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With old guard back, is India taking a step backwards in T20Is?

The World T20 in India in March and April won’t be a walk in the park for India that we are expecting.

Written by Jaideep Ghosh | New Delhi |
January 28, 2016 1:40:42 pm
india vs australia, ind vs aus, india australia, ind vs aus t20i, india vs australia t20, india cricket team, india cricket, ms dhoni, yuvraj singh, ashish nehra, nehra, cricket news, cricket The recall of Ashish Nehra show that things are going backwards as far as bowling is concerned for India. (Source: AP)

Ironic, isn’t it? South Africa is seeing the dawn of Phangiso Rabada while India is re-introducing Ashish Nehra.

Though don’t think we can complain too much. After all, the Indian bowling came good for a change as the visitors won the first T20 against Australia at Adelaide.

Such the life, I guess. When chips are down, as they were in the One-day International series while it was alive, any change is an improvement.

Pretty intriguing, the way the side was chosen for the T20 series. One assumes there is more than just obliging the zonal friends in recalling the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Nehra or Suresh Raina.

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Granted, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a soft spot for Yuvraj.

He was his best pal in the 2011 World Cup days, and was one of his stars there. So its possible that it had to do with Dhoni too and not just the new BCCI mandarins pleasing the hopefuls.

But let’s be fair, the new-look side has done way better than the side that huffed and puffed and got nothing beyond the consolation prize, in spite of the batsmen doing a fine job.

The T20s were a relief rather than an exaltation, since let’s face it, anything that ends in a positive has become a relief off late.

We’re referring to real pitches. Not broken down apologies of tracks where all the Indian bowlers needed was to throw the ball down and everything clicked.

On real tracks, where the ball does precious little, we had the likes of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and even Ashwin found the going extremely tough.

But in the T20 side, we saw some signs of life. Nehra has been likely one of the most underrated bowlers in India. He has done remarkably well of India in limited-overs cricket over the years.

But that said, recalling him is a sure sign that things are going backwards in terms of the attack.

Granted, all these boys were called up before the disastrous ODI series, but one is still forced to assume that the cupboard is bare. We are, after all, calling up guys who themselves must be wondering, how long?

Yes. It is confusing indeed. Here we have Jasprit Bumrah, doing quite well for himself, at least as of now, and Hardik Pandya, the newest kid on the block, being partnered by the old warhorse, Nehra.

The batting too, sees old faithfuls Raina and Yuvraj back in business, to share the burden with Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and the likes.

Surely there must be people who think it is high time Yuvraj was brought back. But then, every time the team struggles, we want to bring back everyone who ever played for India.

Why, not too long ago, there were some murmurs about asking even Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid to come back!

I personally do not think Yuvraj will succeed. Not for any reason of doubting his record. But a record will not be worth anything in the next game.

Fine, he didn’t get a chance in the first T20 of the series, so he needs to get another chance. Or another after that. But somehow, I don’t see all these chances coming out with anything dramatic.

Make no mistake, the T20 World Cup here won’t be the cake walk that we are expecting. We may well have the classic low and slow turners, but where exactly have done great things on those?

In the South Africa series, India won because their batting was not as bad as the South Africans. As simple as that. You put the same attack against a half-decent spin bowling contingent, and we are in trouble.

Sure, winning on belters may not be such a fashionable thing anymore, but this spinning pitch business is a very dodgy and thin piece of ice.

Look at how we ended up against the series of meddle to average Bangladeshi spinners in the ODI series there. So assuming that this is the secret to success is a very dangerous game indeed.

Great to see Kohli get runs, time and again. Great even to see Raina come good, Bumrah and Nehra delivering and Ashwin back in business.

But all of these need to click and combine sensationally for India to win the World Cup (we are assuming these Australia etc series are a dry run for that purpose).

So more things change, more they remain the same in Indian cricket. We have the old guard playing what is perceived to be a game for the young, sharp and fit.

Experience does have its merits, but when winning is the only thing, I guess there have to be some measures that are, well, tenuous.

So we have this interesting situation of the ‘youth and experience’, which could be a great success. Or not.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Maybe we will all be surprised by the squad.

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