Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Looking forward to the Test matches in South Africa



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The India v South Africa series about to get underway tomorrow is literally the crumbs BCCI has thrown at people who still care for Test Cricket.Its tough to view this series without feeling betrayed and insulted, knowing what happened before it.

One wonders what more levels India will stoop to with the power it has administratively. One wonders what the BCCI has to do for other boards and commentators to develop a voice. A Test series with the West Indies was created out of thin air to say Good Bye to Sachin Tendulkar and another with South Africa which everyone had looked forward to for almost a year was mauled for no apparent reason at all.

It is hard for me to see any positives in the way BCCI functions for the simple reason that given current market forces even a baniya on any street corner of India can run cricket in India and make money. BCCI cannot be judged by monetary yardstick alone. I would rather they be judged on what they are doing to protect the long term viability of Test cricket or say determining the role of technology in the sport or protecting the game from corruption.

On all those fronts the BCCI is failing miserably. With the Sachin Tendulkar retirement circus they showed that a Test Series can be arranged and covered as distastefully as the IPL and with the South African series they have shown they value the traditional format as much as Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and Harsha Bhogle value expressing independent unrehearsed opinions. 

Firstly the series starts with the ODIs. The bilateral ODI model has been around since the 70s, but its stopped being exciting for me for a few years now. I would rather we reserve the ODI for ICC tournaments and make the Test phase of a tour longer. Of course this may be both wishful thinking and financially naive but honestly does any one remember the results of these ODI series?

The 2 Tests that follow will be interesting. India, after having lost all 8 away Tests by comfortable margins, none of the greats are going to be missed unless India manage to lose more Tests than scheduled.

Of immense interest to me is how India's batsmen and bowlers both young perform on the first tough assignment since their debuts. Cheteshwar Pujara has been to South Africa before and looked distinctly uncomfortable in the Tests he played. However this time he goes with the confidence of an established top order batsman.

It would be interesting to see what batting order India settle on. Something that brings relief to me is the absence of Suresh Raina from the Test Team. For some reason he seemed to be the chosen one. Marked by Greg Chappell for future greatness and leadership and then courted by Mahendra Singh Dhoni endlessly in Tests.

Both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma seem quite capable of batting at #4 but asking Rohit Sharma to bat at #4 makes more sense since it is less disruptive to the batting order. The #6 slot will be contested between Ambati Rayadu and Ajinkya Rahane. India even have an option of including neither and going in with Ravindra Jadeja. With Jadeja in the side, Mahendra Singh Dhoni can bat at #6 and Jadeja can play as a genuine all rounder - bat at #7 and afford India a 5th bowler. However Jadeja might lose out since playing 2 spinners in South Africa may not be wise.

On the bowling side, Zaheer Khan is sure to play in the starting XI. He is one of those selections that are made by the selectors to be in the playing XI. Mohammed Shami after the debut he has had and with his ability to get clean bowled dismissals thanks to his pace and movement, is also an automatic choice I think. It is the third seamer that will require some thinking. .

My vote would go to Bhuvansehwar Kumar but playing Ishant Sharma would also not be a bad move. My gut feel is that Bhuvi, if selected, will do a Sreesanth. Both India's Test wins in South Africa from the last 2 tours were possible because of Sreesanth; and Bhuvi seems to have the crispness, speed and seam positioning needed to get wickets in South Africa.

India has only gains to look forward to from this series. Hence it would have been good had this been a full series. Even if India lose all Tests which I think is the most likely result, it would be looked at as progress. Unless of course the losses are so hugely embarrassing...like the one England experienced at Brisbane.

My team for the tests would be
Murali Vijay, Shikhar (twirler) Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma (#ThakYouSachin) , Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, R Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Mohammen Shami


4 comments:

Vijay Nath said...
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Vijay Nath said...
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Vijay Nath said...
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Vijay Nath said...
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