Team India. March 2019

With the backdrop of the nation on fire over its interests, team India isn’t as it was in 2018. On top of them they have managed to find themselves in the soup over playing against Pakistan in the World Cup. This is a champions team and losing is a part of the game. That’s not the point. My views are on their spirits when on the field. There’s no doubt whatsoever over their intention to win but I feel some circumstances are leaking their intensity. Without a doubt playing in the main 11 of the country is a huge responsibility and it would need nerves of steel to cement playing spot consistently.

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These are troubled times and at the need of the hour comes the legend to hold the team together. We might speculate over this ability to hit the boundary consistently at this age but when was cricket only about the boundaries? It was always about winning, just winning! And MSD has changed his gears but is still delivering as a batsmen, wicket keeper and the guardian of the team. He is the person the youngsters would look upto and get inspired. The Indian team is filled with batsmen who could hit boundaries at will but they needed someone to absorb the heat when the chips are down, analyze the situation and execute the plan. Dravid used to do this for his team very well. Often I have heard comments about the middle order not being well tested, I feel like replying everytime to them “Test all except Dhoni. He will deliver some way or other”.

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I hope the team gets good enough rest post the World Cup. They have been playing too much cricket. Players with the intensity level of Kohli might wear out if they are not given the required team to let off the steam in the form of breaks. Surely the body too needs time to heal from the pressure of playing at this level. Maybe that’s when the next generation players should be put to test, putting the main players on vacation. Surely the BCCI is a management that knows how to take care of its players. We are lucky to have a pace battery in the form of Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar, Shami and Yadav among the top. The bowlers on the bench are not bad either.

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Pandya and Jadeja provides the option of explosive batsmen, handy bowler and outstanding fielder. It is going to be interesting to see who’s going to bat at 3,4 & 5.  Rohit has almost sealed his position at #1. Dhawan might face threat from KL. The new KL looks good, the intensity is back. The coffee did rush his adrenaline. Kohli’s batting position would be the key. Shastri might want to preserve him at 2nd down but as they they, you should let your best batsmen face as many deliveries as possible and he has conquered the batting world at #3. Wonder what happened to Rahane?

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The excitement among the next generation players is also overwhelming. People do want to see guys like Shaw, Gill, Mavi to name a few. The IPL will definitely help the players get warmed up for the World Cup, but i pray it doesn’t burn them out.

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England vs India 1st test, Birmingham

We could smell victory right from day 1, nearly won it but eventually it slipped off our hands. This has been the fate of the 1st test of any away series, for long. This time we went the closest to winning it. That’s a positive way of looking at it for a die hard cricket fan. And being a lover of the game, I am equally mad with the outcome of the match!

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Shikhar Dhawan is not made for the red ball version of the game. He doesn’t have the temperament to match a good test opponent. This is not just about his abysmal batting but also his fielding. A player is known as a bad fielder even if he drops a catch, dropping 3 is an unpardonable sin. He is known more for his batting abilities. So that front could have been something he would have amended his wrongs with. But fate had some other plans. Its very surprising that he keeps getting so many chances when now we can boast of a great bench strength. The yo-yo test isn’t everything. Mr Shastri should really re-consider his strategies. Same goes with Murali Vijay. He has only 1 good score (vs Afghanistan) in his last 10 innings. His love affair with bad form has stuck with him since the South African tour like a fungus that he isn’t able to get rid off. Even if the somewhat crazy think tank decide on playing Vijay for another game, they should replace Dhawan.

Virat Kohli, the current king of the cricketing world. This is being Rambo in sports. Had it been a domestic match, he could have won the team a match single-handedly. However, the subject is international test and against one of toughest test nations. Its a team game, 1 player cannot balance the equation of the rest of the batsmen. He played with a lion’s heart. I wonder if he’s repenting his decision not to play Pujara. I am sure Rahane will bounce back. He’s just going through a bad time. He has played some splendid knocks for India. Some might object Pujara’s selection due to his stats against the playing conditions. He too is known for holding up 1 end even if the runs had dried up. In the 1st match that’s something no one could do. The 2nd test team composition will be interesting!

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Joe Root is turning out to be a good captain. Forget his first Ashes as a captain. Its evident that he is learning and as a batsmen, another King! The England team played like a champion side. They might not have the mace now, but soon they will.

This team is not balanced. If I was the part of the think tank, I would have played KL Rahul to open with Vijay followed by Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, DK, Pandya and the lower order. We have Nair and Pant too on the bench.

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Well yes it hurts to lose to Pakistan especially in the finals! Pakistan deserved to be the winner. They outplayed India in all the departments of the game. Congratulations! My respect for coach Micky Arthur has increased 10 folds now. He saw the vulnerability of the batsmen after the top 3 and exposed it bluntly. This indeed cost us the trophy. Also I feel Kumble didn’t plan proper on how to combat Amir. Rohit Sharma’s stats against Amir is appalling. And he got all top 3 in his 6 overs. 

Emotionally I would love to see Yuvi & Dhoni play for another 10 years. But realistically they are ageing and there is a huge prospect of young Indian players brewing at the back ground. Players who too needs to be given experience at the international level. There is a stream of opinion who thinks its just a game and everything is fine. I beg to differ. This was the final of the tournament we were set to defend. Losing to Pakistan in a final is really sad. Doesn’t matter if the middle order had less match experience but what about career experience? The mighty Indian batting lineup consists of only 3. Both these players will have to deliver match winnings innings more often. 

I wonder what is Ravinder Jadeja considered as? All rounder or bowler? His bowling stats of the CT 2017 is heart breaking. The #1 bowler in tests goes wicket less in a major tournament. And if an all rounder he failed when it mattered the most. Maybe a bad day at work for most of the Indian players or maybe this is where some signs shouldn’t be overlooked.