11 September 2007

After the anti-climax

The last match proved India the weaker one-day side in an anti-climax of a match, a certain let-down after the firecracker at the Oval. Notably, the Indian media has not been too critical, and for a change, most reporters were keen to admit that this was a team that had won a Test series in England, and so one should not be too hard on the boys. I hope this climate of tolerating mediocrity in the one-day format can continue for a year. For that is how long India will need at a minimum to rebuild itself into a competetive one-day outfit. The ingredients are all there, floating around in Twenty20 World Cup or random domestic tournaments, but for them to coalesce into a whole, is the challenge. Starting today, I will profile the few who I feel could comprise the Indian ODI team of the future.

Mohammed Kaif has always been unfairly treated by selectors and fans alike. His ungainly batting technique is probably the reason why we have refused to let his runs - mostly scored in crucial circusmtances, do the talking. Once rumoured to have been in the reckoning for a future captaincy, the 27 year old has been out of reckoning since November 2006. Even though people tend to remember his fielding at cover or his sensational batting at Lords in the NatWest final, there were other nuggets that fans and media have not given the same kind of respect. His 91 at Nagpur, scored in the company of the doughty Anil Kumble, in a drawn Test match against England was one such. At the same time, one needs only to look at his overall statistics to note that he has not made the most of his opportunities. In 125 matches, he has an average of 32. Batting away from home, this modest figure plummets to 26.5 from 52 matches, and the 87 not out at Lords remains his highest. Only against England and Bangladesh does he average over 40, while it is abysmal against Sri Lanka (9 matches) and New Zealand (7 matches).
A furious runner between the wickets who places a high price on his wicket, he could be a top-order batsman for the future. However, there are deficiencies in his ability to clear the ropes consistently which will need to be addressed before he cements a place in the team.

And by the way, let the games begin!

7 comments:

Sumit Chakraberty said...

john, this is contradictory. you claim kaif has been treated unfairly, and admit his average of 32 at a modest strike rate over a period of five years of playing internationals for india is very poor. in fact he was lucky to have been retained for so long.

John said...

Kaif's Test scores for the last five Test matches that he played:

4, 9, 91, 13, 46 (n.o.), 148 (n.o.), 0, 13 and 6.

Batsmen have done far worse and retained an Indian cap!

Sumit Chakraberty said...

i suspect most of those came in the middle order on home pitces in lost or inconsequential causes because i don't remember kaif playing any important knocks other than that famous natwest final.

John said...

Agreed, that the 148 was constructed on top of a solid destruction act by the Jaffer-Dravid duo in the West Indies in a drawn Test match.


However, I can't emphasize how important that 91 was in the context of the series. (First test)We'd have lost a series at home, against England. How painful would that have been?

Quite predictably, he sat out the rest of the series.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

yes i remember the 91 now, and he had struck some form in domestic cricket too around that time. but the returns are too few for a guy who got so many opportunites in international cricket over such a long period of time. thumbs down from me for kaif.

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