Tuesday, September 18, 2007
After conceding 76 runs in two games, the most by an Indian bowler at the T20 World Cup so far, it seems inevitable that Agarkar will finally be replaced, especially now that the green signal has come from Mumbai in the form of his sacking from the ODI team. He's been an enigma with his ability to produce wicket-taking deliveries undone by his inability to maintain control in his quest for pace and variety. In the end, he was the principal contributor in too many Indian losses, and did not play enough match-winning roles to compensate for that, although his six-fer in Adelaide will always be cherished. Now let's look at the possible replacements. My choice would be Rohit Sharma. I have no idea if this youngster can bat anywhere near what has been written about him, but to be picked in the team as a limited overs bat right from the Ireland series and not to get a game yet despite India's poor run since then is ridiculous. It's even more ridiculous that he now finds himself out of the ODI team! This now raises questions whether he was picked on merit or as a passenger to make a little pocket money. I hope he at least gets a chance to show it's the former in the next two games. Picking Piyush Chawla for Agarkar will be a temptation that I hope the team resists, because the first two games have shown we are light in batting resources. So Chawla should get in only if Bhajji fails. Another replacement that is again overdue (on the pattern of the series in England) is that of Dinesh Karthick. He gave that ball from Vettori an almighty heave and still failed to clear the square leg boundary. Maybe he needs to go to the gym and bulk up for the hitting required in limited overs cricket. Until then, let's save him for the Tests where he has done well to come good as an opener and put Dhoni's position under a scanner. (If Dhoni's poor form with the bat continues, he can be replaced in Tests by the many middle order batsmen knocking on the door.) Karthick's position should go to Yusuf Pathan, another player I have not seen in action. He's reputed to be a hard-hitter and can scarcely do worse than Karthick. Besides, he can chip in with his off-spin for the fifth bowler's quota or that of one of the main bowlers who starts going for too many. As for Joginder Sharma, I wasn't impressed with this bits-and-pieces player when I saw him last and his selection wasted an opportunity to identify a new bowler or batsman. Perhaps he's a passenger too. Devious are the ways of our board.