The young brigade has backed itself very strongly, and performed with a sense of timing. In posting a convincing victory over Australia at the grand Melbourne Cricket Ground, the youngsters have given some positive signs of becoming a force to reckon with in all forms of the game, not to forget the Twenty20 version.
After the Twenty20 World Cup success, the team had struggled to live up to the expectations of their fans. Doubts were being raised in certain quarters but I am happy the youngsters have justified the faith shown in them and clearly emerged as good prospects for the future.
The process of having a team in place for the 2011 World Cup seems to have taken a proper course. There is lot of time for the selectors to identify and groom the possible players and it is nice to see the likes of Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma and S. Sreesanth performing consistently.
I remember the time when Zaheer Khan had arrived with a bang in 2000. I was coach of the Kenyan team then and had watched Zaheer from close quarters. He had promised so much and most of us were impressed with his speed and accuracy. But down the line he lost pace and his accuracy. It was strange because he had looked so good. I remember Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath, two fine examples of bowlers who did not lose their speed as time progressed.
Here, I would like to mention two superb bowlers_Ashish Nehra and L. Balaji_who faded because of injuries. Looking at them, I think it becomes important that we handle someone like Ishant with care. Suddenly, everyone finds him to be the solution to all our bowling problems. That can't be the case because we need to give Ishant some more time and see how consistently he can deliver. I don't want the youngster to be loaded with needless pressure.
I remember Munaf Patel arriving with a similar promise but gradually struggling to match the expectations. Now, Ishant should be protected from a similar fate. It will also be too early to say that Rohit has class. He has promise but I would like to wait before judging his class. He must be careful with his shot selection because he tends to play casual at times. It is quite the same problem that I had. The support staff has a role to play here. How to make the best use of these gifted players and stop them from getting carried away.
Ishant, of course, is a tremendous talent. In such a short time, he has managed to make a huge impression. He has the control and discipline to make the ball talk. He uses his height to a great advantage. He adopts a great line to explore_on and around the off-stump. He can swing the ball effectively. He learns from mistakes. And importantly knows his limitations. He has age on his side, and also the captain and the selectors. He only has to be wary of the sudden advisers that would come his way.
I would like Ishant to keep in mind the case of Irfan Pathan. He did well, attracted many new advisers, and ended up a confused soul. Ishant has to guard himself against these new `coaches' who would try to influence him.
Often coaches, the real ones, remain behind the scene. Look at Sharvan Kumar, the man who shaped Ishant's career. I wish he gets his due for giving Indian cricket a match-winning bowler. If there is a problem, I want Ishant to consult only Sharvan. Only this coach would know how best to guide Ishant. My best wishes to Ishant. His job has just begun.
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