Monday, December 8, 2014

Beware of Bouncers

Cricket is a fantastic sport that is known to give life to people. At the moment, the sport has taken away a wonderful life. May the soul of Phil Hughes rest in peace.

And so here is an important series against Australia commencing in an entirely different backdrop than usual. The buildup to the series has been subdued (understandably). But I’m sure the intensity isn’t.

Dhoni was supposed to play from the second match of the series (a thumb injury forcing him to rest the first test). Now that the schedule of the series is altered due to Hughes demise, the first match is actually beginning at the time when the second match should be starting. So one would be tempted to believe Dhoni will be leading the side. And it appears he is also fit from the outside. Interestingly, Kohli is leading the charge for the first test, while Dhoni continues to rehabilitate considering all important World Cup is round the corner.

I read the script entirely different. Selectors are resting Dhoni sighting injury grounds so as they can try a new skipper. The call for Dhoni’s head has been growing loud for a while. At the same time, the idea of handing over the Captaincy to Kohli, is little premature, since he is not cemented his place in the test side except for the fact that he is an exceptional talent. At this time, giving one off Test Captaincy would be a good idea to evaluate Kohli to see if he is actually ready for the job. If Kohli comes out in flying colors (ideally a win) there is a good chance he will be asked to lead the side reminder of the series (After all, you don’t win against Aussies on fluke at their den). If Kohli fails to make an impact as a Captain in the First Test, Dhoni will return to the side as Captain starting from the Second Test of the Series. By all means, the Captaincy will not change hands hastily (either way). (In my following of Cricket, handing/revoking of Captaincy to/from Tendulkar wasn't handled well. Probably BCCI/Selectors are trying to avoid such occurrences). Let’s watch how it all pans out.

Coming to the starting lineup of the first test, one would be tempted to believe Dhawan may not feature in the XI. After a sling of failures abroad, Dhawan lost his place to Gambir in England after 3rd Test. So, Dhawan should not be a sure starter in the XI. If Dhoni was captaining today, I wouldn’t be surprised at the debut of L Rahul. But with Kohli donning duties, I doubt he would experiment a new comer right away. From that aspect Dhawan should retain his place. A technically correct Indian line up would be something as follows.

Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, R Sharma, Saha, Ashwin, Shami Ahmed, Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron.

But it would not be a bad idea if India fields

Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, R Sharma, Saha, Ishant, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and Karn Sharma

This is my reasoning for the above side. The top six batsmen take their place followed by wicket keeper Saha. It is in the bowling department I would like to see some changes. After all, test matches are won by taking 20 wickets more than anything. So, India should go all out in this department. Both quicks (Aaron and Yadav) should play. As a matter of fact, Yadav had a fantastic series the last time he visited Australia. Ishant is a default choice for the 3rd seamer and India should surprise by fielding leg spinner Karn Sharma ahead of Ashwin or Jadeja. Both Ashwin and Jadeja have been very ordinary in abroad conditions so far. So a leggie could make the impact that India is looking from the sping department.

Bottom line: Awaiting the reaction of the first bouncer.

Cricket Lover

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