The CB series is upon us, and India’s first showing as a batting side has not been impressive at all. In terms of experience India is the weakest side participating in the series. However, India also featured plenty of youngsters in the Twenty20 Cup who actually played most of the part in winning the Cup. Anything can happen in cricket and judging from the morale of the Indian team since the dismal World Cup 2007 and looking at the current crop of talented and exuberant youngsters, it would not be prudent to write off this Indian side.
Youngsters will always impress in the domestic circuit. There is always the question of seeking the right balance between seniors and talented youngsters. One can go on and on about this discussion. There are plenty of problems that can arise by playing juniors. Firstly, the reason why seniors have become seniors is because they have some sort of consistent track record of performing. By discounting a seasoned performer and playing a rookie, an enormous risk is taken. Playing a youngster amongst other things also means that the team balance is ruffled and it also impacts on the team morale.
Is international cricket coming to terms with the notion that youngsters are more suitable to the one day format? On what possible basis can one even think of excluding proven champions like Ganguly and Dravid? Has cricket changed so much in the past ten years or so that showing the door to such great players is considered to be the wise and careful decision?
Perhaps I place the Indian trio of Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar on too high a pedestal. Verily, it was youth that won India the Twenty20 Cup. And to be fair to the changing environment of international cricket, ODI cricket is in a transition. Now ODI cricket is much more similar to Twenty20 cricket than Test cricket, especially with the new rules about a no ball resulting in a free hit and changing the condition of the ball after 34 overs so that it can be easier for the batsmen to see and also because a harder ball is easier to smack to the boundary than a softer one.
This tournament will be a very interesting one for India for a variety of reasons. This is a true litmus test for the BCCI and the Indian public to see just how much juice there is in these talented and highly regarded youngsters. After all, there is no bigger and harsher test in world cricket than playing Australia in Australia. India held their own in the Test series- how they grapple with the Aussie might in the ODI series remains to be seen.
My preference for a playing XI is:
Sehwag (good recent form and good record against Australia)
Tendulkar (good record against Australia and India would need his skill at the top)
Gambhir (left hander, good form and generally a good player)
Sharma (good showing in previous matches, can perform at no 4)
Utthapa (has done well in the middle order, can accelerate if needed)
Dhoni (can look after a precarious situation should the need arise)
Kumar (great expectations from him, talented all rounder)
Pathan (good recent bowling and batting form)
Harbhajan (good recent batting form, experience, gets a nod ahead of Chawla)
Sreesanth (fiery bowler, decent pace)
I Sharma (good showing in the Test series, so gets my vote)
I also wanted to cover Pakistan vs Zimbabwe in this thread but owing to time constraints and also because it is a different discussion, I will cover that topic in the next thread.