Tag Archives: Wasim Jaffer

My team for the 1st Test

I am the captain of the Indian team. I have had just 2 practice games and the 1st Test is already on to me. Too many questions have been left unanswered as far as my team selection goes. Even if I get 2 more games I don’t think I will get answers. So I better sit down and choose my best team. Firstly the openers. Karthik has done well. But apparently Dhoni is not keeping as well. He has dropped straightforward chances in the practice games. But again if Karthik, who is also keeping well these days, is to be my main keeper, then can he also open the batting? Ok, so Jaffer is incosistent. Gambhir has scored in the practice game and deserves a chance. So if Dhoni is to be dropped, Karthik to bat down the order and keep wickets, I can play only one of Laxman or Yuvraj. Of course the media always likes to mention that “Yuvraj can be handy with his left arm spin” because he is their darling over someone like Laxman. But I am pragmatic. I think Laxman, is more dangerous down the order. e is the better player of spinenrs, and if the new ball is blunted, he is one of the best in the team to take on Monty. Now come the bowlers. Zaheer, Sreesanth and Kumble are automatic. Ishanth Sharma is not in the reckoning. Should I play the 2nd spinner o go for the third seamer. I think the 3rd seamer is a better bet. Of course the media will say “Powar can bat a bit” like they used to about Agarkar, even after he had scored a dozen ducks in Australia! Now should I play RP Singh  or Ranadeb Bose? I will take the risk and play Bose. Do you know the guy has never noballed in first class cricket! And for rolling their arms over I do have Sachin & Sourav. So here is my team

Wasim Jaffer, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman,  Dinesh Karthik, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Ranadeb Bose.

– Dravid (Oops! Sanjay)

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India’s XI for the First Test

From this rather forthright set of statements by captain Rahul Dravid, it appears as if Team India’s playing XI for the first Test against England (at Lord’s from July 19 to 23) has been virtually decided.

Rahul Dravid indicated that he was expecting big things from V. V. S. Laxman and appears to have given the stylish middle-order batsman the all-clear to play in the starting XI.

We can connect the dots between the following two statements and surmise that Laxman will play.

“I back Laxman to have a big tour this time. The last time he didn’t have as great a tour as the other guys. I can see that he’s determined to correct it this time. He looks hungry.”

“I know my best top order. I’m pretty clear about the top six going into the first Test match. In the next game (against England ‘A’) we will be playing our top six batsmen.”

Any lingering doubts may have been sealed by the sparkling 95 that Laxman scored in India’s tour opener against Sussex.

Given Dinesh Karthik’s impressive outing and given the fact that Jaffer scored a century in his last outing — albeit against Bangladesh — I don’t believe the opening combination will be tampered with. So, we can expect a top-six of: Karthik, Jaffer, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman.

The only question would be if India will play five bowlers or M. S. Dhoni and four bowlers.

Here again, Dravid puts paid to any speculation on the matter with yet another forthright comment. That the team expects to play both Karthik and Dhoni and four bowlers is sealed in the following two comments:

“We will probably go in with four bowlers. Depending upon the weather and the pitch we will have to decide whether it’s two spinners and two fast bowlers, or three pacers and a spinner.”

“Dhoni is coming here for the first time and the people here will be seeing him for the first time. Dinesh Karthik too has been very impressive in his short career. Had a lot of success in South Africa. We will be expecting both of them to deliver the goods.”

Given this scenario, we can expect that the only selection conundrum would be whether India plays two pacers and two spinners (unlikely) and if they play three pace-men, who these will be. Although most scribes are pointing to Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan and R. P. Singh as the combination, I’d like to see them play Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan and Ranadeb Bose.

So, my team for the First Test would be:

Karthik, Jaffer, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman, Dhoni, Kumble, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Ranadeb Bose.

— Mohan

India have a good 1st day against Sussex

India began their tour of England yesterday against Sussex. Dinesh Karthik (76), Gautam Gambhir ( 81), Rahul Dravid (57 no) and VVS Laxman (37 no) propped India upto 281/3.

There is an interesting story about tour games against counties in England. An English captain, turning out for his county, wanted a particular batsman to score runs, once his more competent and proficient competitior got out in the opposing side. So he asked his main bowler to just bowl a few hittable balls so that the guy could score and get selected for the Test team. After about an hour, the batsman ahd rttled up 80 odd runs in no time. The captain went upto the bowler and said, that was enough and that he could get him out now. The bowler replied “What do I think I have been trying to do for the last 5 overs?”

So the moral of the story – If Jaffer failed and Gambhir is found vulnerable against swing bowling then allow him to get a few!

– Sanjay

Team for match against Sussex…

India play their first game of their tour of England against Sussex today (Saturday 7 July 2007). It is an opportunity to test the form and conditioning of a few of their players. And I suspect this will provide Rahul Dravid and the team management an opportunity to answer a few unanswered questions.

The Indians will come up against three Pakistan players who are playing for Sussex: Mushtaq Mohammed, Saqlain Mushtaq and Rana Naved-ul Hasan

They will also come up against Murray Goodwin, former Zimbabwe player. Goodwin has also played for Western Australia and Zimbabwe with credit. Sussex is led by Chris Adams, who played 5 Tests for England, making his debut against South Africa. Sussex also has James Kirtley in its stable. Kirtley’s action was called into question a few times in his career and he was eventually banned from bowling for a while. He got his action corrected at the National Cricket Centre. He too has played for England and showed much initial promise. Matt Prior, the current England ‘keeper also plays for Sussex. Prior had a great start to his Test career and it seemed that Englands’ almost continuous search for the ‘keeper had ended. It will be interesting for Team India to run against such strong opposition in its tour opener. Michael Yardy is also an interesting player for Sussex. He is a good striker of the cricket ball and bowls slow-left-arm to boot.

Hopefully Sussex will field a strong team. And hopefully the fickle weather will allow a match to be played!

For India, some of the unanswered questions are (possibly):

Does Dinesh Karthik play as opener or does Gautam Gambhir play?
Does India play both Dhoni and Karthik?
Which of V. V. S. Laxman or Yuvraj Singh (if either) should play?
Which of the pacers should India play?
Should India play two spinners?

With this in mind, I suspect India will go in with the following team composition:

Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, V. V. S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Romesh Powar, Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, R. P. Singh, Ranadeb Bose

I do hope the team is able answer some of these questions in this game — weather-willing!

— Mohan

A “Duh” from Woorkeri Raman…

Sample this beauty from W. V. Raman, former India opener and current Tamil Nadu Coach.

W. V. Raman was asked about Dinesh Karthik as an opener and these are his pearls of wisdom!

“It’s going to put too much burden on him. There is only as much a man can do, and everyone has his limitations. He is best suited to bat in the middle-order and to keep. I’m not in favour of a makeshift opener. Selectors always talk about specialists and what they have done is pushed a middle-order bat to open.

“According to me Sehwag should have been there in the side. Now that he is not there, the left-right combination of Gautam Gambhir and Jaffer should be looked at. And if they are looking at the flexibility angle, why not ask Sourav Ganguly, who has 10,000 runs as One-day opener.”

So, he is not in favour of a makeshift opener. And that is certainly a valid/sagacious opinion. And yet, before he can draw breath, he expresses regret that Sehwag isn’t there as opener. Duh! What was Sehwag before be opened? Let me think… Middle-order-bat perhaps? Be that as it may. Afterall, every former cricketer should have licence to have one “Duh” moment per quote! But Raman says he can one day do better than what Sarfraz Nawaz has perfected over the years (the Duh-Duh-Duh… routine!). For he goes on to suggest that Sourav Ganguly should open instead of Karthik.

Hmmm! Which open orifice was he talking from again?

— Mohan

Good Day 1

It almost seems like a repeat of the previous test with India on top at the end of Day 1. The top order shone and the Rain God stayed away. He probably watched the first session of play from afar and was too bored to pay a visit 🙂

But the most important thing for a batting team on day 1 is to not loose any wickets before lunch. With the threat of new ball gone, they can then accelerate freely, which is what Karthik and Jaffar did. The Karthik-Jaffar partnership seems to be an all or nothing affair. They have so far had 2 partnerships over 150 and 2 partnerships worth nothing! Karthik really led the way after lunch, before Jaffar joined the party, thanks to some innocuous bowling from Bangladesh. The heat and humidity were far more threatening than the bowling and it got rid of both Karthik and Jaffar. Jaffar got a hundred, but Karthik must be ruing his missed opportunity. He still has a chance of coming back tomorrow to finish off what he started.

India eventually finished at 326 without the loss of any wickets and Bashar must be cursing himself for putting India in to bat. Dravid on the other hand must be a happy man, having helped himself to 88* – He was also scoring at a healthy clip of four an over.

Tendulkar replaced Jaffar at the other end and he crawled to 9 of 31 balls. He must have decided to not give away his wicket so late in the evening, so as to come back in the morning and start fresh. Still, I am not a big fan of this slow over-defensive approach – he has to back himself and get out of this defensive mindset or teams like England and Australia will have him for breakfast.

At the end of the day though, India are sitting pretty and the aim must be to declare tomorrow around Tea.

-Mahesh-

The ‘other’ opener

Who should be the ‘other’ opener to partner Jaffer? Karthik, was specifically chosen for the job because the selectors feel he is the best around. The only other guy who could have made it was Gambhir. Given that Karthik was slotted as an opener, he did come out and score a good fifty to give India some respectability after the fall of Jaffer. But the question is about depth in the batting. We dropped Yuvraj and Laxman and chose Dhoni. Now that is raising a lot of eyebrows. Why two wicketkeepers? Firstly Karthik is not in the wicketkeeping scheme of things at the moment. The conditions do not allow a wk to keep and open the batting. If Laxman or Yuvraj play instead of Dhoni/Karthik then who opens? Dravid should not open. All one drop players in the world should be ready to come in if a wicket falls even on the first ball. But they need not and should not open. Sachin and Sourav are not in the opening scheme of things. Yuvraj is not even in any kind of test form to be asked to open. And Laxman hates that job. So what can be done???

– Sanjay