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Has Robin Singh outlasted his utility in the Indian team?


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Has Robin Singh outlasted his utility in the Indian team?
- The Appeal

The Offside

Robin Singh is the quintessential team man. He's the lionheart who's bailed Indian cricket out of many a tough corner in limited overs games. Coming in to bat towards the end of the innings, the gutsy Tamil Nadu all rounder has had to get going right from the first ball. With no time to settle in or play a long innings, Robin Singh has had to perform a role no batsman would envy. With little chance of accumulating any personal glory, Robin Singh has had to push ahead in the larger interest of the team.

And the occasions in which he's done that successfully are innumerable, beginning with the 48 he scored against Zimbabwe at Paarl in 1997. That was done in just 31 balls, coming in at number eight. What about the time Robin Singh was sent in as a pinch hitter and made a century in Sri Lanka? Picking up 3/20 in the same match, Robin Singh was well on course to scripting an Indian victory when the rain came down and ended the game. Then comes the famous final against the old foe Pakistan, at Dhaka in 1998. Chasing a mammoth 315 for victory, India had no choice but to experiment and send Robin Singh up the order. Coming in at number three, Robin Singh made an 83-ball 82 and shared a 179-run partnership with Sourav Ganguly setting up a memorable triumph. But citing examples is too easy in the case of someone like Robin Singh.

A glance at his career record is proof enough that he is the best man for the number six position. Over 2000 runs, scored at an average of almost 26 and a strike rate of almost 75. That is top stuff for someone batting so low down in the order. Add to this his role as a fifth bowler. 59 wickets at an average of just over 43, a strike rate as low as 54.1 and an economy rate under 5 an over. It's time India stopped experimenting with bits and pieces cricketers and reinstated the experienced yet fit Robin Singh in the Indian side.

The Evidence:

The Onside

Robin Singh served India well. Perhaps he was unlucky not be a permanent fixture in the team earlier in his career and yet, Robin Singh is now well past his prime. He has served out his utility and the time has come for the Indian team to move on. Just two months short of his 38th birthday, Robin Singh is no spring chicken. There are enough and more youngsters in India with strong legs and quick feet. If India does not blood them now, it will be too late when the World Cup comes around in 2003. Just consider it, Robin Singh will be 40 then. He can't go on playing forever.

In the last 20 ODIs, Robin Singh has played, he's failed to reach 40 even once. With youngsters like Yuvraj Singh, Reetinder Singh Sodhi and Virender Sehwag giving the ball a mighty thump in the middle order, how can one keep giving Robin Singh opportunities. After all, a player should not be in an international side on reputation alone. In the last 10 matches where Robin Singh has bowled, he has managed to pick up just one wicket. Now that is a clear sign that he has slowed down a fair bit and lost the precious ability to surprise batsmen.

Perhaps it's just a case of the novelty wearing off. Robin Singh's limitations when it comes to strokeplay through the off side are well documented. His footwork leaves a lot to be desired and bowlers around the world seem to have sorted him out. With the ball in hand too Robin Singh has again lost his sting.

With Sourav Ganguly chipping in more than usefully with his medium pace bowling, there really is no need for Robin Singh any more. Instead a specialist batsman at number six adds tremendous depth to the side. Having been dropped for a few series, it would be better for Robin Singh to accept reality. His time has come and gone.

The Evidence:


Results & Scores
West Indies won by 16 runs
West Indies 290/6 (50 ov)
India 274/8 (50 ov)

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