Rotate Sachin? Why? Even Stats are saying otherwise

Sachin Tendulkar, Indian cricketer. 4 Test ser...
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Yesterday (Feb 12), was when India beat Australia in a ODI in a decent manner, yet all I felt was disappointment. For the first time, I was not happy that my team had won, I was rather sad how they have decided to treat their master batsman.

India in the recent CB series came up with a rotation policy – they started off by resting Sehwag, followed by Gambhir and on Sunday they rested Sachin. From all the various games I have seen over the years – Cricket, Soccer, Basketball – rotation has been a useful thing when a team is struggling and they managers/coaches/captains need to find a set of players that tick. However, the way India management (including Dhoni) has handled rotation simply makes no sense to me and to experts as well – several articles have been published where people have questions this policy. A few are listed here:

Let’s simply look at how the top 3 have been performing in Australia in recent times (not considering the ODI on Sunday because decision to rotate out Sachin was done before that match) – and I dont have to put forward stats to tell that Sachin has been most consistent. Sachin has not amassed a big score yet has has provided us with consistent starts. Gambhir on the other hand was a complete flop in test matches, but in a few T20 and ODI that we have played he had already played a crucial inning in T20 to take India to a win. Now, lets ask what has Sehwag done – apart from that one inning in Adelade in Test match and that too where he got out to a full-toss.

Understood that we do not want to play all the 3 because that forces us to leave Raina or Rohit out – that makes sense. But, when you have 2 openers – Sachin and Gambhir doing well for you – why rotate them out? Makes no sense to me – does it make any sense to you? What it only does is add extra pressure to the top-3 for India. Where they lived in harmony, not they are playing for a spot (including Sachin and Sehwag). You can call it team work and that everyone understands, but  hear otherwise because Gambhir after scoring a crucial 92 quoted

This XI had that belief that we can beat Australia today. For me this was the best playing XI. It’s not about names, it’s about people who can go out there and have that belief from No. 1 to No. 11. If they have the belief that ‘yes, we can win this game’, that’s the best playing XI. You don’t want names, you want people who can deliver. We have shown it, I think

“We don’t want names, we want people who can deliver…” would I be wrong if I read this as “Sachin is a name” – do you want me to bring out the stats again? Gambhir is a captain – KKR and he could be looking at the vice captaincy in some time. He has to be wise before saying. I can see that he might be under stress with his position in the team not sure at this point especially when Kohli has been doing so well.

To the rotation policy, this is the last thing we want to happen in the team – when one player thinks that the person who has been rotated out is not needed any more. We need to send a clear message if someone is dropped. And then if India team has to drop out Sachin Tendulkar especially in his current form or should I say in Indian team’s current form, does not make fans like me happy. If Sachin is available for selection, I want to see him play. Sachin is someone who knows when the time has come to go and he will go. He if God of cricket and if you have God on your side and you dont play him, even when your other openers are not preforming…..

I have this bad feeling in my stomach since yesterday that tell me, that Sachin maybe has outgrown the game – maybe he should just let go. We all know he loves the game and we know he is still performing, can will continue till he knows he can perform. It is just too hurtful to see our beloved icon, sitting on a bench.

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India won, barely. What next?

India played Sri Lanka in their 2nd match in the tri-series. India did win with 20 balls to spare, but it was anything but an easy win. India initially did well to restrict Sri Lanka to a score of 233 (in 50 overs compared to a 216 in 32 by Australia in first match). Indian bowling attack was very effective and Dhoni did not need a 6th bowler (does not happen a lot with Indian bowling). The most expensive was Vinay Kumar only at an economy rate of 5.60.

Well, after the first innings job was only half done and we needed at least 2 half-centuries to get close and 3-half centuries and a couple cameos to get across the line. Eventually, those did come – some expected and others not. Gambhir was not playing (even though he did well in the T20 win for India). Sehwag was brought back after being rested and he failed yet again (out on 10). Sachin and Kohli provided a much needed partnership. However, there was a twist in store when Sachin was out on 48, we Rohit, Raina and Dhoni scored 38 runs between them leaving Kohli to do the job. And when Kohli cramped up and got run out, India were reeling 181/6 needing 50+ runs with just 4 wickets and R. Jadeja and Ashwin playing.

I personally had lost all hope, but it seemed Sri Lanka is more screwed up then India and they let India slip away and Ashwin was the unseen Hero who took India to victory scoring 30 off 44 ball in a very serene manner – no riski shots, just common sense (all that was needed). Rohit and Dhoni were out playing needless risky shots and getting out. From test matches to one dayers, we see Kohli doing the best, Sachin trying to keep up and Ashwin being the surprise batsmen. Gambhir has had one odd good knock – rest everyone has been simply worthless. I wonder, how long will this team keep Sri Lanka at bay.

With Rohit, Raina making no impact in 4 matches they have played – we do need to ask ourselves if they are the best players to play on Australian bouncy pitches and if not not, then who else do we have? A quick look at the squad shows us that we do have Parthiv Patel, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav on bench. to top it all, Dhoni said that because of rotation policy, he might rest Sachin / Sehwag to play Gambhir in next match.

Okay, we are struggling, but do we have to wait until all hell breaks loose to find a team that works for us. Or we start trying now and start loosing by making changes. And, if we have to make changes we have to make though full (intelligent or not will be decided if they work or not) ones like:

  • Bring in Manoj to replace Raina or Rohit
  • Pathn for Vinay Kumar
  • Parthiv to open with Sachin

These changes may not work, but will do two things a) make other players realize that they can be dropped to try new players if they do not play and b) allow new player a chance to perform. We just have to make sure we give enough some time for new players to perform (consider that Sehwag continues to play after no performance for god knows how many matches) and if they dont preform lets go back and find new players to beef up the competition and not revert back to players who are not playing. Having said all that, we should also consider to bring back old players in case they are ready to work hard and perform (fear of getting dropped for ever may do wonders).

Lets see what Dhoni does when India Plays Australia next on Feb 12.

2012: Week 5 in review

The highlight of the week is the story that started on Saturday and ended only on Monday. A series of 2 days that left me exhausted physically, mentally and financially, and all that for a pair of Shoes that I had thought of buying and Preeti decided I should finally buy them. And, like a good wife, Preeti with all the great intentions took me to Nike to hunt for a pair of shoes and from there on it took us 48 hours to get 2 pair of shoes – Puma and Nike both of which I love. A two day ordeal finally turned not to be so bad given that I added 2 brand new shoes to my collection (which is still smaller then Preeti’s :))

Apart from this, the week was pretty normal with work still not geared up. Time in office is close to 40 hours a week which and most of the time spent on learning and reviewing what exists on the project.

 

Sports

A mixed week, with the focus coming back to Cricket, as India played Australia in 2 T20 matches and winning the 2nd T20 match with their exceptional fielding performance and a very well balanced batting display. However, on Sunday India lost in a dismissal fashion in their first One-day match in the Tri-series. Cant say how much every department of the Indian cricket team sucked. It was simply disappointing.

 

Sack Dhoni?

This will be the biggest mistake that BCCI can possibly do at this time. India has seen a lot of success in recent past under Dhoni. Given, last 7 months have also seen India slump in the Test Format, but scaking Dhoni is the last thing Indian Cricket wants to happen.

Dhoni has come out and sent a clear message in what I feel is the political correct way, that we do not have any one else who is best suited for the job. Dhoni is captain cool and handles pressure very well on the field where others have failed. He sure needs a team around him to perform, he can only do so much as a captain. As a leader he has the responsibility of the team success and failures and there are things he needs to do with the help of BCCI, but sacking him is something that should not happen. With the rumor around some of the senior players exiting the team, we cant afford changing the captain. Gambhir, Sehwag, Yuvraj or Kohli need to focus on the roles they play in the team which is not captaincy.

Lets hope we continue to have Dhoni as the captain until we can build a plan around the changes. If some of the senior players go, he will have to take a lot of flack on failures if younger players take time to come around, but he is the best person who can take that pressure and keep it away from the field.

I wish him all the best for the upcoming year.

Indian Media has to learn to respect the Greats

Indian Media would be the first one in the world that continues to belittle our heroes by asking others. I dont know but for many years Indian Media has been asking the world who is better – Bradman or Sachin? We have never seen an Australian ask that question yet we are somehow obsessed with comparing our heroes with others.

Sachin scored the first double-century in the history of Cricket. On 24 Feb 2010, Sachin achieved the biggest milestone of all. It happened when no one was even thinking about it. But, who else could have been better to achieve the milestone. Sachin had already been coined the “God of Cricket” and this was icing on the cake and yet when our media should have been celebrating the success of this man and the fact that his is an Indian which should make us proud – they compared Sachin with “The Don”. They both are heroes and they both deserve recognition for what they did.

And today, when Indian Cricket needs to take time to sit back and think about what the next steps are our media does the same – this time asking Imran Khan if Sachin should have retired after 2011. And interestingly Imran Khan thinkg Sachin should have citing the reason that “he should have retired on his high”. A quick check since the World Cup final 2011 tells me that Sachin has not played any one-day cricket. He will be playing his first ODI since the World Cup Final in the Tri-series in Australia.  And, then you see his test record since World Cup 2011.

  • 3 Series and 11 matches – England, West India (home) and Australia
  • Average 37.04 against his career average 55.44
  • Strike Rate of 54.21 against his career SR of 54.09
  • 6 half-centuries
  • 778 runs (less than a calendar year)
  • 430 of those have come in boundaries

Agreed that Sachin has had better series, but the stats above dont tell me that he is on his career low. Lets not forget the patches in 2000s where he was not scoring and everyone had written him off.Sachin has always been subject to criticism when he is not scoring centuries. The period of 2004-2007 is considered as one of the bas phases in Sachins career, but if you look at stats, you will notice that he was still scoring at least 700+ runs in every calendar year – much better than any other average cricketer.

Who are we to tell Sachin who is the best cricketer when he has to retire and yet India Media is asking the question to people of the world who seem to have forgotten to look at the stats before stating what they open their mouth. I hope that Indian media can learn to cherish and be proud of our people.

 

 

Where does it end for Indian Team?

India cricket crest
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In December last year, as India was starting its tour of Australia, we all had high hopes – India had not done so well against England, but we knew Australia was also struggling and for some reason we all hoped that England was a bad dream.

Yet, the dream continued and Clark & Co. made sure that they do not let Indian team even a droplet of respite. They came time and again inning after inning and made sure that India was kept on back foot. Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and finally Adelade – Indian Team hardly had any chance. All of India went through the pain of seeing their team loose 8 test matches on the trot on foreign soil. And I do not see the end anywhere near.

Last 2 series we have been saying that it is the “Speed” of the pitches that we are not prepared for. Less that 6 months, and India will be playing in the sub-continent against their neighbors. This will really let us what is wrong with the Indian Team – the pitches or something more fundamental. Unlike West Indies who we played in 2011, Sri Lanka themselves are looking for wins and will not make it easy for Team India.

To top it all, there have been rumors of the Trinity resigning, where the players have not been saying anything about the topic. It is just so frustrating not to see what the Indian think tank is thinking. Or are they waiting for another train wreck to happen. Many have said, retiring the seniors as they are not moving their best is the way to fix the team; while some are saying we need an overhaul of the India Cricket. While all this happen, the players themselves have come out and spoken like they do not care (or at least that is how I feel). When I feel embarrassed, the way my team played, how can Ashwin not feel the same way. I guess that is what leads to these losses. It was Ashwin, only who did say (paraphrase and not quote) “We have lost the series and hence we have nothing to loose”.

If this is the attitude of the Indian Team, then this downfall will never end. We first need to a way to motivate ourselves into winning, they need to decide what the benchmark is. They set it too low, and we will never be the best team in World. And, same goes for the legends too. I love Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag – they have done things for this team that I can not say less. But, they need to either step up or step down.

Sehwag – has a test average of 50+ which is awesome, but since 2010 when he played New Zealand where his match score was 150 (96 & 54), he has had only one 100+ match score in 13 matches he has played. Until that test match Sehwag has been consistent in scoring centuries say one in every 5 matches (on average). So that average would work because then there were others who would score around him and provide India a solid start.

Dravid – has a test average of 52 which again is awesome. And he has been doing better scoring 7 centuries since 2010. Yet, he has failed to perform in the other inning of the match. None of the match scores are over 200 since playing Sri Lanka in Nov 2009.

Sachin – with a test average of 55+ no matter what I say about him is going to be less. He has always come back and proven people wrong. Whenever someone said – he is done; he would come and show why he is God of Cricket. Yet, he has also now scored a match score of 200+ since October 2010, where he scored a double century against Australia in Bangalore.

No one wants to let go of their legends, but a time comes when we have to let go. Not when they are in their prime, certainly not when they are at their worst – we need to find a time when they can add value to the team and get a player ready to replace them. This time I think we have missed our opportunity and it will come to haunt us very bad and we as fans will have to live with many more losses after we have seen the rise of India Cricket.

The worst is that I do not see an End in sight.