A decent year, but don't mention the bowling

India seem to have managed their transition to a new generation of players reasonably well but there are gaps to fill
Sidharth Monga January 2, 2014

Whitewashing Australia was the highlight of a year that saw no great lack of achievements by India © BCCI

December 31, 2012. India have lost a home Test series to England to go with the 4-0 whitewash in Australia earlier in the year. They have lost an ODI to Pakistan, and are about to go down in the home ODI series. Forget a season full of home Tests and only two away, if somebody had told you it would take India a poor session on their final day of international cricket in 2013 to lose their first Test of the year, you would have kissed the hands of that somebody if you were an India fan. Add to it the Champions Trophy, the only ICC prize missing in captain MS Dhoni's cabinet, and you could be looking at a great year.

It was always going to be a year of repair for India. They were struggling with the grammar of Test cricket, had too many slow legs and tired minds, and had about a year of rebuilding before they went into big tests away from home. In a way, the wins at home would lose half their sheen if they didn't compete against South Africa in the last 15 days of the year. Before those 15 days, though, India had to go through a lot of tough decisions.

Towards the end of 2012, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, important parts of India's No. 1 Test side, left the selectors no option but to drop them. That it came to this says a lot about the previous selection committee. The new players who came in brought freshness and hunger. Those qualities alone do not cut it, though. These new players also brought basic skill, and India kept winning, even as the expectations stayed reasonable.

Before the last 15 days of the year, India won everything that was really important. Australia were blanked 4-0 at home, but the players who had said to the Australians, "We'll see you at home", when losing Down Under were not around to enjoy the win. India were outsiders when they went to England for the Champions Trophy, but somehow managed to pull off a heist despite a thin bowling attack. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma scored centuries on their Test debuts, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami were revelations with the ball, and Ajinkya Rahane capped off the year nicely in South Africa.

In between those two events came the IPL, which continued to rob India of young fast bowlers. The list of promising quicks who are content with playing just the IPL is getting way too long. One fast bowler lost more: Sreesanth and the whole IPL spot-fixing scandal was the biggest story in Indian cricket in 2013. It was against the backdrop of this scandal that India went to the Champions Trophy. That win was all the reassurance the desperate Indian cricket fan needed. MS Dhoni had now managed the improbable: won a world event with a young batting line-up and an attack about as reliable as a sombrero in a storm.

The rest of the year built up to India's big tour of South Africa. "Big" is a misnomer here because administrative tussles between the BCCI and CSA turned it into a little big tour. Virat Kohli began to dream of scoring a century in South Africa even as he prepared for the ODI feast against Australia at home. Others felt the same. They might not have got much time to get acclimatised in South Africa, but India went mentally charged up.

Just before those last 15 days began, though, India found their bowlers putting the side under so much pressure, they couldn't bat properly, and they lost both the completed ODIs in South Africa. In the two Tests, though, the batsmen played with such maturity and assuredness that you felt the future of the batting was in safe hands. That with at least two of them - Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara - you could expect a certain degree of consistency. Predictable standards from at least two batsmen is what every Test side needs in a batting line-up.

In the Test series, India showed they can compete with the best in the world; this ability had begun to be questioned towards the end of 2012. They lost 1-0 in South Africa, but they did better than expected. They also pushed the best side in the world hard in the first Test.

There were gains to be looked at towards the end of a year during which India won 29 of the 43 international matches they played. However, all that can't paper over the lack of bowlers who can stay fit, intense and skilful for a considerable period of time.

Ravindra Jadeja celebrates taking five wickets, South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day, December 29, 2013
Ravindra Jadeja has emerged as a credible spin option for India © Associated Press

High point
You might want to go with the Champions Trophy win or even the draw at the Wanderers, but the efficiency and ruthlessness with which India beat Australia at home should take the honour. There was a synergy in the effort: the curators gave India the home advantage they asked for, India in turn asked their young batsmen to work hard on difficult pitches, and the young spinners all delivered. It is up for debate whether this will work as a long-term strategy, and if it will affect the development of fast bowlers for overseas tours, but this was a time when India needed a win badly; they needed the youngsters to know what it feels like to win a Test series. Any win would have done; 4-0 was an absolute bonus.

Low point
The fact that even 350 didn't seem a safe total against a half-decent batting side in an ODI. India will need to do something about that before they go to the World Cup in early 2015.

New(ish) kid on the block
This was not an arrival but a comeback. There aren't many who didn't scoff a little at the prospect of Jadeja playing Test cricket as a designated allrounder, coming in ahead of R Ashwin. By the end of the year, he was the one doing the laughing, having taken 30 wickets in five Tests at an average of 19, including the first Indian spin five-for away from home in three years. Jadeja showed that he merited a place in the side as a spinner alone. He also reiterated that our sport takes all sorts. His fast, unsubtle but accurate spin might just have as much of a place in Test cricket as the classical, more beautiful flight and drift and dip do.

What 2014 holds
A sterner test. Eleven Tests out of Asia. This is a year when India will continuously be on the road, when their batting skill and bowling endurance will be tested. Two in New Zealand will be a tight affair, but five and four in England and Australia will push India - for whom two Tests right now seem the ideal duration of a Test series - further. You shudder to imagine what shape their attack would have been in for a third Test, had there been one in South Africa. The core of the batting, though, has been put in place. It's only the bowling that will need big decisions: Ashwin and Jadeja can manage the away spin load between them, Shami should be persisted with, Zaheer Khan will need to be constantly reassessed, but where is the third seamer? The same question will trouble Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher in the ODIs too, this being the year before the World Cup.

Before that, though, there is a World Twenty20, most likely in Bangladesh. Another ICC trophy can't be ruled out.

Posted by mahendra1 on (January 5, 2014, 6:45 GMT)

Very good article.

I think India should make different set of players for Test and short formats. Though the batting looks okay still India going for 6 batsman weaking the ever weaken 4 bowlers theory. I would like see playing 11 in Test (outside) as M Vijay, S Dhawan, C Pujara, V Kohli, A Rahane, M S Dhoni, R Jadeja, R Dhawan, H Singh/Z Khan (looking at the nature of pitche), U Yadav, S Ahemad Extas: G Gambhir, R. Sharma, W Shaha, I Pandey, P Singh,

H Singh is far better bowler than Aswin when it comes to overseas matches.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2014, 21:13 GMT)

I am surprised that M ViIJAY'S fine innings of 97 at DURBAN and his solid knock and partnership with Pujara at Waanderors is considered as failures.ASWIN went wicket less at wanderor's and was dropped for durban a india like pitch.jadeja came in and claimed six wickets and is Touted as a revealation. SIX TEST WINNS came and Ashwin played a big role in each one.India could have lost to the WINDIES at Kolkatta but for his Fine century.

Posted by   on (January 4, 2014, 10:54 GMT)

One was the biggest strengths of Saurav Ganguly was his eye for talent. Zaheer,Sehwag,Yuvtaj, Bhajji,Nehra and Kaif were spotted by him and most of them instrumental in Indians World Win. MSD is India's most successful captain but there is scope for instrument in building a team like dada did. So Instead of backing Ishant, Vinay , Ashwin and Raina, MS should be willing to try other young upcoming bowlers too. Cmon MSD give youngsters a chance.

Posted by strike_hard on (January 3, 2014, 19:40 GMT)

There is a more important reason for Dhoni not to captain (and play) test cricket. Which is that he is by far the best ODI player(and captain) world around. His workload HAS to reduce and the format to do that is test cricket. Unfortunately, after him there is barely any experience. If only the selectors could take the radical step of making Kohli test captain. Given the amount of cricket next year, everything has to be played with an eye on the world cup 2015. And that means develop a pool of fast bowlers and rotate them among tours.Good to see somewhat of a start in that direction by getting Pandey and Aaron back in the squad

Posted by SridharKalyan on (January 3, 2014, 16:21 GMT)

The biggest worry right now is in the bowling department - both the pace attack and the spin-duo. Mohd Shami is shaping up well, but he will get over-worked and get dropped the minute performance/injury worries crop up. Bhuvi seemed out of sorts on the SA tour; Ishant bowled reasonably well at the end of the year after trying gamely throughout the previous 11 months...a long warm up period, he is one lucky guy to be selected all the time no matter what his performance and commitment levels have been. Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav have already become 'spent stars' - even before they took off!!! Hope, Pandey comes good - and stays good thru 2014. On the spin front, it is a wonder that Ashwin is still continuing to be around!! He is one off-spinner who bowls the off-spinner occassionally, when he is not experimenting with a variety that he would be using in IPL!!! That leaves Jadeja to be the mainstay!! To think his call up was based on the twin-triples in the 2012 Ranji Seasoon!!

Posted by CricketChat on (January 3, 2014, 14:21 GMT)

Having rightly starting on the youth path, Ind selectors should not go back to discarded old stalwarts even in the hope of short term gains. Gambhir, Shewag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Zaheer (feel was a mistake to recall for SA tour in the first place), Mishra have had their time under the sun, but it is time to move on from them now. Most worrying is the bowling dept. First choice spinners in Ashwin and Ohja have been largely ineffective outside India and sub-continent in general. Even in the pace dept, Ind has only decent swing bowlers but not someone with express pace in the 140s consistently. This is where Ind should build. Batting wise, they are OK even though outside sub-continent and in bowler friendly conditions, there is no one except Pujara to tough it out.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2014, 13:06 GMT)

In test match we have to bring gambhir for dawan,have to play 4seamers(shami,zaheer,varun,umesh)and a spinner(Ojha or mishra)in overseas...better dhoni hav to quit from test match....his batting was superb n odi but not n test matches....bring Saha or Karthick for him....

Posted by sammysam on (January 3, 2014, 6:01 GMT)

The headline says it all. Batting is in safe hands with our young batsmen, however our bowlers are pathetic.. probably the worst bowling attack in the world. The selectors must drop Ishant, Zaheer and bring in fresh young bowlers. Hey, they couldnt do any worse than the current lot. Young bowlers will make a hugh difference to this current team.

Posted by JRP100 on (January 2, 2014, 21:54 GMT)

article hits the nail on the head, batting is fine and dinesh karthik was pretty mediocre in his performances against everyone except zimbabwe and yuvraj added the extra bowling option so his exclusion, i would say, was justified. When yuvraj got dropped there was no need for another batsman in karthik so the pace bowling allrounder option was gone for, binny is the only experienced allrounder at a decent age (not 33 like shukla) and his first class record is decent even compared to rishi dhawan who needs to face better opposition on A tours first before being selected. The batting as was said is fine, rohit vijay and dhawan had a few bad games after a year of consistent peformances so they deserve long runs. Kohli pujara and rahane have already cemented their spots down and pujara will come to the ODI side soon enough if raina fails. No one is ready to take test captaincy off of dhoni so he should stay and the pace bowling set up needs to change (as it has done since 2011)

Posted by McGorium on (January 2, 2014, 20:50 GMT)

@shrastogi: Dhoni isn't a great test keeper either. Note his failures to go for catches that go between keeper and slip (never mind attempt and drop, he doesn't even try). He doesn't keep particularly well on an up-and-down pitch (compare Mongia or More keeping to Kumble on a Krumbler), and isn't much of a diver either. Dhoni is a great asset in an ODI side, and India often makes the mistake of picking test sides based on ODI potential/performance. We also make the mistake of picking sides on star quality, which explains why Indian stars often overstay their welcome. Further, Dhoni the test captain is no Michael Clarke or Allan Border either. Dhoni does just enough in home tests to retain his position in the test side. It is my belief that a test keeper must be a great keeper first, and batting is a bonus. As it stands, Dhoni is a mediocre test keeper, and a mediocre batsman in tests outside India. I'm told Saha is a superior keeper, but he'll never get picked while Dhoni is captain.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 18:19 GMT)

With long test series coming up in England and Australia India will need a full complement of fit fast bowlers. It is true that on spinning tracks (and yes there are spinning tracks in Aus and Eng - ask Swann and Lyon) they can pick 2 or even 3 quality spinners but for the most part they'll have to be able to depend on their quicks. Shami is good with the new and old ball and Zaheer's return must be heartening but at his age he cannot be the mainstay else he'll break down. I think Bhuvi needs to increase his pace by about 5 or 10 klicks so he can get the old ball reversing otherwise he'll just remain a new ball threat. Ishant and Yadav need to step up and be more consistent wicket takers. I think India will need 5 bowler attacks in England because the test are going to all be back to back and if the quicks can take wickets that will allow the batsmen to be more aggressive in scoring runs and MSD to go for wins.

Posted by TomDeSailor on (January 2, 2014, 18:07 GMT)

i too support the people who say that dhoni should be dropped from tests..But, we need him in odis'.. for tests, we've dinesh kartik or may be wridhiman saha(i'd prefer DK ).. Dhoni has never been a good test batsman away.. His captaincy has taken a hit too(in tests).. ideally he shud've stepped down after the infamous 8-0 debacle....

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 17:49 GMT)

selectors should have some sense. DK lost out to Yuvraj for his no fault. no opportunity was provided to him thereafter. No one other than selectors can justify selection of Rayudu in test team. Why have dropped Ojha now? God only knows. There are better rounders available than Binny. Why to select him? Rohit is not an opener at all especially Overseas. Still no Gambhir even after his good shows. Dhoni is unfit to be test captain after watching these overseas Tests. Why are we persisting with him...I would blame selectors for this overseas debacles.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 17:33 GMT)

I think current Indian team is the perfect combination of young tallent. Everybody has showed their ability in both the formats of international cricket. Nothing to worry about one SA tour. In entire 2013 Indian young team presented superb cricket display. We won CT in England. In overcast conditions we won all matches. Shikhar and Rohit combination came out as a worldclass opening pair with 6 hundred plus opening stands. And all against top teams, not a single against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh. Then in WI we won Tri series in difficult conditions. And then in India we beat Aussies. Against Mitchel Johnson & co Rohit smashed one century and one double century. Then Rohit smashes two back to back centuries in his test debue, simply superb. Out of four 1000 run makers of the year, 3 batsmen are Indians. Virat, shikhar & Rohit. I request al, those, who only love to critisise Rohit, just see these records. After a single short tour how can be anyone judged ? All the best Rohit & team India.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 17:22 GMT)

The low point surely would have to be the test series lost at home? I can't think of any top team doing that except England against South Africa ...

Posted by Nampally on (January 2, 2014, 16:25 GMT)

Top of my wish list for Team India for 2014 is for a progressive forward thinking Captain. After watching Dhoni in the past few years, my unbiased opinion is he is not the right Captain for the Test matches where XI selection, field placement & bowling strategies need lot of judgement & planning. Dhoni's Tunnel vision is at best questionable but mostly irrational. This was shown by 4 bowlers for 5 day test matches Vs. SA, instead of 5! This cost India a win in the first test + draw in the second. "Specialist Bowlers" are needed in XI instead of "mediocre" All Rounders! That is the only way India can develop bowlers. When there is no room for a 5th bowler in XI, there is no incentive for the bowlers. My second wish is for opening batsmen with sound fundamental technique specially defence. so called Hand-eye coordination technique will not work overseas. Gambhir, Sehwag, Rohit & Dhawan are all examples. Pujara & Rahane are models of success. Thirdl wish develop Specialist slip fielders!

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 16:21 GMT)

Dhoni has to be dropped from the Test squad asap if India has to win overseas Test matches.

Posted by Sir_Ivor on (January 2, 2014, 14:44 GMT)

I feel that Dhoni should step down from captaincy because he does not have the cricketing wisdom that a captain needs to lead a side. His unemotional demeanour is probably because he is wondering all the time what needs to be done. In his own words he acts on instinct. Instinct is luck oriented as we saw in the 2007 20/20 World Cup. Unfortunately he has lost his luck and will never be able to deliver except at home. Virat Kohli on the other hand is someone who will inspire his team members apart from having some luck as well. That apart his field setting and handling of spinners like Amit Mishra like in Zimbabwe is quite impressive. I wish the selectors make the change because we will never win the World Cup in Australia with Dhoni as captain. The selectors need to infuse fresh blood by firsly making a more bold decisions and sticking with them. So if H S Sharath or Gopal or Sardul Thakur or Gurkeerat Singh or Akshay Patel look good they should be tried out in some format or the other.

Posted by shrastogi on (January 2, 2014, 14:38 GMT)

There is no mention of Dhoni's captaincy which was low point of SA tour in this review. Dhoni has never been a great test batsman outside subcontinent. It was his captaincy which kept him in the side. He seems to have lost that midas touch in SA. Lately he has been backing his players for too long in the side. One hopes that the blunders in SA were an aberration. There is no point in giving captaincy to Kohli or Pujara as they have to take the workload of batting. So Dhoni enjoys TINA factor. Its good that selectors are looking at options in fast bowling. NZ tour wont tell anything as grounds are smaller there but for long term as rightly mentioned in the review fast bowling is a worry.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 14:18 GMT)

Unless we play five fit bowlers, we will always struggle in away matches.

Even if two out of the five bowlers bats decently and score average 30s to 40s regularly, we will be fine.

Regarding captaincy for Kolhi, i dont think he is a good captain material yet. He is as conservative as Dhoni when it comes to team selection as noticed in Zim tour earlier in 2013 where he played the same X1 in all 5 ODIs and afraid of trying out the reserve players. He hasn't done much as captaining RCB either.

Posted by linguboy on (January 2, 2014, 14:12 GMT)

@sanman: Atleast we fared better than Pakistan in the Test series. 1-0 is better than 3-0. Even when you played in 2nd test it was spinning track but with your world class spinners you couldn't win, did you???? One ODI series win in SA here you are talking about India being over hyped, are we????What did your team in CT2013??? Or for that matter in Zimbabwe??? Please look after your own team rather than trolling here. @Cricket.kudos. please read this link by the same author or for your matter cricketer. interesting view isn't it???? thanks to passion_cric for the link. have a read my friend. then reply. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/video_audio/398685.html

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 13:55 GMT)

We did not play Amit Mishra or Umesh Yadav consistently enough for us to say that our bowlers did not manage to do the job.. Mishra was dropped quite unceremoniously from the ODI team after creating a world record.. That is really stupid.. We will still play Ashwin in the five ODIs in New Zealand which again is stupid.. We will lose series because he cannot bowl half decently, yet persist with him.. I do not know what he and Rohit Sharma have done to merit these many chances.. At least away from home.. Along with Ishant Sharma, they form the three most hyped cricketers, not in India, but the world.. Mishra played one odd match after the world record, Yadav inexplicably didn't play the SA test series at all and Rahane was dropped in the middle of a volcano in SA.. I don't know how we can say that we have the worst bowling line up when we have the best leg spinner in the world and one of the quickest bowlers in the world warming the benches..

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 13:49 GMT)

The third seamer should surely be Umesh Yadav (not Ishant sharma, anyway!). And what happened to Varun Aaron?

Posted by sanman12 on (January 2, 2014, 13:41 GMT)

The whole point of what I am saying is that India are overhyped up. SA beat them playing sub par cricket for SA recent standards. That is why I am saying that there are very little positives India should take out of this series. Their batsman should be ready for sterner tests than the friendly wickets they were presented with here and their bowlers, well god help them but I really dont see india winning anywhere except maybe NZ. That too is a slim chance but if wheather persists it going to be white washes in Aus and Eng. That is my prediction. No batsman are going to ave them there.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 13:35 GMT)

A decent year on indian soil only. Bamboozled by Pakistan last year. And now by South Africa.

Posted by cricket.kudos on (January 2, 2014, 13:29 GMT)

@ Suneel Masur

Please have a look at this article


India had it tailor made for them last time they went to NZ and as for complaining India is the only team who surrendered a test match / series in West Indies due to hostile bowling - stopped playing in Sharjah due to so called biased umpiring - how many more do you wanna make you count - excuses excuses - allow bouncers as it was - take the game to what it was like back in the 70s and 80s and then the world will see the true strength of the team - bending the rules to make yourself look good is no bravery - had the DRS been in place Kallis would not have been out and India would have lost 2 - 0 but ofcourse India does not want DRS so no DRS - we name Anil Kumble - Anil Jai Prakash Kumble after his 10 wickets thanks to Mr Jai Prakash who i believe was the umpire. Stop complaining India need bolwers who take wickets ZAK 90 matches 300ish wkts Akram 104 matches 414 wkts :)

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 12:46 GMT)

Ashwin cannot be an away spinning option, when, against quality batting line-ups, his home credentials - as England showed - are themselves suspect. India's best spinning option, home or away, has to be Ojha, who was kept out of the SA tests ostensibly because Ashwin and Jadeja could bat better - as their 26 runs in four innings showed, their batting prowess is hardly worth writing about when playing away.

Posted by spinkingKK on (January 2, 2014, 12:31 GMT)

I am not that much convinced with the batting performance overseas. I am not saying they are not good. On paper, they seems to have done well. But, what is more important is to know under what type of situation have they performed. They seems to crumble when the fast bowlers really wants to get them out. New Zealand will be a bit of challenge, because there will be no complacency from the humble Kiwis. But, being an humble team, Kiwis might approach the game with caution and that might play into the India's hands. England haven't got very fearsome bowlers and they are also demoralized with their Ashes defeat. So, India might save some pride there as well. Come Australia. That will be the real challenge. Here, the batsmen will be up against some most fearsome fast bowlers teamed up in a team which will show no mercy whatsoever and also use sledging as a weapon to further humiliate the opposition. If these batsmen perform in Australia, I will say they are really good.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 12:16 GMT)

@sanman12- Cricket is not played with ifs and buts man.. If dale steyn couldnt take wickets in first test that means the Indians played well , not that Steyn was unlucky. Yes Kallis got a bad decision But so did Kohli.. Remember If Kohli would have been given NOT OUT India would have returened un defeated in both the Tests (But then as I said there is no if and buts in cricket). Yes SA is a much better side than India ..there bowling is too strong for India and Thats why the writer says the India has done really well.. Dont be emotional and see what had happened.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 11:48 GMT)

I was going through the comments --- some saying that bad decision against kallis - what about the bad decision against Indian players..... is it we have to take it as granted because we are playing outside India. Next everyone comment on spin pitch - why the comment on Indian pitches only.. all the teams in the world will prepare pitch suitable to its strength.. When we are playing in SA, whether they prepared spin pitch or fast? Fast pitch because they have their strength in fast bowlers. If they want to win in India/sub continent they have to play spin - don't complain that we prepare spin pitch. I never seen Indian team complaining about fast pitches outside India. Already NZ saying we will prepare green pitch to suit their bowlers.... So what is wrong in preparing spin pitch when NZ turn to India.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 11:34 GMT)

@sanman.... "slump of 5 for 15" and "star bowler not getting wickets" is not bad luck.. it shows good cricket by opposition.... resisting the star bowler bowling with all his might... and bowling well to break the back of a good batting line up.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (January 2, 2014, 11:13 GMT)

Bowlers.....read pacemen who hurl it 140kmph +.....else donot bother turning up......we've always had batsmen, the current crop is not that bad....Bowlers that bowl at pace....just because it has'nt happened does'nt mean it not gonna happen, when it does.....watch out world.....:)

Posted by sanman12 on (January 2, 2014, 11:01 GMT)

This indian team should have lost two nil in SA. The fact that they lost one nil everyones is seeing too many positives in them. SA had all the bad luck in the first test. Slump of 5 wickets for 15, a frontline bowler injured (morkel) and their star bowler who for some reason could not take wickets in spite of bowler OK. Add to that 2 direct hits at critical stages of the match, a bad LBW against Kallis and SA came up just short by 8 runs. India never bowled SA out and their batsman were greated with Flat tracks. In Australia and England I dont think they are going to get that Luxury. They will be playing on seeming bouncy wickets and They are going to get absolutely anhilated. Be lucky if they win even 1 in Eng or AUs. Hell they could not beat SA on a Flat subcontinental wicket in Durban. Makes you wonder how good their batting really is. Even with all the bad descisions in the second test. they did not want DRS so they must shut up and swallow their own medicine.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 2, 2014, 10:46 GMT)

If India needs bowlers that can stand up, they need willpower to set up a project to go around the country and find raw talent and put them on a course, more A tours for the bench, prepare more Lahlis in the northern part and play Ranji on such pitches. Lastly play less ODIs, T20s as our bowlers are mostly tired of playing too much cricket. You could see in that second Test when Rob and Faf were going, there was no strength in the bowling legs. That more than skill is a challenge for Indian bowlers. 5 Tests in England will need atleast 10 bowlers for the same 2 or 3 cannot and will not play all 5 Tests.

Posted by Capricorn60 on (January 2, 2014, 10:07 GMT)

At home we win Tests as our spinners do the job for us in taking virtually all the opposition wickets on spinning tracks. But then when we play abroad outside the subcontinent like we just did in SA, we are found wanting as we no longer have spin friendly tracks & our medium-paced seamers are found out to be completely toothless! On top of us, we even include Ishant Sharma in our team whose bowling average is inexorably climbing to almost 40 - which explains why we struggle when playing abroad!

Posted by screamingeagle on (January 2, 2014, 9:26 GMT)

Question marks on Dhawan and Rohit, we will know in 2014. I expect Yuvi and Raina to lose their spots. Bowlers are the big question. Zaheer will not be there for 2015, I think. It would need to be Jadeja, Bhuvi, Shami and then the open spots. Yadav need to improve. All in all a good year, but I am not sure 2014 would be as good. NZ may not be that bad with some decent bowling but England will be tough with them hurting from the Ashes.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 9:21 GMT)

It's frustrating to see Umesh Yadav, our quickest bowler, often sidelined or injured.

Posted by Smithie on (January 2, 2014, 7:48 GMT)

Myopic assessment given the state of pitches produced in SA clearly under duress from the BCCI. Not sure strong arm tactics will similarly work with the ECB ( especially with Swann's demise ) and CA. Best thing for 2014 would be to join the rest of the community and accept DRS to ensure a level playing field for all with statistical integrity returned. That would be a good start to winning genuine ( rather than begrudging) respect. Unless BCCI leave some grass on SOME home pitches World Cup ODI preparation will be severely compromised. Can the current BCCI leadership address these issues? Doubtful.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 7:48 GMT)

Dhoni as a test cricketer is not worth in the team. Look at his stats, He has not hit a single century away from sub continent.

He is only good for one-day and 20-20.

Posted by cricket.kudos on (January 2, 2014, 7:14 GMT)

The article is balanced and very well written but unfortunately here is the reality


BCCI wants the world to be what they want them to be - just like the Americans in international politics - being fair is not what it is all about - it is all about winning with throwing money down - the above article is wirtten by an international cricketer not a conspiracy theory - and highlights the reasons to win abroad - like ksriniasu said India needs a structure of sincerity - impossible that we in Pakistan have fast bowlers and suddenly in a distance of 1 - 10 kilometers they become extinct - complete and utter political non sense - i have had indian first class cricketers as close friends and they have always complained of politics as we have had in Pakistan - time to think of the team then our own differences - money wont buy every thing - sorry but this is the harsh reality

Posted by pitch_curator on (January 2, 2014, 6:54 GMT)

@ Buggsy - Your comment seems to be out of frustration. I hope you enjoyed the 4-0 thumping that was meted out to Australia in 2013. In any case India is ranked # 2 AHEAD of England and Australia. lol.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 6:44 GMT)

What we really need is have the confidence to play with 5 bowlers overseas. That means both Ashwin and Jadeja have to play, and we need a third fast bowler. To win in test cricket, you need to take 20 wickets, which I dont think we can do at present.

Posted by Naresh28 on (January 2, 2014, 6:36 GMT)

Outside the subcontinent, our bowling needs to be fast. Most batsman score heavily against India, another problem is that Indian bowlers do not know how to use the new ball. With a bit more pace the new ball will swing and we can create the chances. The few chances which are created are lost by poor fielding.

Posted by Naresh28 on (January 2, 2014, 6:25 GMT)

ANY OF THE OTHER TEST PLAYING NATIONS can manage to defend any score their batsman set. NOT INDIA......this has been the problem for many years now. Our bowling attack is toothless outside India. Our batsman in most cases give us a score to defend. Right now if make a few changes to our batting lineup it will be okay even outside the subcontinent. We seem to win the ODI format which is not as heavily dependent on bowling as the TESTS where a win requires you to take 20 wickets.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 6:05 GMT)

evryone talks of bowlers in tests. everyone talks of how well indian batsmen played in SA. Some point out dhiwan and rohit as ones who are yet to prove their mettle and bowlers being not so good enough in overseas conditions. But why is noone talking about dhonis failures in recent overseas tests? I think even a young ranji player with basic technique will look more comfortable than what dhoni looks when facing quality bowling in overseas tests

Posted by hnlns on (January 2, 2014, 5:39 GMT)

India fought very well in SA but somehow undid all the good work in Durban where they could have salvaged a draw just with the assistance of weather. They failed to last even 50 overs on the final day of the series which is a matter of real concern. Rohit and Dhawan gave very poor account of themselves whereas Kohli and Pujara showed they are very competent guys to fill into the big shoes of Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Shami bowled very reasonably, given his lack of overseas experience at the highest level, but Zaheer is not for the future surely. If either Ishant or Umesh can somehow make a come back to bowl decently, it would be a big relief. Jadeja and Ashwin are very competent allrounders, if they are a bit more reliable with their batting. The year 2014 will really be an acid test to all these when they play in England and Australia in the 9 tests. NZ team may not be that strong, though weather and kind of pitches on offer might really be a challenge.

Posted by anupkeni on (January 2, 2014, 5:15 GMT)

For Team India, 2012 was by and large, a year of despair and debacles after the highs of 2010 and early 2011. 2013 was by and large, a year of repair and resurgence, barring the tour of South Africa, where Team India failed to win a single match. 2014 will be a testing year with 11 overseas tests, Asia Cup and ICC World Twenty20. If Team India do not do well in overseas tests, then 2014 could well be the last year of Dhoni's captaincy. In that case Team India may as well have a new captain for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Posted by 2474 on (January 2, 2014, 5:14 GMT)

Nicely put!! The theme of article was India, as a team and he never deviated, no special mention or purpose, right where it needed to be. I realise the temptation the writer might have had to include about SRT, but nice of him to restrain himself.

As for the team, the batting gives heart, the bowling appears very poor that it seems it can only improve from here, also some aggressive captaincy could help. Wishing a fruitful year ahead for Dhoni & co.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 5:08 GMT)

no mention of bhuvi? i think the lad has talent. only if india had a respectable bowling coach. Batting is fine, its the bowling we need to focus on. A couple of years back it was our fielding, but thats improved. now its our bowling. We need to get a world class bowler in our management to nourish talent like ishant, bhuvi, shami and umesh.

Posted by ksriniasu on (January 2, 2014, 5:06 GMT)

Fully agree with glen1. It does not make sense to play Dhoni in tests. And Zaheer, after all the work on his fitness hardly posed a threat. You know what a side lacks when you see the opposition do everything the side could not. The way Steyn, Morkel and Philander ran in would make any Indian fan scratch his head. Will Zaheer ever put in the effort? No. Will Ishant? No way. He seems perfectly happy being the tall but gentle trundler. If BCCI has any sense of responsibility towards Indian cricket, they should send scouting agents to different parts of the country, get young promising individuals and train them to be champions. Go check what the agents do in NBA and NFL, and try to be half as efficient in terms of team management. The results will follow.

Posted by Buggsy on (January 2, 2014, 4:55 GMT)

Another year of white washes coming up for India. Even England in their current ragged state will wipe the floor with them. I shudder to think what the Aussies are going to do.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 4:54 GMT)

The only solution to India's bowling woes which has been going on forever is to make diplomatic arrangements to join hands with Pakistan. With India's batting and Pakistan's bowling prowess, I am sure we will be world beaters any day.

Posted by its.rachit on (January 2, 2014, 4:52 GMT)

I dont agree that the core of batting is in place ... only Kohli and Pujara and to an extent Rahane is a certainty outside India ... Vijay looks OK ... so that leaves 3 open spots at 1, 6 and 7 .. Dhoni is complete waste as a test batsman outside Asia ... Rohit will srtuggle as he has always done barring 2 series in 5 years ...

Posted by   on (January 2, 2014, 4:50 GMT)

India should really be playing Umesh Yadav in Tests. He hasn't done much wrong you know.

Posted by Crick_Expert on (January 2, 2014, 4:33 GMT)

India are good only at home backyard.

Posted by BhaskarHajong on (January 2, 2014, 3:59 GMT)

Nicely written sid. And thanks for not mentioning Ishant anywhere, he do not worth it.

Posted by glen1 on (January 2, 2014, 3:53 GMT)

The transition job for the test team will be complete in 2014, when Dhoni steps aside from test cricket and a more aggressive Kohli is given the charge. Also, Zaheer should step aside and travel with the team as a bowling coach, not bowler.

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