16 March 2009

O-Bala, No-Bala?

Unless Dhoni goes extreme left-field, a third seamer needs to be picked from Munaf, Balaji and Dhawal for the Tests. Balaji (in his new avtar) Dhawal are fairly untested in international waters. Munaf has been weighed and measured and, at least during the third ODI, found desperately wanting under pressure.
For the first Test at least, Dhawal is not in the running and it is a clear two-way knockout between Balaji and Munaf.
dont know how much Dhoni will respect Munaf's position in the pecking order (will someone please give me a better term to use instead, i am fuggin tired of it) ahead of Balaji, at the time the Test team was drawn up. I think it must be respected. Remember how everyone now agrees that Sehwag being dropped from the Test side based on ODI form was a bad idea? The same would apply here.
I can already hear people sing but pressure is pressure maaan and he crumbled. I disagree.. pressure is not pressure, I mean its not the same kind of pressure, more time between spells etc. So there it is - Munaf Patel is my pick for third seamer in the first Test, and it is not because I am not impressed with Bala's comeback.


Tim said...

Why weren't RP or Sreesanth brought on this tour? One bout of bad form should not justify the the abandonment of genuine talent.

Homer said...


Injuries.. Sreesanth had a back strain and RP did his shoulder.


Soulberry said...

I'll go with Balaji. Based purely on his Ranji performance against Bengal which I saw. He swung the ball both ways.

Anonymous said...

Life would be much easier if only Irfan could Freaking "Bowl" !

I am slightly tempted to try out Balaji, but I do realise that Balaji can be a bit of Munaf! at times, but only a part of sounds a lot better than the whole package. Munaf can be a burden in a 5 day encounter, where as Balaji would hv to pull up his socks to be noticed for the future! So with no time to kill it has to be Bala for the 1st test.

@Soulberry- that was a heck of a spell ! Watched the same guy at the IPL, sucked big time. Duno from wher the Kings XI Punjab gifted him a hattrick ! The Final Over in the FINALS was painful!!! But the Ranji record this season is a different story! Kulkarni was great for Bumbai !!

@Homer: R.P is back playing in the Deodhar Trophy for the Central Zone. Sree did play a game or two for the South zone in another trophy until he broke again if I am correct.

John said...

Thanks and welcome Tim. Guess you've been answered by the Homer.
Soul, despite Balaji's Ranji form, wasn't Munaf ahead of him?
Ron, you're right. Bala has a lot more to gain than Munaf does from this encounter. But you've to admit that Munaf keeps coming back - like a bad dream to some, with an amazing contribution when the least is expected of him.

TM said...

I dont understand why we cant play Dhawal. Look at what debutants have been doing for Australia - why dismiss something similar happening for us? Plus, in an attack lead by Zaheer and Ishant and backed up by Bajji and Misra (which does add up to a lot of variety and quite a lot of experience), I think its a great time to blood a youngster. From the little I have seen Dhawal bowl, he looks like he has decent pace, swings it a little and is consistently at the batsmen. Also, he is supposed to be a much better fielder and athelete and a much fitter man.

That said, though I didnt see the Balaji spell against Bengal, I did see his spells in the IPL - and to put it bluntly, they were atrocious. John's right and Munaf's performances in this one day series are not a reflection of his test bowling potential, though if we really think about it, that 'potential' hasnt got us too many wickets either!

Given that we are assuming that India plays only six batsmen, with Dhoni at six (to include the 5th bowler), it may be advisable to pick a bowler who bats a little as well! Munaf and Balaji definitely cant - if Dhawal can, that may swing it his way.

Personally, I think we will play only four bowlers for I cannot see India going in with only 5 batsmen and Dhoni. If we play three seamers Mishra misses out. If we play only two seamers, then both Misra and Bajji may play. Ofcourse, we could still play three seamers and Bajji, with Sehwag and Tendulkar filling in as bowlers.

If it does come down to a 5 bowler attack, and it must be a choice between Bala and Munaf (and not Dhawal), I would go with Munaf as well. But that really is the Devil's choice.

John said...

No chance of Dhoni going in with 5 bowlers - not in the first Test of a series - NO WAY! Of the four bowlers, there is NO WAY that Mishra is one of them. Also, there is NO WAY that the debutant is going to be blooded in the first Test. It has to be between Munaf and Balaji.. it is very very clear.

Between them, it is a tough call and there are as many arguments for and against each.
Bala has the upper hand in skills - the ability to swing it out with an inswinging action - that is serious stuff. Munaf has the patience and at the beginning of his Test career, showed glimpses of discipline which is the reason Indian cricket continues to return to him. Bala is a better bat and a better fielder. Munaf has more pace.

TM said...

While I understand John's logic and am fairly certain that Dhoni will not play Dhawal, I do personally believe that playing Dhawal is the right move. By the logic of not taking risk, it must be Munaf then, for he is the only one that has played international cricket recently. The no risk approach must automatically disqualify the other two then.

But, since we aspire to be the best, we must also try and adopt some of the characteristics of the best. If Australia can blood debutants (in a very very inexperienced bowling attack), why cant India do the same (given the experience and proven skill of theirs)? He is the best fielder of the three, he is probably the quickest, and if I remember correctly, he has the best domestic bowling record of the three.

I pray Dhoni has the balls to make this decision. It has its pitfalls, but given that New Zealand have never seen Dhawal before, it could also reap rich rewards and at the same time send out very strong signals to the international cricket community.

TM said...

Not bad today Munaf!