Tag Archives: Rohit Sharma

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-

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India win CB Series 2-0

Not since the 1980s has Australia lost the tri-series finals twice in a row. India made sure that Australia lost in straight sets with a stirring victory in Brisbane. The fact that this victory came without India’s first choice pace bowling attack — Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh and Ishant Sharma — made it all the more special. It was a sensational victory by a young and mostly inexperienced Indian team that had to surmount not only the strong Australian team, but also its hostile media and raucous crowds. In the end, the team found the strength to shut out the media and the crowds, focussed on the job in front of them and won a tight series.

Celebrations:

In the end, in the same week the senior Team India as well as the under-19 Team India tasted victories and both teams celebrated these victories; not one of them looked in the direction of Andrew Symonds to enquire whether or not he had a view on the appropriateness or otherwise of these. The victories were well-deserved and losers have no choice but to watch the celebrations.

M. S. Dhoni rated this higher than the T20 win! It just goes to show the depth of focus that this team had. This focus, by the way, was evident in the way Sachin Tendulkar played yesterday. He eschewed the bold strokes and respected the conditions as well as the opposition. The Australians bowled a terrific line and pegged away constantly. The Australians fielded as only the Australians can. However, in the end, that will to win was, I believe, much stronger for the Indians.

Relentless cricket:

The Indian team wanted to win to have that extra time up their sleeves before their next engagement on March 17th. M. S. Dhoni joked at the end that he wanted to seal things in the second game itself because he has not ridden his “motorbike for quite a long time”!

The Australian media talks of non-stop cricket that the aging Australian team has been playing.

It is true that the Australian team has been on the road since October last year. In that time, the Australian team has played in the Twenty20 World Championship, 7 ODI matches against India in India, 2 Tests against Sri Lanka, 4 Tests against India and the CB tri-series.

The Indians have been on the road since July last year and it has been a non-stop ride. In that time, India has played 4 ODIs in Ireland, 1 ODI against Pakistan in Scotland (wash-out), 3 Tests in England, 5 ODIs in England, the Twenty20 World Championship, 7 ODIs against Australia in India, 5 ODIs against Pakistan, 3 Tests against Pakistan, 4 Tests against Australia and the CB tri-series.

I know which team has had the bigger workload. And if you consider that much of the time has been spent in the dreary surrounds of hotel rooms and in a hostile environment where the press and the crowds are constantly at your throats, I do believe this young Indian team needs to be applauded.

Off-field distractions play a part:

Ricky Ponting, on his part, was gracious in defeat. He admitted that his team had been outplayed in the finals series by India. However, even though he said that the off-field distractions did not hamper his team, one can’t help but think that they would have had an effect.

If you look at the off-field events, apart from the IPL which has presumably distracted all players around the world, the single factor that played a distraction-nuisance influence right through this tour has been Harbhajan Singh! When Harbhajan scratched the Australian media twitched. The captain, Ricky Ponting, appeared to have his mind on the off-field incidents involving run-ins that Harbhajan Singh was having with his own team rather than on his own game and form. When Harbhajan Singh fielded, the Australian public held their collective breath. And when he bowled, the Australian players had their minds set on dominating him instead of playing him as another bowler.

Almost single-handedly, Harbhajan Singh became the thorn in the flesh as well as the spot in Lady Macbeth’s hand that just would not go away. He was like a fly around the barbecue that just kept buzzing in the ears of people gathered around it. One could not hear the barbecue conversations; just the buzzing noise of this constant irritant that just would not go away!

That the Australian players did not respect him is not the issue. The fact that they did not respect his game/sport is a matter for much introspection in coming months. Here was a player that stood up to the Aussies and looked them in the eye. The Australians just could not deal with it.

In a strange irony, Harbhajan Singh was directly involved in the wickets of Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden — his two main off-the-field opponents right through this arduous summer — in both the finals matches! In the first match, Harbhajan Singh had the wickets of both players. In last night’s match, he had Symonds out LBW and was involved in Hayden’s run out!

At the end of the match, M. S. Dhoni lashed out at the Australian media for the focus that they have reserved for Harbhajan Singh. He admitted, though, that this focus made his job easier for, with each new article or episode, Harbhajan Singh just got tougher and tougher and did not need to be motivated!

Rankings:

This series win has not altered India’s position on the ICC Rankings table. However, it has taken India closer to New Zealand (3rd place) on the table and has made it easier for South Africa to reclaim the #1 position that it squandered to Australia in the last World Cup.

Meanwhile Sachin Tendulkar has moved to reclaim the #1 ODI batting spot.

Visionary:

I believe that M. S. Dhoni is a terrific leader. With the calm, experienced, gritty and fiercely competitive Anil Kumble at the helm of affairs in the Test arena and with Dhoni to nurture a younger set of players in the shorter form of the game, I do believe that Indian cricket is in safe hands for the moment. It is likely that the captaincy mantle will get another year at least — if not two — from Anil Kumble. The time would be right then for a hand-over of the responsibility to M. S. Dhoni. In that time, with the help of Gary Kirsten, India can form a core of players that can take over from the big-5 as they leave the scene. In that sense, we do have a “visionary” leader at the controls in my opinion.

If Sourav Ganguly was the first leader of men in Indian cricket, in Dhoni, we have a visionary leader. To him processes may not matter as much as it did to Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid. His leadership style is more instinct driven. But he has got most things right! He asks his players to be always ready and throws them into the deep end. They produce every time. This shows that he knows what they are capable of, believes in them, backs them and then extracts the best out of them. He threw the ball to Joginder Sharma in the T20 finals and to Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla in the CB series finals. They delivered. He fought for the inclusion of young players like Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary, Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla ahead of senior pros. He got them. At crunch moments, he surprised the opposition by including the likes of Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla. They delivered! It is a strategy that could have back-fired. But rather than launch into long explanations, he simply says he is looking at 2011!

He has set for himself a road-map to 2011 success. Rahul Dravid would have cogitated over it in a scholarly manner and produced a strategy paper at the end of it. He would have then used this as a leverage in team selection meetings. He would have gone to great lengths to form a coalition of like-minded souls who would back his vision and roadmap. Dhoni has it in his head and articulates it by simply saying, “Even if we had lost this tournament, we should have stuck with the young boys. This will be the team’s core.”

This was a good victory for India, but much more is needed in the months ahead to build on the hard work that has commenced here. Australia have some work to do of its own. The players need a break from the game and its captain needs to rediscover his ticker.

It has been a long summer and frankly, I am glad it is over.

— Mohan

India win first final!

“He doesn’t do well in run chases!”

“He hasn’t got a ODI century in Australia!”

Those are just some of the comments that Tendulkar has had to endure. There is some truth to it, though. In his previous 38 appearances in Australia, he had never scored a century and his average in a chase in the last couple of years is only around 30.

Tendulkar got the monkey (no pun intended) of his back  tonight with a hundred batting second and being there till the very end to see India through.

Dhoni lost the toss again and Ponting promptly decided to bat first. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the  right decision as the dew factor didn’t help them. India made a bold move in bringing in Piyush Chawla and opening the bowling with Praveen Kumar. Australia were soon reduced to 24 for 3 (although Clarke could consider himself unlucky). Hayden and Symonds set about restoring the Australian innings, but in an aggressive way. Hayden in particular was severe on Pathan, who went for 29 runs in his 2 overs. Harbhajan was brought into the attack, along with Piyush Chawla. Bhajji took the important wickets of Hayden and Symonds and the two spinners also put a break on the Australian scoring. Chawla was particularly impressive although he didn’t take any wickets. Australia eventually limped to 239, which seemed competitive, but way of the mark of what Australia seemed like getting when Symonds and Hayden were playing.

Uthappa and Tendulkar played with caution to get the score to 50, before Uthappa was caught at the deep by Hussey. Gambhir was needlessly run out and Yuvraj came and went.

The score at that time was 87 for 3 and it looked like anybody’s game. Tendulkar, however played with a lot of determination and played what I call “safe” cricket – not willing to give his wicket away with any false strokes. Just when Tendulkar got to his hundred, there was a lapse in Rohit Sharma’s concentration and he was bowled by Hopes. Rohit Sharma (66) seems to show more and more maturity with every innings and his partnership (123 runs of 136 balls) with Tendulkar was the base from which India were able to win.

Ponting said that the loss to Sri Lanka was just an aberration, but they appear to have lost the momentum and they’ve just got one day to re-coup before the game in Brisbane on Tuesday.

 Is this going to be a repeat of last year, when they lost to England in the finals after dominating the early part of the tournament? We will find out soon enough…

-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

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 5th ODI @ Vadodhra

India is often loathe to change a winning combination unless real (or make-believe) injury forces their hand. However, I have a feeling that a change or two may be necessary to the India team that beat Australia in Chandigarh.

Option-1: Rest Zaheer Khan for Sreesanth

Despite a tight last over in the Chandigarh match, Zaheer Khan has not been bowling as sharply as he can. Even though we should acknowledge that he is bowling at Hayden and Gilchrist — both champion players — he has looked off-colour. Moreover, with Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh and Irfan Pathan the bowling has a “sameness” look to it. With that in mind, it may not be a bad idea to bring in Sreesanth for Zaheer Khan.

Option-2: Rest Dravid for Badrinath or Rohit Sharma

The Vadodhra pitch is known to be a turner. An additional off-spinner in the form of Badrinath, would be a useful option to go with. Of Rohit Sharma and Bardrinath, I’d go for the latter because his off-spin is generally quite sound — perhaps more sound than the options Rohit Sharma provides with his bowling. This option may gain more credibility in light of the fact that Dravid hasn’t really looked in great touch in this series thus far.

Option-3: Combine option-1 and option-2

This would be my preferred team for this all-important match. Apart from strenghthening the bowling, this option would also strengthen the fielding! However, I do not believe Team India will go with this. It is most likely that the same winning-team will play this match too. But if I had my druthers I’d go with the following team:

Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Robin Uthappa, S. Badrinath, MS Dhoni (captain), Irfan Pathan, Murali Kartik, Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesanth, RP Singh.

Substitutes: Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid, Zaheer Khan.

— Mohan