Posts Tagged ‘Piyush Chawla’

Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

The day was almost entirely consumed by our journey back to Colombo via Galle. We stopped by Galle to say hi to Jayanananda Warnaweera, who happened to introduce us to Mr. Ajit Jayasekara, CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). We exchanged pleasantries and updated him on our trysts in Sri Lanka.

TCE team meet Jayananda Warnaweera and Ajit Jayasekara, CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC)

The halt at Galle was brief – we wanted to thank Mr. Warnaweera for the wonderful opportunity he’d provided us to get to know about Sri Lankan Cricket and Galle a few days ago. We promised to visit Galle soon and headed off to Colombo – just in time for a check in to the hotel and a taxi to take us to the India England game at the Premadasa.

Now who’d have thought …

We spent the best half of the pre-toss period running through a derisive critique of names that had no rights to be here as part of the Indian setup – triggered by observing Piyush Chawla practise his leggies on the field.

The Bharat Army © Badrinarayana Vengavasi

The popular topic was, in truth, about Gambhir’s struggles (longer formats inclusive) in the middle and how he suddenly – and unconvincingly – lost the ability to play those long innings’ we’d seen him play that landed him the ICC award a couple of years back. His innings of forty odd yesterday was quantifiable, if desultory, but this should be the natural predicate for a man who desperately needs to get his act together at home (extended to subcontinent wickets) prior to tours overseas.

The idea of opening with Pathan, at the cost of Sehwag (not in the XI), was a bad one. Pathan has been enduring through some tough times, with his name amongst a few included in the suspect-list. A low score would, in all probability, dip his confidence scales to levels resembling those that unfortunately kept him out of the Indian radar prior to this year. He looked out of sorts – period.

With Kohli extending his purple patch to another innings, it must’ve been hard on Gambhir, at the other end, to have curbed his instincts to go after the English attack – which was being made look amateurish by Kohli. To his credit, he stuck to his game plan – although one would imagine he ended up consuming a few balls too many. A strike-rate of 118 doesn’t seem to indicate that.

And the Barmy Army © Badrinarayana Vengavasi

Both Kohli and Gambhir decided to play Swann out (although the former did hole out to Swann at deep mid-wicket)– his 4 overs yielding a miserly 17 runs. I thought Swann was brilliant – I’ve seen him live quite a few times, but as I tried to observe Kieswetter’s work from behind the stumps (and how he reacted to Swann), I couldn’t help but admit that the Englishman is one of the best in the trade. I know Harbhajan ended up with match-winning figures, but out there, if I had to pick between the two of them, Swann looked better. But yes, I do know this is Harbhajan’s first outing in over a year – he will take his share of credit, for sure.

I know it might sound convulsive, but the Indian batsmen were sensible in paying Swann his due respect whereas, the Englishmen played shots they’d never want to see videos of against the two spinners. One striking thing about the England innings was how closely it mimicked the debates over their inability to conquer spin in the sub-continent. I almost got a feeling that Piyush Chawla was Anil Kumble in disguise – pardon the pun please.

Kieswetter, on the other hand, looked suspect behind the wickets against spin. There have been numerous occasions when deliveries flighted in line with the stumps have tempted batsmen charging forward – only for them to miss and Kieswetter to fumble. His missed stumping of Gambhir highlights the problems that he’s been carrying in his baggage for quite some time.

And finally, I know I’ll be spelt a villain if I don’t mention Rohit’s accolades here. To his credit, he played a crucial knock – his innings would’ve been more valuable had the English batsmen applied themselves on this wicket to put up a better fight. After Swann’s arrest, when the Indian run rate looked a touch below par, he did outstandingly well to push the score to 170. His six over covers off Jade Dernbach was my shot of the day – purely for its timing and (lacklustre – but popped-eyes) execution.

India will be satisfied, whereas Stuart Broad will have to recognize (in case he hasn’t already) that his young artillery has to handle spin if they want to entertain any hopes of progressing to the later stages of this tournament. We managed to spot a couple of England fans outside the stadium after the game. They were happy to agree for a chat – the video will be uploaded shortly.

PS: You can see the video here


Shridhar Pandey

This piece of writing (on the squad selection for the upcoming home series against New Zealand and T20 World Cup) may be a little late in its arrival, but its better late than never.  A lot has already been said and written about the last assignment of the outgoing selection committee. But I believe everyone has their own way of looking at things and that is the fuel on which the entire business of sports critics runs.

Before I begin, let me pay due tribute to the career of arguably the most stylish Indian batsman of his generation, VVS Laxman. Another important pillar – that held together probably the most glorious period of Indian cricket – has finally called it a day. Speculations on his selection in the squad for the NZ series and he placing his individual aspirations before team’s interests have finally been put to rest. That he could have easily chosen to retire after playing the farewell test in his hometown Hyderabad and might have given himself a chance to reach the 9,000 runs milestone, has made him even a greater person in my eyes than ever before. It takes a man of great values to turn his back on such a tailor-made opportunity for a farewell match. VVS has always set examples for the coming generations to follow. Though numbers might not speak all about his talent and contributions, he will certainly be placed among the best to have played the game. His innings in the very famous Eden Test would always come up in discussions about the most stellar performances in the history of the game. The person replacing him in the squad would have big shoes to fill.

Popular? Spineless?

Coming back to the original agenda of selection of the squad for the NZ series and T20 World Cup, it disappointed more than surprising me. Not that I was expecting radical changes in the squad; BCCI selection committees have never been known for that.  But I sure was not expecting to see a couple of names that I can see and was expecting to see some that I cannot.

The biggest element of surprise was Piyush Chawla’s inclusion in both the squads. That would have been a surprise even if he would have possessed talent in the bowling department comparable to what Rohit Sharma has in batting, given his performance off lately. His return to the team after such dismal shows in recent future in all forms of cricket did not go down well with anyone (I won’t trouble myself with the statistics; those could be found at various other sources). What was the basis of that move is beyond the grasp of a mere mortal.

Piyush Chawla has been included at the cost of a more promising young leg spinner Rahul Sharma. He did not get enough opportunities to prove himself before being dropped. I fail to understand the rationale behind this move. If at all Rahul Sharma paid the price for the alleged doping charges, this is truly a sorry state of affairs.

Moving on to another selection – that of Harbhajan Singh in the T20 World Cup squad. None would doubt his talent. He has good numbers against his name to back that up. But his recent performance both is domestic and county circuit won’t testify for his inclusion. Given the fact that he is in the squad, he is almost certain to make it to the playing eleven – you don’t generally leave out such experienced players to warm your bench, at least not in India. Let us hope that he comes back to his lethal self that made him claim the top spot in Indian bowling in past.

Yuvraj Singh has been reinstated to the Indian team for T20 World Cup. Before I go on and say anything about his selection, let me congratulate him; for he is a real fighter. I think the selectors have hurried on to their decision in this case. He must have played a couple of games before being selected. But this could still be passed as a calculated risk because he might play in the T20 matches against NZ and be aware of his standing. If he is fit and does play in the World Cup, that would be a big boon for India; for we all know how devastating and impactful he can be.

Another decision that surprised me was of Ishant Sharma being picked for the test series. A lot has been said about the effort that he puts in and his commitment unlike Rohit Sharma’s. But the numbers don’t reflect likewise. Besides, he has not featured in a single game after his recovery from injury. Opportunities to play in the national team cannot be handed out like this – that too coming on back of not so impressive performances.

Similarly, Suresh Raina has been rewarded for his good showing in the limited overs game by giving him a test berth. He is a class act in any limited overs game, but has failed to prove himself one in the longer format. These are certainly not good indications to the youngsters waiting on the fringe for their chances.

Gambhir’s reinstatement as the vice-captain in place of Kohli could be termed nothing but a vague decision. If Gambhir has done reasonably well in this period, what did Kohli do wrong? Though I believe this might come as a blessing in disguise to Kohli who should just be left alone with his batting given the sublime touch he is in currently.

There are a few more names that I could go on and talk about. But before that lets wait for the new selection panel to join the office and see how they fare with all the responsibilities or maybe liabilities that the outgoing committee has left for them.

Prasad Moyarath


25 January 2011

India playing five one day internationals against South Africa in South Africa, just one month before the World Cup in India raised the eye brows of many Indian cricket aficionados. In the past, India could never do well against the hosts in the fast and bouncy pitches there. What will Indian players gain by playing matches on fast and bouncy pitches when the World Cup is going to be held in the flat batting tracks of the subcontinent? – This question puzzled many except those in BCCI. To the Indian surprise, all the matches were held on comparatively slow pitches and the Indians came out of the series winning 2 out of the 5 matches. Only the time will tell what the Indian team gained out of this series but a post mortem of this series reveals many interesting facts.

Sehwag, Praveen Kumar and Gambhir returned to India even before the start of the series with injuries. With Piyush Chawla, Ashwin and Rohit Sharma in the squad, the first two matches were looked upon by many as chances for the Indian selectors to try out these players before declaring the Indian team for the 2011 World Cup.

Team composition for the first two matches clearly proved that the selectors or the team management didn’t have any well thought out plans. Ashish Nehra looked completely out of sorts and Rohit Sharma sent in as replacement for Sehwag batted at No.4 and No.7 in the first two matches. Indians were beaten outright in the first match but won a thriller in the second despite Dhoni’s lackluster captaincy almost presenting a victory to South Africa. Even when it was very clear that India’s only winning option was to bowl out the South Africans, Dhoni kept persisting with part time bowlers and brought back Munaf only when the South Africans were very close to a victory. Luck was with Dhoni and India on that day.

Tendulkar returned to India with an injury and Parthiv Patel was sent in as a replacement. Indian team for the World Cup was announced and that seemed to confuse the team management more. Lack of a specialist opener forced the team management to thrust the role of an opener on the World Cup discard – Rohit Sharma and Dhoni didn’t have the gumption to use this contingency to test the disaster management skills of his team. He could have opened with Kohli and promoted himself to No.3. Though India won a thriller in the third one dayer through some hard hitting by Yusuf Pathan and presence of mind of tailenders, rain denied a century to Kohli and an outright win for South Africa (though they won by D/L Method) in the fourth one dayer.

Fifth one dayer showed the display of individual brilliance by Amla and Pathan. Cricket fans wondered what would have happened had Amla been caught by Ashwin at 70 and Duminy given out in the second ball he faced and rain not interrupted South African innings. Though South Africa won a thriller as shown by score card, apart from Pathan and Parthiv Patel to a small extent, none of the Indian batsmen took the fight to South African camp. Though the official Man of the Match was Amla, there was no doubt that the fifth one dayer would always remain etched in cricket lover’s memory for Yusuf Pathan’s innings.

India lost yet another one day series in South Africa but the fact that this team went down fighting even without 3 reputed players is a consolation. Indian team management and selectors never had a plan and was confused on the selection of players. They neither selected the team with an aim to win the series nor with an aim to give exposure to World Cup players. But with days to go for the 2011 World Cup, this series also exposed many weak links in the Indian side. Ashish Nehra’s lack of form and the inconsistency of Yuvraj, Raina and Dhoni are sure to create sleepless nights for the team management and selectors. Lack of a good fifth bowler was clearly visible from the way South Africa recovered several times after an initial collapse. A world class side should be able to overcome any eventuality and this Indian side’s inability to overcome the opening problem that surfaced due to the injury to openers will pose a question mark on the quality of team selection. Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay turned out to be complete failures and it got forgotten due to the fact that they were not included in the World Cup team. Kohli, Pathan, Zaheer, Munaf and Harbhajan did something of note.

A diffident captain, a brittle middle order and a bowling attack with inconsistency written on it, this Indian side has flooded the minds of Indian cricket aficionados with doubts. “The big learning from this game is to keep wickets in hand for the last ten overs” – the parting words of the Indian captain summed up the whole picture. Did Dhoni become Indian Captain without knowing the basics of the game?