Return of Sehwag & Gambhir difficult after success of young players

Last Updated: Mon, Jul 29, 2013 04:56 hrs

There was never any doubt that India would win the first three matches of the ongoing ODI mismatch in Zimbabwe, nor  is there I suppose any doubt that India are going to make a clean sweep of the series. 

The disparity between the two teams is enormous and this is reflected in the ICC rankings which have India at No 1 and Zimbabwe at No 10. 

But the heartening aspect of the victory is that it has been notched up by a young, inexperienced squad with the selectors wisely deciding to rest some of the senior players and continuing to discard the tried and tested stars whose game it would appear has seen better days. 

The success of the hitherto untried young players like Jaydev Unadkat and Ambati Rayudu means that it is going to be that much more difficult for stars like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh to make a comeback. 

Waiting in the wings are Mohit Sharma, Cheteswar Pujara and Pervez Rasool. 

Also the success of the youngsters will keep the established players who have been rested on their toes. 

It is a good thing that places in the team are up for grabs and the competition is so intense. Indian cricket can only benefit from this upbeat scenario.
The recent success of the Indian team centres round the fact that two of the six batsmen or two of the five bowlers are willing to lift their hands up and be counted whenever the chips are down. This is something that makes the Indians formidable opposition these days.

In the first match it was the duo of Virat Kohli and Rayudu while in the second it was the combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Dinesh Kartik. Similiarly in bowling Amit Mishra and Unadkat made their presence felt. This way the occasional failures batsmen and bowlers necessarily have to endure is covered up more than adequately.
I have been particularly pleased with the bowling of Unadkat. The first time I saw him a few years ago I reckoned he was one for the future. 

I was glad that he got his chance in the Test against South Africa in 2010. 

In the ultimate analysis perhaps he was being rushed at 19 to tackle formidable opposition. South Africa won by an innings, all the bowlers ended up with figures they see in their worst nightmares as South Africa declared at 620 for four and Unadkat was no exception. 

But Unadkat is strong willed and ambitious and I had no doubt he would take this setback in his stride and strive hard for a comeback. Now that he has made a comeback via the ODI squad the next step for him is to make a serious challenge for a Test place.

It will not be easy with Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar around but it will not be a major surprise if Unadkat forces himself in. 

The left arm fast medium bowler has a smooth run up, always makes the ball do something that is disconcerting for even the well settled batsman and he can be quite a handful on a surface that is even slightly helpful – like he showed in the second ODI.
The spin bowlers’ places in the regular Indian team are filled up what with the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja around and Pragyan Ojha the first reserve. But there is little doubt that Amit Mishra is the best leg spinner around and should this mode of attack be wanted to lend some balance to the attack on a track that encourages turn he will be the first choice.

His bowling in the ongoing series has been impressive and he is not afraid of giving the ball a lot of air despite the fact that quite a few Zimbabwe batsmen love to play the big hits. This is the hallmark of an attacking leg spin bowler. 

A haul of nine wickets in three matches is not to be scoffed at whatever the opposition. Jadeja has been accurate as ever underlined by the fact that he has conceded just over 100 runs in his 30 overs.
The disappointments have been Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina among the batsmen and Vinay Kumar and Md Shami among the bowlers. 

Another disappointing aspect has been the team management’s decision to play the same side in all three matches. One wonders whether Pujara, Mohit, Rahane and Rasool have gone on tourist visas. The tour is an ideal opportunity to try out all players, particularly Mohit and Rasool who have not played an international game yet.
Yet another disappointment has been the behaviour of Kohli. It was hoped that the responsibilities of captaincy would help curb his notorious temper but it seems to have had no effect. 

His tantrums in the second ODI were quite unacceptable. When the third umpire who has the best view of things gives a batsman out he has to accept it and start walking back to the pavilion. It made no point for Kohli to argue with the on field umpires for they can only act upon the TV umpire’s decision. 

His asking for the third umpire to check again whether the catch by Malcolm Waller was valid showed him in poor light. 

When will Kohli take a leaf from the book of the man who he is tipped to succeed?  Even in pressure situations MS Dhoni has remained calm, cool and composed and this has been a crucial factor in his successful tenure as Indian captain. 

Kohli might have earned his spurs as a batsman but has still a long way to go before being accepted as a leader.   

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