The future of Indian cricket

IN Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif, I see the future of Indian cricket. They are young, but are already battle-hardened soldiers, who put their best foot forward during moments of crisis.

KRISHNAMACHARY SRIKKANTH

IN Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif, I see the future of Indian cricket. They are young, but are already battle-hardened soldiers, who put their best foot forward during moments of crisis.

Yuvraj Singh is a strokemaker by instinct, but, in his short international career so far, has already learnt to read and understand different situations and change his approach accordingly. -- Pic. AP-

The two have played together right from their under-19 days, understand each other well, and have a lot to offer to the side. It is up to the team-management to make the most of their ability.

Yuvraj has matured greatly as a cricketer, and what I like about him is his never-say-die attitude. Whatever, be the situation, it is very hard to keep him out of a game.

He is a strokemaker by instinct, but, in his short international career so far, has already learnt to read and understand different situations and change his approach accordingly.

He has proved himself to be a quick learner, and I find, he is always yearning to pick up new things. Yuvraj does have an alert mind.

Kaif is different from Yuvraj in the sense that he does not really have the big shots of the Punjab left-hander. However, he is an efficient batsman, who does not get bogged down, keeps picking his ones and twos. He can also strike the ball hard, put away the loose deliveries with contempt and is the sort of cricketer who makes the most of his ability. Hard-working, committed, and always in the forefront.

Both Yuvraj and Kaif must be gradually groomed in Test match cricket as well. I know, Kaif has been tried before, and, in those opportunities, did not really notch up big scores.

I can recollect the Sri Lankan tour of 2001, when several stars were absent and Kaif missed a fine chance. However, the Kaif of today is a different batsman, who has worked on quite a few aspects of his game.

It is quite shocking that Yuvraj has not been considered for Tests at all. I am confident that, if provided a chance, he can develop into a player who can excel in both forms of the game.

Frankly, it would be cruel to dub him as a limited-over cricketer. I see no flaws in his technique, and he is such a natural timer of the ball. There are not too many batsmen who are more fluent than Yuvraj.

In any case, cricket has changed over the years. The days of a side grinding out the opposition are over. Now what we find is that teams score fast even in Test cricket, giving themselves a better chance of winning.

Take Australia for instance. The Aussies regularly notch up over 300 runs in a day, and they often achieve this with clean refreshing cricket rather than any slogging. And the Aussie method is a successful one.

It is the pace at which Australia gathers its runs that has the opposition rattled. The Aussie bowlers too have more time to bowl the opposition out.

The point is Yuvraj and Kaif can be inducted in the Test squad, and, even if they do not find a place immediately, they can be groomed for the future. As and when a couple of our stars fade away, Yuvraj and Kaif can take over.

Now what's happening is that Yuvraj and Kaif are picked only for the one-dayers, and this means the side is hardly making the most of their capabilities.

Let's not forget their fielding for a moment. I must say that Yuvraj and Kaif have revolutionised the Indian fielding, providing a very different look to it in the ODIs.

There is no reason why they cannot do it in the Tests as well. A sensational catch remains the same in any form of cricket. The same applies to runs saved or run-outs effected.

The point is, having Yuvraj or Kaif in the Test squad would put more pressure on the established batsmen in the XI to perform. This can only be good for the team, for competition never hurts.

Yuvraj and Kaif have already displayed a rare ability to bat in crisis situations, and they have done it time and again. In fact, I can remember at least four or five occasions straightaway when Yuvraj and Kaif have revelled at the crunch, the NatWest final being the most famous one.

These two young men instil plenty of positive energy in the side, and over the past two years the Indian teams in the ODIs have sported a different look. Yuvraj and Kaif have had a big role to play in this.

Let's give these two young, hard-working men a fair chance in every form of the game. It would be unfair to assume things.

I know Yuvraj has some big innings against his name in domestic cricket, and if he can get them in first class cricket, why cannot he do the same at the international level, when we all know it is not beyond him to make the switch.

There are several examples of attacking batsmen excelling in Test cricket over the years. It is how you play, rather than the manner in which you play that is important.

In the ODIs, Yuvraj and Kaif are priceless. However, the team-management appears to be realising their value only now.

Kaif's elevation to the No. 4 slot was a well thought-out one, even if it was slightly belated. Apart from providing this soft-spoken Uttar Pradesh cricketer more time to construct an innings, it ensures that India would not get bogged down.

Kaif does have the knack of picking up the ones and the twos, and he is a good sprinter between the wickets.

Yuvraj is no less quicker between the wickets. In certain situations, a case can be made out for him to surface in the top-order, given his ability to find the gaps, and hit over the top. This left-hander is about the most versatile young batsman in the side.

Both Yuvraj and Kaif have plenty of cricket ahead of them. Let's give them a fair deal and not stick to pre-conceived notions.