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India needs to alter the method
October 27, 2006
I cannot believe this is the same Indian side that stirred my heart six months ago. The quality of players has not worsened dramatically: it is poor selection and batting positions that seriously need a look in. More of it and the bottom will come apart.
Even a Maharaja in his pomp would turn a blind eye to playing four medium-pacers in Indian conditions. But not this Indian team! Excessive use of medium-pacers on Indian turfs; an obese, overflowing middle order whose girth seeks its own space and governance and the serial quarrel on Irfan Pathan at number three which the team picks up with the nation every time it takes the field: Indians are only refining their finesse to shoot itself in the foot.
We all know that the western soil has a reddish soil. Look to it, in cricketing parlance means a ticket to party for spinners at the start and end of a cricket season. Yet we dispensed with Ramesh Powar and picked up four medium-pacers [in the match against the West Indies].
I can understand if you have pacers of 140k speed, but that is not the case.
Just picking up right and left-arm bowlers does not mean variety. There was too much of sameness. All you end up doing is under-bowl a few of them and turn to your Sehwags and
Yuvrajs. Thirteen overs between them is an admission that the team woke up to the reality late in the game. Sometimes wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.
Or take the case of our packed middle order. Besides the ones who played, Dinesh Mongia and Mohammad Kaif were resting on the bench. Compare this with the options we have at the top of the order. God forbid, but if some unfortunate injury was to happen to Virender Sehwag or Sachin Tendulkar, we don't have an option to give the team a thrust in the Power Plays. Who are the alternatives we have thought of for such an eventuality?
It can no longer be postponed. Indians must now get an absolute fair idea of 15 they are going to pick for the World Cup. In my squad, Gautam Ghambir would be a must. You can't sideline players who can take a good helping for themselves in Power Plays. It is an area where India doesn't seem to take heavy toll of bowlers.
Even in Ahmedabad on Thursday, they needed to promote Yuvraj Singh to make the most of field restrictions. Or even Suresh Raina, who needs to be given a stage to establish himself as a top-order left-hand bat rather than allow him to languish at number seven.
All this when you keep thrusting Pathan at number three. Bull-headedness is one thing but carrying on in the same vein is foolhardiness. They are flying in the face of reason. I believe the time has come for chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar to impose his will early on in his stint and be hands-on when the playing eleven is being selected or batting order is penciled down. Otherwise, the ship, already in stormy waters, is bound to run into rocks.
It was not a 220-run kind of pitch. Even this total was possible due to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's sensible batting.
As I said, there are too many men in queue in the middle order while at the top it seems there are not enough hands to pick up the riches of Power Plays.
So all we are left with are pieces to pick. Around the same time last year, we staged a revival. We are now again at the starting blocks and it is not a good feeling. Sometimes acknowledging your erroneous ways is the first step to redemption. Only if we could make them see reason.
For the West indies, the Indian attack was meat and drink till Harbhajan came on. In spite of that they were always in a comfortable position until they decided to make the game interesting. There is a method to madness and the West Indies almost rewrote the script they have become accustomed to.
Let's hope commonsense prevails and Dinesh Mongia is thought of for selection in the do-or-die game against the Aussies.
I still believe this is a good Indian team, but they would have to alter the method in Mohali and play an extra batsman.