03 October 2007


Why were Harbhajan-Powar not half as good as Hogg-Clarke? Going by talent and pedigree, the Indian duo should have performed better. But they did not. Or did inept Indian batting make the Aussie twinsome look much better than they actually were?

In B'lore and in Kochi, India had Australia in trouble but could not keep them down because our spinners were ineffective. Against the Aussies, it is no good trying to limit the damage. The spinners need to be able to hunt and gather wickets. Yesterday, Powar was only allowed five overs and did not get any wickets. Harbhajan also had barren returns and was almost as expensive. Unlike the English, who were tied down by Powar's subtelty, the Aussies look extremely comfortable. He had an amazing first over maiden at B'lore, but as soon as the batsmen started using their feet, he came under some serious pressure. And like yesterday, did not finish his quota. Harbhajan on the other hand, gives the impression of having kept things tight, but if you look at his figures, the word that springs to mind is "toothless". Quite apparently, there were always singles on offer. All the great spinners will agree that wicket-taking spin bowling is all about the gradual application of pressure, and that can come only with the complete confidence of the captain.

So what next for Harbhajan, Powar and Dhoni? And the injured Piyush Chawla? Powar is returning from a succesful tour of England, and he is immediately saddled with thoroughbred competition for the possibly lone spot for a genuine spinner. Qutie clearly he is not the same bowler. Dhoni should seriously consider the option of picking only one spinner, and perhaps strengthening the batting lineup. If he needs to pick two spinners, he might want to give Pathan the new ball, and rest Zaheer/Sree. Whoever he chooses as spinner must have the freedom to ply his trade. As if Clarke, Symonds and Hayden weren't enough, Powar has to worry about his spot in the side. Similarly, Bhajji needs to worry about cementing a place in the side.

In the long run however, things seem to look fairly rosy. In Bhajji, Powar and Chawla India have three seriously good spinners to pick from when Kumble decides to call it a day. Hopefully the decision will be made on the basis of genuine wicket-taking ability.

Dhoni also needs to think long and hard strategically. Four bowlers or five? Has Pathan done enough with the bat to qualify as an all-rounder? Two spinners or one? If he decides to go with the lone spinner, do we have the resources in Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Sehwag (I hope it is only a question of when he gets picked.) to back him up?


Jrod said...

But Powar has something very few people have, comedic entertainment value.

Hogg for all his tongue biting escapades has never made it to that level.

Soulberry said...

John, excellent article and fine argument for the spinners.

Harbhajan appears to be playing it safe...risking toothlessness to a permanent spot in the team based on economy. That ploy may backfire against the Oz, but if he can manage under 5 Rpo, then I'd think he would have done his job by keeping one end tight and creating pressure for others to cash-in on. That hasn't happened - yet he looks most likely out of the three.

Piyush is a welcome option...he may go for runs but he is always likely to pick up wickets. I think he has the temperament to be competitive too.

Powar in ODI's? - I am not convinced one bit. Maybe against teams that do not play spin well...but I'd not play him in ODI's at all...and with all the other baggage he brings to ODI's. Test match cricket is where I'd actually see what he has to offer...his bowling is likely to be more effective there. He is a five-day game bowler he should be getting more games there...Use him like Laxman exclusively for test matches if you have to.

Against better spin playing teams, he has a woeful record in ODI's. He has been as toothless as any other bowler India has flung at them.

John said...

Right, Powar could be an ideal foil to Kumble when we play Pakistan soon at home. Hopefully, the selectors won't be too swayed with the pressure to bring Bhajji back.

But if we pick Bhajji, then Dhoni, Vengsarkar etc should let him know that he has a security of tenure, so that he can attack without worry.

And we also need to know why Bhajji employs the doosra in some games and does not do so in some other games! Particularly since he's been cleared.

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