Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Can we defend the World Cup?

Doesn't seem that long ago, but my first ever blog talked about whether the men in blue were actually ready for the 2011 edition of the World Cup, and they proved me wrong. I'm hoping for the same again because from what I have seen so far, there is so much talent at our disposal but are we managing it correctly? I don't think so. 

I will agree to the fact that if we were playing at home or even in subcontinent conditions, I would blindly back the Team getting far in the tournament but at this point with it being playing in both Australia and New Zealand, I have my concerns.

In the 1992 edition of the World Cup, I remember Team India losing two close games to both England and Australia, with Sachin playing his first World Cup and of course we didn't progress to knockout stages. Our bowling wasn't great and our batting was decent but overall we probably weren't good enough on those conditions. Now, 12 years later, I honestly feel that we have, the batting, bowling and fielding to go far but how well are resources being used. In my opinion, what should be done is try and test out different team compositions to come up with a balanced squad.

At this point in time, I am unsure that this is being done, actually I know it isn't being done. We still play Ishant Sharma and our attack spinner is Ashwin. Ishant's economy rate is not to die for and to be honest, I never feel comfortable him bowling at the death as he is unbelievably predictable as his only change up is the slower off break which most times gets carted out of the park. Why was Ishwar Pandey taken on tour if he wasn't going to get a shot. We had everything to lose but a lot to gain if he had put in a decent performance. There is no one who at this point can lead the attack. This is why I raise the following questions:
  • Could Zaheer Khan last another World Cup? Yes I know his fielding isn't the best but he has worked on his fitness and in such conditions, I definitely think he's an asset.
  • Where is Umesh Yadav - he's in the Test squad but does he not deserve a place in the ODI side?
  • Stuart Binny was selected and what did he do? Bowled one over for 8 runs - how fair is that?
  • What you need to avoid getting hit for 300 every game, is bowlers who can get the job done during the death overs, that is, not give width, bowl slower balls, slower bouncers, cutters and of course yorkers (which I barely anymore in games).

When it comes to the spin department, we have Jadeja who has proved his worth as a relatively containing bowler, a fantastic fielder and has batted well as well (FINALLY). But Ashwin - I really don't see him in our side. Yes he has batted well but his bowling is the problem - he tries too many variations and he is an off spinner, but he is regular delivery isn't that great and over that last set of games, he has just bowled flat to contain and that is not what spinners supposed to do - they have to try and get wickets. To be honest, I would rather try the likes of Harbhajan (who can bat at times), Amit Mishra or even the one time pick Pervez Rasool. What do we have to lose as this gives us options.

With the bowling done, what about the batting? I feel that in New Zealand and in South Africa for that matter, we did not have the stability I am used to seeing in an Indian lineup. SHikhar Dhawan plays too many shots and need to curb his aggression while Rohit Sharma is the opposite as he takes a while before getting going and more often than not, in New Zealand, he played just to many dot balls for my liking. What a lot of people seem not to realize that there is one batsman not picked yet in the ODI side, who in my opinion could be our trump card - Cheteshwar Pujara. At the U-19 World Cup some years ago, Pujara was voted Man of the Tournament for his 349 runs at an average of 116, which included 1 hundred and 2 fifties. He has shown his stable side in the Test arena and has also shown that he can accelerate as well so why not? He is the Rahul Dravid we need to add that oomph to the team. THINK ABOUT IT! Rahane was impressive in spells and I think he should keep his place, where as Raina is going to have some work to do as he has not had a big score in a long time and it's time management picks up on this. Replacements in the batting department I am unsure of but there is still a year to and you never know - we might just unearth a talent out of the blue - UNLIKELY BUT YOU NEVER KNOW!

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