Tag Archives: Praveen Kumar

ODI Team India Balance…

I must declare that I am not a great fan of the current balance that Team India has got in its ODI Team. Having said that, I do believe that the ODI teams’ balance has improved substantially over the last 8 months or so, thanks to the return of Irfan Pathan.

I do believe that the return to form of Irfan Pathan is a definite positive for Indian cricket. After struggling with his rhythm for nearly a year, the young Irfan Pathan looks good today. He is running hard and bowling consistently in the mid-130kmph range. He also uses the slower ball and cutters quite effectively in ODI games. Throw in his competent batting and what you have is an effective package. Add to the mix the fearlessness of his captain M. S. Dhoni to use him in various different roles and you have the makings of an effective team-balance.

However, I do believe that India needs another Irfan Pathan to achieve that elusive balance.

If nothing more, this other allrounder could play when Irfan Pathan is either rested or injured.

With Andrew Symonds and James Hopes in its ranks, Australia has that balance. In Sundays’ game against India, Hopes had a tight hamstring and sat out the match. The result was there for everyone to see. The Indians knew the 5th bowler weakness in the Australian team and so, waited for Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds to be wheeled in! The presence of James Hopes would perhaps have altered their approach a bit.

Similarly, in a tight game, I do believe India will get “found out” through the absence of that 5th bowler. At the moment, the team is making-do with a combination of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh as that 5th bowler. Over time I do believe that the team needs to invest in another “allrounder” to achieve that elusive team-balance.

In Praveen Kumar, India has one such candidate warming the benches in Australia at the moment! I do believe that he ought to get a game against Sri Lanka today.

Other potential candidates include Yusuf Pathan, Joginder Sharma, Rajat Bhatia, Abhishek Nayar, although Manoj Tiwary, and S. Badrinath have also put their hands up, claiming to be allrounders!

Over time, it will be, I believe, players like these that will make up the core of a ODI team.

— Mohan

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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

India lose match — win series

India lost the final match of the ODI series against Pakistan in Jaipur. The key interest for me in this game was the see how the team fared in the absence of Sourav Ganguly, Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh and Harbhajan Singh. For me the other interest in this game was to see how Praveen Kumar played in his first ODI.

Overall, although India lost the match, they can take away a lot from this series. In the main, the form of Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh are major positives from this series. Although Robin Uthappa failed — and failed quite badly — in last nights’ game, I think his forceful presence in the death-overs is a major positive for India too.

Yuvraj Singh has been in sublime form and would be justifiably upset if he is left out of the Test team for the first Test against Pakistan, which commences on 22 November (at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi). Harbhajan Singh has bowled quite brilliantly through the tournament too. Although I will admit readily that one should not blindly take ODI form to be a true estimate of Test-match-form, the pointers are certainly good for both Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh. Both of them have made compelling cases for inclusion in the Test side.

The main positive from this series has been the stunning form of Sachin Tendulkar. Through two scores in the 90s and a few other short stays at the crease, Sachin Tendulkar appears to have hit peak form at the right time — just prior to three imporant back-to-back series; against Pakistan, Australia and South Africa. The signs are definitely good.

Praveen Kumar had a decent day at the office yesterday. Although one would be disappointed with his batting, he is definitely capable of more with the bat. He kept a cool head while bowling at the death overs and the fact that his captain had enough faith in him to ask him to bowl 3 of the last 5 overs means that he should have a reasonably long stint in India’s ODI team.

The two disappointments for India would be the indifferent form of Virender Sehwag and Murali Kartik. After a brilliant showing against Australia, Murali Kartik appears to have faded somewhat in this series. One expected Sehwag to set the ground ablaze with his new found hunger and tighter technique. However, while he looked good in the Gwalior game, he threw away a brilliant opportunity in last nights’ game with a mind-explosion. Both Virender Sehwag and Murali Kartik may have lost the opportunity to board the plane to Australia.

We may be tempted to blame the umpire for turning down several LBW appeals that India made that looked much closer than the one that Gautam Gambhir got. We may be tempted to blame the umpire for the shocker that Yuvraj Singh received — his subsequent dissent, justifiably earned him a visit to the Match Referees’ Office and a fine. However, the fact remains that Pakistan played smarter cricket on the day and deserve the applause.

Yesterday’s match also saw two debut performances in the Pakistan team. Both Sarfaraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper, and Fawad Alam, the allrounder, came out of the game with an increase in their stock. Pakistan will possibly go into the first Test in more buoyant spirits now.

— Mohan

India win ODI series…

India won the fourth match of the ODI series against Pakistan at Gwalior and sealed the ongoing series against Pakistan 3-1 with one match still to go.

The chief architect of this win was Sachin Tendulkar, who hit a masterful 97 — out for the 6th time in the last 21 innings in the 90s. Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and M. S. Dhoni too played sensibly to get India home. This was yet another match in which India didn’t really appear to lose control of the game at any point in time. Much like India’s previous wins by India in this series at Guwahati and at Kanpur, India appeared to be in the drivers’ seat right through the match; if the teams’ hands were not on the wheel itself, the closeness of hand to wheel was reasonably conspicuous.

Every time Pakistan threatened to take the game away from India, either a wicket would fall (when Pakistan batted) or a series of big shots (when India batted) would bring the game back into Indias’ control. In that sense it was a bit of an Australian-performance by India! For example, just when Shoaib Mallik and Younis Khan were threatening to take the game away from India, Zaheer Khan clean bowled Mallik to redress the equation. When Shahid Afridi bowled a few tight overs to cramp Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, suddenly from nowhere, Sehwag belted out a huge six to unconstrain the batsmen. The next over from Afridi saw Tendulkar launch into three sublime 4s!

Tendulkar batted quite wonderfully. Many a commentary talks of the “Tendulkar of old”. This is an unfortunate and, in my view, somewhat senseless trend to compare Tendulkar-of-today with the Tendulkar-of-old or the Bradman-of-old. There seems to be this native and implicit (sometimes frustratingly explicit) expectation that suddenly Tendulkar will start to play like the 1998-vintage Tendulkar. In my view, however, the 1998-Tendulkar was what it was… the 1998-Tendulkar. I am convinced that we will not see the “Tendulkar of old” that L. Sivaramakrishnan and Arun Lal continue to talk about in their game-commentary. It enables me to fully enjoy, appreciate, cherish and value the “Tendulkar of today”. And yesterday’s exhibition was close to perfection by Tendulkar. On a pitch where most batsmen struggled, Tendulkar wrote his own script. He played with nonchalance and confidence — Dileep Premachandran, in his CricInfo article, talks of Tendulkar playing with “confidence of old”, which is perhaps the right way to describe his batting last night.

At one point in time the TV commentary team — another topic for another day — talked about a window of opportunity for Pakistan and possible panic in the Indian dressing room when Sehwag and Tendulkar got out within a few overs of each other. M. S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh were doing battle in the middle. But then Robin Uthappa — India’s new finish-man — and Irfan Pathan were still there in the pavillion! There seemed to be plenty of gas left in this vehicle. In any case, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh played with calm comfort to steer India home again, as they did in Guwahati!

I do strongly believe that India must use the dead-rubber game at Jaipur on Sunday to plan for the months ahead. I believe it would be appropriate for the team to rest Sourav Ganguly for that game. The lack of a 5th bowler could have hurt India if it were playing a stronger team last night. The time is right, in my view to blood Praveen Kumar. Moreover, with a view to the long season coming up for Team India, Zaheer Khan — who, incidentally, bowled with great control in last nights’ game — could be rested too.

I’d like to see India play the following team (in batting order) for that game on Sunday:

Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Sree Santh, R. P. Singh

— Mohan

Ranji player watch – All-rounders

I had earlier posted on bowlers and batsmen to watch out for in the current Ranji Trophy championship. The list of allrounders completes the over all list of players to watch out for:

  • Parthiv Patel has been scoring in the India A games consistently and he doubles up as a wicketkeeper. It would be interesting to see if he is able to challenge Dinesh Karthik as the reserve wicketkeeper for India. But more than his keeping abilities, it is his batting that has been impressive – notching up a successive centuries (126, 124, 164 and 110) in his last four innings for India A and following it up with a 179, opening the batting for Rest of India against Mumbai in the Irani Trophy.
  • Joginder Sharma has already made his ODI and T20 debut for India and although I don’t see him make into the test team any time soon, he is certainly one to watch out for. He was the second highest wicket taker in the Ranji Trophy last year and also impressed with the bat, particularly in the Duleep Trophy.
  • Praveen Kumar opens both the batting and bowling in domestic one day competition and his performances with India A and in the Challenger Trophy has already earned him a call up to the national ODI squad, although he is yet to make his debut.
  • Yusuf Pathan is another allrounder who could be useful in the T20 and ODI games, although his induction into the Test squad seems unlikely at this stage. Would be good to see how he performs this season.

-Mahesh-

Likely team for India-Pakistan 1st ODI

And so, another series starts today in India. India play a 5-match ODI series against Pakistan with todays’ first game being played at Guwahati.

oN paper, India appear to start as favourites in the ODI series — at least, in the judgement of Rameez Raja and Sanjay Manjrekar! And I think that is fair enough. The team is more settled under its new captain who seems to exude confidence with every game. Despite the dropping of Rahul Dravid, they have a more settled team that has just been through a tough series against Australia. Although Pakistan have come through a tough series against South Africa, there is an unsettled look to the team and one never knows what Shoaib Akhtar’s presence will do in the dressing room.

This is the team that I think India should go with.

Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly (Gautam Gambhir)
Virender Sehwag (Rohit Sharma)
Yuvraj Singh
Robin Uthappa
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Irfan Pathan
Praveen Kumar
Harbhajan Singh
R. P. Singh (Murali Kartik)
Zaheer Khan (Sreesanth)

My team selection is motivated by a few factors. The early start would necessitate the inclusion of a few pace options. The game commences at 8.30am so that the game can complete by 4.30pm, when the sun starts to set in these parts! Why play in these parts at this time of the year may be a question that one could conceivably pose. But given that the recepient of such questions would be the BCCI and a certain Niranjan Shah, “save breath” would be a safe alternative to a poser that would definitely be met with nothing more than a vague retort!

The ground at Guwahati is, at about 60 yards, quite small by international standards. Dhoni, in his pre-match said, “This is one of the grounds where we could have extended the boundary ropes.” Given this, I doubt India will go with two spinners.

I’d play Virender Sehwag who is supposed to be in “good nick” according to his captain. Unfortunately, this will mean that Gautam Gambhir misses out.

Given the early start and the possible dewey conditions, I would also play the new-lad, Praveen Kumar in the team. However, I feel that the Praveen Kumar play may be a bridge too far for this team. The team may go down the safety-path and select Sreesanth or Murali Kartik instead of this young, capable allrounder who was recently described to be as being “in the James Hopes mould”.

— 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-