cricket. At the end of 10 overs, India was 44-2. Early marks had gone to Australia although the pitch wasn’t really doing anything! The batsman had basically handed the initiative to Australia.

The 11th over saw a dogs’ breakfast of a fielding from James Hopes who put in a fielding effort that Munaf Patel would have been proud of! I am not sure if Peter Lalor is going to write about it though! He may not have even observed it — most of his type are oblivious to internal blemishes by the Australians! Their mirrors just see the bad and unruly behaviour of crowds in Mohali! The rest of their world is somewhat perfect! The end of the over saw India reach 52-2, not quite the five-down-for-nothing that Healey had bleated about!

The 13th over saw two catches dropped at slip by Mike Hussey at 2nd slip and Ricky Ponting respectively! Gautam Gambhir poked at two Mitchell Johnson deliveries and down went two catches. In the very next over, bad judgement from James Hopes meant that a skier was put down in the deep off a Rohit Sharma dance-down-the-pitch shot. I am sure Lalor was watching these too, but I am sure he will have bad India fielding and bad India over rates to write about later on in the night! The Australian catching, truth be said, has been woeful all summer.

Gambhir was living dangerously. He had played some excellent shots, no doubt, but his off-side pokes were either being spilled or were falling in vacant paddocks.

The two Indian youngsters got the score moving nicely till the 20th over when Gambhir fell LBW to Mitchell Johnson — a bowler who’d probably, by then, lost confidence in his colleagues’ ability to catch the ball — for 39 off 51 balls. India was 91-3. This bought debutant Manoj Tiwary to the crease. He played and missed and copped a verbal spray from Mitchell Johnson immediately. “Welcome to cricket in Australia, but don’t worry we play hard but fair”, was the message — at least, that is what a Lalor would have you believe! At the end of the 20th over, the score was 92-3.

Tiwary had just come into the country for 24 hours as cover for Yuvraj Singh and seemed like he may have wanted a bit more time before he was thrown into the deep end! The Australians were testing him with the short stuff. Immediately, Rohit Sharma departed and it was 93-4. Tiwary did look totally uncomfortable and out of place! He didn’t seem to belong on this stage. And he did not last long. Tiwary was probably chosen ahead of the more settled and acclimatised Dinesh Karthik (or even Praveen Kumar) for his bowling prowess. One only hopes that he bowls really well.

M. S. Dhoni and Robin Uthappa reconstructed the innings slowly. Almost against the run of play, Uthappa gloved a rising delivery from Noffke to lob an easy catch to Michael Clarke. Once again, a good start was ruined by some reckless middle-order display.

After losing 4 wickets for 11 runs, India was badly on the back foot. The scoring rate dipped and crease-occupation was the name of the game. India crawled to 111-6 at the end of 30 overs, when the second drinks break was taken. The Australian over-rate was woeful — as it has been all summer; something that most match referees seem to be blind to these days! This perhaps forced Australia to use Michael Clarke’s left-arm spin.

Singles were the order of the day and India limped to 120-6 off 34 overs, when the mandatory ball change happened. At this stage is was nearly 90 balls and 68 mins since the last boundary had been scored! Things were turning out to be painfully slow for India at this stage. A rain break of over an hour reduced the game to a 45-over-a-side match along with a retention of the 45-minute dinner break! This is a bizzrre ruling? Why not eat into the dinner break?

This was followed by a few overs of acceleration from the Indians. Then, in an over from Noffke, a huge appeal for caught behind was turned down. The Australians were, of course offended. The crowd was also offended. Naturally. They’d have expected him to walk, because he is not Australiàn. Only Australians like the Gentleman Roy are allowed to stay their ground! The boos from the “hard but fair” Gabba crowd continued through the over.

When Pathan was out a few balls later he was roundly booed by the crowd. The poor crowd. It had to draw breath immediately to welcome Harbhajan Singh to the crease with a continuation of the boo-rhythm! The crowds’ aggression was perhaps understandable, although a Lalor would have you believe that the only hostile crowds come from Mohali or Mumbai! Sir, if you please, crowds in Australia play “hard but fair”. Do you mind!

While the crowds’ “hard but fair” hostility was understandable, Ian Healeys’ Laloristic commentary cry of, “Yeah! Stick it to him. Get right into him” commendation of the boos was thoroughly deplorable and despicable as Harbhajan Singh walked in to bat! Mind you, it was all “hard but fair” so it was all thoroughly ok! No problems there at all. The crowds at Mohali, sir? Naah! They are ruffians who won’t quite know the meaning of either “hard” or “fair”.

Harbhajan Singh came out in determined fashion. He combined some unorthodox shots with clever nudges and kept the scoreboard ticking along with Dhoni.

Dhoni lasted till the last over and then got out. The poor crowd. Had to draw breath once again to give a “hard but fair” (but of course) response to Sree Santh. Soon, the crowd had to draw its breath again to give a “hard but fair” send off to Harbhajan Singh as Singh got out. Just as it had given a “hard but fair” boo of no-ball every time Muralitharan came out to bowl.

India finished at 194 all out at the end of the 45th over.

Further rains meant that the game was reduced to a 43-over party with Australia needing to make 192 to win.

India, one felt, had one pace bowler less for this responsive track. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Manoj Tiwary would need to combine to bowl 8-9 overs.

India’s best chance lay in taking a few quick early wickets. The “hard but fair” crowd continued to boo Harbhajan Singh as he fielded or stopped balls. But these are of course, unlike Mohali or Mumbai, friendly Laloristic environs.

India started badly. Pathan bowled down legside to a packed outside field and Sree Santh was intent on pitching in his half of the pitch! And then, against the run of play, Gilchrist edged a down-the-legside ball from Sree Santh to Dhoni behind the stumps.

Soon after that there was yet another extended rain-break. When the players came back, the game was shortened to a 26-over game with a target of 141. This would be a stiff target. Soon after resumption, both James Hopes (bowled Ishant Sharma) and Ricky Ponting (brilliantly caught by Sehwag in the slips off Sree Santh) fell cheaply and Australia were 39-3. Sreesanth and Sharma were, by now, bowling quite brilliantly.

With Australia on 51-3, though, the game was interrupted yet again by a rain break. And this was the end of the game. Both teams share two points in this circus.

The next match is a India Vs Sri Lanka tie… No “hard and fair” game that!

— Mohan