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.
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
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.