Monday, July 4, 2011

India in England 2011 - The Team.

Hello people,

As we wait, hyped as the biggest matchup of this year, the England vs India test series in England, I thought of the squad selected by India for the same. Before that, I think India vs South Africa was the biggest match-up for this year. And it lived up to the expectation. The cricket played was hard and high quality. Even the audience, like me, felt the exhaustion after that series. To add to that when India won the world cup, it was virtually like we were pretty exhausted and soaking it all in and resting! But the BCCI, whose idiots need $$ first played out a ‘tamasha’ that was IPL and then sent the team to the WI and the poor [not sure about that] players are playing in a series that is watched by a couple of West Indians, the TV crew, the ground staff and some dogs.
Coming to the team selected for the England series, which obviously will be a tough one, I thought it was a fair call. At least considering our selection committee, it’s definitely a fair call. So let’s just have a look at the squad.
The squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Gautam Gambhir (vice-capt), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Abhinav Mukund, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar
   1. Gautam Gambhir : Gambhir has been a profilic scorer for India in tests, especially coming back after  McGrath and co toyed with him in 04’. He has problems with the short ball and the England bowlers being tall will certainly trouble him. He, despite being injured played in the IPL and –I thought that was a ridiculous and selfish decision – has no practice except playing ‘the likes of Sreesanth’ in the nets. He has surprised some [including me] when he played somewhat ok in South Africa. He has not had overseas tours to show off which makes him an under-scanner player. [Not on his position in the team, but on his place among cricketers]
Verdict : Could be the surprise man. But not dependable.
   2.    Virender Sehwag: A maverick! Instinctive player. Nothing to say as news about Sehwag. Has played in England before during his early days. So he averages only 40. But he has a quick 100 among the 237 runs he has scored in England. It would be a curious fact – would be overly strict – to say that he needs to be tested against England in England. He has had a stint with Leicestershire, which was a successful one in 2003. He scored 478 runs in 10 innings in 6 first class games with 2 100s and as usual striking at 95.
     Verdict : Could be the match/series winner. Could be an utter flop as well.

3.     Abhinav Mukund : He is the backup opener and is most likely to play in the first test at Lords. This is amazing luck for this youngster. He was picked over his team mate who is perhaps taking it easy on the back of his IPL century last year. But has now learned that you can’t be a superstar ever with on T20 100 as magnificent as it may be. Mukund was susceptible against the short ball in the WI. Nothing much is expected of him, but a 30 or 40 and supporting Gambhir and taking the pressure off him. If India wins the toss at Lords, how the openers perform could decide the series.
Verdict : Has a chance to be next in line, but nothing much is expected off him.
       4. Rahul Dravid : Well, what should I say. He has a tremendous record in England and has played part in wins in England. But off late has lost his reflexes a bit and may, just a small ‘may’, struggle if England bowlers bowl splendid. But by what he has shown in the WI India can hope. If he clicks India will have it a bit more easily.
   Verdict : Has to be a holder of one end. As always allow others to play pressure free.
   5.    Sachin Tendulkar: He is looking for that 100. And to score it during the 2000th test and the 100th test between the 2 countries – nothing can be more special. I guess that’s why he did not pay in the WI. He didn’t want to score that 100 in front of no one. He has a tremendous record as he does everywhere except in Pakistan and Zimbabwe. He, says my gut feeling, will be the man who will take India to victory. Last time he played with grit rather than flare. But this time I expect flare.
Verdict : As always, the match/series winner India looks up to. 1% chance to flop. ;)

   6.  VVS Laxman : Very very special, surprisingly or unsurprisingly[he doesn’t have a good footwork] doesn’t have a 100 in England! He will want to correct that. Even though he has a decent record in England, he will be susceptible against the swing. May be someone should always manipulate the score card to say, India are 150/7 when he bats. ;) India would want him to play well, as the bowling lineup is really good. His county stints might help him to get his 100.
Verdict: Will look to correct the record, but should be allowed to play freely. India will look to him when under pressure.  Don’t be surprised if he flops.

7.    Yuvraj Singh: It’s a cliché. Man having talent and not utilizing it. Yuvraj is a great example in Tests. Has not played a test in England. Will look for inspiration from ODI performances in the famous Natwest series. Most certainly Swann will trouble him. He should avoid being Marcus North of India. Swing also can trouble him. Could be in trouble with his ego. But if he clicks along with the top order, India will win it at least 2-0.
Verdict: Expected to have an average series. If he does lose it, India will be pulled back. Confidence player.

    8.    Suresh Raina: Will be used only if Yuvraj fails. Untested in foreign conditions. Is expected to be in trouble. Should really concentrate on his job. This [Yuvraj/Raina] position is the key after Sehwag.
    Verdict: Expected to play only after India take a 3-0lead J. Jokes apart, if Yuvraj fails and he gets his chance, it will be advantage England. So has to not lose his cool.

9.    MS Dhoni: His captaincy skills will be looked up to the most. With the bat he is not expected to do much. He has of course saved a match last time around. But expecting a repeat is not worth it. But the thing he can do is to put the cherry on top if the top order clicks together. A 70 ball 80 would be shattering for England if the top order gets 350-400. Has to use Harbhajan and Zaheer wisely. Has to keep Sreesanth calm [ but apparently he is not interested]. Has to keep Ishant and Yuvraj confident.
      Verdict: Nothing to say. Just lead the team well!
10.  Wridhiman Saha: This is a questionable selection for me. Has no credentials as a batsman. But will play only if something happens to Dhoni – which would be disastrous. Has a good first class record. A good keeper. But not a great one as some make out. An average batsman doesn’t necessarily mean a good keeper. May be Dinesh Karthick could have been chosen. He also has a not so bad prior experience in England.
 Verdict: Not expected to play. Could be a problem if such a situation comes.

     11.  Harbhajan Singh: He has a big task on his hand. Not only is he expected to take wickets, but he will be evaluated head to head with Swann. Loves it when such a situation comes. It pumps him up. Hopefully he will be at his best which is certainly required as Zaheer would need an experienced backup. But if he doesn’t click, that could affect his confidence and thus India’s chances. Expected to score some important and demoralizing [for England] runs.
Verdict: Could play an important part if India are to win. Same if India are to lose!

12.  Amit Mishra: His position will be same that Raina plays. Backup to Harbhajan. Not expected to play. Will be hard on him. But Harbhajan has to click, if India is to win. Mishra can get a bit mechanical at times. Also he doesnt use his googly efficiently. May be Oragyan Ojha could have been a better pick, considering KP[ But I am not for selecting a player just for a single opposition player].
Verdict: Could play in Trentbridge. But mostly, will not. Expected to perform if plays.

13.  Zaheer Khan: Expected to play a crucial part. His role will be as important as Sehwag, if not more. If he clicks India has a better chance to win. If he fails, India WILL lose. Won the series last time around. KP and co be ready with some jelly beans please! J
Verdict: Expected to win it for India. Plenty of experience in England.

14.  S Sreesanth: I would like to call him arrogant and careless instead of calling him volatile. He lacks temperament and can be a liability and frustration for the team mates themselves. But on his day, he can rip apart any batting line up. He has got the one of the best seam positions for an outswing. It would depend on how Dhoni [or as Dhoni says, he himself]  controls him. Last time around, even Michael Vaughn was flustered by his idiotic behavior. He needs to keep the pressure that Zaheer exerts from one end. Many times he just lets the pressure off when the other end is going tight. Example was the first spell in World Cup final.
Verdict: Can swing a match within a spell. The catch is - either ways!

   15.  Ishant Sharma: High on confidence now after a ten-for, he can be Indias answer to Finn or Tremlet. He can generate pace and bounce and has a good slower ball. Should improve in his strike rate and pick up regular wickets, to support the spearhead.
 .      Verdict: Important part of the pace attack. Zaheer would look for support in him. 

   16.  Munaf Patel: Will play only if Ishant goes out of form. Sreesanth will be replaced by Praveen. Patel, even though maintains discipline, can be a bit predictable. KP and others can easily and perhaps successfully use the technique he used against McGrath [though unsuccessfully].
Verdict: Not expected to play a major part. But if Ishant goes out of form, will be expected to create pressure so that Sreesath or Zaheer can strike.

17.  Praveen Kumar: His strength is his swing. He has earned his place after a long toil. But still can’t expect to get a place. He can use the conditions and swing the ball alarmingly for the English batsmen. But lack of pace can hurt him.
Verdict: If he plays, he is expected to pick wickets quickly at the top.

My 11 would be:
1.    Gambir
2.    Sehwag/Mukund
3.    Dravid
4.    Sachin
5.    Laxman
6.    Yuvraj
7.    Dhoni
8.    Harbhajan
9.    Zaheer
10.  Ishant
11.  Sreesanth
12.  Raina



  1. OMG !! Accepted !! how much time you took?
    Why dint you do as such for worldcup or so?

  2. Thanks mate. TO answer your question,
    For the simple reason that I was not active here during the World Cup;).

  3. raina will be in starting 11.saha is best keeper after dhoni.kartik had very bad season and also has missed many simple dismissals.I think keeping is more important than batting in tests for keeper,imagine kartik drops cook and he scores 100.

  4. @Gaurav

    I have not seen Saha enough at international level to say that he is CLEARLY better than either Karthick or Patel. Considering Patels and Karthicks batting, they are ahead for me. Especially Karthick performed well last time around in England. So the confidence will be there. Some times a players confidense matters and it is up when you know you have done well here last time around. But it doesnt matter as Dhoni mostly wont get injured ;)

    Considering present situation , after Rainas performance in the lsat test as well, looks like he will play the first test.

  5. thanks for reply.Zaheer will be key.I think england has real problem against left armers.Last time zaheer,rp, amir vs pak,nehra in 2003 world cup.Also because they lack good left arm in county.I can only remember ryan sidebottom.Harbhajan will be successfull because of good bounce he will get.And also because england has not faced half as good spinner in recent series-herath,Hauritz ,paul harris.

  6. Yeah, good point about lefties. But this time they would be prepared to leave Zaheer outside off. I am doubtful about Harbhajan though. Only hope is that he will be charged up because of competition from Swann.


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