Tag Archives: Yusuf Pathan

Has the IPL helped nurture local talent?

At a lunch that I went to Sunday afternoon, I was hauled up by a frequent visitor to i3j3Cricket and was asked to comment on why the IPL could not be thrown wide open to have teams full of international players (if need be)!

To have a lower bound on the number of local players in each squad (or an upper bound on the number of international players in each team) was seen by this gentleman as either a “needless constriction” or “protectionism” or yet another example of India wanting to have it both ways — ‘while India is happy to be the “Back Office to the World” she can’t yet throw her doors wide open to and embrace capitalism’ was the theory that was expounded.

Or at least, that was how I understood the theory that was being postulated.

Each squad in the IPL has to have at least four under-19 players and a (playing) team can’t have more than 4 international players.

I pointed out to the gentleman that this IPL rule was recently lauded by Lawrence Booth in an article in CricInfo.

There is nothing inherently wrong with letting market forces completely dictate the composition of a squad or indeed, a team that takes the park. If that indeed does happen, it would be a first in the world, leave alone India! And maybe that experiment is not too far off.

After all, to the credit of the IPL, the IPL has almost seen more experiments trialled out in the last two years than cricket has seen in the last few decades! Some of these — like (a) the establishment of a transfer market, (b) auctioning of players, (c) establishment of franchises, (d) having a salary cap, etc — have, in my view, been good, while some — like the mid-innings “strategy break” — have been poorly thought through.

However, I must say that I am not a fan of the ‘throw the doors wide open and let market forces dictate squad/team composition’ strategy, even if there is a ‘salary cap’.

Firstly, ‘protectionism’ and ‘capitalism’ have conveniently co-existed even in America, a land that has embraced ‘capitalism’ more willingly than any other. When there are compelling reasons for these two ways of life to co-exist, they do! So, there is no reason for a call for an “either have it all-black or all-white policy or it is a nonsense” judgement when it comes the the IPL. Not everything in life needs to be distinctly and strictly binary for it to be granted legitimacy! Shades of grey have always existed.

Second, I said to this gentleman that, with a strong focus on identifying, nurturing and grooming local talent, the IPL has actually managed to unearth and identify (in some cases) and nurture or resurrect (in others) local talent.

I was challenged to name names of talent that IPL-1 had unearthed. I could cite the names of Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh, but then they wouldn’t be ‘local’.

So here are some names of players whose careers, in my view, IPL-1 assisted through the local-talent-lower-bound principle:

Amit Mishra: His was a career that was going no where. He was always a good bowler. But he had been shunned even by Delhi, his local team. He continued playing in the Ranji Trophy. But his real big break came through IPL-1. The moment he took a hat-trick in IPL-1 was when the selectors sat up and took notice. He was immediately drafted into the India-A side to play Australia. He performed well and was immediately picked for India. He may have made it to the India team. But I have no doubt that IPL-1 and its focus on having local talent helped his career immensely.

Yusuf Pathan: He was always seen as a player who had heaps of talent. Indeed, he played in the T20 World Championship finals too. If I remember right that was the only game he played in the T20 World Championship. However, it was in IPL-1 that he really shone bright. He played many a breathtaking innings for Rajasthan Royals in IPL-1 and this catapulted him into national team selection. Again, I have no doubt that the opportunity he got to rub shoulders with players in the big league was what prompted his growth as a player.

Ravindra Jadeja: Shane Warne called him the “Rock Star” in IPL-1. He may have been a little-known and perhaps even ‘forgotten’ player in the domestic circuit. After all, there are many players like him in the past that died slow and painful deaths in the local circuit. Noel David and Vihay Bharadwaj are two names that spring to mind immediately! They are Ravindra-Jadeja-type players who toiled in the domestic circuit without getting enough opportunities to either promote their talent or shine or polish their talent on a big stage. Although I agree that Jadeja was starting off a much better base, he was helped by the IPL-1 opportunities he had and as an under-19 player, he just had to be included. No doubt he was helped by the huge raps he received from Shane Warne. He displayed his wares and got into the India team.

L. Balaji: I think that the local-inclusion-lower-bound rule definitely helped L. Balaji’s career. To his credit, he used his inclusion in the Chennai team to show that he still had it in him, despite the fact that his pace had slowed down several notches post his injury-scares. He put in a good showing in the IPL and that contributed to his resurrection to the India Test side. He is also in the list of probables for the India T20 team.

Dhawal Kulkarni: He was another bowler that benefited immensely from the local-talent rule. He played many a game for Mumbai in IPL-1 and impressed one and all with his pace and abilities. Soon thereafter, he was selected to tour NZ with Team India. He did not get a game in NZ, but one has to assume that the tour helped him hone his skills.

Manpreet Gony: Another Chennai player who was catapulted to national reckoning was Manpreet Gony. If I am not mistaken, he was even discarded by his local state, but Chennai picked him up and gave him opportunities to shine. He did and, as a result, was thrown into national reckoning. He was in several ODI teams subsequent to IPL-1.

Other players that benefited from the local-player-lower-bound rule in IPL-1 are possibly Siddharth Trivedi, Ashok Dinda, Karan Goel, Venugopal Rao, Yo Mahesh, Pradeep Sangwan, Yogesh Takawale, Pinal Shah and Naman Ojha.

Please feel free to add to this list of players whose careers the IPL-1 had assisted/helped/accelerated.

Several of the above players are good and it is possible that several of them would have made it off their own bat over time. It is also possible that the local-talent-lower-bound would not have been necessary for several of these players to gain recognition and eventual selection in the India team.

They could have made it after ‘slogging it out on the domestic circuit’ and had time taken her natural course. However, I have little doubt that IPL-1 catapulted them into national reckoning and national consciousness faster and in a much more compelling manner.

I am, therefore, an unabashed fan of the local-talent-lower-bound principle.

Sometimes it is not totally wrong to mix a doze of ‘protectionism’ with brazen ‘capitalism’. Morever, in my view, having a few protectionist measures in the IPL is not totally at odds with India’s aspirations and desires.

Finally, what was the first thing that the major pillars of capitalism did when the current global financial crisis hit? They put their bowls out for a protectionist hand out! But that’s another essay for another day!

— Mohan

India wins again in cordial environment

India played an ODI last night. India won, again.

Once again, the nature of the pitch wasn’t an issue for intense pre-match analysis and debate. Once again, the toss wasn’t an issue to moan about — one of the teams won the toss and I can’t even remember which one! Again, the over-rate wasn’t a problem in this match. The Third-World sight screen held up quite well in a completely packed Third World stadium. The word “monkey” and the city “Sydney” weren’t mentioned in the same breath by everyone around with a clear intent of selling books and apologising for comments taken out of context later.

Duh! Australia wasn’t playing a cricket game! Clearly India was playing someone else because the on-field camaraderie between the two teams was excellent.

India defeated England at Indore to lead the 7-match series 2-0. India won on the back of another Man-of-the-Match performance from Yuvraj Singh, who cracked another century and also took 4 wickets.

Unlike the 1st ODI at Rajkot, England was in the contest for spells. But England was unable to maintain its intensity. England let India advance at key moments in the game. With India at 29-3 with Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma back in the pavilion, instead of going for the jugular, England allowed Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir to rebuild. Gambhir and Yuvraj batted with the calm assurance of a pair of Buddhist monks and built a platform from which Yusuf Pathan was able to launch! And launch he did with a 29-ball half-century. In their response to a score of 292, England started cautiously, but was unable to maintain a tempo through the innings. A smart power-play choice was followed by some lusty blows from Flintoff. But 2 quick wickets from Yuvraj Singh broke the back of England’s determination and the rest of the innings just crumbled.

I am glad India stuck with Yusuf Pathan. He bats well and can bowl a few overs too. I am also glad that Dhoni is using Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag as bowlers.

England are a better ODI team than the 0-2 series result suggests. I just feel that England have got a few things wrong. I really do not know what Ravi Bopara, a specialist batsman, is doing at #8! That is truly bizarre. Owais Shah is not a big hitter but a finisher in the Bevan-mould. At best, he could be a #4 player. So what he is doing at #3 only England will know! Matt Prior is not opener-material either. Moreover, in India, England needs a spinner like Graeme Swann instead of James Anderson. Samit Patel won’t do as the only spinner in the team! Also, Kevin Pietersen needs to bite the bullet and come in at #3. He can organise the play if an early wicket falls. So for the next ODI, I’d like to see the following England line-up:

Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen, Owais Shah, Freddie Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steve Harmison.

By the way, i3j3Cricket’s “Adjective Watch” department has been closed down till the next India-Australia tour!

— Mohan

Team India for ODIs in Sri Lanka and Champions Trophy

As expected, MS Dhoni has returned from a self-inflicted “rest” and has been selected as captain of the Team India ODI side to take on Sri Lanka after the conclusion of the Test series.

Ishant Sharma has been “rested” for the Sri Lanka ODIs, but will return for the Champions Trophy. Munaf Patel, who has been picked for the Sri Lanka tour, will only play in Sri Lanka.

Parthiv Patel has been included as MS Dhoni’s understudy for the Sri Lanka tour. However, Parthiv Patel will return to India after the Sri Lanka ODIs and will not take part in the Champions Trophy.

Is this then and indicator to Parthiv Patel playing instead of Dinesh Karthik in the 3rd and final Test between Sri Lanka and India? Time will tell.

As expected, Sachin Tendulkar comes back into the side that played the Asia Cup. He will most likely open the innings with Virender Sehwag, with Gautam Gambhir at #3. The Gambhir-Sehwag combination will need to wait a while before exploding in ODIs!

Interestingly, no vice-captain has been announced!

Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Suresh Raina / Virat Kohli
Rohit Sharma
Yuvraj Singh
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt)
Irfan Pathan
Harbhajan Singh / Pragyan Ojha
Praveen Kumar / Munaf Patel
Zaheer Khan / RP Singh

with

Parthiv Patel (drinks!)

Yusuf Pathan gets the flick! It is unfortunate, but perhaps understandable! He did not really set the ground alight. But the man has enough potential to bounce back into reckoning.

Piyush Chawla has also been shown the door. Now, Chawla, who bowled quite brilliantly in the ODIs in England last year and in Australia earlier in 2008, was quite rudely exposed when bowling to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup. He would probably benefit from refining his trade. With Harbhajan Singh returning to the fold like the prodigal son, and with Pragyan Ojha seizing his Asia Cup opportunities, it is appropriate, perhaps, that Chawla cools his heels a bit.

Another player that has been shown the door is Robin Uthappa. Once again, the case could be made that he perhaps did not deliver on the many opportunities he has been afforded. In his place, Virat Kohli comes in, on the back of his U-19 exploits and his strong showing in the recently concluded Emerging Players Tournament in Brisbane. S. Badrinath, who also had a strong Emerging Players tournament, would be perhaps justified in feeling a bit desolate at being overlooked — again!

Given the combination that the team has gone with, unless one of Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh sit out (quite unlikely), India will go in with only 4 mainline bowlers — possibly Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh! Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh will need to bowl out the 5th bowlers quota. This lack of balance has always been India’s weak suit — especially considering that Irfan Pathan is one of these 4 frontline bowlers! If any of these 4 bowlers has an an off day — and Irfan Pathan can have them easily — the bowling can get taken to the cleaners!

The tough alternative would be to replace Suresh Raina with a bowler. It is unlikely that the team would do that, particularly after Raina’s good showing in the Asia Cup!

Interesting days ahead…

— Mohan

It is an India Vs Sri Lanka Final…

India beat Sri Lanka in another high-scoring encounter at Karachi to storm into the Asia Cup Finals. The hosts, Pakistan, will be left with much to ponder and dissect. Already there is talk of Pakistan sacking Geoff Lawson as coach!

This tournament has been a bowlers’ nightmare. Scores of 300 are being regularly hacked down with several overs to spare. So also in last nights’ game. Despite the early loss of the in-form and dangerous Kumar Sangakkara and despite Sanath Jayasuriya’s departure before much serious damage could be inflicted, Sri Lanka got to a score of 308-8 in their 50 overs. Like India had the day before, the Sri Lankan innings never quite took off. Everytime the batsmen threatened to go into orbit speed, India would take a wicket and peg those ambitions down. Not that the bowling or fielding was good, mind you! It is just that the Sri Lankan batsmen could not quite take off. Just when Jayasuriya seemed set, he departed. Similarly Mahela Jayawardena, Kapugedera, Chamara Silva and Tilakaratne Dilshan. They never quite got going. In the end, 308 was, one felt, about 20 runs short.

The Indian fielding effort was lazy. Pragyan Ojha let one go through his legs although he did dive smartly in the middle overs to convert a sure boundary into a two. Ishant Sharma messed up a few on the boundary ropes! R. P. Singh had a wild throw that resulted in over-throws. Sehwag was late in getting a dive in. Even Suresh Raina messed up a few dives and a few throws. Yuvraj Singh, however, remains a serious concern on the field. It is not as if he has become slower in the field. He has. It seems as though his dodgy knee prevents him from being totally alive in the field. This condition enabled him to make an absolute dogs’ breakfast of a Sanath Jayasuria chance at mid-on early in the piece! This must be a concern for the team management. A fit-and-fighting Yuvraj Singh is an asset to the team.

When batting, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir started as though they were either at a hit-and-giggle cricket-camp or, at best, the nets! They laughed and joked their way to 92 off 11 overs before Sehwag tried a cute paddle-scoop, only to flush the ball down Dilhara Fernando’s throat! They batted in a cavalier manner with gay abandon. Gautam Gambhir has grown in confidence as an impact player. And with Sehwag, he is a more complete player, one feels. They have a very good understanding between themselves and this shows in the way they play their cricket. Although Suresh Raina looked a bit shaky early on, he too settled down to play smart cricket. Against the run of play, it seemed, Gambhir got out to Muthiah Muralidharan’s second over.

Dhoni then made a bold move. He promoted himself at 2-down! I thought this was a smart move. Both he and Suresh Raina had played the dangerous Muralidharan in the nets in the IPL — all three played for Chennai SuperKings. Moreover, Yuvraj Singh is not that comfortable, one feels, taking guard against an in-form and ticking Muralidharan. So the decision to elevate himself in the batting order showed both courage as well as flexibility on the part of Dhoni.

Nearly 100 runs later, when the match was almost sealed and in the bag, both Raina and Dhoni got out. But Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Shrama carried India home with 3 overs to spare! The 30 runs that Sri Lanka could not score mattered in the end.

The final is between the two best teams in the tournament.

India took Pragyan Ojha instead of Piyush Chawla. This move paid off. Ojha bowled better than Chawla, in my view. India also played R. P. Singh instead of Yusuf Pathan. They would be tempted to stick with the same team for the final.

– Mohan

India run risk of crash-and-burn out of Asia Cup

India lost to Pakistan in last nights’ game in Karachi. The Pakistanis put up a spirited performance and out-batted and out-bowled India.

India started as if Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had more concerns for the tournaments’ carbon credits. It looked like they wanted to finish the game off before the lights came on in the evening. But that frenetic start was always going to be hard to maintain and when Sehwag, Gambhir, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh fell quickly, it took some effort for M. S. Dhoni and a-somewhat-out-of-sorts Rohit Sharma to rebuild the innings.

The two Indian batsmen did rebuild, thanks to the strategy of the stand-in Pakistan captain, Misbah Ul-Huq, who strangely did not attack at that stage. Dhoni and Rohit Sharma compiled the easy singles and twos and kept the scoreboard moving till a rush of blood saw Rohit Sharma depart at a crucial time — just when the accelerator was being engaged! That dismissal and the immature dismissal that followed — of Yusuf Pathan — may have meant that India fell short by about 20 runs in the end. That was perhaps what mattered most in the end result. Yusuf Pathan came out and had a huge heave against debutant off-spinner Saeed Ajmal who looked quite tight and impressive in his first game. Given the number of doosra’s Ajmal bowled though, it may be more appropriate, perhaps, to catalog Ajmal a “Doosra” bowler who occasionally bowls the off-spinner as a wrong ‘un! Dhoni and Rohit Sharma had some difficulty picking his doosra.

The Pakistanis came out purposefully and batted brilliantly to take the game away from India. In particular, Younis Khan and Misbah Ul-Huq were excellent, controlled and effective. Younis Khan appeared to be a man in control. He came in when a solid foundation was ruined by a needless runout. He shepherded a somewhat frisky, young Nasir Jamshed to a 50, saw the youngster retire hurt and just kept motoring on through it all. His was a terrific innings.

The Indian bowlers did not really come to the party. Praveen Kumar bowled tragically. After a wayward first over Ishant Sharma did manage to bowl reasonably well in his subsequent overs. And although Irfan Pathan bowled steadily for most part, he did bowl at least one “hit me” ball every over. And that, really, was the difference. Piyush Chawla was also largely ineffective.

At the end of the game, M. S. Dhoni said, “On flat tracks like this one, scores like 300 or 310 is just not enough if you don’t have an experienced spinner. There is not much help from the pitch for the spinners and it’s rather easier for the batsman to go after the spinner than rotate the strike. There you need experienced spinner.”

Hmmm! Let’s see. The spinner in the winning team had bowling analysis of 10-0-47-1. His name? Saeed Ajmal. Experience? Debutant.

It is, in my view, not experience that mattered most. It was attitude that was the difference. The Indians batted in two modes when they batted. They swung from “reckless abandon” to “caught in the headlights” and never really settled the pendulum in a safe and controlled zone in the middle. That allowed even the inexperienced debutant bowler — Ajmal — to bowl with control and dictate terms. India perhaps went into the game thinking that they would win it. Pakistan, on the other hand, went into the game with a hint of desperation and a heck of a lot of grit and attitude. The results showed. The better team won on the night.

India have to win tonights’ game against Sri Lanka or risk bowing out of the Asia Cup finals. Strangely enough, I am not too fussed either way! I suspect that an early exit may be a bitter pill for most Team India fans to swallow!

I can’t believe that India can go in with the same team sheet that it presented against Pakistan. However, there don’t appear to be too many options. One option may be to swap Manpreet Gony for a somewhat listless Praveen Kumar. But that could be somewhat of a risk in what is essentially a do-or-die game for India. I’d go with R. P. Singh for Praveen Kumar who has looked somewhat out of sorts in these listless tracks.

Yusuf Pathan has blown a few opportunities to express himself. He needs to come good. He had a perfect opportunity with both bat and ball last night and messed up both facets. His heave that he affected against Ajmal in last nights’ game is not quite a reflection of his batting capabilities. He is better than that and has to make his appearances and opportunities count. India has the opportunity to bench him for a regular, front-line bowler. It is an option that they may well exercise in what is essentially a knock-out semi-final.

On another note… Having already played and beaten Pakistan in the preliminary rounds and having carried over the points into the Super-League, pray why did India have to play Pakistan again? Is this just so that the organisers can collect more gate revenue?

— Mohan

What I like about the current ODI team

Opening pair

Granted, Tendulkar and Ganguly were one of the best, if not the best opening ODI pairs for India and even the World. But Sehwag and Gambhir are doing very well at the moment. I love everything about them – the right/left combination, their stroke play, Sehwag’s explosiveness, Gambhir’s maturity…

If they continue their current form, they are all set to become a formidable opening combination in World cricket.

 Batting depth

The batting depth hasn’t been really put to the test yet, but with Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar, both all rounders coming in at No. 8 and 9 respectively, it looks very strong. Chawla at No. 10 is no rabbit with the bat either.

The Bench

When you see good players warming the bench, you know there are even better players in the playing XI and that is a great thing.  With guys like Uthappa, RP Singh (although Ishant was rested for the Bangladesh game) and Gony sitting out, you know the team is doing well.

And guys like Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid, Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh aren’t even the team (due to a variety of reasons).

All rounders galore

The team now has Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan who are what I would classify as bowling all rounders – people who can bat a bit and bowl their full quota of 10 overs. Then there are the batting all rounders – Sehwag, Yuvraj and Yusuf Pathan. Even Rohit Sharma and Raina can chip in with a few overs. And last but not the least, the captain – MS Dhoni who can bat and keep wickets. This is one of the main reasons, India has a good batting depth at the moment.

Flexible batting order

I think the current batting order is a fairly flexible one. Barring the opening pair, I think the rest can come in any order. There is always the argument that batting orders shouldn’t be messed around with, but it seems to work well in Twenty20 and I don’t see why it shouldn’t work here.

Age

Sehwag at 29 years is the oldest member of the team. Everyone else is 26 or under. In fact, six of them are 21 and under. This again bodes well for Team India. Isn’t it wonderful that although the team is young, it does not seem to lack experience.

-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