August 22, 2010

Indian cricket

Who should bat at No. 7 for India?

Aakash Chopra
Ravindra Jadeja during a training session, ICC World Twenty20, St Lucia, April 30, 2010
Ravindra Jadeja's critics seem to be mixing his T20 failures with his showing in ODIs  © AFP
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"Who should be playing at No.7 for India?" The question qualifies to be the single-most popular point of debate looming large on everyone's mind. Cricket pundits, media, blogosphere and discussion forums are thinking aloud while the selectors are keeping a close eye on the contenders. Of course, one doesn't need rocket science to decode the answer. The player at No. 7 has to be an "allrounder" for it's too low for a pure batsman and too high for a bowler to bat. So who is an allrounder? No, he isn't a jack of all trades and master of none. Kallis, who could walk into any team purely as a batsman, and yet deliver with the ball, or Flintoff, who could be the spearhead of any bowling attack, and yet be able to flash his bat, are the ones who win the title hands down.

Let's go over the probables to see who fits the bill best. There has been a lot of debate to bring Irfan Pathan back into the mix. This debate has potential; the guy has shown enough talent and temperament to become a genuine allrounder. With his batting abilities, he could be your ideal No. 7 for he has both the sense to farm the strike and the guts to use the long handle to good effect.

Unfortunately, though, his bowling has put him off the radar. He seems to have lost a bit of pace and swing lately which means that he must bowl with the new ball and stay away from the death overs. But don't we already have Praveen Kumar with the same job profile?

The Indian team can't have both Praveen and Irfan in the playing XI for both of them can't be bowling in tandem with the new ball. More importantly, you can't expect your spinners to be bowling in the batting Powerplay and the death overs. Irfan may be a better batsman but only three quick bowlers can play in the XI which means Irfan must bowl his quota of 10 overs, which seems difficult in the sub-continent, or so the team management believes.

Since the World Cup is slated for the subcontinent, good thinking says, we would need a spinning allrounder rather than a fast-bowling one.

So now the toss-up is between Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja. Ideally the No. 7 batsman should be a big hitter who could hit sixes at ease and going by that criterion Yusuf fits the bill perfectly. And that's why the selectors put him on trial initially but his inability to hit consistently and more importantly his inability to bowl 7-8 overs on a regular basis cost him his place in the side.

Now the only available and promising option left for India is Jadeja. He may be the last choice but not necessarily a bad one. The only thing that goes against him is that he's a grafter and not a big hitter and you'd seldom wish for a grafter at No. 7. But he's bringing enough to the table to make up for that shortcoming. He is bowling his quota of 10 overs on a regular basis at a miserly economy of under five runs an over. He also chips in with a wicket or two to add value. And he's one of the best outfielders with extremely quick legs to cover the ground and a rocket-like throw even from the deep. Though he hasn't set the world alight with the bat, he still averages in the mid-30s in ODIs which isn't poor; keeping in mind that No. 7 is the toughest spot to bat in an ODI. His critics seem to be mixing his T20 failures with his showing in ODIs which is not fair on the guy.

I, and presumably the Indian team too, would go with Jadeja for the World Cup. Once they have identified Jadeja as their ideal No. 7, it's only just to persist with him especially when he's doing his job just fine.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Anonymous on (October 24, 2010, 14:06 GMT)

Irfan has been suffering from back injury and is advised rest for at least a month to recover quickly. With Ranji season scheduled to start next month, Irfan will certainly be eyeing a quick recovery. He had to miss the first two Ranji matches last season owing to knee injury. After IPL 2010, he gave a miss to all the domestic tournaments as he was undergoing treatment for his injuries.

so hope fully he will get a shot soon before the WC begins. A Pathan at full go is badly missed in the team.

Posted by Rahul Sinha on (October 16, 2010, 17:03 GMT)

I think every team should support their talented players who are natural match winners.

The 2 natural match winners for India are the Pathan brothers.

BCCI and srikant should concentrate on Pathan brothers and try to help them on their weak areas.Their is no reason why Irfan can't bawl faster and yusuf cant play short balls.

How many times have they changed the course of a match single handed.

I am so surprized and amused that they are being ignored and the medioker people selected and given chance again and again.

There is still time otherwise we might loose a tight crucial world cup game. It will be a shame, as it might well be the last world cup for Sachin.

Posted by Mohan on (October 5, 2010, 13:57 GMT)

I think R. Ashwin would be the best at that position.

Posted by jimmy on (September 19, 2010, 5:35 GMT)

Number 7 batting always in pressure situation ,i agree with mr akash ,Jadeja already proved the he is good fielder and blower,for batting he should be given chance to bat at top order and to increase his confidence.it already known that raina .rohit cant play fast short ball,dravid far better than them,we need dravid to atable the inings when quick wicket falls ,badri should be in team ahead of raina and rohit.

Posted by Robbie on (September 14, 2010, 13:12 GMT)

I hate to see DK and RJ in television. India is palying with DK and RJ as if we dont have any other potential players in India. These guys can play only street cricket. Even in my town, we dont include these kind of palyers to play for my team. 7th position is a crucial one when it comes for batting. If the top and middle order fails, the allrounder should have the capability to win matches with his batting ability rather than his bowling. As a whole, the allrounder should be a batting allrounder according to indian cricket style. We dont have a world class bowling attack. Our strength is our batting and we need to strengthen our batting further by adding an batting allrounder. Moreover, even if we play with 6 specialised bowlers, we will allow the opponent to score 300+ on a 270 track. So India would benefit only if we play with a batting allrounder or with a specialised batsman. The better choices are Robin, Irfan and Yousuf.

Posted by Robbie on (September 14, 2010, 7:28 GMT)

I totally disagree with Aakash. I dono why indian selecters giving these many chances for Jadeja and Karthik. Also these lads will get praises from Dhoni if they made even a small contribution on a winning match. In fact, they are good for nothing. The best option for world cup is Yousuf Pathan. Otherwise we can go with 7+4 option by including Robin in the playing XI.

Posted by Prashant Mohan on (September 13, 2010, 14:26 GMT)

I don't totally agree with you there Aakash. I'd rather play a Robin Utthappa at number 7. He is a big hitter of the ball, and probably the ideal finisher we are looking for, along with Suresh Raina at no. 6. As far as the fifth bowler is concerned, we can use Sehwag, Yuvraj and Raina to fill up. Yuvi has consistently bowled 6-7 overs in ODI's, Sehwag is a smart bowler, and so is Raina(I don't know why he doesnt bowl these days). This way, even if the top order collapses and we lose 3-4 wickets early on, we have Dhoni, Raina and Utthappa at 5,6,7 which is a potent attack, with Bhajji and Praveen providing some lusty blows towards the end too.

Posted by RANJAN KUMAR on (September 10, 2010, 11:37 GMT)

At present for this slot,Irfan is the Best choice.

Posted by Parit on (September 8, 2010, 19:52 GMT)

I agree with Akash in favour of Jadeja. Firstly, yes, we have to have a spinner at number 7 spot. Secondly, Kohli/Rohit wont fit the bill there. Kohli, obviously for his bowling and Rohit because you cannot expect him to consistently ball 10 overs. You can mix it with Raina and Yuvi but that wont sustain the entire world cup campaign. Jadeja has been belted but we should look where all he was belted and how often did that happen on Indian pitches. Jadeja has got really nice ability to choke things for the opposition which Rohit cannot match. As someone said above, if your top six cannot do it then why to expect so much from number 7? I think best in this regard would be to send jadeja at the right spot for batting. As said he is more of a grafter, then send him up before Dhoni. Another quite neglected option is to consider Ashwin. Start with Praveen and Ashwin... then choke the middle with Nehra and Khan...

Posted by Rajesh on (September 5, 2010, 20:16 GMT)

Sachin Sehwag Gambhir Yuvraj Dhoni Raina Irfan Harbhajan Zaheer Praveen Nehra

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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