Thursday, November 30, 2006

Aha! Look who's made it to the Indian team.

Ganguly is back. Dada is back. Why? How? Wasnt he the man who was ousted off of the team very ungraciously? I can think of three possible reasons for why he is back:

1) His century at the Duleep trophy.
2) Dilip Vengsarkar is fond of him.
3) For want of a better player.

Did I hear someone shout OPTION 3?

 

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Aaaaaarrrgggh!! Yet another docile loss for India.


I had made an optimistic post here about how we will see a swing in fortunes for Indian cricket. But the last match tested my optimism to the limit and it finally had to give way. 

I am totally irked by the way the Indians have been playing their cricket for the past few weeks. There seems to be no end to the Indian batting woes. From the first we have heard talks of the SA cricket pitches being bouncy and that in time the Indian cricketers will get adjusted to it. I only see them getting worse. I think it is about quality. India’s batting line up is no longer the feared vanquisher of foes. There are only a handful of good batsmen in the team and when some of them are injured India’s poor bench strength stands exposed. The inclusion of Jaffer and Kaif who were simply not upto the task reflects how less choice the Indian selectors have when it comes to replacements.

With the exception of Dhoni and Pathan, the way we went about with our batting in the 4th ODI cricket match against South Africa was akin to sheep walking into a lion’s lair only to get mercilessly slaughtered. Either of Sehwag or Sachin had to get runs for something to happen. Instead both chose to get out to not-very-menacing deliveries.

The bowlers, however, got their act right with incisive spells from Zaheer, Kumble & Sreesanth. Some good bowling in the death and some very economical bowling by Sehwag and Tendulkar in the middle overs constrained the South Africans to 242, inspite of a well-srtuck 93* by Gibbs and a ferocious 49 by Kallis, who actually did well to comeback from losing 2 quick wickets. But for the Indian batting line up this was just too much.

Look at the FOWs for yesterdays match. No lasting partnerships at all.

FOW : 1-23 (Jaffer, 5.4 ov), 2-24 (Tendulkar, 6.2 ov), 3-38 (Sehwag, 9.3 ov), 4-39 (Kaif, 12.4 ov), 5-82 (Dhoni, 19.5 ov), 6-109 (Karthik, 24.1 ov), 7-128 (Agarkar, 28.2 ov), 8-145 (Khan, 31.1 ov), 9-150 (Kumble, 34.3 ov), 10-163 (Sreesanth, 38.1 ov)

And we are talking about a team which is fancying its chances in the coming ICC Cricket World Cup. I say just forget about it.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dravid’s injury will hurt India badly.

Dravid joins Munaf Patel and Yuvraj Singh in the list of injured Indian cricketers.

His absence from the next 2 matches is surely going to hurt but one good thing to come out of this is the recall of VVS Laxman. I still can’t understand why VVS with so much class, experience and of course style had to sit out of the team for so long. If ever India has needed anyone badly it was him. Surely the likes of Mongia, Raina and Kaif cannot be replacements for a batsman of such high quality. I strongly feel he must be a part of Indian cricket’s scheme of things for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. If he can sneak in a good performance here he could get the selectors to think so too.



 

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Pakistan vs West Indies – from wicket feast to run feast to wicket feast

Quite a roller-coaster series this is being for the West Indies, as has been West Indian cricket for the past few years. From a humiliating defeat in the 1st match to a respectful (almost dominating) draw in the 2nd to again a very unenviable position in the the 3rd Test.

Reeling at 191/6, are the West Indians with a deficit of 113 runs to cover. With their only consistent performer Lara in the hut, Darren Ganga (77*) and Jesus Christ seem to be their only hopes to salvage a draw in this series.



 

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Yes, South Africa have got another big win over India. But did you notice those really positive signs for India in this game?

A lot of people who watched the 3rd ODI between India and South Africa would put down India’s performance on the cricket field as abysmal, inexcusable and horrifying. Now, I really cannot disagree. After all conceding 105 runs in the last 8 overs and allowing the opposition to get to 274/6 from 76/6 can hardly be termed as commendable.

But for some strange reason, I thought they were not that bad after all. For starters getting 6 South African wickets for 76 runs was a feat worthy of praise. Specially notable was Zaheer Khan’s almost unplayable first spell. Two quality wickets in the first over (of Smith and Kallis) is ample proof of how good he was. Splendid bowling and a very good sign for the future of Indian cricket's pace bowling department.

Another significant feature of the game was Kumble-the-eternal-matchwinner’s comeback to ODI cricket after a gap of 2 yrs. And what a comeback it was. 10-1-24-0 read his figures. That last column could have been different had some pretty close LBW shouts gone his way. Unlucky. But that is expected in a cricket game.

The other bowlers though were very very ordinary. I still think Agarkar is too inconsistent to be a part of the team. Pathan has no pace and will have to bring in more variations into his bowling. Harbhajan looks ineffective on South African pitches.

As for the batting we had two contrasting players forming a beautiful combination in the middle threatening to take the match away from the Africans. Dhoni and Dravid. Dravid got into his usual role of resurrecting yet another woefully lacking batting effort. He was literally a brick wall, technically sound and amazingly skillful in stealing singles. He was slow but in that situation even the craziest cricket fan cannot and should not expect him to go blazing away.

And Dhoni. Wow! He was breathtaking to say the least. That six that sailed out of the stadium could have as well landed in the sea. 4 huge sixers and 3 immaculately struck fours. Had Loots Bosman not come up with that excellent catch in the deep to dismiss Dhoni the game would have been a different story. But there was one more man who bettered him when it came to hard hitting. And that man was a South African. Justin Kemp, the man who scripted the result of the match. 7 sixers and 6 fours. Very hard not to end up on the winning side with such an effort.

As for the rest of the Indian batsmen, they really didn’t look out-of-form to me. They were not touchy and all that. Sehwag, Sachin and Dinesh Kaarthick did look confident. I think they will provide us some entertainment in the coming matches.

On the whole I must say the Indian team was not as clueless as that scoreboard shows and we are going to have some good games ahead. I promise! You can call that incorrigible optimism. I call it informed opinion!

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ashes come alive : Pietersen vs Shane Warne

Wow! Just when I thought the Ashes were getting boring Pietersen has shown us all why it can
be so compelling. He's really smacking Warne black and blue at the Gabba. One more boundary as I type. He's taking Warnie on man. What a lovely cricket player to watch. Collingwood has joined the party too. Down the track and a four over long on.
Wherever you are tune in to Ashes. There is a real cricket match on guys.
Just Imagine: What if England wins this game? Ponting will have to kill himself or his fellow Australians will do the job........

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Interest in the Ashes is waning. Maybe yours is too.

England are being chickens guys. What is it this time that they have not been able to produce the same magic on the cricket field as the last time? The absence of Simon Jones? Of Micheal Vaughan? The presence of McGrath? Or the out-of-form Harmisson?

Whatever is the reason; this is being a cheap series man. Not the enthralling, absorbing, exciting, stick-to-the-TV kind of contest that was the last Ashes.

And with Australia not enforcing the follow-on and further torturing the English, it looks their fate is sealed. Anyone thinking about a draw has gone nuts or doesn’t understand cricket. I mean the English couldn’t manage 200+ and 700+ would be too harsh on the little kids.

More cricket: Elsewhere, India is getting belted badly at the hands of the South Africans. I feel the Indian batsmen have to sort out their discomfort against the SA pace attack. Sachin was looking very good the other day and hope he gets to a big score on Sunday. He and Dravid are our only hopes.
 

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Australia indulge in their favourite sport - Pom beating

England are looking hapless at the moment. Day 2 ends and we have had another cricketing day of pure unadulterated Australian dominance. Even Stuart Clark had to smash two consecutive sixes to really show the English what they will have to face for about a month and a half. Ponting & Hussey played like they play all the time, but with an added glint in the eye because they were hitting the ”Poms” this time.

602/9 decl. read the Australian total. Before concluding that the wicket is a batting beauty for that kind of score to be possible, look at what England’s score read like at the end of the day : 53/3. Lo! The pitch has suddenly become a bowlers paradise.

I dont know what the English are going to do now. Pietersen and Flintoff will have to put their hands up now and post big scores. Bell too is capable of hanging around at the wicket and should do just that. All said and done one thing is clear: it is going to take some extraordinary cricket from the English to thwart this Aussie challenge and a great amount of optimism to expect them to do that.
 

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Ashes arrive and Australia roar form the word go.

The most awaited cricket series of the year, the 2006 Ashes are here at last! And the cricket
world is left wondering if the Ashes will keep up to the hype.

The first day has come to an end and the English are left looking like a shadow of the team that won the Ashes in 2005. It was Australia all through the day. And I hope it is not Australia all through the series. Of course, being a neutral observer, I dont have any favourites, but if cricket has to win, the games have got to be close enough. A 3–2 scoreline would be the best, right?

The previous Ashes series was so great a success only because of the unpredictable nature of the games till the last ball was sent down. I can still recall the wicket Harmisson took in the very last over. What an absorbing cricket match that was!

I am yearning for a repeat. We all are. And I hope it happens. But somehow against all my hoping, I have a feeling Australia are going to rout England. The home advantage will play a huge role. Combine it with the high quality cricketing talent that runs through the Australian ranks and you have a very potent force that will take a mammoth effort to defeat. Again I hope England can produce that mammoth effort. Nothing wrong in hoping after all……

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India get stomped over

It seemed like a cricket match between Aus and some club team in Uganda. India fell like a very weak pack of cards succumbing to the pace and movement of the Proteas’ seam bowlers. These quickies were really too good man. Sachin was playing so well. He was taking it to Ntini, smashing the cricket ball to the fence with regularity. Then comes Nel and uproots the stumps.

This is the thing with the Proteas’ bowlers. You negotiate one guy and safely put everything in place and in comes another quality quickie who is totally different in style of operation and totally baffles you. It is amazing how all the bowlers can be of such high quality.

All said and done the Indian batting ws pathetic and unforgivable. Sachin was looking Godly before he too fell, and thus fell the only man, apart fom Dravid, who could make a difference. Once Dravid too went then as they say the rest was very forgettable history. All the others: Jaffer, Raina, Kaif, Mongia and to some extent Dhoni are people still finding their feet and such quality bowling was too good for them.

Where is VVS Laxman? With so may youngsters in the side India could hav done with the experience of VVS, i feel. Dunno whats going to happen in the rest of the series. Its a scary feeling, just thinking of it.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Smashing Lara on the verge of Sachin's record

Cricket is made lovely by great players. And Lara has done as much for the game as anyone could have. Many great players have known to have diminished with age. But the way he is playing against Pakistan, Lara only seems to be improving. A 100 of 77 balls(9th fastest in test cricket) and then 96 more runs and many more to come on day 4. The Pakistani quickers and spinners were flogged with equal disdain in a flawless display of authoritative batting. 7 sixes and 21 fours in all.

And by the way this was his 34th century. One more and he equals Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 35 centuries. Two more and he goes past. Given the way he is batting it doesn’t seem  very unlikely. Way ta go Brain.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

These Aussies are amazing sledgers. Warnie does the job this time.

Cricket news:  Look at what Shane Warne has to say about Jones’ and Giles’ inclusion in the English team for the ashes: "Duncan Fletcher has definitely got a few favourites. I think that's well-known between everybody. That's why some blokes keep coming back into the side, because they are favourites. But in Australia you need your best keeper because the ball does bounce and carry, and so I'd be very happy to see England go back to Jones and Giles."

"It's surprising that they'd go back to Jones" said Warne. "He'll be under enormous pressure. I think it's a known fact - and it's not me sledging him - that Jones is in the side more for his batting than his keeping. His keeping is steady at best and we saw him drop some crucial catches [in the last series]. You don't want to be dropping Ricky Ponting when he's on half-a-dozen in the first Test of the series, especially when you've just been brought back into the side."

Sounds quite familiar right? How many times have we seen the Aussies single out a few players from the opposition and target them with damning remarks and making uncalled for comments. Its almost getting predictable now. Just before a big series some Australian player or the other unfailingly finds something to poke fun at or provoke a player in the opposition team. The most intriguing part is that it is not always the captain or a particular player that comes up with these comments. It is more like the players taking turns – one for each match or series.

Now, to me this sounds less like a person talking his mind and more like strategic & calculated sledging. I can very well visualize the Aussie team and management seriously discussing who is going to make what comment and on whom rather than about game strategies in their official meetings. And looks like Shane has landed the job this time. And Jones and Giles are to be the victims.

Nothing wrong of course. From the way the Aussies have dominated the cricket scene, it sure does seem like the “strategy” has been quite effective. Who knows when other teams will catch on and cricket will become a war of words rather than a bat and ball game.

 And remember what McGrath had said about Monty Panesar's visits to the psychiatrist? So maybe McGrath has got part of the job too. Too much additional responsibilities on professionals these days.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

India's tour of South Africa

Cricket News : India got thrashed at the champions trophy and India again got thrashed at the hands of South African ‘A’ team in their tour opener. What a life these Indian cricketers lead. Wow!!Do no work and get paid in millions. Okay maybe I’m being too harsh. But I’m sick of hoping for a good series victory. But as they say hope is what keeps the world going. So lets hope the Indians return victorious from this tour of South Africa.

The series is sure going to be interesting. The Indians will be tested by some hostile pace and bounce and it remains to be seen how they will contend with it. The ODIs are going to be played first and then the five-day matches. What is going to be interesting is the twenty/20 match scheduled on 1st of December. Indians play very few of these and this one is going to be a rare treat indeed.

These are the fixtures:

 

South Africa A v Indians

Benoni
16 Nov

Twenty/20

Johannesburg
1 Dec

1st ODI

Johannesburg
19 Nov

5th ODI

Centurion
3 Dec

2nd ODI

Durban
22 Nov

South Africa A v Indians

Potchefstroom
7-10 Dec

3rd ODI

Cape Town
26 Nov

1st Test

Johannesburg
15-19 Dec

4th ODI

Port Elizabeth
29 Nov

2nd Test

Durban
26-30 Dec

 

3rd Test

Cape Town
2-6 Jan


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lots of stuff happening dudes!

Cricket and more cricket news: Its going to be a great season of cricket people. The ongoing Pak-windies series & the coming India’s tour of SA and ofcourse the Ashes are going to ensure quality action in the cricketing world.

“The Ashes” is going to be interesting. England is sure a depleted side. No Simon Jones, no Trescothick (the papers say he is suffering from mental stress; does that mean he’s gone mad?), injury problems for Flintoff etc. etc. etc. With the kind of drubbing they got in the Champions trophy at the hands of Australia, I guess they are the minnows here. But the Ashes always induces some sudden spring in the English side and with people like Pietersen and Harmisson in their ranks England is in no way incapable of turning the tables. This is gonna be exciting man. We are all waiting……..      

 

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Agarkar necessary?

Cricket talk : The Champions trophy really did show the Indian fast bowlers in very poor light. In fact I think they were the main reason for India’s cheap ouster in the tournament. Everyone thinks so I guess.

                     I was browsing through cricinfo and came across a piece of news which said Agarkar has recovered from his injury and is available for the SA tour. Now I dont know if this is supposed to be good or bad news. For one thing I suppose he is one of the bowlers who will get flogged more than claim wickets. Till when will the selectors prefer him to others like Zaheer, Nehra and Balaji? Whats happening? Politics? Surely seems so.

 

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Thursday, November 9, 2006

The pawar sho(ve)w!

Cricket gossip :

What happened was this : Sharad Pawar being the chief guest of the prize distribution function was standing on the dias after awarding the trophy to Ricky. The whole aussie team(uninvited) runs up to the dias to lift the cup. There is a stampede of sorts and Ponting it seems asks Pawar to “please step off the dias” and Martyn “gently pushes” Pawar off the dias. What nerve!

It seems this is what Sharad Pawar has said about the "pushing" incident.
"This is not good at all, but I have decided to play it down because we have an extremely good relationship with the Australian board and we would like for that to keep going. Those players were not allowed to come onto the dais. It was only supposed to be the captain. Certainly I would accept an apology because then we could close this chapter. The Australian board is headed by a respected and civilised man and our relationship is extremely good. If they apologise, it would be a good signal to the people in this country."

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia CEO had said yesterday that the relations between both boards were absolutely fine. "It's unfortunate that there has been an interpretation of disrespect from that. I know that no disrespect was intended by the Australian players; I have spoken to Ricky about it. Perhaps sometimes these things can happen between different cultures.”

The last sentence is interesting. I feel it is important for a visitor to understand the conventions and practices of a host and behave accordingly. It is inexcusable for a guest to claim a “clash of cultures” after he has willingly been a guest. Would any other team have behaves the same way? No way. The Australians at the moment are surely too full of themselves and need to be taught some humility. Right? Hope they fail miserably at the world cup. Woe befall this team on the cricket field. That would hopefully strip them off some of their ego.

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