Tuesday, January 8, 2013

3 Down, 1 To Go!!!

After closely following the ODI series Vs Pakistan, I for a moment felt, if cricket has moved back to the era of 80’s? Oh yeah, 250 was the highest score in 3 matches. If you did not watch the games and simply read the scorecards, numbers as 157, 167, 165, 227 etc., are sure to raise the suspicion, did they play in dustbowl?

Never mind. You can be confident that cricket was not played in dustbowls. Few changes to playing rules (Only 15 overs of power play instead of 20, 2 new balls from each end, Only 4 fielders allowed outside the 30 yard circle during non-power play overs) and little effort from the curators to provide lively tracks – ODI Cricket has moved to a new era!!! Because they were all India-Pakistan matches, stadiums were mostly full. Otherwise empty stands are sure to rule ODI, if scores less than 200 are regular feature. In other words, the seeds are sown to bring curtains to ODI cricket. Wait!!! I hear somebody say - it was already done with the inception of T20 and Franchise Leagues. Let’s do this topic another day.

As a cricket lover, I thoroughly enjoyed watching these games. After all I’m very much fatigued watching non-stop run scoring and slam-bang cricket (no respect for bowler whatsoever) for some time now (especially in subcontinent). And these games when ball did the talking, it sure brought relief. Also I should say I was little startled by the EFFECT of rule changes. I honestly did not expect the impact of 2 new balls coupled with more men inside the circle to be this BIG. However, it still remains to be seen as how the run rate pattern would be in a typical sub-continent surface.

I’m sure it is due to the tours of South Africa, New Zealand, England, Australia and World Cup 2015 (at Australia-New Zealand) BCCI has moved on a rapid pace to change the nature of the tracks.  And they did not mind the temporary loses. Also they did not bother chopping few heads in the name of World Cup 2015. If all this is done with that vision – BCCI, take a bow!!! Also please rub this attitude in Test Cricket too.

After watching this series, I’m definitely excited by the arrival of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed. On a circumspect note, I tend to think two new balls (couple with surface) is what showing Bhuvneshwar Kumar in better light. After all, the new ball stays newer for a longer time than usual that assists the likes of B Kumar good. I think it is for this same reason Dhoni finished B Kumar in the final ODI as early as possible. Anyways, we will have a good idea when young Kumar features in Test Cricket. With respect to Shami Ahmed, I personally feel he is more in the mold of Ishant Sharma (bowling predominantly back of length deliveries). I just hope he is not as unlucky as Ishant. The good thing about Shami is he tried bowling Yorkers towards the end. I’ve been screaming for a while that India should use this opportunity of 4 T20’s and 8 ODI’s to narrow down the bowling resources for the Test series against Australia. At the half way stage, I’m definitely delighted by the promises offered by Kumar and Ahmed. In the same line, I would have been happier had the selectors tried a new spinner (like Jalaj Saxena) instead of Ashwin for the England ODI’s. In other words, Ashwin deserves a break for the non-stop cricket he has been playing all along. And India needs to validate the spin cupboard.

Sehwag Axe
Sehwag axe was on the cards for a while now. Especially Dhoni’s announcement as skipper for the T20’s (despite World T20 defeat) against England and Pakistan confirmed the axe. The move of selectors pursuing with Dhoni made the statement, “The New India to be built around Dhoni!!!” Sehwag’s tiff with Dhoni hardly helps the Delhi Marauder in the large scheme of things. This day, it turned reality. First he was dropped from T20 playing XI, then dropped from the T20 squad, then dropped from the ODI XI and now dropped from the ODI squad too. Sehwag’s poor performance made the exit painless for Dhoni & Selectors as they could avoid the public wrath. I’m sure his days are numbered in Test Cricket too, unless he stages a grand come back in all formats when the head of administration changes. I’m sure Gambir must be feeling the pinch already. I’ve no doubts Gambir will be dropped starting from the first ODI (if not after) against England. It is very evident India need to play 5 bowlers (B Kumar, S Ahmed, Ishanth Sharma, Ashwin and Jadeja) in the revised playing conditions/rules. Dhoni will take the 6th spot. That leaves, India to play only 5 batsman. Of the 5, Kohli, Raina and Yuvraj Singh are automatic selections. That leaves Pujara, Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Gambir to fight it out for 2 spots. It will be insane to drop your best batsman (especially when he was called up as Save Our Soul measure). Which means Gambir will pave way for Rahane as Rahane has warmed the bench long enough.

For those who think Sehwag deserve a chance as much as Rohit Sharma in the Squad - If Rohit Sharma is regularly benched, nobody is going to care much. However the same is not possible with Sehwag. The management will be compelled to answer many questions for every game Sehwag not selected and India lose it.

Bottom line: Zaheer Khan, Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambir featured in the CB Series at Australia. A year now, it is 3 down and 1 to go!!

Cricket Lover

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