It might be slightly premature to be talking about the new guard of Indian cricket, however, this Tri-Series between India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe has given us a preview or more so, a glimpse into what our one-day team will look like a few years from now, once Tendulkar, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Bhajji, Zaheer head towards greener pastures.
What is apparent to me is that our batting as always, seems to be in good hands. Despite Murali Vijay's performances thus far, i am pretty confident in saying that the man has talent, oodles and oodles of it in fact and if he can convert that talent into results, in Vijay we have a bastman who can handle all three forms of the game with comfortable ease. Rohit Sharma has been since the 2007 T20 World Cup a prospect for the future, and unfortunately three years since, continued only being a prospect and hasn't really done much against the bigger teams and on the bigger stage. Mostly that has been a problem of selection mishaps when he is in good form and entry into the team when he is out of form. However, seeing the way Rohit Sharma has batted off late, the Indian batting seems to be in good hands.
Suresh Raina, is another person, who i feel has the potential to be a long time contributor to the Indian side. The only problem with him is his batting against the short ball. Even though his weakness was highlighted in 2009, his progress has been extremely slow and he doesn't seem to be at peace when the ball is rising towards his chest and upwards. At best he seems shaky, unlike his fearsome batting against the fuller delivery.
My major concern is with the bowling department. The simple fact that the Indian bowling could not defend 289 against the Zimbabwe squad is a cause for concern. The Indian bowling seems to be extremely brittle, and at most times completely hapless and there doesn't seem to be any respite in the coming future. What further exaggerates the problems of the Indian bowling line up is that the younger bowlers come in make an impression (eg. Ishant Sharma) and then fall away as quickly as they rose to fame. From the battery of fast bowlers (misnomer in the case of our bunch of fellows) there hasn't emerged a stalwart of the likes of Zaheer Khan who can lead the pace attack. Think of a few names from the past 5 years and you will realise how many seamers have been tried out and eventually discarded. RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma just to name a few have been utter disappointments in the International arena off late.
Something needs to be done about our pace bowling attack as well as our batting against the short delivery. The solution comes back to the cliche'd remark about domestic pitches. However, i think the solution is beyond that, these were the same domestic pitches which produced batsman like Sachin, VVS, Dravid, Dada and Sehwag or bowlers like Kapil Dev, Srinath and Zaheer.
Another problem i foresee in the future is that our dominance at home in tests etc. will soon be coming to an end. Players all over the world are playing a lot of cricket in India, thanks to the packed ICC tours program as well as the IPL. They are getting a hang of playing in Indian conditions and against Indian spinners and soon the day will come where the assumption that India will win a test match at home against most teams will be hard to maintain and the Indian team will have to display a lot more quality than previously required to win a game in the dust bowls of Indian Cricket.