So India wrapped up the test series against the WI 2-0 instead of 3-0, though they came very close to achieving a whitewash. The last day of the Mumbai test was great to watch and I stayed up till 3:30 am when the match ended and could not take my eyes off the TV. The spinners bowled really well on a pitch that suddenly turned very helpful, to give India a real chance of a whitewash. Unfortunately, Sehwag got out at the wrong time for India. In fact, through this series, I have noticed that both Viru and Gautam have given away their wickets after getting set. This is unusual from both of them, especially in tests when they are known to get huge scores and bat very long once they get set. I hope this is an aberration, rather than the upcoming trend for both, as we need them to bat long and score big in Australia because if they do, they setup the game very nicely for India with the pace at which they score.
It was nice to see Virat Kohli get fifties in both innings. This will help his confidence enormously and if he gets some runs in the ODI series, he will have sealed the number 6 slot for at least the first Australia test match. The biggest gains for India from this test series were the bowlers. Ishant showed that he can bowl tight lines and maintain pressure on the batsmen for extended periods of time. The 2 newcomers - Yadav and Aaron - showed lot of promise with their pace and ability to pick wickets out of the blue and turn the match in India's favor when things are drifting away. With their pace and ability to bowl full and straight, they will also be useful in knocking over the tail, which has been a problem for India in the past. But the biggest gain for India came in the spin department. Ojha got 20 wickets and Ashwin got 22 wickets in this series. These are very good numbers and lets not forget that these wickets came in not-too-helpful conditions, especially in the first 2 tests. Only in Mumbai they got some bounce and on the fifth day, extravagant turn as well. So that is great for India and augues well for the future. I have long felt that Harbhajan has taken his place for granted. He has not bowled consistently well for a long time now, but since he made those 2 centuries against NZ, it had become even more difficult to drop him. Now he has not been selected for the Australia tour as well, and that I am sure, must have hurt. I hope he takes this disappointment in the right manner and goes back to the drawing board and works out how to take wickets.
Coming to the ODI series against WI, it was great to see that Dhoni and Sachin were rested. Dhoni needs to be fresh for the Australia tour and it is good that they have started to manage Sachin's workload as well. It might have been tempting to play Sachin in the ODIs since it would have been almost a certainty that he would have scored his hundredth century if he had played. But he too needs to be fresh for the Aussie tour. I am looking forward to seeing Viru's captaincy after a long time. Viru is a very aggressive captain and it will be nice to see how his style differs from Dhoni's.
I would like to see Rahul Sharma given a debut in this ODI series. He has been in the dressing room for a long time now and though I did not think he merited a place in the test squad, he definitely deserves a chance in the ODI setup and I hope he gets a chance to display his skills. Rohit is another batsman I am looking out for. Like Virat, Rohit is also amazingly talented and when on song, his batting is wonderful to watch. The middle-order will have a newish look to it with both Yuvraj and Dhoni missing. This means that both Raina and Rohit can play, along with Jadeja. The fielding should be very good, with most of the players being in the 23-24 age group. Lets hope we can achieve a whitewash in the ODI series.
Looking ahead to Australia, I think this is a very good squad. It is nice to see that the selectors have not forgotten the performances of Praveen Kumar in England and have rewarded him for that. Also, they have given a chance to both Aaron and Yadav instead of selecting one of the two, which is also good to see. In the batting, the only weak spots are numbers 6 and 7. Virat/Rohit will be severely tested in Australia and I hope they prove themselves worthy of playing test cricket because if they prove themselves in this series, their future will be pretty much secured with the big three set to retire in the next year or so thereby opening up more slots in the middle order. Fingers crossed regarding Zaheer and I hope he shows good fitness and form in the 2 Ranji matches he is slated to play before the Australia tour. I have only one complaint against this squad. I think they should have seen Pujara play in the Ranji match that starts on 29th, and then chosen the squad. He should have been given a fair chance to prove his fitness and form before the team to Australia was announced. Anyway, if he does well in the Ranji games, he may still get a chance to go if someone gets injured.
Lets hear it from you guys. I am not seeing comments from any one for the last few posts. I hope you all are reading my posts. There is a lot to look forward to in the next few months and Indian cricket seems to be headed in the right direction with all the newcomers doing well and it looks like we have put the England tour debacle firmly behind us.
My next post will be after the first 2 ODIs against WI, so please stay tuned.