India v Australia, 2nd ODI, Kochi

Rain could ruin rotation policy

India have 11 more matches to test out their bench strength but just how far will they go?

Jamie Alter in Kochi

October 1, 2007

Text size: A | A



Would it be wise to throw Robin Uthappa in the deep end against Australia or just let him warm the bench? © Bipin Patel
Enlarge

The threat of rain over Kochi, after the series opener was washed out, means India could lose another opportunity to test their one-day bench strength. There are eleven more ODIs before a tough tour of Australia - eleven games for India to effect the rotation policy they've spoken of.

The need for rotation is felt most in batting, where a huge void will form once Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly retire - and that could happen sooner rather than later. Waiting in the wings are the likes of Rohit Sharma and Robin Uthappa, who stand to gain much from being in the field or batting with Tendulkar and Dravid.

Sharma was a star in the ICC World Twenty20; his match-winning unbeaten 50 against South Africa helped India qualify for the semi-finals and he followed it up with a crucial 16-ball 30 in the victory over Pakistan in the final. The question now is, do you play him against Australia, throwing him into the deep end based on a few positive splashes, or do you let him warm the bench?

If India want to build, they will do the former - though it must be mentioned here that Sharma's inclusion in the squad came about only as a replacement for Piyush Chawla. He looks close to being the complete package, though, in terms of temperament, shots and adaptability. Through his first-class career, his performance at the No. 3 position in the Under-19 World Cup last year and in the few Twenty20s he's played, Sharma showed he can accumulate and hit, depending on the situation.

India don't need Zaheer for every game, given that he has a key role to play in the Tests against Pakistan and Australia. Why not try out Joginder Sharma, Ishant Sharma or VRV Singh? This is, after all, the Future Cup

Then there's Uthappa, whose effortless 41-ball 70 against West Indies in January, a nerveless unbeaten 47 from 33 at The Oval this summer and 50 against Pakistan in South Africa last month have, for the time being, earned him a place in the one-day team.

Among the bowlers, rotation makes sense for a different reason. The bowlers failed to go for the kill in Bangalore on Saturday after taking four early wickets and India found they had no answer to Michael Clarke's brilliance. As he and Brad Haddin flourished under pressure India's bowlers lost their line - RP Singh sprayed far too much down the leg side and Ramesh Powar served up lots of full tosses - and the fielding suddenly looked ragged. There were far too many wides, even from Sreesanth, who picked up three wickets in his seven-over opening spell.

India's attack featured three left-arm pace bowlers, a rarity on subcontinent pitches. The logic of including three lefties can pay off if they all offer something different but there was little to choose between Zaheer Khan, Singh and Irfan Pathan. They all operated at about the same pace - Pathan jacked it up from the low 120 kph to 140 - and neither was threatening enough to bounce out the Australian batsmen. The bowling could not sustain itself over a longer period. India still appeared in Twenty20 mode: for the first 20 overs they dominated, but in the remaining 30 they struggled.

India don't need Zaheer for every game, given that he has a key role to play in the Tests against Pakistan and Australia. Why not try out Joginder Sharma, Ishant Sharma or VRV Singh? This is, after all, the Future Cup.

After those three Tests Down Under India have the tri-nation CB Series, also featuring the hosts and Sri Lanka, and proposed series against South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. That's a lot of cricket, but India only got the chance to play youngsters in the World Twenty20 because Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly opted out. India need to ensure those youngsters are given a chance in those three scheduled contests next year.

Jamie Alter is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Jamie Alter

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Jamie AlterClose
Jamie Alter Senior sub-editor While teachers in high school droned on about Fukuyama and communism, young Jamie's mind tended to wander to Old Trafford and the MCG. Subsequently, having spent six years in the States - studying Political Science, then working for an insurance company - and having failed miserably at winning any cricket converts, he moved back to India. No such problem in Bangalore, where he can endlessly pontificate on a chinaman who turned it around with a flipper, and why Ricky Ponting is such a good hooker. These days he divides his time between playing office cricket and constant replenishments at one of the city's many pubs.
Related Links

    'Haven't seen anyone play as straight as Sachin'

My XI: Martin Crowe on Tendulkar's finely calibrated footwork

    The importance of being insatiable

Rob Steen: Careers tend to blossom or fizzle out depending on a sportsman's craving for success

    In the ring with Adam Hollioake

On the Road: Arya Yuyutsu picks a fight with the former England cricket captain turned pro-boxer. Because he's that daft

    The two faces of James Anderson

Sidharth Monga: Why does the man who is possibly England's greatest fast bowler occasionally turn into Mr Hyde on the field?

Performance and result analysis of Test teams

Anantha Narayanan: A look at Test teams across the years, measuring the peaks of each team

News | Features Last 7 days

How bad must a defeat be to be unacceptable?

A gutting loss to England, after leading the series 1-0, has thrown up some glaring inadequacies in the Indian team but there is little being said or done in terms of improvement

Role model Moeen setting high standard

His rapid improvement with the ball has been integral to England coming from behind to lead the series - but that is just one area where Moeen Ali continues to impress

'We watched cricket, we talked cricket'

On the eve of Mahela Jayawardene's final Test, his team-mate, best friend and fellow batting superstar Kumar Sangakkara speaks about what made him, and them, tick

Time to liberate MS Dhoni

After 8-0, MS Dhoni could look forward to building a team from scratch; now, there is nothing left for him to contribute. Free him from the Test captaincy and he could yet give back in other ways

Dhoni's control test

For all MS Dhoni's many trophies and accomplishments, Test cricket continues to resist his magic and indefinitely postpone his motorbike ride into the sunset

News | Features Last 7 days

    How bad must a defeat be to be unacceptable? (133)

    A gutting loss to England, after leading the series 1-0, has thrown up some glaring inadequacies in the Indian team but there is little being said or done in terms of improvement

    Time to liberate MS Dhoni (112)

    After 8-0, MS Dhoni could look forward to building a team from scratch; now, there is nothing left for him to contribute. Free him from the Test captaincy and he could yet give back in other ways

    Should Dhoni focus on one-day cricket? (78)

    His decisions in the England series have seemed to confirm that he does not care too much for the Test game. Maybe he should be concentrating on the World Cup

    Dhoni's control test (73)

    For all MS Dhoni's many trophies and accomplishments, Test cricket continues to resist his magic and indefinitely postpone his motorbike ride into the sunset

    One-day barrier to Indian Test progress (56)

    With too great an emphasis on limited-overs cricket, MS Dhoni's side have a set of skills and a level of concentration that are not commensurate with the necessities of Tests