Wednesday, February 13, 2013

India get ready for Australia

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Someone forgot to tell the BCCI that Ponting has retired. Harbhajan Singh's selection after a non-performance in this year's Ranji Trophy is surely a backward step despite his not-so-advanced age. With Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Dhoni, Harbhajan had once been the senior in waiting. Unfortunately, the seniors never let go until it was too late for Harbhajan to actually mature and become the senior. If you get my drift.

Needless to say, I'm not very pleased with the selections for the Australia series. The team does not get to move forward. Neither Dhawan nor Jadeja are inspired selections that will cement their places for the long term. In fact, they may fill a minor gap at best, and leave the bulk of heavy lifting to Pujara, Tendulkar and Dhoni. Since Rohit Sharma blew his chances at Irani Trophy, why not bring in Manoj Tiwary and give him a go. He recently returned from injury and scored a dogged 37. For someone that rusty, it's not a bad effort.

In addition, if moving sideways or backwards was the plan, then why not give Raina another go. The guy has expressed desire and demonstrated that he's willing to work for his test place with a good performance in the Irani Trophy. Funnily enough, no one's centuries in the Irani Trophy have counted. Jaffer would  have been a much better bench-warmer in Indian conditions than Shikhar Dhawan is going to be. And please spare me the garbage about a left-right combination. The most successful pairs - Hayden-Langer and Greenidge-Haynes both batted the same side.

While Bhuvaneshwar Kumar is a welcome addition to the team, I thought Sreesanth merited selection too. Unfortunately, the team might relegate Kumar to the role of a stock bowler instead of an attacking option, unless all three fast (sic) bowlers play. Awana might have been a good choice if the team needed someone to send down a lot of overs during the containment periods. Sorta like Morne Morkel or even Peter Siddle at times.

Ashwin is a better all-rounder than Jadeja. So if Harbhajan was picked, why was Jadeja picked. Ashwin has a test century and Jadeja has had a century of opportunities to prove himself worthy. With Ojha in as the left-armer, Jadeja shouldn't play. Or Ojha will be benched and India will struggle to take 20 wickets. Jadeja is 3-fer bowler but not a 5 or 6-fer guy. Rayudu looks like a good option for a number 6, right now given his form. Rasool's all-round abilities also offer an option to replace Jadeja with a bowling all-rounder instead of a batting one. Hopefully, for the third test some changes will be made including giving Rayudu or Tiwary a go.

All in all, the selectors and BCCI have shown no vision. Once again, Pujara and Kohli will have to score a bunch of runs to haul India to safety and Australia will be content to play for draws. Tendulkar should have retired months ago and he may score many more centuries, but it's like watching a black-and-white movie in IMAX for me. Ho-hum.

As far as the series goes, India will win it. The Australian team is in worse shape than India's in terms of batting. I think Sehwag, Kohli and Pujara can put it across the Aussie seamers in Indian conditions. I don't believe either Lyon or Doherty are good enough to trouble even Jadeja. They are not in the Panesar, Swann league, although Nathan Lyon can surprise us.

This is going to be a fun series. A few new Aussie batsmen are going to arrive. My bet is on Henriques. Neither Khawaja nor any of the others are showing much spark. But I bet Phil Hughes, Shane Watson and Clarke will be hard to bowl to in India, regardless of conditions.

Looking forward to real cricket again.


Mayank Jhaveri said...

"Neither Dhawan nor Jadeja are inspired selections that will cement their places for the long term"

How can you know that? Besides, Jadeja did reasonably well in his last test, fair selection.

"Funnily enough, no one's centuries in the Irani Trophy have counted."

Only reason Vijay got in after an average of 17 this season was that century that he scored.

Don't see why Jaffer should be given a go when he avgd 30-odd in 34 tests and less than 10 in the last series. Fair to give Dhawan or other youngsters a chance instead.

Sreesanth has just returned from injury and was wayward most of the time in the Irani trophy, don't see why he should be picked.

Vidooshak said...


I don't "KNOW"...This is an opinion piece...I'd love to be wrong, but I have seen these guys bat (on TV) and neither gives the impression of being test class...

For that matter Gambhir too looked very shaky until he tightened up a few years ago and now he's back to being shaky.

Why Jaffer? Well, because we are playing in India not abroad. His record on Indian wickets is reasonably good...and if stop-gaps are what the selectors are looking for, then why not?

Dinesh said...

If I read too much into this selection, India will try new set of openers (Vijay, Rahane or Vijay, Dhawan) and Sehwag will come down the order. But, that is unlikely to happen.

Vijay should open with Sehwag, while Rahane will bat at No.6. If logic holds merit, Vijay should fail, Rahane will succeed. That will allow Rahane to open from 3rd Test onwards, while a Tiwary/Rayudu could come in to take over No.6, while Dhawan will go out of picture without making debut.

If Tendulkar fails yet again, he will retire by the end of the series. One of those kids J Singh/Chand should join Rahane as the opener for the series at South Africa and Sehwag will take over that place at No.4. While Tiwary, Rayudu, Raina, Ashwin - should fight for the No.6 spot.

I dont expect Dhoni to try Ashwin is a opener.

These are my fortune readings :)

Vidooshak said...

Dinesh -

You are the ultimate optimist, but may your prediction come true....

If Gambhir were to be reinstated in the third test due to his India-A century, then Rahane, Gambhir or Gambhir-Sehwag will continue.

Tiwary/Rayudu at number 6 with Rahane yet again getting the shove, unless Tendulkar vacates his spot for a fellow Mumbai to keep the quota intact..

Dinesh said...

Gambir - Sehwag not playing together in the current regime. Thats done deal.

The logic of backing Rahane to open by 3rd test is this (under the assumption Vijay fails, Rahane delivers a century or two in the middle order) - Rahane will be able to display his class against the second new ball. This should tempt the management to promote him as the new opener to partner Sehwag ahead of Dhawan or Gambir.

Dinesh said...

I was wrong on my prediction (Rahane playing in the XI). Now its a distant dream that he will even feature in any of the four test matches.

I'm happy Vijay failed. It appears he will get another opportunity at Hyderabad.

You were spot on Henriques.