Tag Archives: Yusuf Pathan

Team India’s IPL gains…

The IPL tournament has certainly thrown up a few names that could be in contention when Team India’s selectors sit down to pick the Team India ODI teams for Bangladesh and for the Asia Cup. These teams will be chosen on 30 May.

From the team that won in Australia when India last played a ODI — Harbhajan Singh will certainly not feature! He has had a ban slapped on him (pun totally intentional!).

Virender Sehwag feels that it would be fine for the young turks that have done well in the IPL to be considered for Team India ODI selection on the basis of their good IPL-showing. However, Dilip Vengsarkar, the Chairman of selectors is not one for making large-scale changes.

Having said that, it would be impossible to ignore the number of young cricketers that have put their hands up — some more compellingly than others!

The Indian ODI squad that won in Australia included: MS Dhoni, Piyush Chawla, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Sreesanth, Sachin Tendulkar, Manoj Tiwary, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, RP Singh

Of these, apart from Dinesh Kartik and Manoj Tiwary, who have not set the IPL on fire, and Harbhajan Singh, who is not available for selection, not many have gone “backwards” in terms of their chances. Although Dinesh Kartik did win a game for Delhi Daredevils, one probably felt that he had blown a few chances to make an impression along the way. Munaf Patel has had an outing that could best be described as Munafesque! Praveen Kumar has also not had a fantastic IPL. However, I do not think he would be dropped.

On the other hand, players like Piyush Chawla, Gautam Gambhir, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Sreesanth, Robin Uthappa and RP Singh would have appeared to have strengthened their cases.

So, it would seem to me that the following will be retained:
Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Suresh Raina, Sreesanth, RP Singh

That gives us a listof 14 players. I am assuming that Zaheer Khan is not considered. It may help India’s chances if he –like Rahul Dravid, V. V. S. Laxman and Sourav Ganguly — is asked to focus his energies on Test cricket!

Assuming that the selectors may select 2 more to add to the above list, the impressive bench could well boast

Yusuf Pathan
Shikar Dhawan
Yo Mahesh
Pragyan Ojha
P. Vijaykumar
Ashok Dinda
Manpreet Gony
Abhishek Nayar

Of these, I have been most impressed with Manpreet Gony and Yusuf Pathan and would possibly get my nod ahead of anyone else.

So, my Team India ODI team would be:
Sachin Tendulkar
Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir / Robin Uthappa / Suresh Raina
Rohit Sharma
Yuvraj Singh
MS Dhoni
Irfan Pathan / Yusuf Pathan
Piyush Chawla
Praveen Kumar / Manpreet Gony
Ishant Sharma
Sreesanth / RP Singh

— Mohan

Advertisements

ODI Team India Balance…

I must declare that I am not a great fan of the current balance that Team India has got in its ODI Team. Having said that, I do believe that the ODI teams’ balance has improved substantially over the last 8 months or so, thanks to the return of Irfan Pathan.

I do believe that the return to form of Irfan Pathan is a definite positive for Indian cricket. After struggling with his rhythm for nearly a year, the young Irfan Pathan looks good today. He is running hard and bowling consistently in the mid-130kmph range. He also uses the slower ball and cutters quite effectively in ODI games. Throw in his competent batting and what you have is an effective package. Add to the mix the fearlessness of his captain M. S. Dhoni to use him in various different roles and you have the makings of an effective team-balance.

However, I do believe that India needs another Irfan Pathan to achieve that elusive balance.

If nothing more, this other allrounder could play when Irfan Pathan is either rested or injured.

With Andrew Symonds and James Hopes in its ranks, Australia has that balance. In Sundays’ game against India, Hopes had a tight hamstring and sat out the match. The result was there for everyone to see. The Indians knew the 5th bowler weakness in the Australian team and so, waited for Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds to be wheeled in! The presence of James Hopes would perhaps have altered their approach a bit.

Similarly, in a tight game, I do believe India will get “found out” through the absence of that 5th bowler. At the moment, the team is making-do with a combination of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh as that 5th bowler. Over time I do believe that the team needs to invest in another “allrounder” to achieve that elusive team-balance.

In Praveen Kumar, India has one such candidate warming the benches in Australia at the moment! I do believe that he ought to get a game against Sri Lanka today.

Other potential candidates include Yusuf Pathan, Joginder Sharma, Rajat Bhatia, Abhishek Nayar, although Manoj Tiwary, and S. Badrinath have also put their hands up, claiming to be allrounders!

Over time, it will be, I believe, players like these that will make up the core of a ODI team.

— Mohan

Ranji player watch – All-rounders

I had earlier posted on bowlers and batsmen to watch out for in the current Ranji Trophy championship. The list of allrounders completes the over all list of players to watch out for:

  • Parthiv Patel has been scoring in the India A games consistently and he doubles up as a wicketkeeper. It would be interesting to see if he is able to challenge Dinesh Karthik as the reserve wicketkeeper for India. But more than his keeping abilities, it is his batting that has been impressive – notching up a successive centuries (126, 124, 164 and 110) in his last four innings for India A and following it up with a 179, opening the batting for Rest of India against Mumbai in the Irani Trophy.
  • Joginder Sharma has already made his ODI and T20 debut for India and although I don’t see him make into the test team any time soon, he is certainly one to watch out for. He was the second highest wicket taker in the Ranji Trophy last year and also impressed with the bat, particularly in the Duleep Trophy.
  • Praveen Kumar opens both the batting and bowling in domestic one day competition and his performances with India A and in the Challenger Trophy has already earned him a call up to the national ODI squad, although he is yet to make his debut.
  • Yusuf Pathan is another allrounder who could be useful in the T20 and ODI games, although his induction into the Test squad seems unlikely at this stage. Would be good to see how he performs this season.

-Mahesh-

Selectors must invest in youth…

The Twenty20 World Championship win by M. S. Dhoni’s Men in Blue has provided a much-needed breath of fresh air for Indian cricket. After the disappointment of the early and embarassing exit from the World Cup 2007 this was what Indian cricket needed. And it was secured by a fearless captain who does things his way. It was secured by a young team that played in the spirit of its captain. And this, I believe, is the blueprint for future success for India. The team has to dismantle the shackles — some self-imposed, some imposed by the ‘system’ that the team is part of and some imposed by history — and play with self-belief and mental stregth.

And this investment in the future has to commence now.

The selectors have named a 15-member squad for the ODIs against Australia which reads (in possible batting order):

Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly
Robin Uthappa / Gautam Gambhir / Dinesh Karthik
Rahul Dravid
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt)
Irfan Pathan
Piyush Chawla
Ramesh Powar / Harbhajan Singh
RP Singh / Sreesanth
Zaheer Khan

Two things need to happen immediately, in my view.

First Piyush Chawla, who is injured, needs to be replaced. I would be very surprised if this replacememt is not Joginder Sharma.

Second, as a significant policy-shift the selectors need to, from now on, name 17-member teams for ODIs and further stipulate that only a maximum 2 of the seniors can play in any game! First, this would prolong the careers of the Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid troika. Second, it would also provide a platform for youngsters to express themselves.

M. S. Dhoni, when asked about the absence of the Big-3 in an interview that I read earlier on, made two important statements I thought. Firsty he said that it was important for his wards to get the appreciation of the seniors back home. And he has received that with Sourav Ganguly immediately recognising and applauding the teams’ efforts. But he also dealt with the issue of their absense with poise when he said, “I am sure if they had been here, they would have taken us to the final. If we do win the final, they can say that they couldn’t have done more than what his team has done. The way we have performed has been amazing.

With the above suggested changes to the ODI team to play Australia, I’d like to see the following team chosen (along with the rider that only 1 or 2 of Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid can play any game):

Sachin Tendulkar / Vierender Sehwag
Sourav Ganguly / Gautam Gambhir
Robin Uthappa / Dinesh Karthik
Rahul Dravid / Rohit Sharma
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt)
Irfan Pathan
Joginder Sharma
Ramesh Powar / Harbhajan Singh
RP Singh / Sreesanth
Zaheer Khan

From the India team that won the Twenty20 World Championship, Ajit Agarkar, Piyush Chawla and Yusuf Pathan would, therefore not be chosen. Ajit Agrakar needs to decide which side of the bed he wants to get up — if he does! Piyush Chawla is injured and Yusuf Pathan would be, in my view, unlucky to miss out.

The first India-Australia ODI match is in Bangalore on Friday 29th September at 2.30pm IST (7pm Australia time).

Bring it on…

— Mohan

The Indian fan can dream again…

It was a scrap alright; a scrap on a pendulum. The match swung one way then the other and back and back again. Even in the penultimate over of the game, the pendulum swung India’s way first when Umar Gul was bowled by R. P. Singh. Then the pendulum swung Pakistan’s way immediately when Mohammed Asif tickled the first ball he faced for 4 through the vacant slips area. With 13 runs needed from six balls, the pendulum defied gravity and stayed, almost irrevocably, on Pakistan’s side when Misbah-ul-Haq danced down the pitch and straight-swatted — there must be a special Twenty20 term for this almost improbable shot — a full-toss from Joginder Sharma for six! And then, when Misbah-ul-Haq decided a deft paddle-sweep was needed, and when the resulting catch was taken, the pendulum rested with India.

India were crowned the innaugural Twenty20 World Champions because they just refused to lose. They held their nerve in an edge-of-the-seats final. It was a fitting finale for an impressive tournament that had erased the bad memories of a badly organised, badly planned and badly played World Cup 2007 in the West Indies.

But right from the time of the toss, the match swung one way and then the next. It perhaps swung Pakistan’s way when Virender Sehwag was declared unfit to play. One would have thought that Dinesh Karthik would have played. But M. S. Dhoni is his own man. He does things his way and he went with Yusuf Pathan, the older brother of the more famous Irfan Pathan. And what’s more, Dhoni declared that the older Pathan would open the innings — it was a like-for-like replacement, for Yusuf Pathan, like Virender Sehwag, gives the ball one heck of a tonk in domestic cricket and also bowls off-spin.

India started well with Pathan hitting a six and a 4 to race to 15 off 8 balls. But had the brakes put on them when Pathan skied one to Shoaib Malik. The pendulum had swung again. And it did this right through the match until that last moment. The two teams were evenly matched. Pakistan were the better bowling side. India were the better batting side. The two captains were innovative and inventive.

In the middle overs, I thought Umar Gul and Yasir Arafat bowled excellently well. Umar Gul has grown in stature as the tournament has progressed and will serve Pakistan cricket very well in the years to come. Mohammed Asif apparently does not like bowling in the death. In Yasir Arafat Pakistan found a bowler who could do that aptly. Shahid Afridi kept things really tight in the middle overs. While most teams had a weak 5th bowler, Pakistan had Mohammed Hafeez and Yasir Arafat — a specialist death-overs bowler!

Through all of this, one batsman — Gautam Gambhir — shone brilliantly. I have often questioned his role and place in the team. But in this tournament he has batted with rare flair and in an totally unfettered manner. His method has been simple. His strokeplay has been elegant. I think his time has come and I am quite willing and indeed, happy, to eat humble pie. Gautam Gambhir has proved many of his detractors wrong and I would be surprised if he doesn’t score an extended run in the Indian ODI and T20 scene. In the finals, Gambhir stroked his way to a well-crafted 75 off 54 balls. He hit some good cricketing strokes and in those difficult middle-overs, when Yuvraj Singh was finding it hard to get Shahid Afridi and Mohammed Hafeez away, Gambhir even managed to take the pressure of his poster-boy partner by scoring some delectable boundaries. He was my Man-of-the-Match.

The captaincy was excellent too. Two moments stood out. First when Shoaib Malik brought in Hafeez and Afridi the moment Yuvraj Singh came in to bat. The clear signal was that he respected Yuvraj Singh’s hard hitting but wanted the Indian to make the running. By taking the pace off the ball, he posed the question. And on this day the question wasn’t convincingly answered. Full marks to Shoaib Malik for his method as well as his instincts. The other moment was in the middle overs when he had a slip in place! Here was an attacking captain who continually threw the gauntlet at the opposition. He kept asking the questions at crucial junctues and his team also responded. All of these combined to restrict India to a smallish total. At the break between the innings, I talked to 3-4 friends of mine and said that India were probably 15 runs short of where they ought to have ended up. At the toss, M. S. Dhoni indicated that the Indian team was aiming at a score of 180! They ended at 157, about 23 runs short of that mark.

Pakistan, on the other hand would have thought that India, thanks to some belligerent and fear-free strokeplay from young Rohit Sharma, scored abdout 10 runs more than they would have wanted India to score. Shoaib Mallik indicated that they wanted to restrict India to less than 150.

Either way, India had to bowl and field well to defend 157.

As M. S. Dhoni said at the end, he asked the fielders to back the bowlers and add at least 15-20 runs to the total. And the team did that. R. P. Singh bowled brilliantly. Sreesanth was wayward and it looked like the occasion had gotten to him. But every time he sprayed, M. S. Dhoni ran to him and appeared to calm him down. Here was a young man exploding on the inside. He needed tough love and I think he got it. He delivered India a crucial wicket of Sohail Tanveer who had hit a breezy 12 off just 4 balls!

Dhoni handled his bowlers and his fielders very well. At one point in time, he had two slips for R. P. Singh and Sreesanth. It was important to take wickets! He bowled Yusuf Pathan for an over and Joginder Sharma for 3 in the middle when Pakistan were struggling to bring a semblance of stability in the middle order when wickets crashed and fell at the top. This was opportunistic and tactical cricket. Dhoni kept the screws on by bringing in the field and keeping things tight. He invited Pakistan to take the aerial route to take the risks. They did that and paid the price — both Shoaib Malik and Younis Khan perished to ugly hoiks that did not come off. This was smart captaincy.

And then, just when the match was firmly in India’s grasp — or so it seemed — Misbah-ul-Haq, Yasir Arafat and Sohail Tanvir threated to take the game away. That was until that last pendulum-movement.

India had won an improbable victory. The scenes of madness that followed will live with the Indian cricket fan for a long time. It was a brilliant spectacle and was richly-deserved jubiliation for a young team that played in the spirit of its fearless leader.

The future for both India and Pakistan looks bright. The investment in youth and a clean-slate-start had paid off for both teams.

But more importantly for this blogsite, the Indian fan can dream again!