Tag Archives: World Cup

More random thoughts

Australia under pressure?

After the Ricky Ponting TV incident, and all the media attention it gathered, Ian Chappell said that an enraged Ponting would be a dangerous opponent. I’ve generally felt that when Ponting is under scrutiny, he is not at his best and as a result the team itself suffers. To add to this distraction, there are now reports that their match against Zimbabwe is being investigated by the ACSU. I for one, believe the Aussies are clean. But, these incidents are sure to be in the mind of the players, as they play against Sri Lanka on Saturday. Would be interesting to see how they cope…

It’s gonna be predictable

I had a whinge about it yesterday, and I going to whinge about it again today. The real tournament doesn’t start until the quarter finals, and I bet the make up of teams at that stage is going to be as follows –

  • Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka  and New Zealand from Group A
  • India, South Africa, England and West Indies from Group B

The teams going into the next round are so predictable, I sometimes wonder whether I should skip watching this charade in the Group stage and just watch the games from the quarters. I know it won’t happen, though Smile….and hopefully there will be enough close matches like the India-England game to keep me interested and happy.

Anyway, who came up with the idea of having 14 teams in the tournament and this format?

Will RSA win the cup?

Peter Roebuck thinks so, and so does Mohan. I am not so sure, just yet. I have to agree they definitely look like the team to beat in this tournament, but they always choke under pressure….and when the expectation is high, they always come up short.

-Mahesh-

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Random Thoughts

India-England game: Good result for India!

I know what you are thinking – “How could this be a good result for India?’” India scored 338 runs, Sachin scored a century, Yuvraj found form and yet Indian didn’t win? Surely, this should rate as a disappointing result?

Not really. India needed a wake up call – and they got it, and that too without losing the game. Team India couldn’t ask for a better result.

In all fairness, India actually didn’t deserve to win against England. As Mohan pointed out, India were just overly confident and flat in the second half of the game and they really needed to be taken down a peg or two. A loss would have done just that. But, India after that Zaheer over were a different team, and England didn’t deserve to win either.

The Batting Powerplay

I am not sure if teams have worked out the best way to handle this yet. The most important question is when to take it. Do you take it when the two batsmen in the middle are doing really good, and they want to improve the scoring rate even further? Do you take it after the 34th over when the ball is changed? Or do you take it in the 41st over, just before the slog fest begins. How about taking it right after the bowling power play ends? Too many options, but no right answer.

And shouldn’t the batting power play help the batting team? It doesn’t seem to quite work that way. Just look at England – they were cruising along nicely and had the game all wrapped up, until they took the batting powerplay! 

Singles dry up and the batsmen just get out trying to hit over the in-field. I think a new strategy is needed.

What I don’t like about this World cup

  • World cup or Champions trophy: You could win all the games in the Group Matches, absolutely dominate them, and then get kicked out of the tournament in the first match after that if you lose. Sounds like great injustice to that team. This is almost like the knock out style ICC Champions Trophy, but with a long and prolonged qualifying round preceding it.
  • Length: 49 games, over one and a half months. And most of the games being one sided affairs. We’ve had 14 matches so far, and how many were riveting? One! Ok, the Pakistan-Sri Lanka encounter wasn’t bad either. But you get the idea. There are far too many mediocre games. Not good for the game.

-Mahesh-

Team India for the World Cup

So, Team India has been announced. The team contains only one deviation to the team that we had predicted, with Piyush Chawla coming in for Sreesanth. I am not sure that is a great decision since there is very little “cover” for our over-fragile pace attack of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar (currently injured) and Munaf Patel. These days, a strong gust of wind tends to wreck the backs or sides of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel and Praveen Kumar. So, some “cover” for them might have been a good idea.

With that in mind, Sreesanth might have been an adequate cover for the above physically “fragile” players, especially since it is likely — nay, almost certain — that India will always take the field with three pace-men.

To that end, I would be surprised if Piyush Chawla is anything other than a Dinesh Karthik (drinks, towel and message carrier) in the World Cup.

Given that India play 7 batsmen and 4-bowlers, I do not expect two spinners to play. If that were to happen, one (or both) of the spinners may be forced to operate in the first Power-Play and will be forced to operate in the second Power-Play. No captain will want to be forced into that situation, although they might choose to throw the ball to a spinner within the first 15 overs! So, I really do not expect Piyush Chawla to get a game in the World Cup.

I do expect the World Cup XI to be: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli (Yusuf Pathan), Harbhajan Singh (R Ashwin), Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra (Munaf Patel). Drinks: Piyush Chawla

For the remaining games in South Africa, I do hope India (a) rests MS Dhoni, (b) plays Yusuf Pathan, (c) rests Harbhajan Singh, (d) plays Piyush Chawla.

Provided Parthiv Patel has already reached South Africa, I’d like the team for the remaining 3 ODIs in South Africa to be:

M Vijay, Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina (capt), Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra… Substitutes: Zaheer Khan, MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh.

Although M. Vijay, Sreesanth and Rohit Sharma have not been picked for the World Cup, I believe it will be a good idea for them to show what they are made of — like Virat Kohli has, over the last year! The example of Virat Kohli is what Rohit Sharma needs to follow. Kohli’s journey epitomizes what the young Rohit Sharma needs to do. The Delhi player was a self-centered and self-obsessed, arrogant lad who transformed himself into a focussed young man. The result of this was a string of stirring performances that made every one sit up and take notice. He had arrived. He could not be ignored any longer.

Rohit Sharma needs to do a Virat Kohli now. He needs to get his game together. But more importantly, he needs to channel his undeniable talent. He also needs to do it in a hurry.

— Mohan

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 — Team India Selects itself?

The selectors are due to announce India’s team of 15 for the World Cup on Monday 17 Jan 2011. I suspect the selection meeting is going to be quite short. In other words, I expect there will be few surprises and questions in a team that selects itself.

I expect the 15 to be (in batting order):

Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Yuvraj Singh
MS Dhoni
Suresh Raina
Virat Kohli / Yusuf Pathan
Harbhajan Singh / R. Ashwin
Zaheer Khan
Praveen Kumar / Munaf Patel / Sreesanth
Ashish Nehra

I expect Virat Kohli to play in the XI for the first game ahead of Yusuf Pathan and if he does, he will bat ahead of Suresh Raina.

I have little doubt that R. Ashwin will be the second spinner. I don’t think Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha will get a look in. Ashwin will be a like-for-like replacement for Harbhajan Singh in case of an injury to the first-team off-spinner!

The fact is that, whatever the composition of the final XI, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina are going to have to bowl a few overs. Given that the tournament is going to be held in India, I expect this “constraint” to work in India’s advantage.

The only debate is likely to be around the last seamer’s spot. I have given this spot to Sreesanth and must admit to gulping as I did that! This is the only selection which is not clear in my books. This spot could be occupied by either Sreesanth or Vinay Kumar or Ishant Sharma, in my view.

The above selection assumes that Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Praveen Kumar are all fit.

India is a strong favourite by dint of her strong batting line-up. The bowling is not as strong and a lot will depend on the 5th bowler’s overs which will be shared by Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli (and perhaps also by Virender Sehwag, his shoulder allowing).

The major weak-link, however is the fielding. With Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan (and with a dodgy-shoulder-Sehwag) the team starts with a 25-run deficit already!

But, if the above team does not deliver the Cup to India, in my view, no one else will, outside this fifteen.

— Mohan

The ODI spots that Team India needs to fill

In recent times, given that rain washed out the 1st ODI between India in Australia, MS Dhoni has captured some of the print- and air-space with his comments on team composition, come the World Cup. Ever since the completion of the exciting 2-Test series between India and Australia, after the accolades and paeans, after investigating Shane Warne’s tweets, and after dissecting the Australian media’s castigation of Ricky Ponting, there has not been much to write about!

Even the strange news of Manoj Prabhakar’s appointment as coach of the Delhi Ranji team does not make big news. I must say that I found it a very strange appointment. There is enough there from the man’s past for everyone to progress with appointments such as this with extreme caution. Perhaps only the DDCA could have dared pull off something as brazen as this! We will have to wait and see how the players react to this appointment. However, as I said, this appointment hasn’t really made the news. That is how slow things have been!

It has been a slow-news week in India cricket circles. The next ODI game cannot come fast enough.

Strangely, the same Indian media that was crying foul (earlier on in the year) at the low/small number of Test matches India plays is now spitting chips because there are only 12 ODI matches to go before the World Cup is on us! What does the Indian sport media want? More ODIs? More Tests? India needs to make up her mind! For my money, I think India has got the Tests-ODI balance right.

I think MS Dhoni is right when he says that, barring injury, only a few ODI spots remain for Team India as it marches towards its goal of delivering to Sachin Tendulkar, the one medal that he so covets — victory in the ODI World Cup!

Barring unforeseen injuries (and drastic dips in form), we must assume that the team will read:

Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Yuvraj Singh
Suresh Raina
MS Dhoni
B1 / B2
Harbhajan Singh / S1
Zaheer Khan
Praveen Kumar / P1
Ashish Nehra / P2

The balance of the above team and the fact that India has no real all-rounders to talk about, will mean that India has to go with 4 front-line bowlers and have Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, B1/B2 and Virender Sehwag share 10 overs between them. This is just how it is.

This also then means that S1 cannot be a bits-and-pieces player like Ravindra Jadeja. S1 has to be a spin-for-spin replacement for Harbhajan Singh in case of an injury (or dip in form) for India’s frontline spinner. The choice for me for S1, therefore, is between R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha. I would back Ashwin because of the variety he offers.

The P1/P2 choice is simple. There are any number of people to chose from such as Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Sree Santh, Joginder Sharma (remember him?), Manpreet Gony, Umesh Yadav, Siddharth Trivedi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Abhimanyu Mithun and Jaidev Unnadkat. But my money will be on Vinay Kumar and Munaf Patel to grab those two spots. It is a sad reflection of the nature of the cup-board.

This leaves B1/B2.

Dhoni is in search of an all-rounder and a hard-hitting batsman (B1, B2). I would be very surprised if Virat Kohli is not B1. Dhoni has backed Sourabh Tiwary in recent interviews, and it might well be the hard-hitting lad from Jharkhand that gets the final nod. So we could have Sourabh Tiwary, M. Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan contesting for one final spot (B2).

Given that M. Vijay is essentially seen as an opener and given the Yusuf Pathan has not troubled the selection meeting much in recent times, the choice is between Sourabh Tiwary, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. At least this explains why we continue to see Jadeja in the team! I thought we had seen the last of him after the ODIs against Sri Lanka. If Dhoni wants a hard-hitting batsman, then the shoulder-tap must belong to Sourabh Tiwary or Rohit Sharma.

India must, on the day, go with either a batsman or R. Ashwin at that vital #7 spot.

So, for me, the ODI Team India for the World Cup (barring injuries and dips in form) is likely to be:

Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Yuvraj Singh
Suresh Raina
MS Dhoni
Virat Kohli / Sourabh Tiwary (or R. Jadeja or Rohit Sharma)
Harbhajan Singh / R. Ashwin
Zaheer Khan
Praveen Kumar / Vinay Kumar
Ashish Nehra / Munaf Patel

So to my mind, there is really one spot up for grabs, really.

The 12 matches between now and the World Cup (2 against Australia, 5 against New Zealand at home and 5 against South Africa in South Africa) should be enough to sort out the extra spots. India needs a few questions answered:
– Is Ravindra Jadeja really good?
– Is Ashwin the next best spinner in the land?
– Can Munaf Patel play a string of matches together?
– Has Vinay Kumar arrived?

A few questions to be answered. If 12 matches cannot answer these questions, 25 matches will not!

— Mohan

Crunch time for Team India in ICCWT20C

India is in almost the same situation as it was in the 2007 edition of the ICC World T20 Championships. Back in 2007, having lost her fist Group-E Super8 game to New Zealand, India had to play England in game-2 and then South Africa in game-3 of the Super-8 stage. India are in much the same position now. It is an opportunity for India to re-write the history books or a chance for England and South Africa to exact some revenge!

Stuart Broad, in particular, will want to forget that night at Kingsmead, Durban on 19 September 2007! He got taken to the cleaners by an angry Yuvraj Singh who was made angrier after a sledge from Andrew Flintoff! The repeat of Stuart Broad Vs Yuvraj Singh should make compelling viewing.

There are cries of gloom and doom already in the Indian media. Obituaries are already being written and workers at effigy-making factories have booked in for over-time while their masters are already rubbing their hands in glee!

Someday someone will realise that this is only a game!

India, in my view, is not playing the right team. One can’t do anything about Virender Sehwag’s injury. Them’s the breaks and you can only play with the cards you are delivered.

I can understand the teams’ reluctance to play R. P. Singh ahead of Ishant Sharma because, if R. P. Singh were to play, the team would have Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh and Irfan Pathan as the pace bowlers. There would, as a result, be a sameness to the bowling. Understood.

However, this analysis is predicated on the presence of Irfan Pathan in the team! I can’t be certain that that is a foregone conclusion.

I’d much rather the team play Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh and Praveen Kumar instead!

The absence of Irfan Pathan would result in a weakening of the batting though. To make up for this, I’d like the team to play Ravindra Jadeja instead of Pragyan Ojha.

Moreover, I think M. S. Dhoni is wasted at #3. He is a clinical finisher and is a bit of a misfit at #3. I’d like to see Suresh Raina at his more familiar #3 position.

I believe India has defined a hitter/defender role for each player. Rohit Sharma appears to be the designated “hitter” while Gautam Gambhir is a “defender”. So, should Gautam Gamhir fall first, Dhoni walks in as a “defender” replacing another “defender” while, should Rohit Sharma fall, Raina would come in as a “hitter” for “hitter” replacement (as he did in the game against West Indies).

All of this sounds excellent on paper.

This represents another twist in Dhoni’s reading of the game and works well provided, of course, that it doesn’t become an obsession. Some six months back Dhoni was obsessed with the left-right batting combination strategy and ploughed on with it regardless of the situation or the opposition. Formula captaincy does not a Dhoni make though! His strength is his alertness and nimbleness and he should fall back on that rather than a formula.

Although, having said that, having a few set templates in a game as fast and furious as the T20 game is not necessarily a bad thing.

The problem with implementing this strategy blindly is that Dhoni’s form has not been that great lately. Given that, I think he should stick to the knitting and back himself as one of India’s strongest finishers in recent memory. He has this uncanny ability to hold one end up, rotate the strike and score at a run-a-ball without getting fazed. THat ought to be his role in the team.

So, I’d like India to go with the following team (in batting order) in todays’ game against England:

Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, R. P. Singh

— Mohan

Relive World Cup 1983 Victory

You can relive the WorldCup 1983 moments by watching this video highlights package courtesy Rediff.

Mohan