GAME PLAN: A relief to see India win a couple

Jaideep Ghosh


ADELAIDE: India’s Yuvraj Singh, centre left, celebrates catching out Australia’s Chris Lynn with his teammates during their T20 International cricket match in Adelaide, Australia, Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016. Photo-AP/PTI

It is almost with a sense of relief that one looks at the scoreboard of an India game nowadays. Scoring 300-plus runs did little to improve their lot in One-day International series with Australia, so when they scored over 180 in the first T20, there was really not much to dance about.

It was also good to see the batsmen being vindicated, finally. They have done consistently well over the entire series, with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli being sensational right through the series. They were let down, repeatedly, by the bowling.

So it was more relief that exultation when India pulled of a win in a live rubber at Adelaide.

The Indian side for the match had an interesting look. There were many players to look at, some as investments for the future, others as the last hurrah, almost surely. With the T20 World Cup around the corner, it is quite the last opportunity to see who will be there.

So we had Yuvraj Singh back in the fray, as were Suresh Raina and Ashish Nehra. There we had Hardik Pandya come in as fresh blood, as was Jasprit Bumrah.

It was also a great relief to see Ravichandran Ashwin back in the fray. It was a scandal that Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the rest of the ‘think-tank’ thought it better to keep him away from last few ODIs.

The report cards were varied. Yuvraj didn’t get to bat, while the one over he bowled went for ten runs, so there was really no telling how he did.

It was however great to see Raina and Nehra back in the business, and coming off well.

Dhoni obviously sees Raina and Nehra as important cogs in the scheme of things for the T20 World Cup. Not quite sure what he thinks of Yuvraj in the XI, or Harbhajan Singh in the squad. But that is another subject.

So we had a vintage Virat Kohli with the bat, and a fluent Raina that made the day for India. The score of 188 was always going to challenge Australia, irrespective of who was batting.

What however was the real story was how the bowlers came to the party. Nehra was good without being sensational, though his 12 dot balls were a testament to his eternally underrated credentials as a limited-overs bowler.

Pretty much all the bowlers had a positive wickets’ column, though some did better than the others.

Young Bumrah, with his rather odd, stiff bowling action, was pretty impressive, as he has been in the ODIs.

Ashwin was glad to be back, of course, and we were glad to see him back.

Pandya got the stick, but the debutant really needs to be given enough leeway to get in terms with being at the business end of an India jersey. So plenty to see from him.

But the unit as a whole looked so much better than the ODIs. One assumes a large score and less overs is something that works for the side.

It may be too early to start overzealous praise, but it was good start, any way you look at it. Hopefully, it gets better.


File photo of Indian women’s cricket captain Mithali Raj in Mumbai. Photo-PTI

Well done, the ladies: It was equally good news on the women’s front as India made a mess of the Australia Day festivities as they carved out a record chase to beat the hosts in Adelaide.

A chase of 140 was quite a way beyond what the Indian women have ever achieved in T20s (the previous best being 128/7 against New Zealand in Bangalore last year).

Harmanpreet Kaur (46 off 31), Veda Krishnamurthy (36) and Smriti Mandhana (29) rescued India from a dodgy 91 for four to notch up India’s best win in this format.

With two more matches to go, the ladies really have a chance of pulling off quite an upset over the Australian ladies.

U-19 World Cup: The stage is also all set for us to see who the future of cricket will be, as the ICC Under-19 World Cup is played in Bangladesh.


FILE: Kolkata: Indian U-19 cricketer Sarfaraz Khan celebrates after completing his 50 with Captain Ricky Bhui during U-19 Tri Series Final against Bangladesh at Salt Lake in Kolkata on Sunday, Nov 29, 2015. Photo-PTI

India has, as have many other countries, seen many stars emerge from these contests. Always fascinating to see who the next set will be, the boys who will emerge as men.

Unfortunately, most of the Under-19 boys vanish into oblivion. That said, it is up to them and their luck, as to how they make the most of what is on offer.

Not everyone can be Brian Lara or a Yuvraj Singh. But you never know, there well may be some superstars in the making.