Wednesday, September 8, 2010
What about Murali Kartik?
In test cricket, it is a common knowledge that bowlers win matches as in the end, it is all about taking twenty wickets, but if I look at the best team in test cricket India, it can be said that India's bowling attack isn't penetrative. The batting line-up consisting of great names like Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and not to forget Dhoni and Ghambir have helped the Indian team to get big scores, which has in turn allowed the bowlers to bowl with attacking fields. It is great that India have an excellent batting line-up, but for India to maintain their number one ranking, they need some fine bowlers.
If we look at the Indian attack, it can be said that at best, they have an average bowling attack. Sharma has loads of potential but seems to be lacking in confidence, Zaheer is a good bowler but is injury prone, Mithun is raw, Praveen Kumar is a decent bowler but as he doesn't have pace selectors have unfairly ignored him, Munaf, Pathan and Sreesanth have gone downhill. In the spin department, India have Harbie, Mishra and Ojha, but leaving a few games, Harbie has been ordinary for sometime now and in Sri Lanka, I even thought Sehwag was the better spinner! Ojha and Mishra have potential, but both seem to be lacking in confidence. The other spinner I can think of Chawla showed some promise, but the last time I saw him he was bowling flat. It seems like a country that produced great spinners like Gupte, Kumble, Bedi, Pras, Chandra and co. is struggling to get quality spinners. I have seen good things being written about couple of young spinners like Harmeet Singh and Srinivas in a few forums, but they are too young to play in test cricket. So, in the backdrop of India struggling for spinners, I thought why can't Indian selectors again have a look at Murali Kartik?
Today, while I was using twitter, the well respected commentator Harsha Bhogle said that whenever he looks at county scores, the one bowler who is constantly among the wickets is Kartik himself. Before anyone pounces on me and rips me apart for taking into consideration county cricket, I would make it clear that I know county batsmen may not be as good as Indian batsmen, when it comes to playing spinners, but just the fact that he is taking wickets at Taunton shows Kartik is in good form. Most cricket fans would agree with me that wickets at Taunton can be a bowler's graveyard. At the end of the season, just like any other wicket, it can get dry and may assist the spinners, but it is usually a batting paradise. Even if one doesn't take into consideration the fact that Karthik has taken 44 county wickets at 17.36, I would just say that won't it be better to select a bowler who is in form? Kartik is surely a good bowler as he flights the ball, bowls with subtle changes of pace, has the arm ball and more importantly has a good temperament, which is the reason behind his success on that bowlers graveyard Taunton.
Actually, if I track Karthik's career, without a shadow of doubt I can say that he has been shabbily treated. He made his debut way back in 2000 against South Africa and straightaway found a bit of success. He though soon found himself in the wilderness and didn't play in that epic series against Australia in 2001. Kartik came back with a vengeance and did well in a few onedayers against Australia in 03, but was made to sit on the bench for most part of the tour of Australia in 03/04. He finally got a chance on one of the flattest wicket seen at Sydney and the Aussie batsmen took him apart. Having a wicket-keeper like Patel didn't help him either, but one bad match against a top side like Australia was enough to discard him. Kartik made yet another comeback and took a five wicket haul later that year albeit on a dust-bowl at Mumbai, but leaving a few more onedayers, he has rarely played for India in recent times.
Most fans reckon that as Ganguly himself was a brilliant player of left arm spin, he never rated Kartik highly, though strangely Kartik was selected to play for KKR in IPL, a team captained by Ganguly. If I look back at his career, he was surely under-bowled in a few matches, when Ganguly was the captain like at Dhaka against Bangladesh and in a match against Zimbabwe both in 2000/01, but at the same-time I can notice that another left arm spinner Joshi wasn't under-bowled in either of those matches. Whatever maybe the reason behind Ganguly's lack of faith in Kartik, the fact is, he didn't get a decent run in the side. Kartik has also been unfairly labeled by a few as a bowler, who succeeds only on dust-bowls like at Mumbai in 04 and 07 both against Australia. I for one surely think that he has the guile to bowl on flat wickets and succeed.
Yes, Kartik is no spring chicken as he is 33 now, but looking at India's spin bowling stocks my gut feeling is, Kartik can be considered for selection and can play for another couple of years. Isn't it right to say that a cricketer in form should always be considered for selection??? If India don't want him, Somerset or some other County team would happily have him in their squad.