January 15, 2010

Batting riches in India's bank

The likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey and Cheteshwar Pujara make India's future look bright

Eventually the conditions triumphed in Dhaka, and while that cannot be good for cricket, one must add a little footnote about the teams that failed to overcome them and lost an opportunity to showcase their pedigree. When a team ranked second on the ICC rankings cannot put up much up of a fight against a team ranked seventh, it either means that cricket is in good health or that teams are incapable of mastering conditions to win. On that count, India should be disappointed with their performance in the last couple of weeks. Teams with ambition flex their muscles from time to time and make strong statements. India didn't. Maybe India v Sri Lanka is becoming a bit like an inter-class match: so often do the two teams see and play each other.

The bowlers would seem to be the culprits, and admittedly that part of the team looks the weaker sibling. Zaheer Khan showed only glimpses of returning to his best; Sreesanth needs the ball to swing, because when the ball travels in straight lines to the batsman, he is quite easy to read; and while Ashish Nehra bowled some first spells with zest, he does have an extraordinary ability to find himself in the thick of it all when things are going wrong. I suspect the selectors will have an eye on young Abhimanyu Mithun from Bengaluru, but there is a tall lad from Delhi and a swing bowler from Vadodara who would deliver greater returns if they could be nudged back to where they were.

Twice India batted first and each time the batsmen fell short. India, like any side batting first, needed 300 to overcome the dew, and they came nowhere near against a Sri Lankan attack that is, at this stage, only promising. In Chanaka Welegedara, though, they have a bowler who, at least at the moment, is making up for Chaminda Vaas, and Suraj Randiv looks a good defensive bowler. True, there were positives, with Virat Kohli showing excellent temperament and Suresh Raina showing he can never be discounted, but India's batting, excellent while chasing, never really set up a game.

It would be beautiful for these young men if Rahul Dravid could be persuaded to lead this team once in a while, for they can have no better teacher in the modern game than him

Three times now Kohli has anchored a run-chase and looked like he belongs. He seems to like the idea of building an innings and seems quite happy to bat anywhere - all good signs. It means that Raina is probably where he is happiest, playing shots at the end. These are both young men with a lot of cricket ahead of them, as is the case with the versatile, uncomplaining Dinesh Karthik. It is not easy to play a game knowing you are filling in for someone, but Karthik seems enthusiastic and always suggests he is worth his place in the squad.

It means the path for Rohit Sharma is muddled a bit, and that could be the best thing to happen to a very talented young man. He might have been better served playing the Ranji Trophy final, though, especially since it was clear that Karthik is now above him in the pecking order as a batsman. He might have been able to watch another outstanding young talent at close quarters and realised how tough it is to nail a spot in the Indian top order.

Every time I see Manish Pandey, I see another dimension to him. Opening in the IPL, playing solidly in the middle order in the Ranji Trophy, and at all times being brilliant in the field. I am going to enjoy the next few years watching Kohli, Raina, Sharma, Pandey and Cheteshwar Pujara. Throw into that list Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan and, if you like to see good batting, you have reason to smile.

In fact, while on this topic, how about this A side to tour South Africa, Australia and, in a few months, England. Vijay, Rahane, Sharma, Kohli, Pujara, Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha, Mithun, Ashok Dinda, Sudeep Tyagi, Iqbal Abdulla, Piyush Chawla, Aushik Srinivas, and Irfan Pathan as captain. In fact, many years ago we used to have an Indian Colts team led by a certain senior player; it would be beautiful for these young men if Rahul Dravid could be persuaded to lead this team once in a while, for they can have no better teacher in the modern game than him.

Meanwhile, here is a thought to leave you with. Without three of the greatest players in their history, Vaas, Murali and Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka are moving on. There is much to admire in the men who lead our little neighbours in the south.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • J Ranjith on January 18, 2010, 17:16 GMT

    I know the reason why Badrinath is missing in the list from even such a prestigious person! In India, recommendation and favoritism rules over experience and resume. I as a fan can only cry for Badrinath. Just Imagine, Harsha, from the shoes of Badri, such a talented person, not even worthy of a single mention in an article. I am shattered.

  • J Ranjith on January 18, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    There is no mention of Badrinath! This is a useless collection of bank condiering the fact that Kohli is included but Badri is not included, if some U19 person can get into indian team while a person - who has toiled well for 6 years with best results - could not get a mention on this blog, I can clearly see why India cannot win a world cup or cannot play a consistent test cricket at highest level! No Wonder Harsha, please do not forget like this.

  • Venkataraghavan on January 17, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    http://sairaghavan5694.blogspot.com/... Just my opinion Harsha. I know we are very rich in batting. But let us not throw them into the International side just like that. As you said rightly, lets enjoy their game at the domestic level - and if possible at the county levels too - for about a couple of years.

  • Anit on January 17, 2010, 1:05 GMT

    When I look at the population of India, I feel it is unfair to have only one Indian team represented at the international level. India should have 3 or 4 teams competing at the international level. A small country like SL can get a decent competitive team. Why is it so hard to get good 11 players for India?

  • Akshay on January 16, 2010, 21:35 GMT

    Harsha, As much as I respect your commentary, I realize how much you and other commentators like you are influenced by the IPL. While you have mentioned the names of Pandey and Ashok Dinda (Dinda having done nothing in FC cricket to warrant a selection), you have forgotten to mention:

    1. Abhinav Mukund: Young TN opener who has been consistently getting big 100s at the top of the order. 2. Umesh Yadav - Vidarbha fast bowler. Someone who got the wickets of Dravid and Laxman in the Duleep trophy with extra pace in his first season and is probably the fastest bowler in India right now. 3. Vinay Kumar - Consistently among the wickets in the last 3 seasons. 4. Manoj Tiwari - Played in just one ODI and dumped unceremoniously and inexplicably!

    I hope our selectors stop picking teams based on IPL performances. They are NOT a test of true cricketing skills and cannot be used to pick the test team.

  • U on January 16, 2010, 15:34 GMT

    A couple of talented youngsters that Harsha didnt mention are Manoj Tiwary and Abhinav Mukund. Tiwari was touted as a very promising batsman just a few years ago and now seems to have fallen out of favour.

    Mukund is a talented youngster who has a great record in domestic matches and should get an opportunity at the national level.

  • Minhaj on January 16, 2010, 15:04 GMT

    A nice article to read. Good job Mr. Harsha. However I feel that India will do good against the Test series against Bangladesh and this is the perfect opportunity for the Indians to perform well. Especially the Indian bowlers have the opportunity to prove the best. The series against Bangladesh should a Test for Indian bowlers. Until and unless India has got rock solid bowling attack, they will have hard times in places like West Indies, Australia and South Africa.

  • passion on January 16, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    we all know that India is blessed with good batsman's so, there is no need to talk about that.. but the topic to be discussed is Indian bowling.. Indians are far behind in bowling attack..if we see the history, Indian only able to generate few good pace bowlers like Kapil and Srinath who served country for more than a decade..currently we don't have any such bowler who can really bowl with good pace and with good length & line..what BCCI need to do is provide good bowling coaches in domestic cricket and raises the level of bowling in domestic cricket and provide youngsters with enough chances to come up and show their talent at international level..

  • Premnath on January 16, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    Hi Mr Harsha ,

    nice to hear from you the talents list , I dont know Why Mr Badri had been forgoten even by Mr Harsha irrespective of his tierless performances for last 5 - 6 seasons , when one match wonders can easily make a cut & even given repeated chances to represent INDIA , why not HIM , i dont know how ROHIT got selected with the single performance of 309 in one match & total of 100 odd runs in rest of the season , even for that BADRI have the answer of 250 against MUMBAI in between his test DRINKS CARRYING commitment with national team . I Guess weather Mr Dhoni & team managment is not quite supportive to this Poor Guy cuz even in IPL chennai lead by Mr Dhoni , he will get few balls to face at fag end of overs , surely i can bet he is better middle order than Mr Yuvaraj ...

    Let hope we wont miss this Mr INDIAN HUSSEY , kindly comment back Mr Harsha whats his fault , dont say abt his age , he is just 29 & lot fitter than current Indian Players

  • CHAITHANYA on January 16, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    like u said harsha.every team will find somebody to be in the shoes of great players. but india is experimenting with all players from mumbvai, delhi and tamil nadu. there is no chance for players in states like j$k, kerala or even gujrat.when great players like adam gilchrist or mathew hayden retired, everybody start to say that there willa be an end to the australian reign. but nothing happend. if australia were in the place of india in the idea cup final. i am sure that they show the world what is real dominence. in the case of rohith sharma, ask him to play in more domestic matches to prove that he is a real talent. den abt bowling, zaheer is not leading the bowlers. he and nehra is out of metal. find somebody who have grat pace around 145-150.

  • No featured comments at the moment.