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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Forget the tri-series loss, what did India gain?

The honeymoon of Krish Srikkanth and his selectors has ended quickly. No longer can they take credit for the No.1 position in test cricket nor the No.2 position (which they have lost after the tri-series) in ODIs. The World Cup debacle as well as the disaster in the tri-series has ensured that they rack up their brains before the start of the Asia Cup.

If not a tournament win (which was not expected anyway), what were the points that Gary Kirsten and the team management gleaned from the performance of the Indian team? Quite a few.
  • The bowling department, especially the opening attack, depends on seniors like Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan. There is no consistent second-line. Dinda, Umesh and Vinay Kumar were steady at best but nothing better than the others who were have-beens in the recent past. Pankaj Singh and Mithun would have benefited if they were on the other tour to England.
  • The spin department was supposed to be our strengths against minnows like Zimbabwe but the fact was that our batsmen struggled more against their spinners compared to their batsmen's performance. Amit Mishra might have done well in the test matches but he is not a patch in the shorter version. Pragyan Ojha was expected to grab the No.2 spinner slot but he did not make the necessary steps. Ashwin played in one match taking 2 wickets and scoring 38 at more than a run-a-ball
  • The reserve wicket-keeper slot - Dinesh Karthik holds it for lack of other options. Naman Ojha got one chance only - of course, the remaining T20s will give him couple of more chances which he has to make the best use.
  • All-rounders - Yusuf Pathan was touted as the next best thing (in fact, after his domestic performances, I had predicted him to be the dominant player in IPL3). His weakness against short-pitched bowling has become very evident. If there was a line of thinking that he could play well against spinners, that thought was proved wrong by Dilshan's team in the last ODI against Sri Lanka. Yusuf Pathan needs to prove his technique to be part of the team again. Ravinder Jadeja has made his mark in couple of innings when the team was in dire straits but his bowling is not upto the mark.
  • From the batsmen, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma scored heavily twice in four matches - obvious inconsistency being seen. Suresh Raina's captaincy must have affected him for he is no doubt, one of the players who will be in the starting line-up for Asia Cup.
  • The openers - the lesser said the better. The scorecard shows multiple stands of 50s but it was clear that Vijay should be made a test specialist rather than asked to play in multiple formats, irrespective of his IPL exploits. Maybe, playing him in test matches ahead of the off-color Yuvraj Singh might be the option in the forthcoming test matches against Sri Lanka.
Overall, if the Management felt that they wanted options for the World Cup, this tri-series made their selections easier. There is no one who can push the players who were rested for this series. Perhaps, a Rohit Sharma can push Yuvraj in his current form but no further options. Sad but very true.