Friday, February 22, 2013

Selectorial boldness needed for India

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Australia hurtled to 317 runs at the end of day 1 at Chennai. Despite the loss of 7 wickets, Australia can take comfort from two facts. One, their scoring rate was pretty good and it allowed them to maintain pressure on India. Two, barring Ashwin none of the other Indian bowlers came close to taking wickets. My own view is that the Australians will work Ashwin out by the next test match. The reason being that the LBW wickets he got were almost all due to batsmen errors with the Shane Watson one being the lone surprise. There were no caught behinds, no bamboozle bowled batsmen. But wickets are wickets and Ashwin can feel good about his bowling. Hopefully, he'll bring a few more tricks to the next innings, to counter a potential tactic change by the Australians.

The less said about Harbhajan the better. Jadeja is doing what he was picked to do. He needs to score runs in this test otherwise, there should be no room for him in a test match side. Both Harbhajan and Ashwin have test centuries against their names and I have often wondered what the heck Dhoni is so scared about that he packs his side with more batsmen. India theoretically bat right down to number 11 (Ishant being the sole non-batsman). Ojha would have been real useful on this track.

All eyes will be on the Indian batsmen though because Australia is likely to fold for 350-400 runs. If things go per India's plan, then India should pile up around 550 with major contributions from Sehwag, Pujara and Kohli/Tendulkar. However, from a future stand-point, even if Tendulkar is the major contributor, India should be worried that the load hasn't yet spread to the others. It's time to bring new blood in and challenge them to come good. This is post-Gavaskar again, when Vengsarkar, Amarnath, Srikkanth were not able to deliver, yet were persisted with citing lack of alternatives. Azhar and Shastri being the others.

While Tendulkar decides when to leave, India need to rid itself of the Jadeja-like, balancer type players and bet on the come. Sehwag, Gambhir, Harbhajan, Tendulkar and perhaps even Dhoni are 2-5 year players. Pujara and Kohli are the only two that are already blooded that will go longer. India's test future cannot be so fragile. Pujara and Kohli are looking at years of draws and defeats if selectors don't become bolder.

Rahane, Tiwary, Rayudu, Raina, Sharma (yes-him), maybe Nayar, need to be blooded to bat around Pujara and Kohli. Openers are an issue, but I think Gambhir will claim his spot back. He's likely to put the pettiness aside and start thinking big picture. I have been impressed by his commitment in the past. Especially, the chaperoning role he played in South Africa and the World Cup. I believe he will be back to doing that again. Maybe under a different captain, but for sure he's capable. Sehwag appears to have run out of gas. Age or fatigue seems to have dulled his performance. With a less experienced attack to face, maybe he'll come good, just like Ponting made hay against India, only to be shown his place by a better attack.

This test match offers Pujara and Kohli a great chance to test themselves against good fast bowlers on a benign wicket. It would be a great learning opportunity before they head off to take on fast bowlers on overseas seamer friendly wickets. While people may say it's not the same and it may make them complacent, I feel that batting against genuine pace in any conditions is a good thing, so long as they don't get carried away with their performances (assuming they come good). There are always lessons that can be learned by the smart batsmen.

It's too early to tell where this test match is headed. Clarke continued in the tradition of good captains demonstrating intent in the first innings of a series. Although, Dharmasena reprieved him off Ashwin during the post-lunch session, Clarke appeared to be in good control for most part. Henriques took a huge step towards becoming an heir to Andy Symonds. I was impressed by his poise and clarity of approach. However, recently such folks seem to be fading -- Duminy being the other that comes to mind.

I see Duminy, DuPlessis, Henriques, Hafeez, Root and perhaps Jadeja as similar contributors. Jadeja can get there provided he demonstrates that his batting isn't a joke. If were to predict what happens tomorrow, I would say a biggie from Tendulkar is coming with Pujara for company.


Golandaaz said...

India has resigned itself to being mediocre for the foreseeable future

The selections of MS as captain, SRT at #4, Jadeja, Harbie are all valid questions but are explained to us as if they are the only choices.

Vidooshak said...

Sounds like I hope Patil reads our blog...

Mayank Jhaveri said...

Agree with your thoughts on Gambhir. He has it in him and I firmly believe he is the best opener India has produced in tests in ages.

As for Viru, just watching him is getting quite irritating. Specially his slip catching. I have a feeling that he will notch up one big score in this series and we will be forced to carry him to SA. I also didn't approve of Jaffer in your last post, because our very next tour is SA.

I am hoping your prediction is slightly wrong with Kohli and Pujara doing the majority of the scoring. Would be good if Kohli comes into form in the 1st test itself.

Dinesh said...

This is not the famed batting order that we used to have when no total (at home) was daunting.

There is an air of vulnerability surrounding this batting line up Thanks to the names of Vijay, Sehwag, Tendulkar, Jadeja, Dhoni. In my books a total of 400 is a huger number than it used to be. I will keep my hopes low for 500+ total from India. At the same time, I dont deny the impossibility of it.

I'm glad Sehwag figured out the reason for his failure with the bat. I'm extremely positive his new eye glasses will get him to sight the ball better from here on. lol