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Teesra Kaun

First there was Dilip Kumar next Amitabh and then there is day light when we talk about bollywood superstars. One could argue the self proclaimed King Khan could be the next big thing. But again Aamir Khan with his heart touching and versatile performance could give SRK a run for his money. 
Running with the same analogy INDIA have struggled to produce the next bowling superstar since Kapil and Srinath. One could argue that Zak could have come close if only he was injury free.  

It was sometime in the early 90's a sober looking thick mustached bowler with an in-swinger that broke Lanka De-Silva's teeth emerged into the scene. Srinath was a bowler with genuine aggression in his deliveries not in his looks or words. Neither did he swear nor abuse the batsman but seldom rattled their stumps n bones, was rightly called the Mysore express.

Partner-in-Crime Prabharkar was a genuine talent but never rose to the occasion. He was a captain's dream, opening the bowling and batting in the same game was a rare talent (only possible in gully cricket) which only a few have achieved it. His ability to swing the ball late and both ways made him special, but lack of discipline in his bowling yielded . And his in-ability to bounce back and resort to spin coupled with politics and fixing allegation closed the doors.

If Steve Waugh started to bowl the back-of-the-hand slow ball, Venkatesh Prasad mastered it. He along with Srinath formed a in-swinger-leg-cutter duo which had only made Ravi Shastry's boundary-to-end-the-over famous. Prasad's lack of pace coupled with slower-ball over kill not only ended his career but ended india's next.     

Amidst this chaos there arose a lean but large hearted Agarkar who surprised the bastmen with his extra pace. He had the skill and hunger that a fast bowler needed to succeeded, but his appetite to consume runs back fired more often that not. The fact that he leaked far too many runs completely overshadowed the valuable wickets he took. 288 ODI wickets @ 27 a piece in comparison with  Srinath's 315 @ 28 and Zaheer's 278 @ 29 isn't bad, but that fact that he wasn't reliable just explains why cricket is just beyond numbers.

Year 2000 was a turning point for INDIAN cricket, spectators finally saw an INDIAN running in and firing yorkers and bouncers at will. Finally INDIA had a bowler who could scare and menace the batsmen, Zaheer had the right attitude and aptitude a fast bowler needed to possess; but his injuries and weak lower body yielded far too frequently. But post English county stint he re-invented himself and has emerged more skillful and tactful south paw since the great Wasim. He still has a long way to go to be the 3rd best.

Nehra possessed a skill no fast bowler ever exhibited before; laziness & lack of commitment. He is a perfect example for right aptitude and wrong attitude; bad mouthing and sledging your own fielders can only take you so far. Couple that with a weak and fragile body is just short of disaster.The highest point of his career was in the 2003 WC where he and Zaheer were instrumental in INDIAN's success, but that is the farthest he could go. 

Irfan Pathan with little or no first class experience had the right attitude and hunger a fast bowler needed to possess, he achieved instant success both at home and abroad. Coupled with decent batting touted him to be next Kapil, he couldn't bear the weight of the expectation. Generally fast bowlers gain pace and learn variation during their learning process which Irfan didn't. Learning to swim or cycle is a skill that can't be unlearned, so is bowling. But Irfan began to unlearn his swing that made him what he was. Either it was a technical issue or a mental block he never could get back his original self. He made multiple come back and each time looked mediocre at best. Now with dozens of fast bowlers emerging from all parts of the country one can only hope we get back the original Pathan.

That one extra over bowled by Ishant to Ponting is still one of the best overs by an INDIAN. After 4 years and 45 test matches Ishant is just 23 years and he should have been a spear head now but still bowls like a new-comer. He neither can be played as a strike bowler nor as a bowler who stems the flow of runs. He has the right attitude but one can doubt the aptitude. One can just hope that he tests the batsman's patience and not the selector's

With little of what we have seen Umesh Yadav has shown a lot of promise, genuine swing pace bowler. Finally INDIA gets its first bowler who looks like one, wide shoulder and big biceps helps him generate pace. One can only hope that he holds on to the burden of bulk of the bowling on his wide and broad shoulders and keep our hunt for the Teesra Kaun - ON

The Fabulous Quartets

Marshal, Roberts, Holding and Garner were the corner stones on which the West Indian team of the 70's was build. They formed the pace quartet which battered rest of the globe for 15 years. If Marshall had the outswinger at brisk pace, Roberts played with batsman's mind and could move the ball both ways of the track, Holding was the whispering death, silently knocking the batsman down. Garner the meanest of the lot in terms on runs given, delivered yorkers at will from the sky. 

Bedi, Prasanna, Venkat and Chandra formed the spin quartet of 60's and 70' which became the most destructive force and a deadly combinations in world cricket, especially on the dusty subcontinental pitches. Though they only played 1 test match together, these men contributed towards INDIA's memorable victories. Bedi was the spinner with pacer's aggression, Prasanna was an illusionist who could fool the batsman with his flight, Call it GOD's gift for his inability to rotate his shoulder smoothy Chandra's pacy leg spinners were tuff to handle from around with wicket and men around the bat. Venkat had variations that was needed for an offspineer to succeed. 

Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly formed the first batsman quartet of the 20th century under whom INDIA won many matches than they lost overseas. Tendulkar milked the runs by attacking at will and it was pretty amazing that that most bowlers only sledged once and never after, Dravid bored the opposition out with his patience, Laxman made bowler re-think where his offstump was, it didn't matter which direction the ball was moving the direction of ball leaving his bat was unpredictable. Ganguly relied much on his gutsy instincts and timing, the fact that he could thread the ball past 3 fielder b/w cover point scared the hell out of the bowlers.

Steyn, Morkel, Kallis and Philander definitely are touted to be the Big 4 of our generation. On seaming and bouncy tracks of South Africa they have ripped through the thick batting line up. Their real test is when they start bowling on the National Highways in INDIA and the flat track bullies start butchering them. Steyn and Morkel have proved what pace can do even in the slow subcontinent pitches during the IPL, Kallis always thrived with his change of pace. The real test would be whether Vernon Philander would spit out his Venom when he arrives to the subcontinent. Add a bit of humidity and stickiness in the wicket and you land in Sri Lanka.   

Right after Ganguly was asked to retire from Test Cricket back in 2008 INDIAN team was in the hunt for the next fab 4. Yuvraj was the obvious choice for Ganguly's replacement but couldn't cement his place despite some useful knocks at crucial times. His technique and temperament rather lack of it yielded under spin, seam and swing. Raina is a proper mathematical union of Ganguly's problems and Yuvraj's problem, one only wished he had intersection of their class. Make no mistake he is a good ODI and CSK batsman and that is far he can go.

Four years ago if they said Virat would play test cricket it would have been a joke but he turned that joke into reality and could be one of the future fab 4 INDIA is looking for. His temperament and technique was no doubt amongst the best but his inability to play the shot ball was exposed in the Caribbean. But his gutsy maiden ton in the down-under series have raised a few hopes. He is among few cricketers who has re-earned his test cap in such a short time span.

As humans we all like to do the what-if-analysis, and Rohit is a perfect candidate for this. It's the out-of-nowhere innings that Rohit plays gives us the picture of what he could achieve. And fortunately for Rohit things are going in the right direction; good IPL and if followed with good INDIA A series he might earn a test cap. And if things fall in place he could be the second of fab 4.

It took just 2 innings in IPL5 for Rahane to show the world what his firstclass-avg-68-avg couldn't; that he was a talent worth investing. He along with Dravid showed that T20 cricket could be played with straight bat and a high elbow. He has the right technique to play the moving ball but his temperament is yet to be tested in the longer format. With the glimpse of what we have seen in England and IPL it wouldn't be wrong in projecting Rahane as the 3rd of fab 4.
Pujara is one of those where-is-he-from cricketer whose projection is based on the 72 that was scored in the 2nd innings against AUS. Nobody really knows what his best shot is nor does any know his weakness. But should he could earn the test cap with the shear runs at domestic is debatable. His gutsy 96 n.o against West Indies A team might eliminate any doubt and could be our last of the fab 4.

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