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India's young stars bristling with talent

Oliver Brett | 07:49 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

In the same way that there are plenty of people who can stomach neither Wagner's Ring Cycle nor a Girls Aloud concert, there is some middle ground between the elegant sanctity of Test cricket and the streetwise kid that is Twenty20.

Step into any of the seven grounds where India host England in the next three weeks - more likely, catch what action you can on TV, radio or live text commentary - and you too might be re-captivated by the thrills and spills of 50-over-a-side cricket.

India's Test series victory against Australia in the past few weeks was played out to near-empty stadia - despite it being something of an epic, with two emotional retirements and some rousing performances from the hosts.

By contrast, all seven grounds hosting the one-day internationals - even far-flung Guwahati - will be rammed full of noisy, fanatical supporters. And that's without many of the big stars who have become so familiar to a generation of Indians.

The names Kumble, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman will be absent from the scorecards, and Sachin Tendulkar has been rested for the first three games. In their place, India's selectors have assembled a squad bristling with youthful talent, pregnant with potential.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir did enough damage to Australia's Test team to suggest they will be an opening pair who must be separated swiftly by England's bowlers.

Rohit Sharma, Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina

But the real fascination comes in the middle order where players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina - none older than 21 - are eagerly jostling for attention along with the more established Yuvraj Singh.

Sharma, a star at under-19 level, has already matured sufficiently to bat either positively or patiently depending on the situation. He hit a brilliant half-century against South Africa in the ICC World Twenty20 and another vital one in the first final against Australia in the Commonwealth Bank Series victory in March.

Kohli, a right-hander with a fine temperament, played all five of the matches in Sri Lanka when still a teenager and was one of India's more consistent contributors.

Many of England's players will know all about Raina, meanwhile. A natural aggressor, he hit three terrific half-centuries against Andrew Flintoff's tourists in 2006 before emerging from a lean spell with some more big scores.

Yuvraj, of course, famously rose to prominence when he and Mohammad Kaif won India the NatWest Series final at Lord's in 2002 after the bowling of Ronnie Irani and Ashley Giles had put England on the brink of victory. (He also hit six sixes off one Stuart Broad over last year so he's got a bit of a thing for England.)

There are a couple of youngsters who are hot properties in the Indian Premier League - all-rounder Yusuf Pathan and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha - and an extremely accomplished quartet of seam bowlers.

They include Zaheer Khan, man of the series when India won the 2007 Test rubber in England, and Ishant Sharma, one of the heroes against Australia just now. So rich are India's pace-bowling stocks that the livewire extrovert Sreesanth cannot get a place.

This 15-man squad shows India's selectors in a very different light to the highly conservative, traditional mindset that has applied to picking Test teams.

There is a nod to the future, a realisation that India are assembling a cortege of players who they hope will do their country proud at the 2011 World Cup which they are hosting.

Having famously won the 1983 World Cup - a victory which turned the sport from a popular pastime to an all-consuming obsession for millions of Indians - they came close again in 2003 before suffering an embarrassment four years later when they failed to make the knockout stages.

England also had a poor World Cup in the Caribbean, and since then both teams have employed new coaches and been occasionally brilliant, though sometimes awful, in one-day internationals.

It will be a hard series to predict the winners, even if England are hunting their first one-day series win in India since David Gower's men triumphed in 1984-85. (According to one source, Ravi Shastri was player of the series although India lost 4-1!)

But with so many match winners on each side - let's not forget that England have players of the ilk of Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen - it's a real opportunity for both teams to serve up some enticing fare.


  • Comment number 1.

    Seven one dayers?

    I wonder how many will be remembered few weeks after the last game?

    Anyway, India have one world class bowler in Ishant Sharma and a respected spinner in Harbajhan. Otherwise bowling is mediocre and fielding is 1980s. Indian batting is the best in the world but England are the better bowling and fielding side.

    Biggest difference- mental strength. England are the weakest side mentally. Probably weaker than any other test cricket playing nation.

    On the other hand, thanks in part to the obscene financial muscle, India are mentally the strongest side in cricket. Stronger than Australia.

    How many times have you seen Ian Bell involved in a runout or Freddie lofting the ball to mid-on or Anderson bowl half-volleys in crunch time?

    Advantage India.

  • Comment number 2.

    for the first time in a long time india has a great pool of talent covering most positions for 1 dayers and 20 20 matches
    Middle Order
    Tendulkar,Raina,Yuvraj,Rohit Sharma,Badrinath,Tiwary,Pujara
    All Rounders
    Irfan Pathan,Praveen Kumar,Yusuf Pathan
    Wicket Keepers
    Dhoni,Karthik,Parthiv Patel

    Only God knows how we havent put Uthapaa and Praveen kumar in the squad for the 1 dayers(they were 2 of the best players against australia in 1 day series)

  • Comment number 3.

    India have one world class bowler??

    Thats a bit harsh. I've been impressed everytime i've seen Munaf, RP Singh, Zaheer Khan of late and a couple of the spinners. The IPL earlier this year shows India have young talent coming out of their ears!

    They have a world class team in every department and will be far too much for England, which ever 'Jekyll and Hyde' team turns up

  • Comment number 4.

    Oddly, England have a chance, though India clearly start as favourites.

    Under KP England beat SA convincingly in the summer, and SA are no mean ODI side.

    Obviously winning a series at home is one thing, and beating India in India quite another, but England do at least look like, after years in the wilderness, they have a competitive ODI side.

    (Still don't understand the England selection process, mind you. Why bat Bopara at 8 when you could bring in Swann as the extra bowler? Huge pressure on Samit Patel as the only spinner in the side)

  • Comment number 5.

    ODI is anyones game.. except when playing Aus (before glenn/warne retired ) :)

    the contest i suspect will be captaincy and strategies. KP is new, and dhoni is more experienced and has shown lot of smartness on field..

    i hope the games are played in good spirits without lot of sledging etc..

  • Comment number 6.

    A very useful article as it highlighted a number of Indian players who are not currently well known outside of India. I will know who to look out for now during the One Day Series. It is encouraging to see the BCCI go for youth especially after the recent retirement of some quality players.

    I read a rather racist remark on another cricket blog making the accusation that Monty only took so long to get into the England Test side because he is a Sikh or more accurately non-white. I did not bother responding at the time to such an ignorant comment. I was impressed that the BBC allowed such an observation to be put up- freedom of speech and all that -but it simply is not true! We have had a captain called Nasser Hussain and if any of the recent South Africa 'imports' had been non-white they would still be in the team as we desperately need them regardless of colour. The fact is that the ECB have always been conservative when it comes to selecting new players and it took Paul Collingwood even longer to get selected. Maybe the ECB should take a leaf out of the England Football side and try to blood youngsters earlier but for some reason I have not been able to fathom our players tend to be late bloomers compared to the youngsters of other countries. Look at Graham Smith of South Africa for example. If he had been selected for England I bet he would have been out after a couple of matches and not heard from for another few years. Whilst Andy Murray is doing well at present Rafael Nadal had already won the French open as a teenager.

    I have no idea where Kash79 originates from but I found his comments in blog #1 bizarre at best and barmy at worst:

    'England are the weakest side mentally. Probably weaker than any other test cricket playing nation.'

    I accept that England are not as talented as other nations at present but if they are mentally weaker than Bangladesh (who have yet to make an impression) for example then we really are in trouble.

    'On the other hand, thanks in part to the obscene financial muscle, India are mentally the strongest side in cricket. Stronger than Australia.'

    No-one is tougher mentally than the Australians even if they lost to India. Mental toughness means that you fight to end regardless of how bad you are and the Aussies never capitulated and never will even if they are not good enough to win. Kim Hughes will be remembered more for his tearful resignation than his batting record because that sort of behaviour is NOT expected from an Aussie, ANY Aussie.

    What on earth does 'obscene financial muscle' have to do with mental strength? I do not really expect an answer to this as by extrapolation Chelsea could not have lost to Burnley last night in the Carling Cup. I made a comment about the cricket blogs being more well informed than the football blogs but these sort of comments make me wonder!

    I think it is fair to say that India are strong favourites for both the One Day and Test Series but that does not mean they will win because they are mentally stronger. As blog #2 has pointed out they have an excellent squad of players available for the shorter version of the game and they have enough old hands left (and crucially, world class spinners) to give them the advantage in the Tests. England also need 2 spinners but they have to be in good enough form to get into the side in the first place.

    Cheers, Joe.

  • Comment number 7.

    It's great to see India with so many talented youngsters coming through. Sharma especially looks like the real deal to me.

    With no more Kumble and Ganguly, legends of Indian cricket, and with a few other reaching the tail end of their careers, they'll be a team in transition for a while so not sure we can start talking about them as the team which will overtake the Aussies as the best team in the world quite yet.

    Will be interesting to see how England get on there this summer.


  • Comment number 8.

    To Kash 79, i don't know which Indian team you have been watching but there fielding has come a long way since the 80's and i would rate them very highly and over the next few weeks you will see for yourself why.

  • Comment number 9.

    If England want to win, they have to bring a significant change in their batting style. All the matches will be played on batting tracks and every batsman has to play more number of unorthodox shots per over. Playing over the infield is another thing Indians are very good at. Therefore, having Trescothick during the power plays, would have helped England. Prior should be used as a slog over batsman, and a specialist batsman should go for opening the innings with Bell.

  • Comment number 10.

    to #2

    the stupid most person in the ODI cricket world is the one who suggesting sachin to bat in the middle order

  • Comment number 11.

    Come On India!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    I am eager to see Rohit sharma bat this winter..He is a pleasure to watch when he scores..he has the temperament and technique.
    Hope to see a good series..wish England to be competent..not like previous series.. mind you... they all are one sided games

  • Comment number 13.

    ref comment # 6 by joeperriman

    kash79 originates from india, but God knows where his ideas originate from, though he has got a point about indian fielding. School children do better.

  • Comment number 14.


    if indian fielding has come a long way since the 80s, which way has it come? I could not fathom that they could be worse.

  • Comment number 15.

    Whether the series is going to be competitive or a stroll in the park for India will depend on KP if he plays well, it will be close or it won’t be much of a contest. Don’t worry if anyone has seen how well we have fielded in the last year. I am sure we will field better than England, their captain can hardly hold onto the ball. He drops more catches than he holds onto.

  • Comment number 16.

    Theres a lot of talk about the Indian fielding.
    Havent any of you people seen any of these young indian guys field??
    The likes of Sharma , Kohli, Raina, Vijay, Pathan and Yuraj are top class fielders. Can give the aussies and SA a good run for their money.
    Fielding is NOT a weak point for this young,vibrant Indian side. I can safely bet my house that the Indians will outfield the English during this series. Apart from Munaf there's hardly a weak fielder in the present ODI setup.

    I dont think the series will be even close. India will outclass England. The young guys are desperate to do well and in Indian conditions will hit the English hard. I predict an easy 5-2

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting intro. to the series, Oliver.

    If I wake up early enough I'll be watching/listening.

    It's possible that India will walk all over England, as England are very inconsistent, but if England start playing to their full potential, the young guns could end up in trouble.

    That said, series' of this nature have little meaning, so they are the best time to get the youngsters in.

    Having a policy of picking youngsters can work, but Indian fans will need patience ... and previous experience suggests that this is the one thing Indian cricket lacks.

  • Comment number 18.


    how does having a rich board with "obscene financial muscle" make the team have big mental strength?

  • Comment number 19.

    Other Topic:

    In part I enjoy cricket because of commentators.

    I wish those Indian firms with broadcasting rights will dump LSRK. He has no depth or insight in the game and he doesn't keep the viewer engaged either.

    Also, please no Ian Botham. He pretty much spends his allotted time talking about Freddie, Pietersen and the upcoming Ashes.

    TPM radio is much better barring a few obvious and sad exceptions.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm always optimistic about Englands chances so I'm hoping we can scrape a series win.

    That said, I can see the first ODI being a disaster and we need to avoid what we did last time where we went 5-0 down after the first 5 games (or something like that). I like the squad that's been picked although I think Mascharenas should have made the cut. England have been making a thing of picking youngsters for ODI's so they need to start performing- the result against South Africa in the summer was a positive start!

    It's a shame to have to play 7 one-day games and only 2 tests. I, like most other people in England, would rather it was more like 3/4 tests and 5 one-days. Oh well, I guess the ECB are just bending over to the BCCI again...

  • Comment number 21.

    If India is so strong Test side; why should BCCI be forcing any other board to have 7 ODIS. I guess they were mutually decided. so what;s the fuss all about ? Ideally 3 Tests and 5 ODIS would have been great but the crowd pullers are indeed ODIs and 20-20. so if that's what is more popular and thats what today's cricket lovers want to watch the world over; then everyone should change with the changing Times. What has BCCI got to do with it ?

  • Comment number 22.

    Re Kash's point about "obscene financial muscle" (great phrase by the way, and accurate)... I think there is actually something to be said about how money makes you more confident in sport. Even the players on the fringes of the teams can become very rich men through the IPL, so yes - there could be a confident swagger about the Indians

  • Comment number 23.

    I can't see the point in these hurried one day series myself - so England play 7 ODIs, and frankly who will remember in a year or two what the outcome was, any more than 95% of cricket fans can remember the outcome of the last few years worth of ODI series.

    England will be terribly undercooked having taken nowhere near long enough to acclimatise, and will lose, probably 5-2/6-1, only getting better towards the end. England will then drop a bunch of players and introduce new ones for the next ODI series, and remain inconsistent, and say they're 'committed to youth' - when does it actually ever come to fruitition?! India will take the series as confirmation of their greatness, but will remain too arrogant (and their board too money driven) to ever take the time to go genuinely dominate world cricket outside their own country.

    In the meantime, Australia will remain the top ranked side in both forms of cricket, with a board that is committed to cricketing excellence rather than profit, and they will win the next WC in 2011. Simple as that.

  • Comment number 24.


    Thank you for add some beef to my earlier comment.

    Just to sprinkle salt on the pretzel- Harbajhan Singh is a very good example of increased chutzpah among Indian players following their new found war chest.

    HS always had an occassional "oomph" in his stride, but compare the first half of his career with the second half, you'll know what I'm taking about.

    Harbajan Singh had handled Haydos and Symonds like strings on his guitar in recent playoffs. I'm not just talking about getting them out, Haydos and Roy have found themselves mentally out played as well.

    Meanwhile, as I type England are wiping the floor with Yuvraj. While I'm not a big far how Indian rupee is shaping the game of cricket, I must say they have some of the greatest and excting batsmen of our times.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ comment 24

    I mean for adding some beef to my earlier comment.

    I mean I am not the big fan...

    Sorry for the typos. Can we have "edit" button? For christ sake...

  • Comment number 26.

    Are there any others who just cannot get to read long rumbling contibutions to this board? More than a few lines will put me off every time. People should learn to be brief - otherwise many of us just scroll to the next one.

  • Comment number 27.

    India have always had young players with huge potential but somehow has not been able to turn that into winning performances because of players becoming complacent after making it in the team. Ganguly showed what could be achieved through professional work ethics has been in limbo since his departure. Hopefully Dhoni will complete the work started by Ganguly.

  • Comment number 28.

    I really think that its that Captain Dhoni who makes all the difference. He instills a sense of super confidence in not only the players but even the Indian spectators. Excellent man management.

  • Comment number 29.

    Captain Pietersen has proved a few people wrong, I admit to being sceptical when he took over from Vaughan, this is a very good Indian side, what happens over the next few weeks could decide whether KP goes down as an inspirational leader or a player who is so much better than the rest of his side they struggle to match his standards.

  • Comment number 30.

    How about recruiting some overseas
    players under HSMP

  • Comment number 31.

    Only 1 world class bowler for india-as the one guy said earlier look at rp singh munaf patel sreesanth mishra-none of these get into indias strongest odi side but munaf is better than any other english seamer by a mile-harmison is a lost cause cant bowl 2 balls in the same area in a spell let alone an over anderson serves up half volleys by the bucket full india were smacking us everywhere and the only person that tried to bowl a yorker was flintoff!How many times will england persist with plodders at the top of the order in bell and prior?? How many chances does shah want to prove he can play why does bopara look good when its a lost cause when is colly going to get some runs and when will flintoff stop missing straight balls! Englands team were successful on average wickets in the cold late summer against a sa side ready to go home-different story on flat wickets in the sub continent-india packed the offside field to bell and prior and bowled a length outside off stump and time and time again england stroked(gently) the ball to the cover ring fielders time and time again! India picked up anything remotely full or remotely straight and whipped it for runs leg side and then when anything was overpitched it went onto the stadiums tin roof or in the gaps over the top- i wont be making the effort to get out of bed silly oclock to watch such a pitiful side ever again

  • Comment number 32.

    Would any of the contributors who said India are not a good fielding side like to reconsider? Some good run outs and very few extras are usually the sign of a side bowling and fielding well. I cannot watch the games but the score cards tell a pretty good story. Any new comments on this?

    I will not 'rumble' on but I still cannot accept that having more money in the kitty or paying someone more money makes then a better player. If India could use the money to purchase top quality players from elsewhere then that would make sense. I would think that the 'confident swagger' they are entitled to right now is because they are winning their matches and not because they are being paid more money. We are talking about professional sportsmen and not about photocopier salesmen. Sorry, I am not criticising the latter but just making the point that if the money was more important and more motivating than winning then why bother?

    If there was an edit button Kash79 then people could alter your comments as well. Why not just read what you have typed before posting your comment? Comment #26 just confirms my opinion about the low attention span of most people. Most blogs are shorter than the main one at the top but you presumably took the time to read it because it's by an official BBC correspondent. I agree that it does make sense to break the comment up otherwise it is painful on the eye.

    The Third Ronaldo in #23 pretty much sums up my long held belief. All the other countries can huff and puff away but the only wolf walking away with the trophy that counts in 2011 will be Australia. They really know what they are doing and will come good at the right time. I hate them for doing every time it but I respect them for being so consistent.

    Regards, Joe.

  • Comment number 33.

    Personally, I'm really excited to see how Ojha gets on when if he gets his chance against England. Just 18 months ago, he was playing in the Drakes Huddersfield League for Slaithwaite before he got called up for the India 'A' team. Very nice bloke and it was a joy seeing him tie up village cricketers in knots!

  • Comment number 34.

    India as been doing really well as of now Dhoni as a captain setting examples for every member of the team by knowing there roles.....there is nothing england can do abt it other than losing the series and returning home empty handed....anyways they can learn alot from here and improve....u need a quality to rise on occassion but i dont find anyone in england team as of now.....Just that there is lot of hype abt this england team....Major tournament which they have one as of now is ashes in 2005..

  • Comment number 35.

    India as been doing really well as of now Dhoni as a captain setting examples for every member of the team by knowing there roles.....there is nothing england can do abt it other than losing the series and returning home empty handed....anyways they can learn alot from here and improve....u need a quality player to rise on occassion but i dont find anyone in england team as of now.....Just that there is lot of hype abt this england team....Major tournament which they have won as of now is ashes in 2005....

  • Comment number 36.

    Accepted that India have a decent set up at the moment, but we need to get the balalnce right. Bopara a specialist batsmen batting behind an average spinner/batter. The biggest joke at the moment to though is Mr Pietrson balling (instead of Bopara) whats happening here!!! Lets get our act together and have players doing what they are good at. Pietrson needs to stick to his batting and the added responsabilty of captaincy, intead trying to do somthing which is well above and beyond him at this level. With the current crop of players we have making of a world cup winning side providing the basics are adhered to.

  • Comment number 37.

    Its alright the Indians singing the praises of the current team. As england i dont think the Indians are world beaters yet; after all they have won a series against the Aussies. The Great England, West Indian and Aussie sides have consistently played well over the years for a long periods of time not just a one off Series. But i'm just wondering whetering we have done the right thing giving the Captaincy to Pieterson, he is beging to shows flaws (Yes i Know its only his 1st Series abroad etc etc!!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    Indians are world beaters if they werent they wouldn`t have won world cup in 1983 and 20/20 world cup in many times have england enter world quarter finals may be once at the most twice....In recent times India havent lost a series 5-0 to any team in the world....but in england case its everyday scenario lost to aussies 5-0 in last ashes series,lost to Srilanka,S Africa,India,

  • Comment number 39.

    this makes me laugh!!

    everyone has there opinion on what the teams should do, who they should put on the team etc etc but who cares??

    just watch the games and see what happens!!

    everyone knows that cricket is unpredictable esp the one day games!

    this has nothing to do with the aussies or south africans its all about england and india - watch the games enjoy the entertainment!

  • Comment number 40.

    Assuming India wrap up the series on Sunday, I think they must try some of the kids Kohli and Ojha. The latter in particular would be worth watching as Yusuf Pathan's off-spin doesn't look very frightening. I imagine Sehwag could do with a rest too...

    And is there anyone who could take over the gloves from Dhoni who has any unbelievable amount of cricket coming up (with the Champions League thrown in)...?

    JoeP - Spot on. India have been terrific in the field, absolutely superb and a major factor in their success.

  • Comment number 41.

    I have confirmed with, the official website of ICC, that it was indeed Ravi Shastri who was the MoS in the England series of 1984-1985.
    Here is the link :

  • Comment number 42.

    If only Pieterson and Freddie Flintoff fire all will be forgotten and this same English team will look like world champions. India is a mediocre fielding side with ordinary bowling. It is there batting which wins them matches. The England team did not get enough side games. Owais Shah should be moved up the order he has the capability to hit the big shots.

  • Comment number 43.

    Frankly speaking India looked the superior side in all the one dayers. Throughout the one day series the English team was banking on their captain Kevin Pieterson and Flintoff to fire and take them through. Even when the so called English match winners clicked India did not give them looked threatened. They completely decimated the English bowling line up in all the one dayers. What the English team lacks is sheer talent and aggression. Until last year even England would have been competitive against India but the introduction of IPL has completely transformed Indian cricket. Their batsmen looked self assured and aggressive. More and more exposure to t20 cricket is the solution for the English team. Without that even if they manage to score 350 I will bank on India to chase them down. FACE IT INDIA HAS TALENT AND WILL CONTINUE TO PRODUCE YOUNGSTER BRISTLING WITH TALENT BECAUSE OF IPL

  • Comment number 44.

    With so many young and promising cricketers continuously emerging from rural and urban regions in our country, India has certainly come to stay as the epicenter of cricket on the Planet. Best wishes to our young cricketers.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho


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