Tag Archives: Pragyan Ojha

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-

Letting out some steam…

Rested

What is with the term “rested”? This word must classify as the biggest  euphemism in Indian cricket. Why don’t the selectors say exactly what the intention was? Are they trying to not offend the seniors in the team by saying that they were rested and not dropped?? I am sure Dravid is pleased that he was actually rested and not dropped.

Team selection

Ok. I don’t even want to get started on this. It’s not that the team selection has been bad. It is the lack of planning and policy in picking the team.  No offence to Pravin Kumar and Sehwag (..and I want them to succeed badly) – but there were better choices out there based on current form.

Dropping Dravid from the team

I don’t have any problems with the selectors dropping Dravid from the ODI team. In fact, Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly should be “rested” (if I may use the word) from the ODI team so that they can prolong their career in Test cricket. And I am not alone in this (based on various other comments that we have received in this blog). What I am pissed off is the fact that they unceremoniously dumped Dravid without any long term plan or strategy. If they wanted him to get some match practice then why did they not pick him for the Challenger Trophy?

Challenger Trophy

This is supposed to be the tournament that pits the best cricketers in India against each other. Instead what do we have? All the big names are being “rested” and we are left with the second rung of cricketers fighting each other out. Now if I was a selector, I would certainly like to know how Ojha and the likes bowl to Tendulkar, Dravid or Dhoni. Or how Praveen Kumar faces up to Zaheer, Sreesanth or RP. But then, I am no selector…If I was one, I would have also waited till the finals of the trophy before I announced the team.

Picking a coach

Just look around. Every team that has been searching for a coach has found one. And India, the biggest cash cow as far as cricket is concerned can’t seem to find one. Sigh! Is it the incompetence of the people who are trying to hire? Or are there no real people out there willing to take on the challenge of coaching a team like India?

Test captaincy

The selectors want to watch Dhoni’s captaincy for a while longer before taking a decision on the Test captaincy. How long? For another 2 games! Huh?  I don’t know about you, but I just don’t get it. If you haven’t made up your decision by now, I don’t know how an additional two games is going to help you.

-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

India Team for 4th and 5th ODIs

The Indian selectors have announced the team for the 4th and 5th ODIs against Australia. It sees only one change to the team that played the first 3 ODIs. Murali Kartik, the left-arm spinner comes in for Romesh Powar.

This, in my view, is a future step into the past!

I accept an argument for a left-armer in the team. We probably need a spin bowler in the middle-overs that can take the ball away from the strong Australian right-handed middle order!

So what is Yuvraj Singh doing in the team then?

I accept that, at 30, Murali Kartik is perhaps a much more developed bowler now than he was a few years back. Why? He may even be the best left-arm-slow bowler in the land. For sometime now, Dilip Vengsarkar, the Chief Selector, has often bemoaned the state of left-arm slow bowling stocks in India. In the past, he and his team of selectors, which includes Venkatapathy Raju in its midst, have shown faith in Rajesh Pawar, the 28-year old Baroda/Mumbai bowler. Indeed, Pawar even went to Bangladesh earlier this year as part of the India team!

In the past few years, India has tried several left-arm-slow bowlers in a desperate bid to revive what has been a thriving art-form in India. In a land that has produced the likes of Bapu Nadkarni, Bishen Bedi, Dilip Doshi, Ravi Shastri, Maninder Singh and even Sunil Joshi and Venkatapathy Raju, the cupboard was thoroughly bare. The reason for Tendulkar’s difficulty with left-armers like Ashley Giles, Daniel Vettori, Paul Harris, Ray Price, et al, has been put down to the fact that India has lost its ability to groom left-arm-slow bowlers.

In the landmark 2001 series against Australia, India tried three left-arm trundlers in the three Tests — Rahul Sanghvi, Venkatapathy Raju and Nilesh Kulkarni (in that order, at Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai). It did not help that Sourav Ganguly had nothing but contempt for both left-arm-slow bowlers and Murali Kartik! Murali Kartik did play in Australia in 2003, but made a meal of his chances and was forgotten after that.

So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the search for that elusive leftie continues. However, two questions arise. Why continue this search in a high-powered-ODI series, and that too when the team is 0-2 down to an all-powerful and all-conquering Australian lineup?

Murali Kartik was himself surprised by the call-up! Despite a few successful county stints with Lancashire and Middlesex (this year) — he has been so successful at Middlesex this year that they have, reportedly, already signed him up for next years’ season — he has not been a part of the frame for an India comeback! The selectors have been grooming Pragyan Ojha and Rajesh Pawar instead. Recent representative teams have included Ojha, the Hyderabad left-armer and/or Pawar, the Baroda player. Murali Kartik wasn’t included in recent India-A teams or the RoI team for the Irani Trophy!

Given that scenario, Kartik is currently working as a TV media analyst in the Australia-India series!

Don’t get me wrong. Murali Kartik is, in my view, a good left-arm spinner — perhaps the best in India. But let us remember that this is not a Test series! Do we really think Murali Kartik will get a game? In whose place? And what does his presence do to team-balance? His presence, in my view, upsets balance. Of course, unless he replaces one of the bowlers? Sure, that is possible. But who will he replace? Zaheer Khan? Harbhajan Singh? Sreesanth?

Team balance screams for India to groom allrounders. Blind Freddie will tell you that. Instead of looking to the future to groom “allrounders” like S. Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary — a player who has put his hand up to be considered as an allrounder in recent times — Joginder Sharma or Praveen Kumar, a re-look at a player like Murali Kartik in the ODI framework appears to me to be a throwback to a dull and listless past.

Sure spinners mature late and I have no problem with Kartik playing matches. But ODIs? Especially in an environment where the key area where Team India hurts most — and this should be obvious to anyone following Indian ODIs in recent months — is in the area of team-balance affected by the lack of allrounders.

Ho hum!

— Mohan

India ‘A’ continues to impress…

For a few months now, I have been following the exploits of the India ‘A’ team captained by Mohammed Kaif. After impressive showings against Zimbabwe Select, Kenya and Sri Lanka A, the team continues its good showing against a South Africa ‘A’ side that includes many players that have turned out for the Springboks national team in the past.

While India ‘A’ includes Mohammed Kaif (13 Tests, 125 ODIs), Parthiv Patel (19 Tests, 14 ODIs), Ishant Sharma (1 Test, 1 ODI) and Suresh Raina (36 ODIs) as players who have donned India colours, South Africa ‘A’ includes Morne van Wijk (5 ODIs), A. Petersen (2 ODIs), Gulam Bodi (2 ODIs), Boeta Dippenar (38 Tests, 107 ODIs), Albie Morkel (12 ODIs), Justin Ontong (2 Tests, 21 ODIs), Thami Tsolekile (3 Tests), Vernon Philander (5 ODIs), Johan Botha (1 Test, 13 ODIs), Charl Langeveldt (6 Tests, 48 ODIs).

India won the 2-match Test Series 1-0 (one match was rained out). The first 2 ODIs were completely rained-out. In the latest ODI, India beat South Africa by 1 run off the last ball in a thriller at Rajkot.

S. Badrinath continues to impress with both bat and ball and in my view, it is only a matter of time before this exciting 27-year-old dons India colours. He is a valuable bat, an electric fielder and a competent off-spinner too.

For sometime now, I have been saying that India really needs a few good allrounders in its ODI make up. While welcoming the return-to-form of Irfan Pathan, I have been dismayed with the selectors’ reluctance to invest in Joginder Sharma for the ODIs against Australia. This after captain M. S. Dhoni had invested his reputation as well as India’s fortunes in the T20 Championship in two of the biggest last overs an Indian has bowled in international cricket!

Here is a quote on Joginder Sharma from Dileep Premachandran’s article on Dhoni.

His treatment of Sharma in the two biggest matches of the tournament summed up his qualities as captain. You or I could toss the ball to a Wasim Akram or a Curtly Ambrose and calmly watch a match clinched in the final over. It requires no great leadership quality or tactical nous.

The real test of captaincy lies in bringing the fringe player into the centre circle and making him feel that he’s not a misfit there. It’s almost certain that no other Indian captain of the last decade and more would have dared go with Sharma for those final overs. By doing so Dhoni was emphasising sport’s greatest but often forgotten truth – it’s not about the stars, it’s about the XI. And sometimes the unlikeliest ones shine brightest.

And after that bold and forthright statement, and especially when an opportunity persented itself with Piyush Chawla’s freak injury, Joginder Sharma has been cast to the sidelines.

I have been following the careers of allrounders like him and Praveen Kumar, the 20-year old allrounder from UP. He plays alongside R. P. Singh, Piyush Chawla, and Suresh Raina in the UP side. He is a carefree bat and an opening bowler. He opened the batting and bowling in yesterdays’ game. Although he didn’t make much with the bat, he bowled well — including the last over of the match.

I do believe that Joginder Sharma and/or Praveen Kumar should play for India in ODIs soon. Just the presence of Irfan Pathan does so much for team balance. This balance will be augmented by the presence of another allrounder and I will continue to pay close attention to the progress of both these contenders.

All through these matches, Parthiv Patel has been thoroughly impressive. He has notched up several 100s and 50s and his ‘keeping has also been quite ‘tight’. Mohammed Kaif, who scored a smart 98 in yesterdays’ match continues to impress with his captaincy and may end up being the best U-19 and India-A captain that didn’t get an extended stint with the national team! Suresh Raina made his first appearance yesterday and scored a compact 45.

Amit Mishra, the young leg-spinner, has had a few good games too. After bowling with aplomb in the Test match, he also scored a breezy 22 off 11 balls in yesterdays’ ODI.

The one disappointment through this tour is that bowlers seem to have worked out Manoj Tiwary’s weakness against the short-rising-ball. He is getting peppered with the short stuff and the young dasher seems to be hell-bent on rewarding the bowlers’ efforts too!

— Mohan

How are the hopefuls going?

While all the action has been around India’s tour of England, India-A has been playing in Kenya and India U-19 has been playing in Sri Lanka.

In Kenya, Parthiv Patel is batting like a dream while Mohammed Kaif has been stuttering. Parthiv Patel has pushed himself up the order and is batting at #1 and even opened in one match raising the distinct possibility of India playing 3 ‘keepers in a game soon! After a rather insipid start, Irfan Pathan looks like he is coming good. He has been taking wickets in most matches. After strong initial contributions with the ball from Piyush Chawla, Pragyan Ojha has stepped up to the plate as a convincing bowling left-arm-spin alternative for the future. One standout in the entire tour has been S. Badrinath. He has been making the runs steadily and he has been making them in quick time too! Of course, India has been winning everything on this tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya!

The real test will come when these lads travel to England, South Africa, West Indies and Australia. But it is certainly nice to follow the travails of the India-A team.

We have kept our eyes focussed on the U-19 tour of Sri Lanka too. There, one of the key interests was in the travels of Tanmay Srivastava and Abhinav Mukund. They both travelled well in the second match of the series, with Abhinav Mukund scoring a double century and a century in the same game!

— Mohan

Zimbabwe Select Vs India-A

India-A won the first match of its tour of Zimbabwe convincingly. Piyush Chawla was destroyer-in-chief, with 4 for 30, in Zimbabwe Select’s second innings. The 69 runs that were needed for victory were polished off by Irfan Pathan, the opener, who made 39 off 49 balls.

The second match of the series sees Zimbabwe Select staring down the barrel! Zimbabwe Select first allowed India-A to score 524 for 8 declared. Cheteshwar Pujara, the opener, Parthiv Patel and S. Badrinath made centuries. Irfan Pathan made a duck! In response, Zimbabwe Select are 67 for 5 with Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha being the chief-wreckers.

I just don’t see the point of tours of Zimbabwe. Perhaps the next tour will be to France and then Holland and then USA, followed by a gruelling tour to Tahiti! Bah!

— Mohan