06 December 2007

Fast bowling depth

Only recently, Harsha Bhogle was complaining about the lack of depth in Indian pace bowling. The criticism came not a moment too soon, as India had just returned from England with a remarkable series win. And many credited the win to India going to England with an attack capable of picking twenty wickets. Zaheer was bowling very well, and had two capable allies in Arpy and Sree. It was even more remarkable that India won a Test match without a significant contribution from the erratic Sreesanth. Clearly, these three would be at the top of the pecking order for a while.

Prior to the England tour, both Munaf Patel and VRV Singh had been tried at various points. Munaf could only go through one complete series uninjured, while VRV seemed too raw and unpenetrative at times. At the same time, the erstwhile blue-eyed boy Irfan Pathan made a comeback in the T20 and ODI scheme of things. Astonishingly, Ajit Agarkar remained in contention for the ODI and T20 teams. After some good ODI form in 2006, Ajit returned to his pedestrian habits. Ishant Sharma played against Bangladesh but did not set the imagination on fire. He went to England, but like the line-and-length-master Ranadeb Bose, did not get to play a Test.

In Bangalore, we will probably get to see what the second level of Indian fast bowling looks like. Set to play are Irfan Pathan, VRV Singh and Ishant Sharma. Irfan is making a comeback to the Test arena after having to make a humilating return from the squad in South Africa. Slowly, he has climbed back to be in the reckoning and he would love to be in the squad to Australia where he made an impressive debut. Once promoted to spearhead status after Zaheer was dropped, he forged a useful partnership with L Balaji. For a while, we were able to forget Zaheer and Nehra and Agarkar. On his comeback trail, he has mostly permitted himself to be viewed as a cunning support bowler, and there are serious doubts about whether he can ever recapture the scorching form or the fast banana inswing that made him.

The scariest part is that there is a chance that India may play in Oz without any of the bowlers that did well in the recent past. Though Ajit Agarkar will always pick up wickets, his discipline is probably worse than Sami's. It needs to be seen just how penetrative Irfan, Ishant and VRV can be. With a depleted line-up at his disposal, Kumble cannot be blamed if he goes on the defensive.

12 comments:

Straight Point said...

its amazing, how the things have changes drastically...not to far ago we were boasting of our fast bowling depth only to realize that actually the cup is bare now...

it would be a pity if we will not be able to field bowlers down under who have fire power to capture 20 wickets...and sustain entire tour which is too long for comfort...

thats where i think selectors lost the plot when they did not rotated bowlers enought to keep them fresh and fit...actually when they talk of rotation the focus turns too much on batsmen and nobody thinks about bowler who had to bowl on and no until loss of form (pathan) or breakdown (zak, rp)

Straight Point said...

pls dont mind typo errors! :(

Sam said...

Blame this situation on selectors. Agree with SP....they should have rotated the bowlers -- ZK, RP and SreeMamootyanth (cos his ideal is Mamooty) given the knowledge of the injuries they had.......

If ZK is not able to make the tour, we r 0-3 or 0-4.........

And yes Agarkar is better than Munaf Patel.......

Soulberry said...

Pathan's comeback is heartening. We have too many examples of youngsters climbing steeply and then fall, never to find anything within to come back again. But his inswinger is missing.

It is possible that he hasn't used it in the limited overs yet...for the sake of economy and a steady performance as a first step...especially in T20 where they could go for unwanted runs as wides or nicks. But we didn't see that in the ODIs either. That worried me a bit too and I saw him only in one match on Neo's Ranji package. He was just steady in that...nothing exceptional.

I would, if I could, pack the batting order with all the experience I could find in this situation and hope the second line of pacers sees this as a huge opportunity to move ahead.

I do not want to see them in a situation where they are merely waiting for the other to fail...but if each one of them can give his utmost and best...tyhen why not?

VRV and Ishant, if they can keep their heads, can be troublesome. If the pitch is supportive, then even better for them. The biggest doubt is if they can keep their heads stuck on to their necks right through the match or a series. This additional responsibility shout urge them to do so...if they do not, India is better off having found them out at an early stage itself.

Pack the batting...get Chopra in to the lineup and have the most experienced players around to support the bowlers. Chopra is also a good close in fielder and since spinners will be bowling many ov ers, will be useful...better than Jaffer or DK at fwd. short leg.

Jaffer
Chopra
Dravid
Sachin
Laxman
Ganguly/Yuvraj
Dhoni/Patel
Pathan
Kumble
VRV
Ishant/or anyone who is fit.

Harbhajan and Murali could be fitted in as per conditions and then Ganguly plays as seamer.

This team may not take many wickets (could actually if they get down to to their best) but should be difficult to dismiss as well.

Soulberry said...

If Jaffer-Chopra settle in, 175-200 should be up before they are dismissed!

Ottayan said...

SP,

Rotating the bowlers - a very good point.

I would also like them to consider resting Kumble and Bhajji.

How are we to know the value of Piyush,Murali Karthick and the rest?

Ottayan said...

Sam,

Agarkar -uh! he gives me the hebejebees! :)

Ottayan said...

Soulberry,

Chopra somehow fails to inspire confidence.

Will he pass the test?

John said...

SP, typos are for angrez nazis. It would really be a pity, for the Aussies would have enjoyed watching Zak, Arpy and Sree.

Soulberry, 'Tis true. Pathan has comeback as a much stronger character. The worry is that he has become what Unc J Rod would call a probot - bowling well within himself. Not that the approach does not bring wickets, but it was really exciting to watch Pathan in the last tour.
Also notice that you've given DK a miss. Tough call to drop him without knowing how he bats at Bangalore. But Chopra does have the form and th experience. And quite similar to the last series, Chopra should look to defend and run the singles hard while Jaffer takes on Sehwag's role.

Both VRV and Ishant are ideal for bowling in Australia. I agree that if they bowl to potential, India should be okay. But Soulberry, what are your reasons for picking VRV ahead of Ishant? Also, why exactly are VRV and Ishant ahead of Ajit in the pecking order?

Ottayan - As far as rotation is concerned, even though the buck stops at the selectors, there is also a result-oriented culture that wants to avoid failure at all cost, and so the blame is not entirely theirs.

Straight Point said...

on the contrary, John and SB i woild like to believe that pathan is getting the opportnity of playing test just at the right time...

the reservations we all have on his in swinger or whether he has regained himself to test level would be tested out...if he bowls good nothing better for indian cricket but if he not bowls that well he would know upfront what and where he is lacking and hopefully will work hard to sort out...

SB you raised and excellent point about close in fielder for spinner...its a most underrated job for a good close in can turn little jabs of batsmen into wickets for spinners...

what better example of this than second innings of last match when nobody bothered to even go for catch of MY of the bowling of HS...angering him to come up with 'choicest of words'...

BlogKut said...

Hello,
Your blog has been listed in BLOGKUT.COM and also added in the comments column. Please check the blog listed (http://blogkut.com/en/bloglist.php) page for the confirmation. Your blog posts will be shown once you start posting in future. If you have any concern on listing your blog in BLOGKUT.COM do let us know to BlogKut (at) gmail dot com, we will revert to you ASAP.

Muhammad Hussain said...

The Top Most Expensive Cars in the World, Top Speed Cars, Top most hot cars pictures and info
worldlatestvehicles.blogspot.com