By Dileep V
India’s comprehensive victories in both the matches would have raised the spirits in the dressing room for sure, but it isn’t making the common man come out to support the team in the stadium. Never have we witnessed lukewarm response to matches as it has been the case for the last two ODIs against England. It could be because of overdose of cricket since the beginning of the year as also because of the absence of several stars.
The Indian cricket fans have already been exposed to the World Cup, the IPL, the tour to the Caribbean the tour to England, the Champions League T20 and now the ODI series against England.
The one talking point in both the ODIs against the touring Englishmen was the pace generated by Umesh Yadav. The Vidarbha fast bowler consistently clocked in excess of 140 kmph. Exciting young talent always arouses public interest. And with India 2-0 up in the ODI series and several stars in the casualty list, this is a God-sent opportunity for India to pit the hungry young lions in the cauldron of international cricket. There is no dearth of talent in India and the selectors should take bold steps to unearth more gems. Only by giving them the chances at the right time can one ascertain if they can replicate their success in domestic cricket at the international level.
Varun Aaron, Rahul Sharma, Manoj Tiwary and Sreenath Aravind will be itching to get a chance and perform in front of the home crowd after having done well in domestic cricket and Indian Premier League (IPL). With the pressure considerably less on India, the team could as well experiment in the remaining matches.
Yadav and Aaron bowling in tandem and both clocking 140 kmph will be a rare sight as India has rarely found two bowlers at the same time bowling at that pace.
Aaron hit headlines when he clocked 153 kmph, the fastest by an Indian, in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final against Gujarat in 2010-11. He represented Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL and would have picked few tricks under the tutelage of Wasim Akram. His performance during the Emerging Players Tournament in Australia was a testimony to his growing stature. He was the joint highest wicket-taker with 10 wickets and helped India win the tournament, in which Australia, South Africa and New Zealand also participated.
Rahul Sharma had a fruitful IPL 2011. Playing for Pune Warriors, he captured 16 wickets with an economy of less than six an over – commendable, considering the slam-bang nature of the game. His standout performance came against the Mumbai Indians where he finished with figures of 2 for 7 in four overs. In the earlier fixture, he had dismissed Sachin Tendulkar. Sharma is an unconventional leg-spinner in the Anil Kumble mould. He relies more on bounce rather than turn to trouble the batsman. With England having problems against Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, Sharma will be more than handful for the beleaguered English batsmen.
Manoj Tiwary can’t be termed a rookie, having been in and out of the team after making his ODI debut more than three years ago against Australia Down Under. After that he has only represented India three more times - all of them this year – with a highest score of 22. With several senior players opting out of the West Indies ODI series, he was presented with a golden chance to impress the selectors, but sadly he frittered away his chances.
Sreenath Aravind himself was surprised at his selection for the ODI series considering that he only came into prominence in this year’s IPL. That’s a bit of a fast-track for somebody who has just played 20 first-class matches. The more experienced RP Singh would have been a better choice, after having been part of the team in England. India doesn’t have a left-arm fast bowler in the squad and his presence in the eleven will bring in some variety to the attack.
India should test these rookies in the reminder of England ODI series and the upcoming West Indies series to increase the reserve pool. There is a huge chasm between potential and performance. But unless given the chance, and at the right time, even the best of talent could go waste.
(Dileep.V is a Scouser fan, Sports freak, Movie buff, Laggard Quizzer and dreams of setting foot on Anfield one day)