October 17, 2001

Getting young guns to fire

I had written, in my last column, that the youngsters would decide the fortunes of the Indians in the triangular series

I had written, in my last column, that the youngsters would decide the fortunes of the Indians in the triangular series. The main reason for this is that the youngsters have pivotal roles to play, especially in the batting department. Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag have been in the team for a while now and have played some good knocks in the recent past. They will have to carry on the good work in the forthcoming games as well, if the team is to triumph.


They have to remain positive and plan their game according to the situations and conditions in South Africa. If they end up doing exactly that, they would do themselves and the nation proud.
Yuvraj Singh
© CricInfo
Yuvraj Singh almost faded away after that much-hyped knock on his debut against the Australians at Nairobi. He was given a fair run after that, but repeated failures forced the selectors to discard him after Sharjah. He was accused of losing his head to his instant success in international cricket; but then again, critics are quick to pounce on cricketers going through a bad patch. Yuvraj Singh did mention that he lacked guidance, which is the case with many youngsters. Now that he is back in the fold and has put up some runs against South Africa, his confidence would have received a much-required fillip.

Yuvraj occupies a very crucial position in the batting order and will constantly find himself in situations where he has to deliver. It is the same for Sehwag as well, and it is very essential that these two toughen up mentally. Sehwag has not had a roller coaster ride like Yuvraj, but this series will prove to be a major turning point in his career.

Playing shots is both Yuvraj's and Sehwag's forte, and one hopes that they are not asked to curb their natural game for any reason whatsoever. Both have very good hand-eye co-ordination, which will help them when the ball comes on to the bat. Of course, coach John Wright should provide his inputs, but the youngsters would do well to think for themselves. One advantage that Sehwag and Yuvraj have is the extra bounce in the pitches that will help in playing over the top. They will have to put in some work into improving their cut and pull shots, which fetch a lot of runs at this level.

Harbhajan
© CricInfo
Harbhajan Singh and Deep Das Gupta are the other two youngsters who have to perform at their best. Harbhajan is more experienced than Gupta, but he would like to reaffirm his stature in international cricket with some good displays. He will have the added advantage of bowling on relatively bigger grounds in South Africa. He has started off well in the tri-series, but quite obviously the South Africans will try different tactics against him the next time around. This is where the confidence and the maturity of Harbhajan will be tested. The "Turbanator" does not lack confidence, but it will be interesting to see how well he controls his flight if and when the batsmen go after him.

Deep Das Gupta is one player who has got the breaks within a very short period of time. He has done well behind the stumps even though he has not really been tested as yet. He is a very capable batsman, going by his scores in the domestic season.

Most importantly, the youngsters have the confidence of their skipper, Saurav Ganguly. Barring Harbhajan Singh, there is no pressure on the others to keep reputations intact. Thus there will be little fear of failure lurking at the back of their minds, making it easier for them to get on with the game. They have to remain positive and plan their game according to the situations and conditions in South Africa. If they end up doing exactly that, they would do themselves and the nation proud.