India has suffered badly due to the absence of a fifth bowler again in the 1st ODI against England. When your four top bowlers fail to make an impression and then the fifth bowler tends to drop long hops and half volleys more often than not, then there is nothing much a captain can do. The fifth bowler either he is one bowler or comprised of three different bowling options as it was the case yesterday with the Indians in the shape of Yuvraj, Sachin and Ganguly, they are part timers and part timers tend to create an impact if your other four bowling options exhibit their expertise with certainty. Yesterday, the main four Indian bowlers were honest in their efforts, but nothing penetrative came from their side that can rattle any opposition. Obviously, fifth bowling options which are umpteenth in Indian camp felt the pinch.
India has to drop this idea of a weak fifth bowling option. It has been years that the Indians have been rear guarding this fruitless idea. There is one simple solution to this riddle. Which department needs more bolstering, Indian batting or bowling? I bet Indian bowling needs more support. So pack your unit with five bowlers who can do their jobs shrewdly. Yesterday, fifth bowling options gave away 79 runs in 13 overs exceeding 6 runs per over rate. So India needs to bring in someone like Munaf Patel who can utilize the English conditions as smartly as any other Indian bowler can. But at whose cost? There were two mediocre performances yesterday and one unused or wasted option in the team. Two mediocrities were Agarkar and Chawla and a wasted option was Gambhir.
As India suffered poorly in the bowling department then I cannot think of dropping any bowler, but I can think of replacing Chawla with Powar. So bring in Powar who can add value due to his batting skills which have not shone so far but at least he can provide a hope in desperate situations. Bring in Powar, give time to Agarkar who is capable of making a comeback after all his years of experience and understanding of the game and leave out Gambhir.
I would leave out Gambhir because when you have experienced openers like Sachin and Ganguly, then there is no point in playing three openers one after another. If Dravid cannot survive the new ball at no.3 being one of the best no.3 in the game along with Kallis and Ponting then unfortunately no one can do it better. Gambhir, the young opener was been prodigiously wasted yesterday. It was absolute mind boggling choice of sending him at No.3 when you have a player of Dravid’s caliber sitting in the hut waiting for his turn. If you want to play Gambhir, play him as an opener or don’t play him at all. There is no point trying him at different numbers just because you think it can work it out that way. Everyone cannot be as versatile as Karthik is.
This composition will make room for six batsmen, three all-rounders if you are considering Agarkar and Powar as ones and five specialist bowlers.
My XI : Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Munaf Patel