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    January 11, 2006

    Imran supports five bowlers theory

    I just watched a chat with Imran Khan on CNN-IBN and in the context of India's choice of bowling resources for the series, well for the first test at any rate, this is what transpired:
    Gaurav Kalra: But Imran how do you drop players of the calibre of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble? Not just their caliber, but their proven record? How do you drop someone like say Anil Kumble or Harbhajan and include a third seamer in the form of Ajit Agarkar whose record does not match the record of these two individuals?

    Imran Khan: I am great one for specialist and the ones who are better bowlers and if Kumble is better bowler than Agarkar, then I would put him in. But, then again, if I look at the wickets which has grass in it and see the weather conditions, I am afraid I will have to make a choice. I would actually go in with five bowlers. I have gone in Test matches with five bowlers. If I have got quality bowlers, because the wicket changes over five days, so first two days might still help seamers, but the last two or three days it will help spinners. They will have a better chance than seamers. So there I would take a risk.

    Gaurav Kalra: You are not a believer in the theory that the four best bowlers should play.

    Imran Khan: I think yes, four best bowlers should play, but, I would always look at the weather condition. And if the conditions favour seamers, then I am afraid I would then have to start thinking, that look, I have to win this match, I have got to get 20 wickets to win this match, what’s the best way I can do it? I might go in with five bowlers.
    And where did you read that theory first? Here, three weeks ago!

    For starters, it covers a few bases, given that, as Imran says, the wicket will change over a period of five days. Secondly, it shows that there is a plan A and a plan B, one which Pakistan will have to counter on the spot. Thirdly, and I'm just kidding here, it resolves a potentially uncomfortable situation of having to pick between Yuvraj and Sourav - leave both of them out!
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 12:15 AM |
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    10 sledge(s):

    LOL..Sunny says three openers...Imran says (and you agree!) five bowlers...we're going to have one good circus if we listen to the 'experts' ;-)

    Seriously, the only thing that I see happening is, in case of a seaming wicket, we will play SG ahead of Yuvraj (can't see him or Yuv opening). RD, amdist all the 'regular' statements, mentioned today, when questioned about SG's chances, that 'we will decide on match-morning after inspecting the pitch'. I think this wasn't an empty statement...its close to the reality of the situation as it stands today.

    By Blogger worma (11-Jan-2006, 1:21:00 AM)  

    Jagdish I agree with your suggestion. Leave both SG and Yuvraj out. The former can't hadnle the short-pitched stuff which will be dishes out fairly regularly and the latter can't handle spin for nuts! Which is why even though Yuvraj has produced some good knocks he fails to impress me in the test arena!Kaif despite his shortcomings would be a better option!

    Apart that, the one thing captains must believe in is that you need 20 wickets to win a test match and only your bowlers can get you those!

    With Dhoni in the side now, taking in 5 bowlers is worth a risk what say?

    And did Gavaskar say three openers? Sehwag would be more than happy to bat in the middle order given his current form wouldn't he?

    By Blogger Minal (11-Jan-2006, 11:26:00 AM)  

    worma: That is what a blog, an opinion column or a TV interview is all about, isn't it? :) If it is a seaming wicket, doesn't it make better sense to play Yuvraj given how he fared at Lahore last time and him being a better player of fast bowling and Ganguly's ability against fast/swing stuff?

    minal: I don't think you need 20 wickets to win a test. Last I checked, Australia didn't need that many in the third test. In fact, they won the series 2-0 by snapping up 50 out of a possible 60 wickets. South Africa lost the series even though they weren't too far behind, taking 47 wickets. So this 20 wickets thing is nonsensical, in my opinion. What matters more is how your batting and bowling complement each other.

    By Blogger Jagadish (11-Jan-2006, 12:12:00 PM)  

    jagdish: ofcourse everyone has the right to an opinion..was just kidding about the extermity of the positions those two are taking :-)

    About the composition...well one thing I'm reasonably certain about is that we're going to play the two spinners. And with that, if its a seaming wicket and we don't have a backup seamer (in SG) then we're basically forced to bat first.

    But thats about bowling bit, about the batting comparison (for seam/spin) between Yuv and SG....I feel both are in good form (yes SG needs to be tested against good attack, but do remember that he played all his domestic games on 'sporting' tracks...and one way or the other, this issue needs a closure....if his domestic form cannot translate now...then it would end the debate forever). While its true that Ganguly is a better player of spin than Yuraj, I don't think Ganguly is a worse player of 'seam' than Yurav (both have almost similar limitation of playing away from the body...and both have the capability to tackle it when in control of their game).

    I do think that Yuraj would play out-and-out pace better than Saurav....but either this or facing the spin factor should not be the reason for picking one over the other. Either of these, if they want to last in international cricket, can run away from such a big flaw (if they continue having it).

    But anyway...its just 36 hours more to go.

    By Blogger worma (11-Jan-2006, 9:08:00 PM)  

    worma: Yes. I think it makes sense to go in with 2 spinners, esp. when the part-timers are batsmen who bowl rather than someone like Afridi or Razzaq who're reasonably competent at both. The problem is that you can't go into a match hoping you win the toss. The way I look at picking five bowlers is that if you end up bowling first, you have the resources required to blow away the opposition on day 1. You don't want to bowl first and let the opposition be 300/6 (which is what Hussain hoped when he asked Australia to bat first at Brisbane), you want them to be like 150 all out in two sessions so you take control of the game from that point onwards. Then the spinners come into the picture during the next few days. If you end up batting first, and are blown away for 150 by tea on day one, the pitch still has enough in it for the quick bowlers to exploit for a day at least. If you do bat well, then there're no issues obviously. This is my reasoning for picking five bowlers, for the first test at least. After that, you need to take stock. Obviously this is in a situation where the weather conditions and pitch conditions suit seam bowling. If the pitch is dry and the weather is hot, don't bother about five bowlers, just pick 2+2.

    By Blogger Jagadish (12-Jan-2006, 12:28:00 AM)  

    Jagdish: Though batting and bowling complementing each other sounds great and which should happen often it does not.

    In my opinion test matches will be won by your bowlers more than your batsman. By the 20 wickets stance I meant about giving bowlers that much more importance. ODIs seems to devalue them time and again!

    If you have 5 good batsman, a wicket-keeper who is a decent deal with the bat then opting for 5 bowlers is always worth the risk.

    Not always are you as lucky as Australia to have two world class bowlers in the same side who can rip apart any side.

    By Blogger Minal (12-Jan-2006, 12:10:00 PM)  

    minal - If the wicket seems lively, I think we should go in with 5 bowlers (3+2) since I believe that a lower order of Dhoni, Pathan, Agarkar, Kumble, Harbhajan and Zaheer is competent enough to get _some_ runs at least. But today's report in 'The Hindu' suggests that it is at best a true wicket, which means 2+2 would do just fine.

    By Blogger Jagadish (12-Jan-2006, 1:30:00 PM)  

    jagdish: Ok, I think we are at the same terms of assessment of the situation. That if we play 2+2...we are under-preparing for the 'sporting wicket' (if we do get one)? The only difference is that you profess 3 seamers and I say go with Ganguly as the third seamer.

    Btw, I don't think we can discount the fact that the Indian batting lineup is not coming here in really top form...and although Dhoni and Pathan do give that depth (even having Agarkar helps), I would still want to have my 6 specialist batsmen. just 19 hours to go before we know :-)

    By Blogger worma (12-Jan-2006, 2:19:00 PM)  

    worma: I just realized that there is one _huge_ reason I don't want to see Yuvraj in the side. I can't bear Rameez Raja murdering his name by calling him Yovraj Singh, clearly confusing father and son! Ganguly as 3rd seamer is very risky. What if he sneaks in a couple of wickets? We'd have to keep picking him then :) Just kidding!

    By Blogger Jagadish (12-Jan-2006, 2:37:00 PM)  

    LOL :-)..well Rameez is going to find a victim anyway

    By Blogger worma (12-Jan-2006, 3:50:00 PM)  

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