Harbhajan is shaping up as an extra batsman
I felt like laughing when the news channels were going ga-ga on the Indian lower order (actually, make that just Harbhajan & Praveen) nearly dragging India to an improbable win yesterday
. The reality was that India were pathetic in batting, bowling, running and fielding for almost 90% of the game. Hauritz
had 1/15 from 7 overs at one stage!
While Praveen Kumar has, in the last dozen times he has batted
, given absolutely no reason to believe that he is ever capable of anything more than a fluke edge down to third-man while aiming to smack the ball over mid-wicket, Harbhajan has been reasonably consistent with bat against Australia, in tests and ODIs
. So it wasn't too much of a surprise yesterday that he did well with bat. I still remember that stunning six he hit over point off Brett Lee during the 2003 World Cup league game against Australia
, coming in at 6 down for less than 100.
Then again, his bowling analysis of 1/57 wasn't too surprising either, considering that before this game, he had conceded over 100 runs per wicket
since Jan 2006 against Australia, at home.
So the solution must be to include Harbhajan as the extra batsman, who bowls some part-time off-spin, against Australia. That would lend a lot more balance, and India could then pick Amit Mishra as the spinner. So the batting line-up should be: Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, Dhoni, Raina, Harbhajan, Praveen, Mishra, Nehra & Ishant.
I was hoping that Australia's quicks, and spinners, would bounce out India's middle-order, which would trigger frantic phone calls to Rahul Dravid's
mobile phone. In any case, when he would have been recalled, sources in the BCCI would have told the media that they'd only rested him
so he could spend an extra week with his family.
The scary bit about yesterday's batting order was that Ashish Nehra was actually at #10, which is frankly out of sync with his ability (batting & mental), and at least 2 places above what his normal batting position should be. Given Nehra averaged nearly 4 times more at #11 compared with #10 (7.6 v 2
) before yesterday's game, you have to question the team management's faith in Ashish ahead of Ishant.
Then again, Ishant Sharma averaged 2 at #10 and 6.2 at #11
before the game. So really it was a no-brainer. 'Devil and deep sea' comes to mind!
PS: News for Indian TV channels who're marketing this as the revenge or honour series. India and Australia aren't even on the same field when it comes to 'clashes' in the last 3 years or so - Australia leads 9-5 overall
from 18 games, and in the 4 games that were washed out, the match status was:
- Ind 35/5 in 8 ov (D/L target 170 from 29 ov revised from a target of 245)
- Ind 9/1 in 2.4 ov chasing 308
- Aus 51/3 in 7.2 ov chasing a D/L target of 141 in 26 ov (revised from 195 in a 45 over game)
- Aus 234/4 in 42.3 ov
So the actual scoreline could well have ready 12-6 from 18 games, confirming that it really isn't much of a rivalry!
Labels: aus v ind 2009, australia, harbhajan, india