It has been a while since my previous post. I have been watching CLT20 and enjoying pressure-free cricket even though at this stage, it looks like Mumbai is the only IPL team that will probably go through to the semi-finals. Chennai have lost 2 matches from winning positions and KKR looked a bit flat in the first 2 games. RCB hit decent scores while batting, but gave it away with ordinary bowling in both matches before winning today's game by a big margin after another fantastic batting performance from Chris Gayle, followed by disciplined bowling for once.
I also saw the Indian team selected for the first 2 ODIs against England. And the first thought that struck me was one of extreme happiness at the dropping of Harbhajan. Mind you, he was not rested or injured, he was DROPPED and that, to me, is pretty significant. Another selection that made me happy was the inclusion of Rahul Sharma in Harbhajan's place. This tells me that this selection committee is having their thinking caps on and are willing to make some tough calls if necessary. Rahul Sharma deserves his place in the Indian team IMO and it is good that his IPL performances are being rewarded before it fades away from memory completely and he too loses the confidence that he obviously would have gained from it. I like the look of this Indian spin attack - 2 very tall spinners (Ashwin and Rahul Sharma) who use their head while bowling and look to take wickets as well as contain in shorter formats.
Now lets talk about some not-so-good selections. For an ODI series in India, they have gone in with just 5 proper batsmen, but have picked 5 medium pacers !! What kind of thinking is that ? Is Dhoni looking to blast out the England batsmen with his pacers in Indian pitches ? That was a huge blunder, in my opinion, to pick 5 pacers. I agree that Varun Aaron deserved another chance and I can even agree with Umesh Yadav's selection, provided he is going to bowl fast when he gets a chance. But they could easily have selected one more batsman instead of one more pacer. Like someone mentioned in the comments of my previous post, I dont see the reasoning behind the selection of both Vinay Kumar and S Aravind. If it was felt that Aravind deserved a chance after showing good improvement in IPL, then VK should have been dropped. VK got his chances in England and did not quite set the Thames on fire with his performances there. He is a useful bowler, good to have around, but he can be easily replaced if we need to try new talent, particularly on Indian pitches. And going with just 5 proper batsmen is risky because if one of them gets injured, which appears very likely these days, we could be thin in batting.
Looking at the Indian batting lineup for the first 2 matches, I dont see us getting 300-plus even if pitches favor batting. Guys like Parthiv are good for cameos, Ajinkya is still new and relatively untested, and Gambhir is returning from injury while Virat and Raina have not been in the best of touches recently even in CLT20. This lineup does not give me the confidence that, say, a lineup like Sachin, Veeru, Gauti, Virat, Yuvraj, Dhoni. That was a line-up that you could look at and say, if conditions are good for batting, we will easily score 300 and possibly much more. Anyway, they have picked from the ones we have available, so no complaints there, other than one more batsman for a pacer.
Once again, Irfan Pathan was ignored and that is sad. In my opinion, he is a much better cricketer than some of the guys that have been tried since he was out of the team. We seem to be looking at Irfan as our complete all-rounder, which is wrong. Irfan should be used like a batting all-rounder in my opinion. Dangerous floater in the line-up, capable of batting anywhere and hitting quick runs or buckling down depending on the situation, and being available for 4-5 overs with the ball. He can be given the new ball, or used for a few overs in the middle, particularly when India bowls under lights, since he may be able to get some swing even with a slightly older ball under lights. There are many options available with Irfan, and to me, that is a good thing to have for a captain - the fact that he can use a particular player in more ways than one. Irfan has been selected in one of the teams for the Challenger Trophy, so lets hope he can make use of that opportunity and get the selectors thinking about him again.
I think the ODI matches against England will be good and I hope the Indian players are still feeling bad about their performance in England, even though their minds would have been cooled somewhat by the CLT20 tamasha. But for India to do well against England, they need to be smarting from their England tour performances, only then we will see passion in the middle and some good, solid performances.
Lets continue our discussion with your comments. Do you guys agree with the selections made for the ODI series, or do you have other choices that you would like to see in the Indian team ? What performances in the CLT20 did you enjoy ? Lets hear it from you.
My next post will probably be after the Challenger trophy matches, which I hope to follow at least partly on TV, if it is shown, but I will definitely follow the scores on the internet and note the good performances. Stay tuned.