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Lambs for Lions


This article is not a fall out of India’s highly embarrassing capitulation against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in the Micromax Cup. No, this had been simmering from the day the squad was announced. I know this team was selected to give a break to few senior players and a chance to some youngsters but the question is that is this really the best bunch of players that we could come up with? I mean, could they really not find 11 people, out of the odd billion or so that we have, that could beat Zimbabwe? Needless to say that Margaret Elizabeth Gough, with her now world famous stick of rhubarb, would have put up a better fight against them.

So what happens next? Well heads will definitely roll. Albeit all the wrong ones.  The people who chose this team will get away scot free; after all they sacrificed this tournament to give rest to our overplayed star players. Next tournament the full strength Indian team will win some matches, few of them quite handsomely, and this debacle will be quietly brushed under the carpet.

Anyway, rant aside, let’s get back to the original question. Is this really the best team they could have sent to Zimbabwe? The answer is no. Let’s take a look at some of the players who made it to the team and some of those who didn’t.

Let’s take the curious case of Murali Vijay. Agreed that he did quite well for Chennai Super Kings in IPL3 but look what happened at the T20 World Cup and IPL2 when he wasn’t batting on flat pitches. His innings today would have cemented his place in Indian team for Test Cricket. Unfortunately, he chose to produce it in an ODI on a perfectly flat track in almost perfect batting conditions against an almost perfect bowling attack, for batting against that is.

What about Ravindra Jadeja? I know that for a change he is scoring more runs than he is conceding but who could have guessed that from his performances in the T20 WC or in IPL 3 where he…oh wait he didn’t even play in IPL 3! Shouldn’t he have been allowed to regain his confidence in domestic cricket rather than sending him off to Zimbabwe where, due to the absence of the seniors, he is under even more pressure to perform?

Same goes for Yusuf Pathan. Just one inning, that actually turned Shane Warne into an amnesiac, does not justify forgetting his otherwise wastefulness. In fact the combined average of his last 5 ODIs and last 5 T20s innings barely crosses 20. He would have been rested too but then he has barely spent any time at the wicket!

At the same time the India A team is packed with batting talent. Cheteshwar Pujara, Manoj and Saurabh Tiwari, Manish Pandey, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkiya Rahane and Kedar Jadhav , they are all on their way to the proving grounds in England. No doubt they deserve this chance but the likes of Pujara and the Tiwaris have shown time and again that they have it in them to step their game up to the next level and what better opportunity it could have been to let them experience the responsibility and pressure that comes with a place in the senior side. Or if they were deemed to be too young then why couldn’t S Badrinath been given one more opportunity to prove that he can indeed hold the Indian middle order together?

Talking of opportunities, what’s the rationale behind the exclusion of Irfan Pathan from both the Indian team and the India A team? This guy has been getting 15 odd wickets in every IPL and his batting average is quite decent too.  There is no denying the fact that the guy is highly talented and definitely has it in him to do well at least against Zimbabwe or England A. This could have been his chance to be back in reckoning for the National team. But instead of that he will be watching his brother underperform yet again.

The bowling attack just looked terribly anaemic. Surely Dinda has proven himself again and again on the domestic circuit but wouldn’t it have helped if he had a bowling partner who had some experience? Abhimanyu Mithun, though talented, is still inexperienced and Umesh Yadav’s name instills fear in the hearts of us supporters instead of the opponents! And Pankaj Singh, almost as tall as Suleiman Benn, sadly bowls at about same speed too. Do they really see these bowlers as the ones for the future? I certainly don’t. If they are the best we have then I am really worried about our future. I would have taken R.P. Singh or Ishant Sharma over them any day.

Of course I am not claiming that these players, that I suggest, would have decimated the opposition and brought home the mighty Micromax Cup but in my humble opinion they could have made a difference and more importantly they deserved the chance to prove their mettle in this inconsequential tournament. Team India will not just lose this tournament but also every last bit of confidence. The Selectors have sent the lambs to slaughter and they will have the mince too. Asia Cup just might be too much after this debacle.

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