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Posts Tagged ‘yuvraj singh’

India are hosting Australia for a seven-match ODI series, which normally would have been hyped for weeks (if not months) in advance, but the Ashes (and its attendent ODIs) blurred into the Champions Trophy which blurred into the Twenty20 Champions League which only finished yesterday, so it’s almost as if the series has crept up on both sides.

For India, the headline news is the return of Virender Sehwag and the injury worries over Yuvraj, but it’s the bowling attack which is arguably under pressure after a poor run of late. Munaf Patel returns to give the seam bowling a little more control, whilst the pressure is mounting on Harbhajan to shrug off his recent slump and return to the form he showed before the Champions Trophy.

For Australia, there are fewer concerns, although the absence of Michael Clarke will probably necessitate some tinkering with the batting order. Most of the side will be familiar with Indian conditions through IPL and more recently Champions League experience, although the fatigue factor after exertions in the latter may come into play with regard to the likes of Brett Lee.

Although those Aussies who played for NSW in the Champions League will be a little on the tired side, I would expect Australia to have the upper hand in the series unless India significantly up their game. The hosts’ poor showing at the Champions Trophy has cast doubt on their ambitions to be the worlds’ best.

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Rahul Dravid is set to return to One Day International cricket after being included in India’s squad for the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka and the autumn’s Champions Trophy. Although Dravid hasn’t played an ODI since 2007, his performances in this year’s IPL and the relative weakness of India’s middle order in the World Twenty20 have encouraged the selectors to bring back ‘The Wall’ in place of Rohit Sharma.

Sachin Tendulkar also returns to the side after sitting out the ODI series against the West Indies, but Virender Sehwag is still out with the shoulder injury that caused him to miss out on the World Twenty20.

The squad in full is: MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh,Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, RP Singh, Amit Mishra, Dinesh Karthik, and Abhishek Nayar.

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Yuvraj Singh evidently didn’t realise the World Twenty20 was over, smashing 131 from 102 balls for India in yesterday’s ODI against the West Indies. Enjoy highlights below:

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After the sugary delights of the World Twenty20, it’s back to the slightly more balanced diet of 50-over cricket for the West Indies and India with the four-match ODI series which starts tomorrow at Sabina Park.

The tourists have been hit by injury (Sehwag, Raina) as well as the desire to give some key players (Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan) a rest, but a ‘weak’ Indian side still contains the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Ishant Sharma and Gambhir. Whilst their performance at the World Twenty20 was a disappointment, a disappointed India often bounce back strongly, and the inclusion of fresh faces may well prove to be the catalyst for a revival of their fortunes. Dhoni, as ever, will be key.

For the West Indies, an encouraging home Test series (at least in terms of results, the WICB‘s reputation took a bit of a beating) against England was followed up with a seemingly jaded performance against the same side away from home, and the contrast between the Chris Gayle who grumbled and griped his way thought that series and his swashbuckling Twenty20 alter-ego was vivid. The Windies will be hoping that they have the latter at their disposal for the next couple of weeks, as well as his partner-in-boundaries Dwayne Bravo (who is joined by brother Darren in the West Indies side for the first time). Sulieman Benn is also likely to have to play at his best, as he will face a tough examination of his bowling from the side who are traditionally considered the best in the world at playing spin.

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India’s squad for their upcoming tour of the Caribbean makes interesting reading. In the absence of Sehwag and Raina (injured), Tendulkar and Zaheer (rested), and Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan (dropped), there are one or two names that require a little mental exploration before recognition is achieved.

Ashish Nehra hasn’t played for India since 2005, and Abhishek Nayar, is, I must confess, a mystery to me – although he has made an impression on some, and his 99 in the Ranji Trophy final (as well as his IPL experience) marks him out as someone to keep any eye out for.

Ravindra Jadeja is also a relative newcomer to the full Indian side, having only played a single ODI, but he has impressed in the past for the Under-19 side, and featured in the World Twenty20 side.

The squad in full is as follows: MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Yusuf Pathan, Murali Vijay, Subramaniam  Badrinath, RP Singh, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Abhishek Nayar, Ashish Nehra, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik.

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The ICC World Twenty20 gets underway from Friday. Here’s part one of my preview:

India, the defending champions, will face high expectations after emerging triumphant from the thrilling finale last time out.  The intervening years have of course seen the development of the Indian Premier League, a competition that means India’s players have a wealth of Twenty20 experience (although the national side has only played five T20 Internationals since the last competition, winning only one). Twenty20 superstars such as MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh will certainly strengthen the holders’ chances of retaining the title.

Bangladesh caused a minor shock last time out when they beat the West Indies to make the Super Eight, and hopes will be high that they can reach that stage again. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan are potential match-winners, but no Bangladeshi player has yet set the IPL alight, and any progression beyond the last eight seems unlikely for the Tigers.

Ireland qualified for the tournament mainly thanks to an impressive performance from Andre Botha. The side will, however, be missing a key player of recent years in Eoin Morgan, who has been called into England’s squad for the tournament.  A surprise result against Bangladesh could see the Irish sneak into the Super Eight (much as they did in the last 50-over World Cup), but on balance the current side (especially without Morgan) may be hard-pressed to repeat the heroics of 2007.

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Kings XI Punjab
Punjab have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, having added only Jerome Taylor, Ravi Bopara, and the previously obscure Burt Cockley. Sarwan has departed – having apparently only been on a one-year contract – and a number of key players will only play part of the season (Shaun Marsh, Brett Lee and James Hopes are all likely to be called away by Australia).

As with last season, much will rest on the shoulders of Yuvraj, who will be expected to provide batting pyrotechnics every time he plays. If he can find form whilst the Australians are unavailable, and Marsh can continue his impressive form from last year, then the Kings XI are capable of mounting a strong challenge.

Kolkata Knight Riders
The KKRs build-up has been dominated by talk of multiple or rotating captains, but the unusual situation has partly arisen out of the fact that the side has so many top-class players at its disposal. Chris Gayle is made for Twenty20 cricket, as is Brendon McCullum (who should be available for the whole season). David Hussey, Ricky Ponting and Ajantha Mendis will probably only play cameo roles, but home-grown talents such as Cheteshwar Pujara will be available throughout.

Sole auction signing Mashrafe Mortaza probably won’t alter the balance of the side much, but Umar Gul’s bowling will be missed, putting a lot of pressure on Ishant Sharma.

Mumbai Indians
A disappointing start last time around saw Mumbai fail to make the play-offs, and the Sreesanth slapping incident stirred controversy. He’s out with an injury, so discipline may be less of an issue in 2009. Dwayne Bravo’s recent form has been impressive, suggesting that he will be a key player with both bat and ball, and the additions of JP Duminy and Graham Napier should boost the batting.

Zaheer Khan has also come in for Robin Uthappa, whilst a number of the overseas players can offer something with both bat and ball, leaving the side well-balanced in the middle order. Harbhajan has so far failed to impress in Twenty20 cricket, but is likely to feature throughout.

Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan confounded a lot of people’s expectations with their victory last season, but key player Shane Watson could miss much of the 2009 season due to international call-ups. Tyron Henderson comes in as cover, but the lack of big-name players (Graeme Smith’s recovery from injury may also prove more costly for the Royals now that they have lost the element of surprise.

Rajasthan, of course, are nominally my team, so all the best to them.

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V.S. Naipaul could hardly have scripted it better for India. The crowd favourite tore up the fourth-innings rulebook, the young gun and the Mumbai legend completed the feat. For Indian fans, this must have been cathartic in the extreme – a famous triumph against ridiculous odds, victory from the jaws of defeat.

Best of all, references to ‘the Security Situation’ declined rapidly
from Day 3 onwards. Strauss, Sehwag and Slow Over Rate were the only
S-words on anyone’s lips.

Continuing the alliteration, Sehwag’s Sunday slogfest (youtube here) set things up for India to acheive the seemingly impossible and chase down 387, but it was England’s bowlers who arguably made the largest contribution to the home side’s success. Panesar (0 for 105 from 27 overs), Harmison and Anderson have all come in for some criticism, suggesting that Broad will return immediately to the side once fit, and there are also likely to be some changes in the England batting order before the Second Test.

For the moment, though, it seems churlish to detract from the Indian
achievement
by dwelling on the English failure. Even though it was a cataclysmic failure.

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After the recent events in Mumbai, and the subsequent ‘will they/won’t they’ deliberation by the tourists over whether it was safe to travel, both England and India will doubtless be relieved to get back to playing cricket when the Test series gets underway in Chennai.

For the hosts, the tour is an opportunity to cement their status as
challengers to Australia’s dominance of Test cricket (a 1-0 or 2-0 win
would see them overtake South Africa as the second-highest ranked team), as well as the first series since the retirement of Sourav Ganguly. Yuvraj Singh, who many feel has so far failed to do himself justice in the longer form of the game, steps into Ganguly’s shoes. If he can replicate the form he showed in the One Day series, England’s bowlers are in trouble. Also in need of a big score is Rahul Dravid – ‘the Wall’ has looked a little less than solid of late, and calls for his retirement are starting to be voiced more vociferously.

For England, ‘spin twins’ headlines await for Graeme Swann and Monty
Panesar
after the former (“a lovely confident boy”, according to his
captain) was confirmed as the replacement for the injured Stuart Broad
. Also added to the side for the tourists is Matt Prior, who returns in place of Tim Ambrose as part of England’s revolving door approach to wicketkeeper selection. Although it has been suggested that England’s very decision to tour means that they ‘cannot lose’ in terms of prestige, they can certainly lose the series.

You can follow the First Test here, or here.

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Yuvraj’s chance

Now that it looks like the India vs England Test series is back on, Yuvraj Singh can start looking forward to trying to fill Ganguly’s shoes.

Singh was in impressive form during the One Day series, and the retirement of Ganguly leaves a slot open in which he can establish himself. With a few more retirements of ageing superstars looking reasonably likely over the next couple of years, India badly need their One Day stars to graduate to Test level, and Yuvraj is by far the most prominent of the limited overs dynamos who haven’t managed to make a name for themselves yet in the longer form.

This could be his big chance.

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All over England, people are bemoaning the national side’s run of ODI defeats to India. Some are pointing to an outdated attitude to the batting order, others to a fundamental misjudgement of Indian conditions, yet others to the general attitude to limited overs cricket that, it is argued, persists in the UK.

There is another possibility, though. What if India are, simply put, now the best One Day side there is?

From the breakneck acceleration of Sehwag and Gambhir, through the middle-order fireworks of Yuvraj and company, the Indian batting lineup is as good as any in the world. Although Tendulkar isn’t quite as ‘modern’ in his approach as some of the younger stars, having a player of such quality in the side is anything but a hardship.

As for the spin bowlers, only Sri Lanka can table a serious claim to superiority over the likes of Harbhajan. In comparison, the part timers of Australia and England are hardly worth considering.

Even the seam bowlers, traditionally India’s weak spot, are world-class. Ishant Sharma has exploded onto the international scene, and Zaheer Khan continues to attract plaudits from all directions.

The experience that most of the Indian side have gained, partly from two recent confrontations with Australia, partly from the brave new world of the IPL, has given them an edge over most, if not all, of the planet’s One Day sides. Whether or not they can maintain their current form for long enough to overhaul Australia and South Africa at the top of the ODI rankings, and whether they can produce such electric performances away from home, remains to be seen – but I wouldn’t bet against it.

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England are currently being demolished by India in the One Day series between the two sides. Admittedly, the hosts (and Yuvraj in particular) have been exceptional, but England have been awful. What’s the problem?

  • Is it the openers? To some extent. Prior and Bell are not the sort of ODI opening partnership that strikes fear into the hearts of opposition bowlers, and are generally representative of England’s lack of combativeness early in their innings. Prior in particular is now facing accusations that he’s only in the side because he gets on well with Peter Moores, and whilst those are probably unfounded, England’s batting order is certainly a bit odd (Bopara as a specialist batsman at number eight is almost unbelievable).
  • Is it Allen Stanford? The ghosts of the Super Series may still be haunting a large section of the England dressing room, and the distraction of the IPL-ECB negotiations can’t be helping. Confidence is hardly running high.

Chances are that all of these factors are playing a part in England’s slump, but things could still change if the tourists win the next ODI and regain the feel-good factor which characterised Kevin Pietersen‘s first few weeks as captain.

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