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Did the youngsters in the Indian team do enough in Sri Lanka to cement their places in the side?


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Did the youngsters in the Indian team do enough in Sri Lanka to cement their places in the side?
- The Appeal

The Offside

It is a rare thing in Indian cricket for a player just breaking into the side to be given a decent run of form. History is littered with cases of players being picked, failing to perform and being mercilessly axed and thereafter forgotten. Sourav Ganguly however has made an attempt to change this. In the recently concluded Coca-Cola Cup, Ganguly gave the youngsters he picked a chance to prove their worth. Sadly, almost none of them took the opportunity that was presented to them.

In the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, Hemang Badani was given an extended run in the middle order. The southpaw from Tamil Nadu was rated highly by most and seemed to possess a good approach to the game. However, in less than ideal batting conditions Badani struggled, making just 78 runs from six innings, including a best of 35 not out. To make matters worse, Badani scored at the poor strike rate of 59.54, something totally unacceptable in the shorter version of the game.

Virender Shewag, the toast of the whole nation for his explosive century against New Zealand, averaged a mere 25.14 in the series. While one cannot take anything away from Shewag for the innings he played, his scores in the other six matches of the series speak of rank inconsistency. 0, 12, 33, 27, 0 and 4 - a very bad run of form, both in the middle order and while opening the innings. While Shewag managed to get off to starts on two occasions, he failed to capitalise and make even a half century.

Reetinder Singh Sodhi, earmarked for bigger things as India's utility cricketer failed to deliver with both bat and ball. He contributed just 83 runs from five innings with the willow. With the ball in hand, one wicket at an average of 123 was the result from 23 overs delivered.

Overall, the newcomers have failed to cement their places in the side when the perfect opportunity to do so was presented to them.

The Onside

Cricket is a team game. It is unreasonable to expect all the members of a team to fire on all cylinders all the time. At the end of the day, what matters is the team's overall performance. India were down and nearly out, having lost the first three matches of the tournament. When almost no one thought the Indians had it in them to make a comeback, the newcomers to the side answered the call and got India out of trouble.

Yuvraj Singh's ability has never been in doubt. His temperament however has always been regarded as a bit suspect. Having arrived on the world stage in a blaze of glory in the ICC KnockOut last year, the Punjab youngster has had a bad run of form. However, Yuvraj Singh managed to overcome the lean patch and silence critics with a matchwinning unbeaten 98 against Sri Lanka in the 8th match of the tournament. With the ball in hand too, Yuvraj Singh proved to a handy customer, snaring eight wickets in the tourney. On the back of Yuvraj Singh's innings of 98, India kept their hopes of reaching the final alive.

The last league match of the tournament, pitting India against New Zealand emerged as a virtual semi-final clash. Chasing 265 for victory in a pressure cooker situation, India needed something special for the occasion. Virender Shewag delivered just that, tearing up the attack in a 70-ball innings that yielded 100 runs. Once again, just one innings was enough to guide India into the final and blast New Zealand out of the tourney.

Although the youngsters in the team may not have all performed consistently well, they each played a part in India's campaign. That after all is the ultimate role of utility cricketers in one-day games. Having fulfilled that role, it would be unfair to say that the Indian youngsters have failed to cement their places in the side.


Results & Scores
Sri Lanka won by 121 runs
Sri Lanka 295/5 (50 ov)
India 174 (47.2 ov)

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