Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Look At The Third Test Teams For England versus India

The much touted series has seen an English domination in the first two Test leading to a 2 nil advantage in the series. So with this, there is a fair bit of intrigue about the respective Teams for the third Test. In regards to whether England with it's foot firmly on India's throat in the series will go in for the kill by choosing an attacking Team or a defensive one. Then in India's case, their side has shown to have more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. So how they attempt to plug them at the selection table will be very interesting.


The Squad named recently is as follows:

Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Matt Prior (wk), Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn.

The key points being the exclusion of Jonathan Trott to injury being replaced by Ravi Bopara. Then the recall of Chris Tremlett, after his recovery from injury with Steve Finn as cover in the 13

The major talking point is the replacement for Jonathon Trott.

This can go one of two ways. The likely one being a like for like change to maintain the same dynamics in the Team. In regards to slotting Ravi Bopara into the middle order, a player very similar to Trott in regards to being a batsman that can bowl useful medium pace. To take the pressure off the main bowlers and maybe pinch a wicket here and there.

Then with this, the only question is whether Tim Bresnan after his second Test heroics is retained or is replaced by Chris Tremlett. A bowler that has arguably been England's most impressive performer in the previous three series.

A more charismatic move would be to trust in the batting prowess of the lower order backed by these figures:

Matt Prior: 2 Tests, 4 innings, average 82.66

Stuart Broad: 2 Tests, 4 innings, average 60.66

Tim Bresnan: 1 Test, 2 innings, average 50.50

Then include both Tremlett and Bresnan batting Prior at 6.

So this would be my Team:

Strauss, Cook, Bell, Pietersen, Morgan, Prior, Broad, Bresnan, Swann, Tremlett, Anderson


India's Team is in a mess, and being 2 nil in the series faces the very real prospect of sinking without a trace.

The line up has been undermined by injuries to crucial men like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan. Then also further diminished by the lack of form of proven performers such as M.S.Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh, who now has succumbed to injury. Even the immortal Sachin Tendulkar hasn't been his stellar self, but in regards to the Little Master. We will just assume that it's a matter of time before he dominates.

This has exposed India's soft under belly. In regards to a lack of depth with the replacements in the batting department in Abhinav Mukund, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh. All showing an ill at ease in this level of the game. The bowling without its leader Zaheer Khan, and with Harbhajan Singh being rendered impotent has found it nigh on impossible to keep a lid on England's batting.

At times they have had England under real pressure, but never been able to deliver a killer blow. That would have indelibly changed the current state of the series.

So the huge question is:

 Can India come back or are they dead and ready for burial?

For India to have a hope they need a fit and firing Zaheer Khan back to lead their bowling. This is unlikely going on the fact that hamstrings are notoriously temperamental injuries and as such to even choose him in the 3rd Test would be a huge risk. The fact he only bowled 3 overs against Norhants in the recent Tour game doesn't augur well for a comeback either.

Thus we will assume that he won't be part of the Team.

The other big issue is a replacement for Harbhajan Singh. In an area in this series in regards to spin. Where India were touted to hold a huge advantage and being able to exert a hold over the English batsmen with it. The reality was Harbhajan was as useful as a water proof tea bag and with it India's potential strength in spin was rendered impotent.

Either the leg spinner and favourite Amit Mishra will come into the side or the left arm orthodox bowler Pragyan Ojha.

They are very much like for like for like in all regards (average, economy rate and strike rate). So the decision will probably go in Mishra's favour being an over the wrist spinner with a greater capacity to extract spin and with it uncertainty in the English batsmen.

Plus crucially in a series where England's lower order batsmen have dominated, a leg spin bowler is always very useful in dismissing them. For there harder to lash out against as a rule than more conventional spinners.

The batting for India has been a huge concern outside of the sincere brilliance of Rahul Dravid

It will be hugely bolstered by the inclusion of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Both exceptional players, but those expecting Sehwag to be the Messiah after such a long lay off should maybe temper their enthusiasm. For it takes a while for batsmen to get back in the groove and compounding this is Sehwag's struggles in swinging conditions

His highest average in places that favour swing in New Zealand, England and South Africa is 39.5 in England ( 20.0 in NZ and 25.46 in South Africa) with only 2 centuries out of 30 innings in these conditions.

So lets hope for a typical Viru rampage for India's sake, but temper our hopes a little bit by the factors against him.

The other question in the Indian line up is Suresh Raina, who was found out to be a real bunny against the short stuff and duly should be replaced. The option is to insert young Virat Kohli, but he seems in the same likeness of Raina. In regards to being like a cat on a hot tin roof against the short stuff.

Makes me scratch my head as to why a batsmen who has only ever impressed in all conditions in Ajinkya Rahane wasn't the replacement for the stricken Yuvraj Singh

An option for India in the knowledge that they are two nil down in the 4 Test series and need to get 20 wickets to win and hopefully draw the series is to play 5 bowlers. In doing this they would move Dhoni up to 6 and back the top 5 that contains some of the best names in the games history to get the job done with the bat.

Though this is a very attacking option and Indian mindsets are defensive in the extreme. So they wouldn't even consider this option for a second.

Plus the injury cloud over Zaheer Khan makes this a very risky proposition to enter into

The last key issue for India is the lack of form of M.S.Dhoni.....

A man that will be immortalised in India forever because of the World Cup win and justifiably so. Though this is Test cricket and for a normally fine performer like Dhoni, he has been dreadful and if it wasn't for him being Captain. He should be dropped.

There is no doubt the Indian leader is a very proud man and as such any comeback for India should have him at the forefront leading the charge.

So lets hope this is seen in him being the stellar performer we know he can be in his 3 roles for India.

Likely Indian Team

Gambhir, Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Raina, Dhoni, Praveen, Ishant, Sreesanth, Mishra

1 comment:

  1. Hey great blog once again. The point that u made abt Rahane was a nice one. Actually I dont see Rahane getting a chance in the near future. Its the selection policy and the selectors who are responsible for this. Now the head of the selection panel is Srikkanth so its obvious that hell select players from south as he took murali vijay and mukund for the test series. It has always been the case with the indian selection, biasedness. This is what i think. i might be wrong.