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Monday, August 01, 2005

Double-Header for India

The last 2 days of July - After a long time, managed to watch matches played by India over consecutive days in the IOC Cup in SriLanka. It turned out to be 1-1 for India where they lost to Srilanka while defeating the Windies in the 2nd match. One can say that the Indians lost to Jayasuriya's experience in the first match, they overcame WI because of the latter's lack of experience.

Dilhara Lokuhettige and Fervez Maharoof were the names that at first notice didnt give any warning signals to the Indians when they were slated to open the bowling in place of Vaas and Zoysa. But, their bowling was to the mark and ensured that India didnt run away with a good start. Sehwag and Dhoni as openers didnt work as expected. I dont think Dhoni is right up the order. The ideal location for him will be the one he came in the 2nd ODI or one slot lower. The same players mentioned again starred with the bat, especially Lokuhettige's quick-fire 20-odd. This alongwith Jayasuriya's steadying influence at one end ensured that SriLanka got to the winning post at the end. One plus point was the fact that Zaheer, Pathan and Harbhajan contributed useful 20s with the bat which enabled the Indians reach 200. That is such a good thing for the Indians. If they can do this repeatedly, things will definitely improve for the Indians.

The second match saw India play WI. WI at best with this team can play Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and hope to win those matches. They were too weak to be able to give the Indians any scare. India made heavy weather actually trying to get the runs. The batting order was changed again. It brought to one's mind of the Aussie mindset where if one remembers in the recent past, we have had Clarke, Katich, and everyone trying out their hands at opening. That was the similar intention, I guess the Indian Management had while trying out Kaif as the opening batsmen. One point to note - Yuveraj and Kaif have been complaining for long that they dont get enough overs to bat and that is the reason for their failures. In fact, I feel that the only way both of them can get some decent scores is to bat them at No.5 or No. 6. Both are uncomfortable against the pace and spin alike. If this was the case against the Windies, imagine them playing in the higher positions against a team like the Aussies or even the Lankans. No way!!!

Points to note for the rest of the matches -

* India going in with 3 seamers and 1 spinner - Even though the seamers have done well, there is a lack of variety in the eleven with all the 3 being left-handed. Also, this is the series where India has to go with 2 spinners. Sure that Kumble and Bhajji will work wonders in tandem. The best balance will be to have 2 spinners with Pathan and Zaheer with JP Yadav as the allrounder. But, that would mean dropping one batsmen. Tricky choice this!!!

* Raina and Venugopal Rao have enjoyed their stint in the ODIs for this tournament. I am sure they will find utility values with the new rules (SuperSubs, etc). They have looked promising. Venugopal Rao can be thought as a very steady batsmen and has to definitely play up in the order for him to be valuable. Raina has shown that his allround skills is something that cannot be ignored. He can be groomed for the future definitely. Somehow, he has a very canny resemblance to Dinesh Mongia both in appearance and batting style. For the rest of the tournament, Laxman and Ganguly will be back and the eleven ideally should be - Sehwag, Ganguly, Laxman, Dravid, Yuveraj, Kaif, Dhoni, Pathan, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Kumble. Maybe the inclusion of Balaji would be a good idea if India goes for 3 seamers.

* Captaincy by Rahul Dravid was good. The way he handled the bowling in the SL match was awesome. He ensured that at one end the main bowlers were bowling their spell out, thereby keeping the shackles over the Lankans. Ganguly in the same situation would have bowled Sehwag and Raina in tandem and tried to complete their quota, thereby giving away some extra runs. I think this change in thinking could be attributed to the deBono way of thinking laterally!!!

* The commentary on TenSports has a long way to go, especially the Lankan commentators and then the likes of Srinath as the expert!!! Srinath, with due respect to his playing skills, was not able to give a good summary of things that went by in each session. He seemed to be too excited or nervous or both while giving his account of the match. I think it is still early days for him but he should take some lessons quickly from Sanjay Manjrekar and Ian Bishop, if not from Ian Chappell or Ian Healy.

* India will have to quickly regroup themselves and try to win the remaining matches in the series or atleast win 2 matches out of the 3. If they lose the next one against SL, I wouldnt mind if they finally win the finals :D

* For the MARUTI SUZUKI SWIFT, Rahul Dravid has appeared to be the front-runner so far.
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