Wednesday, January 11, 2006


The most eagerly awaited Test series India has played since... well since the last Indo-Pak series in 2005.. is about to begin.. Given the drama and non-stop excitement generated in the last 2 encounters between these neighboring foes, this series offers a mouth-watering treat to all cricket fanatics all over the sub-continent..

The most popular soap opera on Indian Television in the past 6 months has been “Kahani Indian Cricket Ki”.. salacious revelations.. malicious e-mails.. middle finger salutes.. contorted elections.. sacked “Maharajas”.. You could not have hoped for a more engaging storyline..

But this post is not about games played outside the cricket field.. This post is about the Test starting in a couple of days time.. and about the team selection dilemma faced by Dravid and Chappell.. One may call this an embarrassment of riches of sorts.. with so many contenders for each spot..
Today, I plan to play Super-Selector.. and pick the team I think will take the field on Friday.. I will come back to this post after the Test begins to mark whether I got it right or not..

Let’s 1st chalk out the major selection issues on the table..
1. Gambhir Vs. Jaffar :- Jaffar has been in tremendous form in domestic cricket this season, and has also scored a half century in the warm-up game.. Gambhir has been in woeful form in the Tests against Sri Lanka, but has experience of playing against Pakistan in last year’s series.. and he too has scored a 50 in the warm-up game..
2. Ganguly Vs. Yuvraj :- Yuvraj has scored 50s in last 2 Tests vs. Sri Lanka, as well as a 50 in the warm-up game.. and what’s more, he had scored a 100 in Pakistan last time.. Ganguly has picked up 5 wickets and scored 2 50s in the last Ranji game..
3. 3 Pacers Vs. 2 Spinners:- January in Pakistan is very cold.. and ideal for fast bowling.. This calls for 3 pacers to be included in the squad.. But then, it would mean leaving out either Herbhajan or Kumble..
4. Harbhajan Vs. Kumble:- If India decide to play 3 quicks, one spinner will have to sit out.. Herbhajan took 10 wickets in the last Test.. and Kumble did the same a Test before that.. So, who should get the axe?

Now for my ideas..
1. Gambhir over Jaffer.. because (a) he has played all of the Pakistan’s bowlers before (b) he will form a right hand –left hand combination with Sehwag at the top (c) he is a free stroking player who can take the attack to the Pakistanis, as compared to a dour Jaffer..
2. Ganguly over Yuvi.. very very tough call.. and very unfair on Yuvi.. but I believe Ganguly can act as an additional seamer.. which can be specially helpful if the wicket helps quicks.. coupled with the fact that he has been in good bowling form in domestic cricket..
3. 2 Pacers and 2 Spinners.. With Ganguly providing the extra seam bowling option, I guess India can go in with 2 regular pacers (Pathan and Zaheer), and 2 spinners (Harbhajan and Kumble).. Both spinners are in top form, and could trouble the opposition irrespective of the type of wicket they are bowling on..

Here is my starting lineup for Friday..

So here it is.. I have stuck my neck out and selected the Indian Team for the 1st Test against Pakistan.. I will be back on Friday to review my team..

Comments welcome.....

Caveat:- I have selected the team without having any information about the pitch conditions, which play the most crucial role in selection of any test side.. I hope I am allowed some margin of error on that count.. :)

Friday, 13th Jan 2006 :-
Surprise !! Surprise !! Ganguly and Yuvraj both in the team. And both Gambhir and Jaffer out.
I had thought that the Indian selectors had learnt their lessons from years of falied experiments with stop-gap openers (Mongia, Deep Dasgupta, Laxman, Manjrekar, Parthiv Patel, Dravid). But sadly, they haven't. They have decided to experiment with Ganguly this time. I cannot imagine such a decision been taken by Dravid and Chappell. I guess they have been forced to include Ganguly in the such by forces higher up in the hirarchy. To have both Ganguly and Yuvraj in the team would mean only one thing, one of them will have to open the innings. And this time, the burden has fallen on Ganguly's lazy shoulders.
What this has done is made Ganguly's future in the Indian team even more uncertain. Unless he succeeds big time, he will soon be replaced by a regular opener. And then, he wont be able to return to the middle order either, as Yuvraj would have cemented his place by then.
So I belive we might just be seeing Ganguly play his last couple of tests for India now...

1 comment:

Nikhil Kulkarni said...

I am no cricket expert but the choice between Yuvi and Ganguly is to be straight.
Reason: Manage political equations in the team. It will be a very boild decision to play Yuvi while a former captain mans the stands. Imagine the situation if Ganguly has to run with drinks into the field for Yuvi.