The Four Most Important Indian Cricketers

6feb5-ms-dhoni

Since his debut ten years ago in 2005 you will be pushed to find any player who’s had as much impact on his side than MS Dhoni. There is no doubt that along with Graeme Smith he has been the best international captain of the last decade. Playing in a side where fans hero worshiped Sachin and Kohli it has naturally been a challenge to stand out, but Dhoni has made sure he stood out.

Being a massive fan of MS Dhoni I would say that he rightly deserves his place in the pantheon of Indian greats. His achievements particularly as captain should not be underestimated. There are four Indians who have changed Indian cricket and Dhoni is part of this illustrious group. Without these four players we would never have seen the likes of Sachin and Kohli.

Gavaskar the first of these, brought Indian cricket its  first real hero. He stood up to the great West Indian side and brought a belief to India. Gavaskar was a big inspiration to Sachin Tendulkar. Who knows the little master may not have come to the fore without a hero like Sunil Gavaskar.

The next man to change Indian cricket has to be Kapil Dev, in my opinion Indian cricket owes all to him. He was the first Indian who could physically match the English and Aussies. His all action game took a mediocre Indian side to win their first world cup. That one match has changed the course of international cricket. Without that world cup win, would India have been as cricket mad as they are now? It would have taken a lot longer for the sport to fully develop.

In terms of the next most important man, it has to be Ganguly. This man brought the much needed aggressive side to Indian cricket. He proved to many that we will not be bullied by teams. His sides were exciting to watch and played an attacking style of cricket. Ganguly stabilised the Indian captaincy at a time where Indian cricket could have potentially gone backwards.

Dhoni is next on this list. His role as captain over a period of time has been the most successful in the countries history. The transition of India becoming a cricketing superpower was under Dhoni’s captaincy. Off the field politics and corruption are just one of the challenges he has had to overcome. Another challenge was to guide India in a period where legend after legend retired. Despite this his record is second to none, having won the T20 World Cup, World Cup, IPL on numerous occasions and guiding India to Test World No 1.

In my opinion the four above named players have laid the foundation to India becoming the side they are. They have allowed players to flourish and become superstars. Honourable mentions have to go to Sachin Tendulkar who himself has inspired a generation mainly due to natural talent and hard work. Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Signh and Virat Kohli who will all join the Indian Hall of Fame. Despite having not seen Dhoni’s legacy it is safe to say he like the others has all changed Indian cricket. The next question is to see it Kohli can make it onto this list?

Advertisements

Who Will Win IPL 2015?

Who Will Win IPL 2015?

Love it or hate it the IPL is one of the most exciting cricket competitions. It always brings to light potential young stars of Indian cricket as well as future world stars. What I love most is the team spirit of those players who last month hated each other. As always it is hard to call a winner. Please vote below as who you would like to win and write a comment explaining why you want this team.

Well Played New Zealand – Unlucky South Africa

NewZealand v South Africa

Todays semi final saw the two sides who are dubbed as semi final chokers face off. Unlucky for South Africa they still hold the tag. It turned out to be the game of the competition so far. From the moment when the anthems were played to the very last ball, every single player gave it his all. It must really hurt for the players and fans of South Africa to have lost such a game.

The game reminded us all of how good top level 50 over cricket can be. As a neutral it was amazing seeing the big names all perform in a game. Im sure none of that matters for the players of South Africa at the moment, but they should really take some credit in the way they played their cricket. They must feel they are really jinxed with world cup semi finals.

Since the last world cup South Africa have been the stand out side for about three and a half years. They only started to falter in the lead up to the world cup. Conversely New Zealand have really gone a bit under the radar, always having the players but never the right performances when it matters. It does help that they have played every game in their own country so far, but the final will be in Australia.

There is something to having home advantage at a world cup. India and Sri Lanka battled out the last final (the two countries who have most exposure to those types of pitches) and this one possibly could be New Zealand v Australia.

The other semi final should be another cracker. India did not perform against the Aussies all winter, not winning a single match against them all tour. This is the match that matters the most. Can India bring their A game? This is what they have done throughout the world cup, if they do it should be another massive match.

All in all I feel the four best sides were in the semi finals, after that it all depends on what happens over the course of 100 overs. I really have a feeling for India now, but you can never say never with Australia. Bring on Thursday morning.

Cricket World Cup Squads & Predictions (Group A)

CWCFinal

It’s four years since the last cricket world cup, hasn’t that time gone fast. We have seen the retirement of many players since the last world cup including Sachin Tendulkar, Graeme Smith and Jaques Kallis. This tournament will be the last time you will see Jayawardena, Sangakara and most probably MS Dhoni. Here is a small preview of key men to watch out for and my predictions for each team.

Australia:

Star Man: Mitchell Johnson

Watch Out For: Mitchell Starc – He is just waiting to explode to the next level

A youthful but very experience Australia squad has been picked. They have explosive batsmen throughout the side, mixed in with good allrounders and fast bowlers who know the conditions well. They are rightly the favourites for the competition. Lets hope Michael Clark is fit enough to play, as he is a top player. All the players have played in both the Big Bash and IPL. Letting them bat first could give any team a major headache. Predictions: Winners

England:

Star Man: Moeen Ali

Watch Out For: Jos Butler – Could this be his time to show the world what we have seen brief glimpses of?

England go into the tournament as outsiders. They had selection issues involving the captain Alistair Cook. He is now disposed as the captain (rightly so). A lot will depend on the middle order, Bopara, Butler, Broad and Jordan will all have to play well for England to do anything. Morgan was also off form while Joe Root will require help from his team mates, as he has been carrying the side along with Ali. England will either fall at the group stage or go quite far, I feel the earlier. Predictions: Quater Finals

Sri Lanka:

Star Man: Mahela Jayawerdene

Watch Out For: Dinesh Chandimal – It seems we are still waiting for the undoubted talent to step up to the level of past great Sri Lankan players

Do not write Sri Lanka off ever. They have this habit of getting to big finals and loosing. With players such as Sangakara and Jayawerdene in the side they have the quality to beat any team. Where they are lacking is the bowling department. Hearth and Kulasekara are decent but have no one to back them up. They also have an ageing squad, expect them to not be as good in the field as past Sri Lankan sides. Prediction: Quater Finals

Bangladesh:

Star Man: Shakib Al Hassan

Watch Out For: Tamin Iqbal – Still amazingly only 25 years of age, he has not done it in a while. We all know what he can do when he gets it right.

It will be hard for Bangladesh to make a positive impact on this tournament, due to the very different conditions. They do have a talented side all of whom are still young. I still can’t believe that Shakib is only 27 years old, on his day he is one of the worlds best allrounders. Predictions: Group Stage

New Zealand:

Star Man: Brendon McCullum

Watch Out For: Corey Anderson – An exciting allrounder

Home advantage will help New Zealand. I feel this is the best limited overs side that they have produced since I can remember. They are a side that is hard to beat and with players such as McCullum in their side they can be explosive. A lot will depend on Boult and Southee to get the bowling off to a good start. Taylor and Williamson will have to play well in the middle order too. Predictions: Semi Finals

NB: Afghanistan & Scotland also in this group

For group B click here.

Bye Bye MS Dhoni (Legend)

Following on from the poor showing in Australia, MS Dhoni has decided to call it time on his test match career. This was something that was on the cards (read my article after the 2nd test finished). India’s most successful captain will continue in ODI cricket where he will look to defend the world cup. It would not surprise me if he called it quits totally after that is up.

Unfortunately his test career slightly fizzled out, I am not certain that his heart was in playing on at test level for a while now. This seemed to come across in the way he was playing. That apart he has been a phenomenal player for India in test cricket. As mentioned above his record for India makes him their best test match skipper. His combined test and ODI record would also see him in the top 10 captains of all time. The icc rankings (taken from the icc website) puts him at number 3 in this list. Read my blog from 2012 here questioning why Dhoni was so hated.

All this is not bad for a player who many said is not cut out for test cricket. Six centuries and many more fifties later he is having the last laugh. I remember a few of those hundreds, in particular the magnificant 148 he scored against Pakistan in only his second test series. Or the match winning 224 scored with SIX sixes and TWENTY FOUR fours against Australia.

He also holds the record for most dismissals by an Indian, the third highest all-time runs scored by a wicketkeeper and the only Indian to captain a test side to four consecutive test wins. I will also remember him for his calm persona as well as being one of the last fair players. Calling back Ian Bell when the Englishman was clearly being stupid was one such example.

Under his stewardship India reached number 1 in test cricket as well as thrashing most teams at home. Where he will be questioned is the performance of the side away from India. The double whooping by England and Australia and defeats to South Africa and New Zealand away is something that may stick to his name. But lets forget that and remember the good things.

MS Dhoni leaves Indian test cricket in a good place, with Kohli at the helm with lots of exciting younger players the times will be good. Good luck to Virat Kohli who has big big boots to fill. Thanks for the memories Captain Cool.

England v India – My Thoughts

Following a sports team can bring many highs as well as many lows. Especially if that team is the Indian cricket team. I can’t quite bring my self to understand what happened in the test & ODI series, but be sure we won’t be hearing the last of these problems for both sides.

Where to start with India’s problems? The same old problems of a test series abroad still haunt Indian cricket. On paper India should have performed far better than they did in the test series. The only players who can take any consolation from the series are Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Murali Vijay, Ajinke Rahane and MS Dhoni at a push (a big push).

Talking of Dhoni, he did well in patches with the bat but not to the level we expect from him. He seems to be playing within himself. His captaincy was at times to safe in the test series. India started the series very well, with a battling performance on that flat pitch at Trent Bridge, and a great win at Lords. But after that game we saw the same Indian performance that we got in the UK last time around, albeit with different players.

I have said it for a while now but India have a great bowling attack to compliment the star studied batting. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is looking more and more like a young James Anderson, while Sami and Ishant scared the English with their pace. Shame Ishant Sharma got injured after Lords, his injury made a difference. Punkaj Signh tried very hard but wasn’t really up to the standard.

There were two other talking points for India to think about in the test series. The first being the situation between Jadeja and Anderson. This odd little saga, seemed to take the stuffing out of India. For some reason the accuser (Jadeja) was found guilty of his offence, while the accused (Anderson) was not tried at all for another two weeks. What’s more is that Anderson was let off scot free forcing the ICC to re-asses the Jadeja charges also.

There has been lots of talk that Dhoni and his players felt let down by the coach and board not supporting them. Since the Anderson hearing India seemed like a team who didn’t care. I would like to clarify that both players were found innocent, but have you ever seen MS Dhoni so animated, ever? “Captain Cool” got angry, definitely one of the most sporting players around currently. For this reason I know what speculation I should believe. I also believe that Jimmy Anderson is a great bowler but on the field he seems to cross any sporting line constantly.

India bounced back well in the ODI series with Raina even adapting to lots and lots of short pitch bowling. One big disappointment was Virat Kohli, we need him to come good.

England’s main problem is Alistair Cook. He had a poor test series, not reaching three figures once. He was called out by many pundits as being tactically out of his depth as captain also. In many ways India’s shockingly bad batting in the last few test matches has prolonged Cook’s captaincy.

The England selectors now have a massive headache in the selection for the World Cup and Sri Lanka tour before that. Cook is still the ODI captain, yet 99% of people that know anything about cricket know that Alistair Cook does not merit a place in the ODI side.

A special mention needs to go out to Moin Ali, England seem to have found a rough diamond there.

Questions to answer:
Should Dhoni step down a test captain to concentrate on limited overs captaincy?

Should India replace Duncan Fletcher?

Should England pursue with Cook in ODI cricket?

Who are the next captains for both sides?

 

Is Jadeja an opener and India’s team dilema

Ravindra Jadeja

When Jadeja first started his international career he was seen as a bit of a makeshift allrounder. He was a useful part time spinner, a pinch hitter. He was labelled as nothing more than a handy T20 player. Over the past year and a half this has all changed. He is now a vital cog in the Indian side, even displacing Ashwin in the last two tests that India have played.

Not only is his spin bowling impressive, he is one of the best fielders in the side aswell as developing his batting to more than just pinch hitting. When thinking of similar players to Jadeja over the last decade one name springs to mind. This being Dilshan of Sri Lanka, he started out as a part time bowler and lower order pinch hitter just like Jadeja.

The fielding similarities are there also, Dilshan like Jadeja could field anywhere even wicket keeping. I haven’t seen the young Indian keep wicket yet but am sure he could do a steady job if called upon. One thing that happened for Dilshan was that he was moved up to open the batting.

I feel that Jadeja is very capable of this role, in fact I feel that this move would favour the balance of the Indian test side. In my opinion India are lacking one more bowling allrounder. In the first test against New Zealand the bowling attack was made up of Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma,  Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja. I feel that against the bigger sides outside of India they need five bowlers and not four.

The batting line up currently is perfect for India, they have a good opening partnership, a great number three and four and good lower order batsmen. In my opinion they need to find a place for either Ashwin or Bhuvneshwar in test cricket, to supplement the four already there.

The options are to drop Rahane and move Jadeja up to opener, let the very apt Ahwin or equally good batsman Bhuvneshwar develop into the bowling allrounder. The other option would be to drop Murali Vijay and push either Rahane or Jadeja up the order.

I would favour the second option. It would be unfortunate for Murali Vijay who has done nothing wrong but sometimes big decisions need to be made. Both Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar are capable number seven batsmen. They would also give the side great balance between the batting and bowling. Having five bowlers will benefit India especially in England in the summer.