India v. South Africa Test series
I am excited about watching India and South Africa in a Test series. Unfortunately it is only a 2 Test series; still this is infinitely better than the initial plan of playing 7 one day matches.
I enjoyed Dale Steyn's assessment of bowling to Virender Sehwag, particularly this nugget:
“We have been in a situation where we have got him out for nought, we have been in a situation where we have got him out for 300. We have basically got a plan for every run that he has got!"
The Indian batting line up is definitely weakened without the injured Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, and South Africa have a great opportunity to dismiss India for a low score if they get through the openers, Sehwag and Gambhir.
I am pretty happy with the selection of the Test team. Subramaniam Badrinath deserves this chance. I have been waiting for him to be picked to be play Test cricket for a while now. He has already proven his temperament by winning a one day game for India by batting well against Murali and Mendis. I saw him play in the IPL, and he has done well in the 20:20’s too. It is pretty remarkable the way he has adjusted to all forms of the game. I believe that he is as ready as anyone can be for a Test debut. Rohit Sharma is lucky to be going from being dropped from the one day team, to now being selected for the Test team and most likely make his debut because of Laxman’s injury. However, he has scored a lot of runs in the Ranji season, so he has earned his spot. The only newcomer who has proven himself at the Test level is Murali Vijay, who has done very well as the backup opener. Plus he is an excellent fielder close to the stumps, and this will definitely help the Indian spinners, Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra/Pragyan Ojha.
The ones who missed out: I watched Dinesh Karthik keep in the second Test against Bangladesh, and his collection technique is worrisome. He doesn’t seem to watch the ball all the way into his gloves, and I think the only reason his keeping hasn’t been totally horrible is that he is a very good athlete who is quick on his feet. The whole slip cordon looks much safer when Dhoni is keeping. Dhoni may not look fluid while keeping, but he is very effective. I am not surprised that Karthik has been dropped. Wriddhiman Saha I think is a natural keeper and is rated highly by Brendon McCullum. We don’t need bad keepers costing us Test matches, we have already tried the Parthiv Patel experiment.
Manish Pandey is an exciting prospect. I didn’t see him bat in the Ranji final, but I saw his 100 in the 2009 IPL in South Africa, and I thought he played some great shots along with the streaky ones. I don’t know yet if he is ready for international cricket. He might well be, as indicated by his 144 in the second innings of the Ranji final, but he should play the ODI’s first. It was highly unlikely that he was going to be selected for the South Africa Tests.
Abhimanyu Mithun has done very well in the Ranji trophy and I think he was picked because he has the pace. The express bowler always gets an earlier look in than the other bowlers. Which is fair, enough, however, R Vinay Kumar will be wondering whether he will ever get picked.
Alright, let us enjoy some Test cricket!