India in West Indies 2011

Tide is high for India's young and restless

There has been no other recent Indian team with players as desperate to prove a point and stake a claim as this one

Sriram Veera in Port of Spain

June 3, 2011

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Virat Kohli guides one through point, India v Sri Lanka, final, World Cup 2011, Mumbai, April 2, 2011
Virat Kohli has erased almost all his blots © Associated Press

There must be a big balloon of gloom descending on the television companies broadcasting India's tour of West Indies. How do you hype a series featuring an Indian team lacking its big stars and an opposition adamant about not including its star player(s)? The TV pundits always find an answer. This is being billed as a sign of the future. And this time, in the context of at least the Indian players, they may even be right.

There has been no recent Indian team with so many players so desperate to prove a point and stake a claim as this one. Until this series, the recent India story was about the ambitious march of a team to the top of the ladder: a Test series win in New Zealand, a series-levelling effort in South Africa, a World Cup triumph. This series against West Indies is about the young and the restless India. It's about assessing the hunger and the talent in these men. There are quite a few players at an almost vital crossroads in their career.

Leading them is a man who encompasses so much about this brave new talented India, but Suresh Raina comes with qualifications: "There is talent but …" When the triumvirate of Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid eventually go, can the Rainas of India fill that gaping hole?

For long Raina has been the antithesis of Rohit Sharma. Not many have criticised Raina's "attitude"; in fact Rahul Dravid hailed him as among the more hardworking youngsters he's seen in recent times. His short-ball woes put him in danger of being labelled as an ODI player, though. In that respect he is treading the path of Michael Bevan. While Raina would probably give a leg to own Bevan's ODI record, he will dread going Bevan's way in Tests. Bevan's Test career was derailed by his problems against the short ball and Raina has to do something very quickly if he wants to avert similar free fall.

For long Virat Kohli had been oscillating between Rohit and Raina. Attitude problems dogged him but he, like Raina, seemed determined to get himself out of the doghouse. Slowly, step by step, he has erased almost all his blots. His game has improved considerably and on current form he appears the best of the younger lot to seize a middle-order spot in Tests. And if Raina slips up, Kohli could well pounce on the captaincy as well.

For long Rohit Sharma has been the antithesis of S Badrinath. Opportunity and fame threatened to get the better of him and he wasn't perhaps mentally equipped to deal with them. Critics singled out his lack of hunger. No one raised a word about his talent despite his playing 61 ODIs for a below-par average of 27.13. His fans have pointed to this year's IPL to show the winds of change are blowing; that he looks fitter, hungrier and has mended his ways. This series will be the chance for him to offer some definitive proof.

For long S Badrinath has been ploughing a lone field in the domestic dust bowls. Anonymity is a luxurious cloak that superstars seek; Badrinath wants to be recognised. For him the IPL wasn't about money, it wasn't about thrilling the crowds; it was about the basic human urge to get recognised and find a tiny spot on the global cricket map. "When people say, 'that shot off Lee was good,' it's a little bit of recognition, and it's a little bit of happiness that gives you satisfaction," Badrinath said about playing in the IPL.

For long Sreesanth has been waging a battle against himself; he has been the biggest ever reality show featuring an Indian cricketer. His path to manhood played out on big flat plasma screens to billions of fans. Again, like Rohit, his talent has been scarcely questioned but everyone and his uncle have been hammering on his temperament.

For long Ishant Sharma has been living off that one demonic spell against Ricky Ponting. Unlike Sreesanth or Rohit, his attitude has never been questioned. Venkatesh Prasad, the former bowling coach, even nominated him as the most disciplined and hardworking aspirant. Perhaps, in his case, he tried too much. The left shoulder collapsed, the follow-through became a stutter, the wrists weren't behind the seam and the Indian fans were aghast and wary of another talent going the way of Irfan Pathan. Luckily, things seem to be on the mend; the IPL offered brief glimpses of a positive change.

For long Murali Vijay has flattered to deceive. He looks a million bucks when he plays one of his flamboyant on-the-up shots but leaves you tearing your hair when he mis-hits one to a fielder. And yet this is the same player who showed such restraint and sense of occasion on his debut Test against Australia, in which he rarely played a false shot. If he can marry that kind of discipline with his talent, he can progress. However, the jury is still out on his skill on tough pitches. It's not to say that he doesn't have the talent to cope, but that he hasn't been tested yet.

The West Indies is a place where even angels can be tempted to stray. It's here that the young and restless India will begin their path to sobriety. The sun is shining, the weather is sweet and the future is calling; are the boys listening?

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by SangramSinghRana on (June 4, 2011, 22:33 GMT)

For ODI, I will suggest three changes in the Indian side - (1) Replace Munaf Patel with Ishant Sharma, to bring in some genuine pace. The WI skipper has ordered bouncy pitches, hence Ishant's raw pace will be more helpful than Munaf's predictable medium pace. (2) Replace Ashwin with Amit Mishra. Ashwin was expensive today. Mishra is very economical and turns the ball more. (3) Replace Dhawan with Tiwari. Tiwari should play at number 6 and Rohit should open the batting with Parthiv Patel.

Posted by Venkat_Super_11 on (June 4, 2011, 20:18 GMT)

Hi Sriram, this is an excellent article written with a touch of literature and a pinch of advice and encouragement and at the same time, invoking competition amongst the bench players. Well done. I was always a great fan of Siddharth Monga's articles. And should I say, this article is very matured and so pleasing to read. Well done Sriram. I wish every Indian player in the team read this.

Posted by ajeshjag on (June 4, 2011, 17:27 GMT)

@maddy20: dude tats against sri lanka............. and there of all those bowlers he was the better performer

Posted by arviein on (June 4, 2011, 14:11 GMT)

Hey man, FOR LONG I have been reading cricinfo, but never read such an article.

Posted by maddy20 on (June 4, 2011, 12:13 GMT)

@SSenthil It is you who lacks knowledge. His one ODI has gone for 10 overs 50-2 and was sacked after this exceptional performance against Zim Besides I was talking about match winning effort AKA atleast 3 or 4 wickets in a match. Its the least you expect of your main spinner!

Posted by rockingsekhar on (June 4, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

Good analysys and projection!!!!!!!!! Rohith Sharma should prove his worth this time, though his technique and game is absolutely perfect, but lacking the confidence and temperament, more than any one else in the current team, he will have to show what he has got, as others might get a chance to prove themselves, but with the competetion around ROHIT has to step up and show what he can do!!!!!! Wishing INDIA all the best!!!!!!! Wish you all the best Rohit Sharma, Badhrinath and all the young lads!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (June 4, 2011, 8:30 GMT)

I feel that Ishant Sharma needs another chance to prove. I think he can prove that he is India's fastest bowler and best.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2011, 8:27 GMT)

A series of paragraphs starting with "For Long"... Rohit Sharma is antithesis of Badrinath as well as Raina. Bad writing. C- for effort.

Posted by FatsterBobster on (June 4, 2011, 8:27 GMT)

Kohli is the fittest player in india he should be the captain of india.U-19 captain WC victor(U-19 & national team

Posted by Woodsheart on (June 4, 2011, 7:19 GMT)

@Maddy : If u don't know what he's(aswin) capable of ...dnt show what u r capable of writing ..I'm really not convinced with the selection of shikar dhawan in the squad..there are so many other batsman who is much better than him ...And I'd ve more appreciated if aravind (RCB) was selected and tested in this tour ...Rohit sharma is a gud player ,no doubt...but i doubt his thirst and interest when he plays ..lack of energy on the field wit very gud talent ...especially the single handed innings against AUS ..I can't forget , where others falls cheaply..And virat kohli ,though he deserved a place as a batsman in 50-50 formats ..i'm still not convinced his play in 20-20..even though loadz of runs in ipl-4 ..but ,definitely he's capable of doing great things..go india go...

Posted by ssenthil on (June 4, 2011, 5:56 GMT)

All the Best for India's Youngsters. Hope they all prove a Point. Sorry to say, No more chance to be given for Nohit Sharma at least for a year. Rahane misses out but every1 can't be selected But selectors should look at Rahane instead of Nohit Sharma's. Thank God, the selectors are sensible enough to Look at Domestic Performances not IPL Alone.

Posted by ssenthil on (June 4, 2011, 5:50 GMT)

@maddy20, SO sorry for your NO Cricket Knowledge, Ashwin Haven't played a Single Match against Zimbabwe(Apart from 1 T20, where his Bowling Reads 22-1 from his 4 Overs) and this shows you haven't even following any Cricket, Ashwin have played ONLY 9 ODI almost all against Top 5 ODI Teams(1 against WI during WC). He has a Bowling Avg of 23.22 and a E Rate of 4.86 and Mostly Bowled during the Power-plays and Death-overs unlike any other Indian Spinner, Have a Right Cricket Knowledge before writing.

Posted by US_Indian on (June 4, 2011, 5:27 GMT)

I would really like to see the BCCI and selectors restore their faith in Kaif, he had been treated badly and never given his due share,he was so unlucky in one match he scores a century and the next he is found warming the bench, unlike Rohits and Yuvraj's. I believe he should be given atleast a couple of chances and i think he along with Badri can act as the bridge between the ageing superstars and future young guns in the middle order and on any given day his fielding is an asset. This is ironic that a future indian captain has seen this kind of days, and if selectors show some faith in him he may bounce back and provide the much needed experience and stability to the middle order.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2011, 4:26 GMT)

Really think Manish Pandey should have been given a go. Scored tons of runs this domestic season, scored in the Irani trophy final and also did reasonably well for the Pune Warriors. Better than Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan in the ODI team in my opinion.

Posted by Chetan007 on (June 4, 2011, 3:45 GMT)

deserves a chance in the team.Not only for their captaincy skills but they are the players who can play some good knocks in the pressure situation too where many Indian players failed in the past.In IPL4 i don't find that S. Tiwari was out of touch.He was playing good.But playing such down the order with the skills of playing at no.4 is always difficult.Even RCB has bought good players in the team but their man management skills was too bad.They could even won the final or have given a good fight to CSK if their players was played to the spot as their skill not with the star value. look what MI done last year,they had tried to give S. Tiwari a chance up the order look at the results.This year too they tried to give chance to Rayudu but latter they also consider the star value more than what team required.And at last what happen known to everyone.I just want to ask selectors what is the criteria of selection?Is the players with good temprament,good skills doesn't deserves 2 be in team.

Posted by Chetan007 on (June 4, 2011, 3:32 GMT)

I agree to TRAM. Kohli is not the future good captain of India. His teprament is not honed to that much as he deserves to be the Captain of an Indian national Cricket team. He could be sucessful in domestic as well as some small series. But the weak point is M. Vijay. He is better to only in Indian condition. Though he played some good knocks outside. but his playing style changes. he is rather not able to find the way for the ball. See how Mukund able to over the weakness of our top order in the absence of Shewag and Gambhir. I think so Sourabh Tiwari should get a chance in ODI and T20I. As furtue i think so he has the capability to lead the team . He has lead the Jharkhand team as well in few occasions and shown how good he is. Rayudu has also a good leadership qualities then Kohli See the world cup records under the captaincy of Rayudu. The only match they lost in the U-19 world cup when he was out due to one match ban due to 1 over slow over rate in a tough game. So these Youngster

Posted by TRAM on (June 4, 2011, 1:36 GMT)

Excuse me, why do people brand Kholi as future captain of India? Has he shown any 'cool' like Dhoni, or has he shown brilliant captaincy tricks that others were amazed with? When will this branding players (favoritism) stop? I am not saying anything about his batting. He is good and like MVijay, Badri, Raina, etc he needs to be tested in pace-bowler-friendly track. I seriously wish WI make all their pitches like the olden days Barbados. It will help us bring out the men from the boys.

Posted by SRT_GENIUS on (June 3, 2011, 21:27 GMT)

Kohli is the future captain of India. But he needs to work on his fitness more - currently he is living off his genes & youth.

Posted by MasterClass on (June 3, 2011, 19:40 GMT)

The main reason I'm excited about this tour to the WI is BECAUSE the youngsters are playing instead of the seniors! Just bummed that Pujara is injured and won't be playing. BUT look forward to Mukund making his debut in TEST! I'm sure plenty of other Indian fans feel the same way. So FINALLY we get to see the young guard! Let's make sure BCCI, media, dooms-day pundits, etc. hear our voice by voting with our eyeballs and checkbooks. Also, very glad Dravid, Laxman and Zak are there for guidance. Couldn't pick any better seniors for the youngsters to learn from. Only quibble...Bhajji as VC? Huh? Hummmm...

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 19:19 GMT)

i think this will be really interesting match up. i want to see rahane, karthik, varun aaron and pujara perform. Pujara has a brilliant technique. i hope Irfan Pathan wud get a chance again sometime in future. Murali vijay needs an attitude upgrade. i am sure tht Ashwin is brilliant in subcontinent, it wud be interesting to see him in the caribean.

and people PAWAN never spoke in terms of North or South

Posted by srimanthb on (June 3, 2011, 18:56 GMT)

Are you assuming that Sreesanth is in the squad in a invisible mode??? Instead you could have written about Yusuf..

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 18:32 GMT)

I'm a pakistani but a big admirer of Ashwin..... he bowled really well in the World cup and also in the ODI series against NZLD late last year

Posted by Nicholas_Clarke on (June 3, 2011, 18:20 GMT)

The selectors are right to omit Rahane. He's only managed 17 First Class centuries in 79 innings and is averaging a paltry 67.72. He really needs to buckle up and start taking his cricket more seriously.

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 18:14 GMT)

@Maddy20 How about Ashwin's performance in WC QF against the Oz?

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

Maddy20 : when did Ashwin or Vijay get a chance like a Rohit or Jadeja??.. you guys want your favorite (state) player to be in the side and when thats not happened then you start blaming the others... Its an Indian team... and if more chennai players are there then they deserved...

Posted by vibh_ch on (June 3, 2011, 18:03 GMT)

We have got into a habit of praising everyone who we watch do well in t20/ipl....there is a certain Pujara who misses out on account of injury....we forget him,hope the selectors have not....there is a lad called Manish Pandey....thanks to Dr.Mallya and team for subjecting him to people's wrath....but he is a deal

Posted by Jarr30 on (June 3, 2011, 16:42 GMT)

West Indies Vs India B is a good match-up. I believe WI will win the series.

Posted by CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on (June 3, 2011, 16:39 GMT)

Future stars openers(rahane,mukund,vijay) middle order(kohli,rohit,pujara,badri,raina) wicket-keepers (saha,goswami,kartik) spinners(ashwin,ojha,rahul sharma,mishra) quicks(ishant,sree,umesh yadav,mithun,varun aaron,dhaval kulkarni) and captain is raina coz like MSD he is cool-tempered unlike kohli,rohit who r frenetic like bhajji,yuvi and also coz if ur main batsman is captain it always always affects either ur batting or captaincy why is MSD success he comes at 6 or 7 and also raina is best indian fielder

Posted by maddy20 on (June 3, 2011, 16:39 GMT)

@Pawan When was the last time Ashwin or Vijay turned up a match-winning performance for the country despite of numerous opportunities? Hell man he could not do it against Zimbabwe. I think the story is gonna be the same this time too! They only perform when they play for Chennai!

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 15:37 GMT)

d battle begins...................

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 15:16 GMT)

What about Ashwin? Are you just assuming he is going to be a success? Or are you assuming that he is not going to get any games in this tour because of Harbhajan's presence?

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