Thursday, September 13, 2007
Forget the fab four
It's not the fab four - Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman - that I miss as India start their T20 campaign. It's the bowlers Zaheer and Powar. I think Agarkar is cannon fodder, and I can only fathom that a Maharashtra clique of Pawar and Vengsarkar, Gavaskar and Tendulkar, facilitate his many inexplicable comebacks into the Indian team in spite of driving captains to distraction with his profligate bowling. Dravid caught the flak for giving that last over to Yuvraj in England which went for five sixes. But it was Agarkar's earlier spell of three overs for around 40 runs that prompted him to do so. I don't know how Harbhajan can be picked ahead of Powar, who has consistently bowled far more economically and taken more wickets over the last two years. It was Powar who won us the one-day series against England at home, and his reward for that was to be left out of the one-day World Cup. Now he's the guy who kept us competitive in the Natwest series by being the most economical bowler, and his reward is to sit out the T20 World Cup and watch Harbhajan get tonked. I don't know what Irfan Pathan has done to get back into the team, but the last I saw him he had lost his pace and movement and just couldn't bowl with any confidence. We should've rested Zaheer in a few one-day games in England and brought him to South Africa. Piyush Chawla is coming along very nicely as a bowler but he was not as economical as Powar in the Natwest series. In this form of the game, on these South African pitches, his loopy leg spin is liable to go for too many sixes. RP Singh is the best of the lot, but unfortunately Dravid did not give him sufficient exposure to international limited overs cricket in England, and he is still too inexperienced. He needs time to master the yorker and develop a slower ball. So it's the bowling that seems really too weak in this side that is supposed to represent India. In the batting, I'm not missing the fab four much because we have good hitters, especially on tracks with little sideways movement. Yuvraj is in good form, and Dhoni might rediscover on South African pitches the touch that he lost in England. Uthappa, you beauty! And Gambhir, whatever his other shortcomings, is no plodder. Rohit Sharma holds the record for the fastest century in domestic T20, and I'm looking forward to seeing him finally (and figure out why Dravid did not give him a single game in a seven-match series that we lost!) Irfan Pathan can certainly wield the willow even if his bowling has become club standard, and his brother is reputed to be a hard-hitting bat too. The only worry is whether they can handle the short stuff, because from the few matches we've seen it's clear a good pull shot is important, and only Yuvraj plays that with any authority in our team. But there's hope in the batting. The trouble is what happens to these blokes if they do well. Will they retain their places in the Indian team, or will they have to make way when the fab four (or terrific trio) choose to return in the one-days to come?