From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.33 :: NO.44 :: Nov. 04, 2010

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ON THE BALL / W.V. RAMAN COLUMN

The picture looks good

All in all, the prospects and the immediate future of Indian cricket do present an extremely comfortable picture.

PTI

Virat Kohli has raced to the quickest 1000 run mark in the ODIs by an Indian.

The unseasonal rains in Kochi and Goa deprived the fans of some top quality cricket between India and Australia and though Team India won the solitary game to win the ODI series, it is a case of sheer bad luck for guys like Dhawan and Vinay Kumar who were looking to make a mark at the international level.

The Indians won the game at Vizag largely due to the efforts of Virat Kohli and the young man is continuing his good work in the one-day format with a lot of maturity. He has raced to the quickest 1000-run mark in the ODIs by an Indian and it is a pity that he will have to be satisfied playing that format as the Indian middle order is choc a bloc in the Test arena.

Had the three games been played, the youngsters like Dhawan and Vinay Kumar would have got opportunities to stake their claim for the future series and possibly the World Cup squad. They may still get their chances against New Zealand but it would largely depend on the selectors, for, they can easily go back to the reputed names if they decide that it is leaving it a bit too late for experimentation.

The search for an all-rounder is still on but unfortunately it is still proving to be a wild goose chase and I am afraid it will continue to be so for a while. My view is based on the fact that I have not seen anyone display even a hint of the skill sets that maketh an all-rounder in the last four domestic seasons.

I only hope that someone comes along rather quickly as an all-rounder. That can really add extra muscle to an already formidable Indian line-up. If what Dhoni has done in the Vizag game is anything to go by, he is looking to make Yuvraj focus a little more on his bowling in his bid to have extra options for the big event next year. Whether Yuvraj can raise his fitness level that an all-rounder requires remains to be seen.

It is not easy for Yuvraj to suddenly adapt to a three-dimensional role and hence there will be a compelling need for him to work a lot more hard on his fitness. He is definitely a match-winner with the bat on his day and his agility has taken a beating post his knee injury. How well he can measure up to the challenge of executing his role as an extra bowling option will really depend on his inclination as well.

Despite the rains playing spoilsport and the attention remaining on the bigger stars during the Test series, a few youngsters have shown that they can be the ones for the future. The likes of Vijay, Pujara and Ashwin have withstood the pressure of international cricket and obviously their performances have delighted the chairman of the selection committee.

Vijay has shown that he is street smart and can be a chameleon in that he can adapt to all the three formats of the game. After his success in the IPL, he needed to convince himself and the others that he can graft for long when required. The young man displayed immense concentration and grit to carve out a big partnership in the company of Tendulkar at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and not even the nervous nineties ruffled him. His hundred in the Test has created a pleasant sort of headache for the selectors and the team management for the coming Test series againat New Zealand.

Pujara has passed his test in Bangalore with flying colours with a sensible knock under pressure and it is likely that he will miss the cut in the final eleven which will be a pity.

India is on a high after the Test series triumph against Australia and they will be expected to win against New Zealand given their current form. But their problems are coming in the form of injuries to key players. While Gambhir and Laxman are expected to be fit, the bowling department has suffered a setback with Ishant Sharma rendered out of action. This will be a good opportunity for Sreesanth and so far, he has been as much as an enigma as Rohit Sharma when it comes to matching his performances to his outstanding talent.

The selectors have been a bit unfair to Abhimanyu Mithun who was left out despite his lion-hearted efforts in Sri Lanka. The young man is more suited to the longer version of the game and he will be a good investment for the future. Talking of the younger ones for the future, Ashwin has shown that he can pose a threat or two to Harbhajan Singh and the Turbanator will be a bit under pressure in the coming Test series as Ashwin is waiting in the wings.

Perhaps this is the kind of challenge that the combat loving Harbhajan Singh needs, to recreate his magic of the past. All in all, the prospects and the immediate future of Indian cricket do present an extremely comfortable picture.



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