India's young guard high on promise, low on performance
Senior Associate Editor Bikash Mohapatra takes a look at Indian players who, despite their unquestionable talent, have not quite lived up to expectations.
As I start writing this I am wondering about the amount of criticism that will come my way once the column is published.
In trying to discuss the Indian players who have not lived up to the expectations, I will most certainly end up incurring the wrath of their many fans considering cricket is a religion in our country, each player mentioned is certain to have loads of fans.
So let me just apologise at the outset and clarify that one is not being judgmental about any of these players but only trying to point out certain facts, which, at the moment, hold true.
As a cricket fan, like many of you, I am disappointed by the efforts thus far of the players mentioned and my job enables to analyze them.
But before going into a critical analysis it is imperative to say that promise doesn't necessarily ensure performance. And that is precisely the problems with these players, whose performance will be analysed.
These players are still promising. And they are still capable of translating that promise into performance. This trough in their career is by no means the end of the road for them.
What I am saying is that at the moment these players remain unfulfilled promises and definite disappointments.
The list that follows isn't exhaustive and readers are welcome to discuss the players who they feel should be a part of this list or, for that matter, shouldn't have been included at all.
But, for the moment, continue reading...
Image: Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma
Besides consistency, fitness is also an issue
There's no questioning his talent.
But it is temperament and consistency where Yuvraj Singh is found lacking.
Ever since his international debut in 2000 (in ODIs) -- he made his Test debut only in 2003 -- Yuvraj has displayed flashes of brilliance interspersed with moments of terrible disappointment.
How else do you explain the fact that despite playing for about 10 years (250 ODIs) his average still remains under 40 (37.09). His place in the Test team in anything but certain.
Besides, issues regarding his fitness keep cropping up time and again.
A look at some of his recent statistics points out to the fact that in five one-day internationals this year, Yuvraj has scored only 96 runs, 74 of them coming in one match against Sri Lanka in Dhaka.
In the recent World Twenty20 in West Indies -- where India failed to make the semi-finals -- he scored just 74 runs in five matches.
The fact that he has been dropped from the Indian squad for the upcoming Asia Cup goes on to prove the point one is making.
And even in this case the chairman of the selection committee, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, hinted that lack of fitness cost Yuvraj his place in the side.
Image: Yuvraj Singh
A good script, a not so good screenplay
In his first assignment as captain, Suresh Raina failed to guide Team India to the final of a triangular series, which had Sri Lanka and minnows Zimbabwe, as the third side.
This probably best explains Raina's failure -- his inability to capitalize on opportunities.
Despite being part of the one-day side for five years, Raina's average is a modest 37.65. And he is yet to play a Test.
His success in the Indian Premier League notwithstanding, his career otherwise is a good story that could have been converted into an equally good screenplay.
But, sadly, it is yet to.
And here we haven't even mentioned his weakness with the short ball.
Image: Suresh Raina
Following in Irfan's footsteps
He made a name for himself in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League, under the guidance of Shane Warne.
Since then it has become obvious that he is an aggressive batsman, who on his day can destroy any opposition.
On the negative side, such days are few and far between.
In the intervening period he seems an ordinary player who comes to the crease, hits a few lusty blows and then gifts his wicket away.
It won't be appropriate to mention statistics when talking about Yusuf because the difference he can make in a game on a given day cannot be defined in terms of statistics.
Having said that, it is also imperative to mention that the elder of the Pathan brothers, it seems is following in the footsteps of his younger sibling (Irfan), the latter having failed to build on his early promise now finds him out of the team.
Image: Yusuf Pathan
Yet to make the cut
Again a player with tremendous potential.
And a remarkable success story as far as the Indian Premier League is concerned, his figures inspiring awe.
But look at the corresponding figures at the international level, and it doesn't make a pleasant read.
In three years as an international, the highly-rated Rohit has scored just above a thousand runs (in 46 matches) and averages only 31.34.
Considering six of those innings have been knocks of 50-plus (two 100-plus), the figures become worse.
Rohit has shown flashes of brilliance. He is yet to arrive full time though.
Image: Rohit Sharma
Where's the consistency?
Another Shane Warne protege , Ravindra Jadeja was almost made the scapegoat, the villain-of-the-piece, following India's early exit at the recent T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.
The fact that he wasn't allowed to play in the preceding Indian Premier League owing to a contractual dispute also made matters worse for him.
However, without vilifying him, let's just say that Jadeja has so far not been able to perform up to his potential.
In Zimbabwe, he did display character.
But what he needs to do is to be more consistent.
Image: Ravindra Jadeja
His fall was as remarkable as his rise
Controversy's favourite child, S Sreesanth's fall in international cricket was as remarkable as his rise.
Good pace, swing and an aggressive attitude ensured he burst on the scene with aplomb, his man-of-the-match winning match figures of eight for 99 at Johannesburg ensuring India a first Test win on South African soil.
However, thereafter the Kerala bowler made the headlines more for his controversies than his performances.
Poor form and a string of injuries subsequently kept him out of the side before he returned with an impressive five for 75 against Sri Lanka at Kanpur, an effort that helped India's secure its 100th Test win.
Injuries sidelined him thereafter.
To be fair, Sreesanth, like Ishant Sharma, is a good Test bowler.
The team think-tank needs to take that into consideration to ensure good performances consistently from the duo.
Image: S Sreesanth
Things haven't been the same since
As India returned from their tour Down Under in 2007-08, the team had unearthed a new bowling talent.
Having been drafted in as a replacement for an injured Zaheer Khan in the Sydney Test, Ishant Sharma made a mark in the subsequent match at Perth.
He continued his impressive run in the ensuing one-day series and in a match against Australia at Adelaide, Ishant delivered the second fastest ball ever bowled by an Indian bowler [clocking 152.6 km/h (94.8 mph)].
Lambu, as he is affectionately called, had arrived big time, but his fall was as dramatic as his rise.
A string of injuries, followed by a drop in performance saw him being axed from the side.
And things haven't been the same since.
Image: Ishant Sharma
His lack of pace meant limited success
His ability to swing the ball both ways earned him success at the domestic level, an opportunity to lead the Indian attack and the subsequent fame.
His inability to generate pace, coupled with a questionable temperament, meant limited success, a not-so-good reputation and no permanent place in the Indian eleven.
With his ability to bowl well on the not-so-conducive Indian wickets, Praveen Kumar is definitely an asset as a one-day bowler.
Some consistency, along with more discipline, can ensure he delivers more than his potential.
Image: Praveen Kumar
Sporadic success cost him his place
His raw pace, good control and ability to swing the ball well both ways ensured him a memorable Test debut with match figures of seven for 97 against England at Mohali in March 2006.
The start to his one-day career was decent if not spectacular.
However, Munaf to his detriment failed to deliver on a consistent basis.
And sporadic success meant no permanent place in the side.
Image: Munaf Patel
This Singh is no more king
A man-of-the-match award in only his third one-day international against Sri Lanka at Gwalior in November 2005 and a similar effort in his maiden Test against Pakistan at Faislabad in early 2006 marked his arrival on the big stage.
Rudra Pratap Singh has seen subsequent success, most notably at the inaugural World T20 where he took 12 wickets and the second edition of the Indian Premier League, where he took 23 wickets to win the Purple Cap, but he hasn't been either consistent or economical.
As a result, he hasn't featured in a Test in two years and not been part of the one-day squad since September last year.
Image: RP Singh