Ind v B’desh – 1st Test – & the I.V.Y. league

End of day 2 and we’re 384-6 – its been 97 overs of play when there should have been about twice as many. We’ve got them at about 4 an over. The “rest” seems to have done Sachin and Ganguly some good with both getting centuries. One gets 100, the other gets 101. And they both get them at about 60 runs every 100 balls. And speaking of 60%, thats about the chance of rain in Chittagong for the next three days, if you do a analysis of various weather websites and assign a “previously-achieved-success” ratio to them.

Dhoni’s still there scoring at better than a run a ball. Is that just him or is it the pressure or keeping his place that Dinesh Kaarthik (Karthik ? Kaartik? Karthik) is creating? If play starts 30 mins ahead of schedule tomorrow like it is scheduled to (my spider sense says thats less than 60% chance), and our tail wags, I’m guessing Rahul Dravid, his vice captain Sachin Tendulkar (yes, its official now) and their manager Ravi Shastri would accept that winning is a low probability option if we are to bat again? That would make 525-550 a useful first innings starting block and definitely something they would have looked at when play started this afternoon . But thats all conjecture. And its subject to the weather.

And so on to the I.V.Y. league. Why were VVS and Yuvi dropped ? Or was it rested? Lots of theories about it. My mind’s in political weekend mode (Tony Blair just quit, Mayawati’s gonna open Mr B’s tax files, George Bush is going to his ranch and my mid year appraisals are coming a month from now) so this is my theory. We had to play 5 bowlers. That was a given. Good. Positive. That left 6 places. Of these 2 were taken. At least for the first Test. By Mr Vengsarkar saying after the selection committee meeting that the specialist openers were Dinesh K and Wasim Jaffer. So thats 5 bowlers done. 2 Openers. 7 down, 4 to go. Rahul Dravid – 8. Too much flak for Sachin and Saurav -they had to be there – 9 and 10. That left 1 spot. Dhoni, VVS and Yuvi to chose from. And my view is that it was too political a decision between V and Y and so Dhoni won. As simple as that. I dont think it means anything. Because in terms of selection, this series really means very little. Sehwag, VVS, Yuvraj all have to find places in that batting lineup as the year goes by. From V & Y‘s point of view, the far more important thing, in my view, was the official appointment of Sachin Tendulkar as vice captain.

And that brings me to the “I” part of the I.V.Y. part. The part that I just don’t get. Irfan Pathan’s been written here in the past. And its not good form to repeat it but I just don’t get it. First he wasn’t selected for the tour. In either of the ODI or Test sides. Dropped from the World cup squad without a game. Then Sreesanth got injured and sent back. Still no call. (RP Singh got it). And now, Munaf Patel’s broken down again. And is being sent back. And Ishant Sharma’s going to fly into Bangladesh to get the experience and the opportunity. Irfan Pathan’s gonna wonder how he made it to 16th in the ICC rankings but really more than that he’s going to wonder what its going to take to come back.

Hopefully, he still believes that he has what it takes.


39 thoughts on “Ind v B’desh – 1st Test – & the I.V.Y. league

  1. Sfx,

    Irfan Pathan is Irfan Pathan’s problem.

    As regards what it will take forhim to make a comeback, wht has he done thus far to indicate that he has even started thinking in that direction, let alone work towards it.


  2. Sfx,

    A disaster in South Africa.. A no show in the ODI series at home… A passenger in the World Cup… A couple of games in the Twenty 20 thrashfest and then nothing..

    Do you seriously believe that he would not get the press if he was doing something, anything wrt his cricket?

  3. Homer,

    I’m surprised that nobody’s making a noise about the fact that nobody’s making a noise.

    A baroda paper, kiran more plant , jaywant lele sms, aaj tak breaking news , no sponsorship anymore with a bhakarwadi manufacturer … nothing ?

    seriously ? come on … we’ve got 7-8-9 guys in the medium pace – all rounder slot and he cant find a place ?

  4. Sfx,

    Does he deserve a place? Most definitely.

    But now that he is not in the squad and not playing County cricket and not at the MRF Pace Academy and not at the NCA and not at the Popatwadi XI versus Totapur XI, your guess is as good as mine on where he is and what he is doing.

    In a nation where a cricketer sneezing is news, Pathan not making it in the “News in brief” section also, is surprising.

  5. I don’t see how it was a “political” decision to choose Dhoni out of VVS, Yuvraj and Dhoni. It was a decision driven by whether or not Dinesh Karthik was to be saddled with the dual responsibility of keeping wickets as well as opening the batting.

    Karthik, by Dravid’s own admission has been picked primarily as a batsman. This is a leap of faith which fans have not made yet.

    It was a tactical decision and i think all things considered (and i restrict myself to all things cricketing), the eleven selected was the best possible choice – indeed picking Yuvraj or VVS as openers would have amounted to “accommodating” one of these established batsmen.

    The considerations were as follows in my view:

    1. Dinesh Karthik had to be persisted with as an opener.
    2. They wanted to play 5 bowlers (because they wanted to play 2 spinners)

    There is clearly an appreciation within the team management, that being an opener and being a non-opener specialist bat, are two distinct jobs and batsmen have to make themselves available for both in order to be considered for both. After they make themselves available, there have to be positions.

    Quite frankly, i don’t see too many batsmen in the World who would compete successfully for a middle order spot with Tendulkar and Dravid. With Ganguly in good Test form, dropping him would have run contrary to normal cricket wisdom.

    The “dropping” as everyone refers to it, was a tactical choice within the squad – and im certain that every member in the squad understands this.

    And whether you and i like it or not – in Dinesh Karthik, the team management has identified a gem….. and he’s proved them right more often than not. It all boils down to the basis on which players are selected to the national squad and thence to the national eleven. I don’t think this is well understood in a cricketing sense, and unless this is understood in a cricketing sense, i don’t see how other extraneous considerations can be alluded to.

    Thats just my opinion…. i think that too much talent, skill and temperament is required to reach that level of cricket for petty mindedness to creep in at every other turn. And we have to grant this….

  6. Kartikeya,

    Ok, I’ll grant you that. It was about DK as well. The 5 bowlers part, I completely agree with.

    The rest of it is pure conjecture – on your part as well as mine. So lets try this (and we will remember that mock is different from petty).

    We’re team management. We like DK. He’s good. He’s delivered. He’s promising. Works hard. And most importantly – has delivered in crunch situations.

    Here’s the tough part – he’s also a wicketkeeper and in that role we already have a guy who we’d rather have. And the middle order has a number of options. Its way too rich for DK to fit it. Quite frankly, he’s good but not quite the same league.

    So we ask him to open. And he does. In South Africa. And he does well. That innings is the only time he has ever opened.

    Then the chief selector- with due discussion I am sure – calls him and Jaffer – specialist openers.

    Now thats stretching it. DK is a lot of things. He’s talent, guts, glory, patriot, glib, temperament, skill, but specialist opener he isn’t.

    But its the only chance he has. And even that might not be enough to get him games in England and Australia. It will almost certainly get him the squad but Tests – with Viru , VVS and Yuvi to be accomodated I am not sure.

    And yes, I think the team understands this. And so does Rahul Dravid and so , I am sure do VVS and Yuvi. And not for a moment am I doubting the “team spirit” in the decision.

    But this is just an experimental tour. And no I was not being petty minded about it.

    And since this is an “only serious” post, I’ll make another point, and this too is pure conjecture – in my opinion, a side under Greg Chappell might have asked Yuvi, VVS to open. This one didn’t. It chose to “groom” DK as a specialist. Thats a step in the right direction.

    But the 11th guy slot was a tossup between VVS, Yuvi and Dhoni.

    Calling it “political” and clubbing it with Blair, Mayawati, Texas and my boss’ golf game was my poor attempt at humour….

    have a great weekend.

  7. BTW, Kartikeya, I was really keen on your opinions on the EPL / La Liga discussions we were having here – a competitive league not producing good national sports teams.

    I’d appreciate your thots. Thanks

  8. Let me add a couple of points to your conjecture:

    1. The openers cupboard is bare of anything even remotely approaching “exceptional talent”. The best candidate there – Gautam Gambhir, has been making the same mistakes for the last 4 years and has thrown away more opportunities than i care to remember to make a place for himself in the One Day side, let alone the Test side.

    2. Dinesh Karthik has been viewed and played as a specialist batsman for the best part of a year now – it was in South Africa that he got his best chances.

    Thats the basic premise – you pick exceptional individuals – and DK has been identified as one such. If you don’t have a list to choose from as far as the opening slot is concerned, then surely, youre best chance is to look for someone who you think is the best learner and hardest worker around – and to a man, everyone seems to agree (from Chappell downwards), that DK is the best around.

    I would give enormous credit to the team management here for sticking with DK – it would have been extremely tempting to slot VVS into the openers slot (when it has been clear for a while that he isn’t very keen on the job), for the purpose of this easy series against weak bowling on flat wickets and play it safe. Instead, inspite of the general dissatisfaction with the team amongst the members of the public and the press, a difficult decision has been taken showing that the focus is clearly on England.

    I think DK will do well in England – and i’ll stick my neck out and suggest that he will do better than Wasim Jaffer if he keeps his spot. I would be very disappointed if VVS and Yuvraj and Sehwag are accomodated for the England tour, and i don’t think it will happen.

    In fact, i think Sehwag’s time as Test opener is over.

  9. It was not my intention to refer pointedly to anything you may or may not have alluded to and im sorry if it seemed that way…..

    Its just that i tend to look for plausible explanations within a purely cricketing (by that i mean tactical and strategic) context, and often end up tying disparate opinions and statements together in the process of doing to…

    I don’t know if you watched Dinesh Karthik make a hundred against Mumbai in a Ranji Final – a lone battle for him… and he wasn’t half the batsman he is today at the time. It was a brilliant innings.

    Let me put it this way – could Rahul Dravid have become a quality opening batsman if he had put his mind to it? Were Sanath Jayasurya, Michael Vaughan, Justin Langer, Mark Richardson, Virendra Sehwag specialist openers to start with?

    If Dinesh Karthik is picked as a specialist batsman and if he does want to do the openers job (and others haven’t wanted it in the past – VVS himself is an example of this …. possibly SCG as well), then clearly, now is the best time in his career to make the move.

    And India have a happy vacuum (from DK point of view anyhow) in this position. I would persist with him…… if Akash Chopra and Shiv Sunder Das and Wasim Jaffer have been persisted with inspite of averaging in the early to mid thirties, i don’t think DK is going to be significantly worse.

  10. Well, there are a couple of things – a packed calendar of ODI events (garnished with “suggestions” of seperate teams etc) and the Twenty20 stuff which should keep people like Gambhir and Uthapa in the hunt.

    And while I really like DK as well, (dont like the shuffle but think he’ll address it) I think on the Test and ODI side, contrary to popular belief there is actually a pretty nice pool of talent out there. Bench strength if you will. And this is purely potential based.
    DK, Sehwag, Jaffer, VVS, Yuvi, Irfan , Manoj Tewary, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina (DK’s prequel if you will) and a few more ..

    I’m not sure what you mean by VVS and Yuvi’s accomodation for the England tour (like I said – think Sachin as VC is an important announcement but VVS and Yuvi are and shud be integral – in my view) but as far as Sehwag is concerned , I agree – he’s skating on thin ice as far as the opening slot goes.

    Purely DK though, unless something drastically derails him, he’s gonna make every foreseeable squad … flavour of the season – and deservedly so.

  11. Oh yeah…. i read that bit about seperate teams to England and Ireland. I half suspect its a bureaucratic thing and they’ll convene the meeting and end up “retaining the same squad” – but in true BCCI fashion, changing the administrative manager!

    By VVS and Yuvraj’s accomodation – i meant playing them as openers in the batting order simply to ensure they make the eleven – now thats another way of thinking – that the six best batsmen should be in the test eleven, just as the idea that the 4 best bowlers should play – even if two of them are spinners. Think about it – if Australia had 2 McGrath’s and 2 Warnes, would they ever play just one warne? They’ve gone to the extent of picking 2 leg spinners to accomodate Warne.

    Yuvraj and VVS make the squad, no question, but unless Ganguly self-destructs and/or we play 4 bowlers, i don’t see them playing.

    What you say about the talent pool is true – but if you notice, none of those players are openers….

    I didn’t find your premiership/la liga post…. in many ways the situation with English and Italian football is the converse of what it is with Indias first class cricket….. in more ways the one if you think about it.

  12. Kartikeya – re your 4.41 ..

    hey – great points as always – and no apologies.

    I didn’t mean to trivialise anything and I know you dont either.

    Unfortunately – no, I didn’t get to see DK’s Ranji innings but I have seen almost each of the other “significant” ones – ( how easy for me to say ).

    As you said on your piece – it spoke volumes for his character that he didn’t let the “Look, there’s Dhoni !” phenomenon faze him. And he worked on his batting.

    And it gets better when he’s stepping up as opener.

    In the vein of the other names you mentioned , I will always hold it against VVS , that he had that mental block. It cost him and it cost the team. In fact, I think it cost him that he didn’t wanna bat any lower than 3 or 4 “ideally” – the 281 being an example.

    When he got what he wanted, he could exceed himself. Its just that he wanted the team to accomodate him…. Tough genius.

  13. Agree – yuvi and vvs shud not “be accomodated” as openers. – altho I have long wanted india to move out of being the only top side in the world that does not have a left handed opener – and i am sure we are missing a trick there –

    maybe thats why gambhir gets so many chances, i dunno.

    re epl/la liga … those are exactly the points i want to hear … but its like past 2 am in arizona ?
    whenever is ok – the next world cup is a while away šŸ™‚

  14. Given the way things are in England at the moment, and given that we are playing in the second half of the English summer,India can get away with Karthik opening and Dhoni keeping.

    If circumstances were different, if the ball was moving in the air and off the seam, would Karthik’s keeping technique and Dhoni’s batting technique hold up?

    And could India afford to play both of them in the same team at the same time?

  15. Homer,

    Well, its hypothetical and we’re all in conjecture mode, but I guess at this point of time – and given the way things are looking “now” – it sure looks like that is something they might be working towards.

    We’ll carry two keepers in the squad. So might as well zoom in on who we consider the best two are and then sharpen their skills.

    Besides, whats a better alternative? Who would you rather keep?

  16. Sfx,

    Here is the thing – Karthik is a makeshift opener. Sehwag is a makeshift opener. VVS was a makeshift opener. Dravid was a makeshift opener.

    End of the day, what do we expect from our openers? Unless we can get that clear in our heads, we are going to keep chopping and changing players to accommodate players in the middle order.

    Is Karthik the answer to our opening problems? If not, is he playing because we want to accommodate him but there is no room in the middle order? If the top order is fluid, why is the middle order rigid?

    Two wicketkeepers is all fine and dandy – if both are playing in a test, are we going to carry three keepers on an overseas tour?

    What is the identity of our team?

  17. We can add Parthiv Patel to the 11 as well.. Maybe leave out RD.. Parthiv has also performed decently with the bat.. yes in Ranji as well..
    I can never understand the logic of a makeshift opener coming in the team ahead of VVS Laxman. Yuvi, I am still not convinced of his Test place..
    What magnificient centuries by the 2 masters..Strike rate of 60 in a match that you know has got 4 days max.. hats off to the duo.. Maybe it all looks immaterial now as the test is a draw.. But the point of concern is the lack of initiative..

  18. First of all, somebody tell me – how is the guy’s name spelt ? Now Harsha Bhogle’s column now says its Kaarthick ?

    Can we stick to DK ?

  19. Homer ,

    I think they’ll give Jaffer this series – but he really needs to get a bit consistent. (What record did Rahul Dravid crack this week? something about number of century partnerships after coming in at 0-1) ….

    DK’s top of the pops at the mo – that there is very little doubt about…. and he’s delivering. He’s scoring in the crunch situations, he fields well, and I think as Harsha mentioned in an article , is fluent in English. All that helps. Maybe they see him like a Sangakarra …. and consider it a bet worth following … fair enough ? I think it is…

    Admittedly tho, its early in the season and like i said , I am uneasy about his shuffle….

  20. Sfx,

    haven’t seen him play lately so am not sure if the shuffle is exaggerated or not.

    Did not notice a shuffle in the test in South africa.. bad habits ?

    The problem with the Karthik selection is that he is the flavor of the season, not a long term thought out strategy.

    If his shuffle gets in the way of him scoring runs in England, how will we handle him then?

    The tragedy will be if he gets discarded because he was an opener who did not come good – like all others.

  21. Rahul –

    Specialist openers sir. The Chairman of Selectors himself said so…

    And dont start about Parthiv Patel. I’m done with defending a Baroda person for this post šŸ™‚

    re Sachin and Dada tho. – they came in at 132-3 – and honestly with 5 batters, as the last specialist pair – and added 189 in 51 overs (3.69 before you reach for your fancy Blackberry) – thats not too shabby, no?

  22. Homer,

    As a trader, I’ll tell ya ,
    if it works, its a long term thought out strategy; if it doesn’t, it was only the flavour of the season šŸ™‚

    And about the shuffle, I’ll try scout a youtube thingy now . I just looked but all i could see was a 20/20 bit with Rohan Gavaskar in commentary and there sure is a shuffle there … the one that i recall is not as pronounced but its there upon delivery .. we’ll see.

    And does Parthiv play for gujrat ? ok then, lets take him too šŸ™‚ cos if its baroda, i’m done ..

  23. Sfx,

    As a trader you will know that the punts you take are calculated ones.

    If that is the case – playing Karthik is a punt, a good one at that but Karthik as opener?Over an extended period of time?

    where is the “strategiery” here?

  24. Sfx,

    If we , as Kartikeya says, play Karthik as a pure batsman. Then the question when we go to England and Australia is, who is the second keeper in the squad?

    given this context, how would we construct a squad of XV for these tours?

    7 bats, 7 bowlers and 1 keeper or 6 bats, 2 keepers and 7 bowlers?

  25. Homer,

    Well, its worked so far – and I guess a with all trades that look good when they start, we’ll just have to say “well, we’ll see about that”…..

    p.s. meanwhile, karthikeya has written in a nice piece on the epl/ la liga round robin in case you hadn’t seen it …

  26. Thats a good question….. “What do we expect from our openers?”.

    I think the answer is consistent runs – Test hundreds.

    Thats where Akash Chopra failed because he had trouble getting the ball off the square. Rajan Bala’s article about his locked wrist has been panned (and Bala did not distinguish himself in recent months), but he was right about Chopra’s technique.

    And thats why, fundementally, we need an opener who can actually bat – bat to make runs. Thats why Sehwag succeeded so spectacularly…

  27. Who is a ‘specialist’ opener is my question.. Is Matthew Hayden who leaves almost nothing for the keeper one? Is VS one? Is Chris Gayle one? Is Jayasuriya one? Is Fleming one?..
    Well as a wicket keeper batsman, DK fits the bill perfectly.. I will prefer him over MSD in a test match any day. But taking him as a specialist batsman is taking things a bit too far.. The Parthiv bit was more sarcasm than serious thoughts.. Most of the positives that were mentioned about DK as a batter were present in Parthiv as well..
    2 innings stand out – the one against England, when he saved a test match for us and the other against Pakistan when our fearless captain of that time, fed him to Shoaib Akhtar as an opener.. He passed with flying colours.. So all this guts/ temperament etc were there to be seen (as a batter only) in YOUNG Parthiv.. Our current manager had said in his usual nasal tones – mark my words – here’s a guy who is the future of Indian cricket.. He seems to be saying the same about DK now.. The problem is as a commentator is like a research guy .. Never cares if his views go wrong.. But as a manager, he can do much bigger harm..

  28. Rahul – Excellent point about Parthiv and those innings – the Pak innings in partic , I really remember (Rawalpindi ? 65 ?) – and you;re right too – at that time , he was considered to be the next big thing – all of 16-17 with all the big dreams and ads …
    This is what the issue with a wicketkeeper losing his place in India is … he’s asked to go back to the domestic circuit and then its really difficult getting back . Truth is , we judge a keeper in domestic cricket by his batting skills. Ironically , parthiv’s batting skills were never in doubt – its the keping skills that were .. but back to gujarat he went – lower visibility , poorer coaching facilities and no way of proving himself. Once in a while, a tournament where , guess what , his batting skills get tested …
    Its a tough street ….

  29. Pretty rough day for Dravid – from the looks of it – 122/7 down to where it all ended and now with half the day washed out on day 5 as I write this – its gonna haunt him for the next few days till the next test starts …

    And was giving lotsa credit to Mortaza (still due, I suppose), but he had a 8.57 Test avg prior to this Test ?! – wow ….

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