Barinder Sran: Is he ready for international cricket?
The Indian Cricket Team started off their tour of Australia in positive fashion after beating the Western Australia XI in convincing fashion in both the lone T20 as well as the 50-over warm-up encounters at Perth on Friday and Saturday respectively.
While most of the Top 6 batsman got the runs, another encouraging feature was the performance of 23-year-old Punjab left-arm pacer Barinder Sran.
An out-of-the-box selection into the Indian squad for the ODIs, Sran was handed the new ball by MS Dhoni in the T20 and made an early impression, taking 2 for 22 in his 4 overs and then gave away 22 runs in his 7 overs in the One-dayer.
What do the team have in the bank?
India were dealt a severe blow on Saturday, when Mohammed Shami, one of India’s best performers in 2014 and at the World Cup last year and returning to the squad after a year’s absence, was ruled out of the tour after injuring his hamstring. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was initially included just in the T20 squad, was called up early as a replacement.
From the present fast bowling reservoir, it seems certain that Ishant Sharma will definitely start in almost all matches, spearheading the attack. There is, however, question marks over the other two quicks- Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar.
While Umesh was mighty impressive in similar conditions at the World Cup last year, he has also been erratic in certain spells. With Dhoni looking for someone who keeps things tight, even at the expense of a yard of pace, it could be a dicey situation for the management as they decide whether to include Yadav in the XI or not.
The case of Bhuvaneshvar is an intriguing one. The 25-year-old was a key figure in the Indian attack up until two years back, but an injury towards the fag end of 2014 derailed his progress and ever since then he hasn't quite been in the same form.
The worrying aspect with the Uttar Pradesh pacer has been that he hasn't been delivering what many considered was his USP at the very beginning of his career- his ability to provide early breakthroughs.
Instead, he was striving for an extra yard of pace in the ODI series against South Africa, which while was good to see, didn't prove to as beneficial in terms of the numbers on the wickets column.
Should India consider Sran at Perth?
Despite their limitations, though, one of them will play at Perth on Tuesday but the question is- Who will be the third pacer and should India opt for Sran as the extra man in the fast bowling cartel?
The warm-up games provided us a glimpse of him as he made good use of the crease, mixing his deliveries by coming close to it or bowling from a wide angle and with Australian line-up likely to have 3 right-handers in the top 4, his angle of bringing the ball back in at them could come in handy.
Over the years, left-arm fast bowlers have had good success at the WACA. Wasim Akram has picked up 26 wickets in 12 matches at an average of 14.42, Mitchell Johnson has taken 21 scalps in 13 matches while Mitchell Starc has 14 wickets in 5 matches at an average of 11.42.
India won a famous Test at the very venue in 2008 with two left-arm quick in their armoury- Irfan Pathan and RP Singh- who made very good use of the Freemantle Doctor that blows across the ground, enabling considerable swing that fetched the duo a total of 11 wickets in the match.
In recent times, India haven't had many left-armers in their attack with both Pathan and Singh out of contention and Zaheer Khan having retired from the game. Will the team then look to blood in a new man on Tuesday? Only time will tell.