How Good Are Our Youngsters?

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India must also be concerned by the inconsistency of the younger players. Across professions, consistency is a direct product of work ethic. The greats were defined by their consistency because they were wedded to work ethic. No oddball gambler ever achieved greatness - Harsha Bhogle

The just concluded tri-series in Sri Lanka seriously exposed our so-called 'Youngistan's' arrogance. Apart from Virender Sehwag, no one even bothered/was able to join the fight, forget the party. In the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan - the World Cup expectants were supposed to find their feet but sadly didn't even come close to doing that. Bowlers did manage to purchase some benefits but the primary concern, which must be haunting Dhoni and Kirsten, was the batting which Indian team has been boasting of for long.

How they fared during the tour: The opening game for Team India against New Zealand, without Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, was a disaster. The Kiwis surprised India by a 200-run defeat. Chasing 289 runs to win, a dismal batting effort by India saw them getting bowled out for 88 with Ravindra Jadeja scoring the highest of 20 runs. Welcome to the team!

It was Sehwag then, who single-handedly helped India to the finals. In their second outing against Sri Lanka, which was marred by a no-ball controversy, India outsmarted Sri Lanka by 6 wickets - thanks to the bowlers and Viru.

But boy, didn't SL come hard after the no-ball fiasco? Furious Lankans thrashed India by 8 wickets. The result was not alarming as much as the fact that India were bowled out for 103 runs and it gave a clear picture that if Sehwag was not playing, there was almost no play by the Indian batsmen.

They did manage to beat New Zealand for the finals - only for a reality check.

Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh were ultra cautious in their approach. It looked like they could get out anytime. Yuvi and Rohit looked like they have been pushed by the management to oblige.

Dhoni and management persisted with these players despite their continuous flop shows in terms of batting throughout the series. Why were Saurabh Tiwary and Ravichandran Ashwin still warming the benches? Ashwin is a useful all-rounder and Tiwary could have easily replaced Rohit/Yuvraj - as the cleanest striker of the ball.

How can you prefer Karthik as an opener when you have the likes of Murali Vijay and Robin Uthappa waiting? My boss Prem was furious over Uthappa not being included in the team.

Kirsten and co can help these youngsters during the practice sessions but not on the field. The Kohlis, Rohits and Karthiks can hit a shot or two on flat tracks but are not temperamentally solid yet. The issue must be addressed before the World Cup - what if Sachin or Gambhir gets injured during that time?

Do we have a Plan B, C or even D for the World Cup? Because the younger second-rung batsmen stand far away from being part of that.

Dravid still has a lot to offer in ODIs. I believe that Dravid should be brought back into the (One-day) team. In the sub-continent, the current batsmen can do well, but on the overseas tours, India need a solid and experienced batsman like Dravid, Wasim Akram said.

I welcome the thought of bringing back Rahul Dravid to the ODIs. He is fit enough and most importantly reliable than the present bunch of youngsters. With the World Cup not too far away, the selectors should be seriously caring about these headaches or I fear the crisis will be too deep to take the team out of it.