23 January 2020 04:11 AM



Guwahati Defeat Little More Than A Bad Day In The Office


The defeat at Guwahati can be taken as a one off, just one bad day at the office. Nothing more should be read into it.

Overall there is just no stopping this Indian juggernaut. It does not matter what format it is. Virat Kohli and his band of conquerors just continue to steamroll the opposition. Be it Test cricket, the Fifty 50 format or the shortest form of the game the Indians are the team to beat. Moreover the victories are so commanding, so emphatic in nature that whatever negative factors that the detractors may point out do not hold water.

The batting, bowling and fielding is working in unison, Kohli is now at the zenith of his leadership abilities installing a sense of self belief in his team and leading from the front as only he can. But the most heartening aspect of this stupendous run of success is that it has been largely scripted by a whole lot of young talent.

It is always good to welcome new players. At the highest level, some make it, some don’t but right now it seems that every young cricketer who dons the India cap is able to pull his weight in no uncertain terms. The bench strength has never been stronger and this augurs well for the future. Of course it also means that even the most established player cannot take his place for granted for there are a number of cricketers who can fill in more than adequately.

While this is true of the team right down the line it is perhaps best underlined by the talent available in the spin bowling department. Spin has always been India’s traditional strength but it is safe to say that never before has there been the kind of embarrassment of riches that they are today. Suddenly Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja not too long ago reckoned to be irreplaceable in all formats are not being talked about. The talk now centres round the likes of Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

And why not? Given the opportunities the trio has grabbed them to such an extent as to make a considerable impact. An orthodox left arm spinner, a leg spinner and a left arm chinaman bowler have provided the kind of variety that has had opposing batsmen in a tizzy. Of course among the three Kuldeep Yadav has garnered most attention. An unorthodox left arm spinner is a rarity and that is the one thing that he has going for him. But whereas chinaman bowlers tend to be expensive Kuldeep is able to keep batsmen guessing by adhering to line and length and always making the ball do something whatever the surface.

Of course among the new breed the most talked about cricketer these days is Hardik Pandya. People have gushed about him being the next Kapil Dev but of course that is pure balderdash.

Indian cricket will never again produce a Kapil Dev but needless comparisons aside he is a utility cricketer of very high value. He brings a lot of exuberance into the field and is in the thick of the action whether batting or bowling. His hitting is bold and vigorous and it is his no holds barred aggressive batting that has brought him into the limelight though he has pulled in his weight with the ball too. I feel it would be better if the team management slots him in the lower half of the batting and not promote him to No 4 except as a surprise tactic.

The career of Irfan Pathan another so called Kapil Dev successor was ruined with coach Greg Chappell promoting him up the order. The result was that both his batting and bowling suffered and he could no longer command a regular place in the team before finally being omitted altogether.

Hardik Pandya in fact is part of a new look middle order along with Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav. They have so performed so admirably that someone like Lokesh Rahul hitherto a regular in the line-up cannot find a place in the playing eleven. And with Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli at the top of the order the batting has a formidable look about it. Add to all this the omnipotent figure of MS Dhoni walking out at almost any position and one can understand why the Indian batting is the most feared in contemporary cricket.

Not that the bowling pales by comparison. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shammi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav form a quartet of pace bowlers that can bother any batting line-up as they have proved of late. Add to this quartet the trio of spinners and it can be seen that the Indian bowling attack is the most complete in the game. And we are not even talking about Ashwin and Jadeja!

So it can be seen that there is a lot of flexibility in the batting and bowling and this is something the team management will be pleased with. There is every reason to believe that the dominance will continue for an elongated period – yes perhaps even abroad. That is considered the supreme test for the Indian team and I have no doubt that Kohli and his men will past the test with flying colours. In the meantime there should be easy pickings in all formats of the game against the visiting Sri Lankan team next month.