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Is left the right for India? Inspecting the dearth of quality left-arm seamers and left-handed batsmen in India

Is left the right for India? Inspecting the dearth of quality left-arm seamers and left-handed batsmen in India

Pallab Chatterjee

Published: 24 Jan 2018 9:09 AM GMT
Well, you must have already read a plethora of articles about yet another Indian debacle at an overseas sojourn. Plenty of analysis must surely have been swallowed by you and they must have left you fuming with the million dollar question- Why again, why? Of the many questions that are plaguing India, the question of whether or not India have good left-arm seamers or potent left-handed middle-order batsmen in our armour is one that needs to be addressed right now. With critical tours of England and Australia in the pipeline, alongside the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, this is one area that needs to be assessed critically.

Left-arm seamers

Very few will argue to the fact that having a left-arm pace bowling option always adds that extra variety to a team's bowling arsenal. Gone are the days, when India used to have a potent force of left-arm seamers comprising the likes of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh. How can one forget the unforgettable spells by Zaheer Khan in England in 2007 that helped India win a Test series there after a long wait of 21 years? Also, one mustn't forget the contributions of RP Singh in that series. The young rookie, then, ably supported Zaheer and Sreesanth to form a lethal attack that beguiled the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and many. RP and Zaheer took 30 wickets together and Zaheer finished as the highest wicket-taker in the Tests with 18 wickets in the 3 Tests played. Another key tactical thing that the left-arm pacers bring with them, is the number of footmarks they create while bowling, which effectively helps the spinners of the team and brings them into the game, even in overseas conditions. Another key point would be the net-sessions that they will be able to provide to our batsmen. Indian batsmen, who, of late, have miserably struggled against the likes of Mohammed Amir, Trent Boult, Mustafizur Rahman across the formats. There is no doubt that the current Indian bowling line-up has been able to pick up 20 wickets in the two Tests in South Africa. But very few will argue that at times, the attack looked a bit one dimensional and searched for that magic. The variety and the dimension that a left-arm seamer brings to the table are unmatched. Very few will forget the contributions of Irfan Pathan in that memorable Test match triumph in Perth in 2008! Do India possess a pool of potent left-arm seamers? Let's find out: The potent options we have, currently are: Jaydev Unadkat, Kulwant Khejroliya. Barinder Sran, Pradeep Sangwan, Pawan Suyal, Sreenath Arvind, Khaleel Ahmed, Chama Milind Image result for unadkat
Source: Indian Express But barring Unadkat, no one has been able to catch the eyes of the selectors with breathtaking performances. Unadkat made his debut for India in the 1st test of the 2010-11 South Africa tour and had a match to forget as he failed to pick any wickets and conceded 101 runs in the 26 overs he bowled. In the recent past, Unadkat has improved by leaps and bounds and have been impressive in the IPL as well as for Saurashtra. However, the lack of pace and genuine swing are the areas of concern for him, as he will look to prove his mettle in the upcoming Indian Premier League. Though I personally feel that IPL performances should never be the sole criterion for getting that much-coveted place in the national side, yet that can only boost Unadkat's confidence. Khaleel Ahmed and Chama Milind have age on their sides, but they will have to uplift their game to that next level if they want to be considered for the national side After the departure of Ashish Nehra, the void looks far more prominent than ever before. We are a generation that has seen Indian left-armers making life difficult for the opponent stalwarts. So it will once again be a pleasure to watch another left-arm quickie passionately murmuring, 'Left arm, over'.

Left-Handed batsmen

After the retirement of Sourav Ganguly, India have not been able to find a suitable southpaw in the middle order. Left-handed batsmen bring the proverbial left-right advantage into the game and help the team to strategize against the opponent's bowlers. The number 5 or 6 is very critical, as they are the ones who bat with the lower middle order to provide the much-needed balance to the side. Ganguly had a decent away record to show for. But after him, India haven't been able to find a suitable replacement. India has tried with Yuvraj and Raina, but both have been failures in the conditions away from home. Since January 1, 2009, after Ganguly's departure in 2008, Yuvraj and Raina have played seven and eleven Tests away from home, respectively, scoring 289 and 566 runs at meager averages of 28.90 and 29.78 respectively. However, in Gambhir, India found a potent opening batsman, but form deserted him like anything, and he faded away from the scene, rather abruptly. Dhawan too showed glimpses of promise, but have largely been unimpressive against bounce and moving balls. Image result for sourav ganguly
Source: Asian Age If we look at the domestic circuit, there are a lot of guys who might come into the reckoning. On current form(if we take the 2017/18 Ranji trophy stats into consideration), Faiz Fazal has been impressive for Vidarbha as he inspired the side to their maiden Ranji Trophy title by amassing 912 runs at an average of 70.15. He finished the season as the second highest run-getter behind Mayank Agarwal. Gambhir too played well, but by the looks of it, he didn't look convincing enough to earn a drastic call-up. Looking at future, we urgently need to groom promising southpaws so that they can fight for a spot in the national side. There are some promising young men who have shone at certain times in the Indian domestic circuit. Sudip Chatterjee of Bengal, Rishabh Pant of Delhi, Ishan Kishan of Jharkhand have played well for their respective sides, but they have failed to perform on a bigger occasion, which sometimes becomes the distance between the cup and the lip. Raina still looks as fragile as ever, and he never gives you the assurance. Technically these guys have been found looking for answers on tracks conducive to seam and swing. The temperament too is a key factor, as someone like Pant would have been ideal for the side, as he can also keep wickets, but for his temperament, he becomes a risky proposition. Well, someone might argue that the aggressive style of batting can actually become a boon, but the amount of potential doom it carries with it makes it a dubious force altogether. Especially, when someone is not as talented as a certain Adam Gilchrist or Virender Sehwag. We've seen how reckless attitude can actually spell the death of a side, on numerous occasions and most recently against South Africa when some of our batsmen threw their wickets away while trying to carry that baggage of 'intent'. While India is in the process of making a side that can beat oppositions in their own backyard, the hunt to find potent left-handed batsmen for the middle order must surely appear somewhere in the checklists. The ODI and T20I sides too can be strengthened by adding that much-needed variety in the middle order as after Yuvraj and Raina, there has been a void too. Whether the 'left' is right for India, time will tell, but there is no harm in looking out for the options which have historically left indelible impressions, in the minds of the Indian cricket fans.
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