Indian team undergoes major revamp before England tour

Anand Vasu

November 28, 2001

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Tinu Yohannan
Tinu Yohannan
© CricInfo
When the going gets tough, the tough are supposed to get going. In South Africa, where things were tough for the Indian team, the medium-pacers failed to get going in conditions that assisted their trade. In response, the national selectors have sent the whole lot of mediumpacers packing, while announcing the squad for the first Test against England. While Venkatesh Prasad and Javagal Srinath were spared the ignominy of being dropped since they were already injured, the trio of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Ajit Agarkar were axed. Taking their places are the uncapped, unsung yet talented Tinu Yohannan, Iqbal Siddiqui and Sanjay Bangar.

"The performance of the medium-pacers in South Africa was not satisfactory," said Chandu Borde, chairman of selectors, in explaining why the committee had opted for such drastic changes in the medium-pace department. "We though this was the right time to give these guys (Yohannan, Siddiqui, Bangar) a break," he added.

When asked about the inexperience of these cricketers, Borde countered, "We can't always go by the number of wickets someone takes. We feel these boys have talent and deserve a chance."

Siddiqui, who made his first-class debut way back in 1992, has a fairly undistinguished first-class record, claiming 236 wickets in 69 matches at an average of 30.58. A well-built, energetic sort of character, Siddiqui has been in and out of the reckoning without ever making the grade until now.

Yohannan is the greenhorn of the lot, with just eight first-class matches to his credit. However, his ability to generate a bit of extra pace and slip in a well-aimed yorker make him a tough customer to handle.

Sanjay Bangar
Sanjay Bangar
© CricInfo
Railways all-rounder Bangar is perhaps the most deserving of the three new faces in the side. Having bowled his heart out on Indian tracks for 84 first-class wickets at an average of 37.80 , Bangar also makes a more than useful contribution with the bat. Opening the innings in the longer version of the game, Bangar's 3,112 runs include 5 tons and has come at an average of 35.77. His ability to move the ball both ways while still maintaining a good line and length makes him a very useful player to have in any condition.

The rest of the Indian team retains itself. Connor Williams, by virtue of his showing in the unofficial 'Test' against South Africa clings on to his spot as Shiv Sunder Das' opening partner. The middle-order which boasts some of the brightest talents in the game - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly - escapes all manner of selectoral censure. Deep Dasgupta will continue to don the gloves.

Sarandeep Singh
Sarandeep Singh
© CricInfo
The most interesting thing to note in the forthcoming tour however would be the composition of India's spin attack. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble will do the bulk of the bowling, with Sarandeep Singh waiting on the sidelines to be called up if needed. Virender Sehwag, who is unlikely to play given the recent controversy over his suspension, completes the fourteen.

The press conference announcing the team was marred by needless controversy as the British journalists badgered both Borde and Niranjan Shah, BCCI secretary about the selection of Sehwag in the fourteen. However Borde pointed out that the job of the selectors was to pick the side purely on cricketing merit and nothing else. It will now be left to the BCCI top management to decide the final XI that will be take the field on next Monday.

India's 14 for first Test:

Sourav Ganguly (capt), Rahul Dravid, Shiv Sundar Das, Connor Williams, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Deep Dasgupta, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Sarandeep Singh, Sanjay Bangar, Iqbal Siddiqui, Tinu Yohannan.

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