Posts Tagged ‘Rahul Sharma’

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

Indian juggernaut rolls on. India’s dream run at home continues. Sports journalists showered words of praise on the Indian cricket team for their recent one day international series victories over England and West Indies in India. They have forgotten the Indian team’s pathetic show in England recently. With a tri-nation series in Australia approaching, what purpose these home matches have served for Indian cricket is a matter to ponder for cricket aficionados.

Injuries combined with the overdose of cricket compelled the BCCI to rest many senior stars for these home ODIs. But this also dished out a golden opportunity to the Indian selectors to groom new replacements for the current stars. But to everyone’s dismay, the BCCI and its selectors have proved once again that they are least interested in the future. What have they done wrong? The answer to this question, though lengthy, will be easier than finding an answer for what they have done right.

BCCI could have used the home season as an opportunity to build on a younger opening pair in Rahane and Patel

Circumstances forced the Indian team management to find a new opening pair of Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane in England. They did considerably well in the trying circumstances in England. It is more difficult to groom a new opening pair than a new player. Knowing this well, the Indian selectors could have continued with them for the ten ODIs in India. Even though both these players were part of the team, the selectors never seemed to imagine about such a possibility. This pair was never given a continued run and both these players were on trial thereby spoiling their confidence. Were the selectors expecting 38 year old Tendulkar and 33 year old Sehwag to continue as openers for a long time? With Gambhir being injury prone and a one dimensional player, it is time the selectors start looking for a new opening pair. The selectors and the team management should have guided Parthiv and Ajinkya and molded them as a reliable opening pair.

Number three or one down is a very crucial batting slot in any form of the game and India is yet to find a good replacement for Dravid for this position. Virat Kohli has relished this position and has done well in the recent past. The Indian selectors and the team management could have instilled confidence in him to take over this responsible role.

Lack of a fast bowling all-rounder has been haunting the Indian side ever since the retirement of Kapil Dev. Apart from Irfan Pathan, the Indian selectors have not unearthed any other options so far. But India seems to have discovered a spin bowling all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja. He is a compact batsman and should be sent ahead of Raina in the batting order. Ashwin and Vinay Kumar also seem to have batting abilities and the ODI series at home could have been used to unearth their batting talents. Rahul Sharma was given a chance only at the end of the West Indian series and so was Manoj Tiwari. If they were not needed for these matches, instead of sitting in the dressing room, the BCCI could have released them to play Ranji Trophy matches for their state.

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aoron demonstrated the importance of pace in international cricket and the selectors still seem unwilling to shed their old habits. They have gone back to Mithun and Vinay kumar who lack pace. T P Sudhindra of Madhya Pradesh, Shami Ahamed and Ashok Dinda of Bengal should have got a look-in in these inconsequential ODIs. Going by the current form, Abhishek Nayar also should have got a recall as a seam bowling all-rounder.

The stand in captain Sehwag was not good enough and openly criticized the top order for their failure thereby putting pressure on the top order. But he still continued to play some irresponsible shots. India need to look beyond Dhoni as captain and the selectors wasted a golden opportunity to groom Virat Kohli for the future.

The BCCI should stop treating ODIs at home as sources of revenue. Each series should be planned with future in mind. For example, a series in Australia should not be preceded by a series at home. The selectors should have confidence in their abilities and should not drop a player based on public opinion. The case of Ravindra Jadeja clearly proves how the public opinion can go wrong.

Can we expect any planning for the future from the BCCI who is unwilling to listen to Anil Kumble’s plan for NCA? If Kumble is giving up, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan, The Couch Expert

October 13, 2011

Note: This is not so much an article as it is a random rambling. This is a collection of thoughts observed and gathered during conversations with strangers, but cricket lovers, during a few weeks of cricket activity that I couldn’t quite follow due to various reasons. This may lack flow, grammar, and in some cases may even defy common/cricketing sense – but are we ever worried about all this when we’re just … rambling.

A remarkable thing happened in Jaipur recently: Shikar Dhawan became the first batsman in the history of the Irani Trophy to score a century in each innings. And yes, as I write this, the Indian cricketing fraternity is approaching the final of the Challenger Trophy that features another hero from the recently concluded Irani Trophy game.

And we’re also one day away from the start of the 1st ODI featuring England and India, again. This time, the arena is a lot more humid and the wicket, a lot drier.

It is not surprising to see the buzz of activity in the cricketing setup within India – the blitzkrieg happenings of CLT20, the patient mauling of the Ranji Champions Rajasthan in the Irani Trophy, the ongoing ‘where-did-that-come-from’ Challenger Trophy series and at last, some International Cricket taking stage featuring two teams that played each other, well, not too long ago.

Too much to register right? And yes, I was speaking about Abhinav Mukund towards the end of the first paragraph. He looks in good touch – with a century in both the second innings of the Irani Trophy and the first List ‘A’ game of the Challenger Trophy. He followed it up with another impressive half century to take his team, India Red, through to the finals.

Mukund and Dhawan have looked in fine touch, with the former carrying his form on to the Challenger Trophy

And so did Uthappa and Aniruddha Srikkanth, with centuries apiece to take India Green to the finals. So what do I infer from this? Well, only that none of these guys are part of the Indian ODI team that is going to face England tomorrow in Hyderabad.

But then who are the new guys in the squad to face England? S Aravind, of Bangalore Royal Challengers. And by the way, he represents Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy – he finished behind Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun, also Karanataka players with Indian caps against their names, in the wickets tally last season.

But wait, wasn’t he the same guy who’d conceded in excess of 60 odd runs against the pyrotechnics of David Warner? Yes, he was. But the squad was picked by then – and still, I’ll give him more credit for his Ranji exploits than the ones with BRC. So, good luck to him – and Rahul Sharma, someone in whom I see a lot of promise and ability.

Which Ranji team does he play for? Let me be honest. I had to cross-check with Cricinfo to put it in here that he plays for Punjab. But I did see him in the Irani Trophy game – he was good, although Ojha’s figures would have overshadowed his performance that game.  

Will Rahul Sharma get a game? Or will he do a Varun Aaron

But what about that guy who bowls in excess of 150, and never ended up bowling in England even though he took that long flight to Heathrow from somewhere in Australia? Varun Aaron is in the squad – although I’m not too sure he’ll play. They’ve got Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav. I saw all these guys during the Irani Trophy. And Parthiv Patel too – he’d received the trophy once ROI won the game.

So where does one lay his focus with so much happening within a very short span of time? If you’re looking at through the eyes of the selector, maybe it isn’t as complicated as we think it is.

Players who’ve done well in the T20 setup find their way into the Indian squad with relative ease these days, a trait that you would have hardly imagined if you’d been following the game for over a decade now. It makes it all the more easier to sympathize with those names that have toiled their trade, very successfully, in the domestic circuit for years and years, and were quite unable to fulfill their dreams of sporting Indian colors due to reasons aplenty.

The challenge has not really come from the commercialization of the sport alone, but in the form of entertainment value, in which cricketers are chartered by unorthodoxy to create their own techniques, according to public vision. And you can bet that these visions do not include the skill sets that come via long periods of concentration, temperament and playing the style to suit “the team’s needs” – based on every individual’s strengths and weaknesses.   

Having said that, the Irani Trophy heroes – Dhawan, Rahane, Mukund and Ojha – have all had their share and taste of international cricket, nascent as it may have been in the case of the first three. Had their IPL teams qualified for the CLT20, these names, with the exception of Mukund, would have been missing from the ROI squad that stepped up to face the Ranji Champions Rajasthan in Jaipur last week.

So, what we’re concluding is that the team that is lining up against England tomorrow will consist of players who’ve completed playing two contrasting formats of the game, some coming from injuries and a few after inaction. So, if England end up winning tomorrow, some of the key facts for the post mortem are have already been scripted for use.

But why start with a tone of pessimism? The Indian U-19 team did emerge victorious recently, somewhere in Andhra! Now what was all that about?

 Harmeet Mehta

 15 August, 2011


Whether India wins or not, the last test at the Oval starting 18th August, one thing is certain, perhaps, that Sachin

It's time technically superior Rohit Sharma is preferred over Suresh Raina

Tendulkar will get his 100th hundred. India, apart from the Oval test, play ten one day internationals against England (5 in India after the current 5-match ODI series) before embarking upon their toughest tour to Australia in December. It would not have been so tough had they not lost the Pataudi Trophy in the fashion they did. If India does end up winning (or drawing) the last match, it would surprise even the India dressing room & selectors. They (the selectors) have had this coming onto them, especially after doing selection blunders like selecting the IPL star hitter Suresh Raina over better technically equipped players like Rohit Sharma. There is lot of retrospection that Indian selectors need to do in the next month or so, as star Indian batsmen from the current series should not be preferred for the Australia tour. If they want India to redeem their lost respect and hold on to the second (or perhaps third) ranking after the England series, they might just start getting their facts right about the team they form for Australia tour. Let’s look at some of them:

Look beyond Zaheer Khan

Zaheer is past the age where he could bowl thirty-forty overs in an innings and looking at the kind of attack we have now new untested ‘young’ bowlers will be as effective in Australia as Sreesanth and Ishant. With an exception of Praveen Kumar, none of the bowlers from current team should get a chance for Australian tour. Build a team for future and let Sree and Ishant build their career around T20.

Look beyond Sehwag

This is the most dreadful thought as Sehwag has single-handedly won a number of matches for India. But, seeing the trend in last couple of years, Sehwag has not been able to play immediately after IPL due to injuries. Why does he have to play IPL when he knows his body can’t cope up with so much of cricket. It’s definitely money over country’s pride. He must learn from English players and retire from either Tests or IPL (unless India does not have any test series after the premier league).

Sachin, Laxman & Dravid’s replacement 

Rahul Sharma might be given a go in place of Harbhajan Singh

When Rohit Sharma started to play, I could see Sachin of nineties in him. His technique and determination was better than many of his age. With time, IPL and selectors indifference, his true talent has not been tapped into. He has a Test future, if only Dhoni looks beyond his Chennai teammate Suresh Raina. Rohit Sharma, of the younger lot, is the best player of short ball and should be preferred for Test matches in England and Australia. He will be the perfect replacement for Sachin, when Sachin retires, but he needs grooming under the guidance of Dravid and Tendulkar. He deserves a chance.

Drop Harbhajan from Australia series

Why is Harbhajan singh a permanent name in Dhoni’s scheme of things? Especially in the overseas tours? I don’t remember when he last dominated a Test match. I would give Rahul Sharma a chance over Harbhajan or Mishra for Australian tour.

These and many more things selectors will have to look into before they can even think about the Boxing Day test where Australia will try to prove a point. After all they dominated test cricket rankings, since the ranking system was established, for 74 months by beating almost every team in their as well as the opponents’ backyards. India dominated for 20 months without winning comprehensively in overseas series. India’s dominance of 20 months is more to do with Australia’s down slide than India’s own game.