Tag Archives: Sreesanth

The resurrection of Sreesanth is complete…

It appears as if the new-look Sreesanth is back in the mix of things in Indian cricket! A new-and-improved Sreesanth minus slap-marks on his face and minus the pre-ball cross-my-heart-and-kiss-the-ball routine and minus the many metres of dingly-dangly thread around his neck (therein lies the clue to Ishant Sharma’s resurrection?) is back in Team India’s ODI and T20 teams for the matches against Sri Lanka! What’s more? He is also seeking out Harbhajan Singh for a hug everytime he takes a wicket! Someone please tell me he has turned vegetarian and is also writing a paper for Copenhagen!

Between 9 December and 27 December, India play Sri Lanka in 2 T20s and 5 ODIs.

The last T20 match India played was at the World Championship. The squad then read:

MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, RP Singh

The team for India’s T20 games against Sri Lanka reads:

MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Yusuf Pathan, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth, Ashok Dinda, Sudeep Tyagi, Pragyan Ojha.

India’s WC T20 squad squad is sans Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh and Ravindra Jadeja.

And unless my eyes deceive me, Harbhajan Singh also feels the selectors’ axe on his neck! Is that right?

The above in the 16-member WCT20 team are replaced in the 15-member Team India squad for the Sri Lanka T20s squad by Ashish Nehra, Ashok Dinda, Sreesanth, Sudeep Tyagi and R. Ashwin.

Other than the comfortable knowledge that he is from Chennai — which obviously makes a difference in the current set up in Team India — I still do not know what Dinesh Karthik is doing in the T20 team. But he certainly is there in the team!

After the WCT20 debacle in which India exited in the first round, something had to give. Players like Irfan Pathan and RP Singh had to go and re-learn their craft. Zaheer Khan is still not back to peak fitness. So these changes are understandable. But dropping Harbhajan Singh makes sense? I am not convinced that Praveen Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja deserve the chop too.

Having said that, I do think that India’s T20 squad is good and sports a balanced look. I expect the team sheet to read:

Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
MS Dhoni
Yuvraj Singh
Suresh Raina
Rohit Sharma
Yusuf Pathan / R Ashwin
Ashish Nehra
Sreesanth / Ashok Dinda
Pragyan Ojha
Sudeep Tyagi / Ishant Sharma (minus dingly-dangly neck-accessories?)

DRINKS: Dinesh Karthik

India’s squad for the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka has also been announced. Sreesanth makes it to the ODI team too! Munaf Patel has got the chop after the ODI series against Australia. Perhaps he needs to find the neck-accessories that Sreesanth discarded?

Amit Mishra has also been requested to cool his heels somewhere.

And since the selectors could not find a (any) leg-spinner in the whole of Tamil Nadu, Pragyan Ojha replaces Amit Mishra in the team! Further, Dinesh Karthik has been informed that he does not need to carry the drinks and so, loses his spot in the team!

The team for the first two ODIs reads:

Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Yuvraj Singh
MS Dhoni
Suresh Raina / Virat Kohli
Ravindra Jadeja
Harbhajan Singh
Praveen Kumar
Zaheer Khan / Sudeep Tyagi / Pragyan Ojha / Sreesanth
Ashish Nehra

The absence of Rohit Sharma from this team continues to baffle me. If I were his manager, I might ask him to either (a) wear some dingly-dangly bits around his neck and lose it in a hurry or (b) seek a transfer to Tamil Nadu!

— Mohan

Thoughts on Roy, the A teams, etc

First Bhajji, now Roy

We all know that Symonds is no angel (which the Aussie press sometimes makes him out to be). Neither is Harbhajan Singh – the two protagonists in the center of the racism row that erupted in Australia last summer. When Harbhajan slapped his fellow Indian team mate playing for a rival team in an IPL game, he copped a eleven match IPL suspension and a further 5 match ban from the BCCI. He was also warned that he could face a life ban if he crossed the line again.

Now it is the turn of Symonds to face disciplinary action for his transgressions. He was thrown out of the Australian team after he skipped a compulsory team meeting to go fishing – that’s right, fishing! He is going to miss the entire Bangladesh series and is not a surety to make it to the Australian team for the India tour.

Harbhajan has been on his best behaviour since his return –looks like being out of the team (and losing a lot of money in the process) has had a positive effect on him. Hopefully, it will work for Symmo as well.

Australia “A” vs India “A”

The India and Australia A teams are going to face up this month – This should be an interesting contest and here is my list of people to look out for on either side of the fence –

India Australia
S. Badrinath
Parthiv Patel
Piyush Chawla
Mohd. Kaif
Virat Kohli
Chateswar Pujara
Sreesanth
Robin Uthappa
Simon Katich
Adam Voges
Shaun Tait
Ashley Noffke
Bryce McGain

 

Both teams have players who are trying to impress the selectors and break into the senior team. Shikhar Dhawan who performed brilliantly in the Emerging players tournament in Australia is sadly injured and had to make way for Virat Kohli, who opened for India in the ODIs – but is actually a middle order batsman. India as usual are trying to make an opener out of a middle order batsman.

Funny that India’s choice of openers have always been middle order batsmen or wicket keepers! Maybe India should have also included Dinesh Karthik and let him open the innings with Parthiv Patel :).

Although Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina are playing the ODI games in the senior squad regularly, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to have included them for the test matches. Manpreet Gony could have also been considered.

For the Aussies, this tour is going to be one big try out session for its spinners. They have three in the squad – Bryce McGain, Jason Krejza and Beau Casson. McGain is 36 years old – which some may consider as too old, but he was impressive in domestic cricket last season and as long as he is fit, his performance is the only thing that should really matter. Casson bowls left arm chinamans and has already made his debut for Australia, while Jason Krejza bowls right arm off break. One of the three is sure to find a spot in the senior team when they tour India later this year. Shaun Tait will only play in the ODI series, but it will be his first major outing since he decided to take a break from cricket. Simon Katich may also end up in the senior squad as he plays spin well and could also be a good back-up opener.

Dhoni tops ICC batting rankings

After consistent performances with the bat, Dhoni has topped the ICC ODI rankings. No Indian has been at the top of the rankings since Sachin Tendulkar vacated that position several months (or is it years?) ago. Dhoni has curbed his natural game and modified the way he plays and this has had a positive effect not only on his statistics, but also on the Indian team results.  I have always felt that Dhoni would make a great ODI opener, but the sad thing is that he may never again play in that position 😦 (He has only opened the innings for India twice but still has a high score in the nineties!)

-Mahesh-

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

Welcome back, Mr. Kaif!

Sachin Tendulkar’s unfortunate pulling out of the Ahmedabad test due to a groin strain has come as a blessing in disguise for the captain of Uttar Pradesh. Mohd. Kaif has had a wonderful domestic season and deservedly gets called back into the test side. We at i3j3had earlier written to the effect that the Indian selectors should identify and show faith in a handful of batsmen as eventual replacements for the fab four and suggested Kaif as one of those. His fitness and fielding abilities should certainly bring some dynamism back to the Indian fielding routine which was quite abysmal in the Chennai test. While some may argue that India would have been better off introducing someone like S. Badrinath or even recalling Gautam Gambhir, I personally think bringing Mohd. Kaif back is a well-informed decision.

It would certainly be interesting to see if Mohd. Kaif does get included in the playing eleven especially with Yuvraj Singh in the fourteen. It is a tough call but my gut tells me that Kaif might just squeeze in. He is in good form, fresh and is carrying no baggage at the moment. Yuvraj might consider himself unlucky but may have to wait a bit longer to get back in the playing eleven. On the playing eleven itself, while there has been talk of playing three spinners, I do not think Piyush Chawla will make it. I think India will go with Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth/Irfan Pathan as the pacemen and retain the rest of the lineup.

Good luck, Mr. Kaif!!

– Srikanth

India Vs RSA :: 1st Test :: 2nd Day

A match that was destined for a slow death looks headed for a painful death at the end of day-2 of the Chennai Test match between India and RSA. At the end of day-2 on a flat, docile, graveyard of a pitch the South Africans had made 540 all out. In reply, India made a brisk 82 for no loss off 21 overs.

It was a hot, energy-sapping day that saw a continuation of some ill-directed bowling, bad fielding, ill-tempered admonishment between some of the Indian players, some careful batting, a solid (if not spectacular) batting display by Hashim Amla, a solid (if not spectacular) bowling display by Harbhajan Singh and a confident response from Wasim Jaffer and Virender Sehwag. All of this on a pitch that looked less interesting and more dead than it was on day-1 — if that was at all possible!

Virender Sehwag admitted that the Indian fielding was somewhat shoddy. There were times when Kumble remonstrated openly with Laxman; Harbhajan with R. P. Singh; Harbhajan with Sree Santh; Dravid with Sreesanth… It seemed that it was open season on venting frustrations against anyone — and the younger players seemed to cop it more than the seniors!

The India bowlers toiled all day. They had to be extremely patient. It did not help that the umpires seemed to work against them too. I felt sorry for Sree Santh when what looked like a plumb LBW against Mark Boucher wasn’t given by New Zealand umpire Tony Hill. “What was he thinking? Had the heat fried his brains?” were questions that popped to my mind! Replays showed the thinnest of inside edges! Similar questions with some choice expletives popped out when Asad Rauf did not spot a glove-deflection off Paul Harris to Rahul Dravid at slips off the bowling of Harbhajan Singh. The fact that Rauf did not spot the deflection or the accompanying dead give-away (batsman’s head snapping backwards to see if the catch was completed) would have left the already enervated players even more deflated and exhausted.

The South Africans batted extremely well though and battled the hot conditions as well as steady bowling from Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. Hashim Amla, in particular, looked solid as a rock. Sree Santh bowled a good morning spell but fell away after that. R. P. Singh continued to bowl like a millionaire.

In reply, thanks to Sehwag’s 61-ball 50 and Jaffer’s patient 21 off 65 balls, India reached 82-0. There is still a huge total to overhaul though and it may be that India need to bat on and on and on for getting even close to manufacturing a result in this game. Either that or the Indian batsmen have to throw their wickets away in a stunning array of rash strokes. I can’t really see the bowlers doing too much on this pitch!

I give the first two sessions of the day to South Africa and the last one to India and so the SBS at the end of day-2 reads: India, 1 : South Africa, 4.

— Mohan

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-

A Sense of Deja Vu

The Harbhajan Singh episode reminds me of an old Bollywood dialogue: “Moti choor ke Ladoo; khao to pashtao, na khao tho pashtao“. [“If I keep a plate of Ladoos (sweets) in front of you, you will undoubtedly experience regret, either by ignoring them or by gobbling a bunch“].

Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Karthik, Wasim Jaffer, Sree Santh (thankfully not in this team at present), led by the firebrand Harbhajan singh, more aptly teens than Twentys’ champions, are capable of providing the Las Vegas experience, without the associated cost at the roulette.

No one, including themselves, can predict what they might offer on a given day. Their contributions can see-saw between the magical and the pedestrian with a stochastic pattern that can drive a mathematician crazy, let alone a poor cricket fan. Added to that is the new brand of aggression that is very reflective of the Bollywood movie “Rang De Basanti”, with the foreigner’s role to be soon conferred upon the latest sensation “Padukone”.

The IPod generation, reflecting the optimism and confidence of a booming south east Asia, has not had the time to realize its identity. The heady success in the Twenty20 World Championship has for this class, erased the distinction between the popular and the classical. In pursuit of becoming the Ricky Martins, they have consciously chosen to ignore the needs of a Pavarotti.

The solitary reaper in this pack is the one man that the BCCI rightfully picked as captaincy material, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Coming from Jharkand, neighbour to arguably one of the most backward and rowdy states in India, he has been, in a sense the magical Laloo Prasad Yadav for cricket. His mannerism and methods are simple, fair and effective. He has this innate calmness that transcends his game beautifully from the aggression needed in the shorter form, to the grit and patience needed in the longer version.

For, I dread the day, when the likes of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, V. V. S. Laxman, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar retire from Test cricket. Let alone their cricketing skills, in their absence, there is all round concern.

Along the same lines, I have an intuitive bad feeling that the Indian team is soon to confront the possibility of a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the Australians. The Indian team is not in the right frame of mind presently, after all the frustrations, emotions and scrutiny they have had to experience in the last Test at Sydney. In addition, what confronts them is a pace packed all out attack by the aussies at Perth, which has historically been our most challenging venue in Australia. Adding to these is our internal confusion with respect to team selection. A very realistic assessment of Team India’s capabilities and Australia’s, rings a very uncomfortable tone. If the Perth Test goes the Australian way, the probability of which is high, there will be an increased vigour among them towards a whitewash. I am convinced that this will play into the minds of our players and affect their approach even more negatively.

Which begs the question – What do we do if we get beaten by 4-0?

Indian cricket faced a similar question, though a bit more shockingly, 12 months back in the West Indies. India has made a hasty exit from the World Cup.

Have we made any progress or are we in for more Deja Vu in the coming months?

— Bharath Sankaran