Dear MS, it’s time to bring back Zaheer Khan...
Ishant Sharma has it all that it takes to be a threatening fast bowler. He is tall, he is fast, and the selectors show a lot of confidence in him. But despite all the support, the Delhi pacer has been heavily responsible for India’s failures of late. When MS Dhoni tossed the ball at him in the 48th over of the second ODI, the Indian skipper wanted him to pull out a surprise for the Aussie batsmen. Ishant did pull off a surprise, but unfortunately for the Indian fans, as he conceded 30 runs in the 48th over of the innings as Indian fans got the shock of their lives as a brutal James Faulkner made the Australian dressing room jubilant.
Ishant should consider himself extremely lucky. Despite his consistent failures, for some reasons, even a genius skipper like MS Dhoni persisted with him for quite some time. The tall right-arm pacer once again made the job easier for the opponent by regularly bowling full in the second ODI.
Indian bowlers have had a forgettable ODI series so far. While the batsmen have tried their best to chase down mammoth scores and put a formidable total on board while batting first, Indian pacers in particular, have been pathetic with their line and length which has cost India dearly.
One can ignore the rare failure of Bhuvneshwar Kumar to an extent. But Ishant, who is considered to be the spearhead of the Indian pace attack, hasn’t even bowled like a mediocre bowler. Vinay Kumar – Virat Kohli’s go-to-man in the Indian Premier League (IPL), also hasn’t impressed much which is the reason why the Australians scored 967 runs in the first three ODIs against India. Ishant conceded 189 from 24 overs, at the rate of almost eight runs per over.
Surprisingly, even after his century went in vain, MS Dhoni backed Ishant, who became the butt of all jokes after his expensive over.
"It will be unfair that all of a sudden when you lose one or two matches and you want playing eleven bowler to be removed and thrown out of the team by saying he is not good," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
"It`s very important to persist with them, to give them experience because they are the part of the side. They are the most talented people and let`s back them," he added.
The Indian team was clearly struggling on the Mohali track. The rescue work was done by Dhoni, who got injured even before he faced a ball, but went on to score a magnificent unbeaten 139 and single-handedly took the score past 300-run mark. It was the first century by an Indian at Mohali in ODIs.
However unfortunately, Dhoni can’t spearhead India’s bowling attack as well and the current lot looks clueless. While it is good to back youngsters, it is beyond understanding why Jaidev Unadkat wasn’t included in the side after Australia posted a mammoth score of 359 runs in the second ODI. The same squad was played in the third ODI and once again, the Australian batsmen enjoyed the run-fest. Dhoni had another option in Mohammad Shami, but he persisted with Vinay and Ishant in the third ODI, much to the delight of the Australian batsmen.
Shami was finally included in the fourth ODI and it was a superb comeback as he picked three wickets. He could have claimed a five-wicket haul only if the Indian fielders held on to a couple of catches. Shami got early breakthroughs for his side, which went in vain after the inexperienced bowlers leaked plenty of runs against Bailey and Maxwell.
Considering the form of the current pacers, the selectors need to recall their most experienced pacer – Zaheer Khan. The left-arm pacer has spent enough time training with Yuvraj Singh in France and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be recalled. With his experience, Zak can’t only pick wickets at crucial intervals, but also inspire the young Indian bowlers to do well. The left-arm pacer has worked hard during his recent training and his arrival will see someone like Ishant, who has nothing to offer to the team after having played international cricket for six years, out of the team.
The series so far has been dominated by the Aussies. Their inexperienced batting line-up has slammed the critics who predicted it to be a one-sided series. While players like Rohit, Kohli and the skipper himself have played some outstanding knocks, the bowlers have broken the hearts of the Indian cricket fans.
Even though Dhoni has been backing the current lot of bowlers, we all know, the bowling requires some new energy. Zaheer Khan could be solution to all their problems.