Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pujara begins A tour in Style

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Any doubts about whether Pujara belongs at the top level should have been set to rest by his performance in the recently concluded India A match versus the West Indies A team. Having already made a very credible debut against Australia, Pujara was laid low by an IPL injury (bait alert for Golandaz). Pujara worked his way back and in the very first opportunity to step up, he did and how. A very composed 96 in a chase interrupted repeated by two falling objects - rain and wickets.

Rohit Sharma punctuated his talent with his errors and continued to frustrate in ways that only some players can. If anyone can irritate spectators after scoring 94 runs, it's a sign that he is almost Gower-esque in his ability to make his fans mad. He may be forgiven to think that he made up for his batting mis-step with a bowling performance that made one sit up and take notice. Unfortunately, very few except the most rabid fans remember Allan Border and Viv Richards' bowling exploits. Sharma needs to fix his discipline issues if he is going to take over from Sachin anytime in the near future.

Tiwary and Rahane didn't really stake claim, but there's more opportunities yet. The importance of Rohit and Pujara immediately making an impact cannot be under-stated. Normally, India's test teams begin the first test by giving up. These two went into a A tour with a mind-set that is exactly what the fans ordered. Another reason why the time for change is NOW!

On the bowling front, Shami Ahmed turned out to be the pleasant surprise. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar delivered too. However, at best these guys can play ODIs and warm the benches. India has a decent set of first string bowling riches. Even though none are tearaways. Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan are doing ok.

For the next game, Darekar should play ahead of Rahul Sharma. Ashwin needs a good spin partner and apart from Ojha, Darekar's left arm spin might be a good stock bowling option. Rahul Sharma needs more time to develop his spinning capabilities. A leg-spinner is always risky unless he is accurate and actually spins the ball. Kumble was an exception that is unlikely to repeat itself.

Hopefully, Awana (flown in as a replacement for RP) and Darekar get some opportunities in the next couple of matches and we get to assess what's in the pantry. All in all a great start for the A tour.

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