Sunday, December 23, 2007

For any sports tickets

The biggest roadblock to watching and enjoying a game live at the stadium, is getting tickets to the game. Atleast, that is how it is when it comes to watching cricket matches in India. And often the tickets that can be booked through the Internet are the more expensive ones.

However, here is a website that connects ticket sellers and buyers by providing a platform where people with tickets can sell them and those who need those tickets can buy them online. So if you are looking for tickets for a cricket match that you very very badly want to watch just head over to viagogo and check if tickets are available for that match. The site is neatly made and you will have no problems is searching for what you want. And of course they also provide you with a guarantee that the tickets you have bought through their website will be sent over to you in time for the match.

You could also check out viagogo out of you are in need of some Golf Tickets, Formula 1 Tickets or Tennis Tickets or many other sports. Plus, they also provide tickets for concerts and theatre too. I think you need to bookmark this site now!


Monday, December 17, 2007

BCCI's disgusting double standards

The folks at the Board of Control for Cricket in India have done it again. Once again, for the hundredth time, they have shown us exactly why the whole nation loathes the establishment, its members and the way it functions.

The board had ruled against the selectors making overseas trips with the Indian team. They said it was just a needless exercise(and rightly so) and that the selectors would be making better use of their time if they followed domestic matches at home and spotted some fresh talent.

That's fine. But take a look at the other side.

What is inexplicable, though, is the Board's decision to send one member of every one of its 27 member-associations on an all expenses paid junket to Australia during the Indian team's tour of Australia just begun.

"They will be going there as delegates," Board secretary Niranjan Shah said, when asked why; he did not however clarify what they would be "delegates" to, or since when cricket matches included "delegates".

"We will send a group of around 7 or 8 officials every week by rotation so that everyone will get a chance to visit Australia," Shah said.

So that apparently is the point -- keep selectors, who by some stretch of the imagination could be said to have some useful role to play, at home, but send officials, who have nothing whatsoever to do, no official duty to perform, on what is essentially a joy ride.

So typical of the BCCI, ain't it? The above piece goes on to suggest a possible reason for such double standards:
The only logical explanation is that selectors do not vote in Board elections, but associations do; therefore, anything to keep associations happy, no matter how much money is spent in the process, is a good thing as far as the Board is concerned.
Haha :-). So damn true! What a shameless bunch of power hungry, bird-brained politicians!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kumble, the sledger!!

Been quite a while since I have blogged. Apologies for that. Work is keeping me pretty busy. But this incident got me blogging!

Who would imagine sledging from Kumble! Yes, he is a really aggressive cicketer and expects everyone to be at their best. And he gets totally annoyed when someone makes a half-hearted effort in the field off his bowling. But sledging?!!

Hes the last person I expected something like that from. And it was done well too..for it worked.

Way ta go, Anil!!

By the way, Dravid looked like he is getting among some runs in the last India-Pakistan test match at Bangalore. And even Kaarthick is doing pretty well. It is going to be an intriguing India-Australia battle down under. Can't wait for the test series to begin!


Friday, November 30, 2007

Looks like Pakistan just wants to finish off the tour and get back home

Every Indian batsman is in form and every Pakistan bowler is bowling horribly. No wonder India has 352 runs at a really good rate of 4.16 runs per over for the loss of only three wickets at the end of the first day of the second test match. I would say this is the perfect situation to press for an innings victory.

Infact, the Pakistanis are looking so bad and so unmotivated that I am already convinced this match is going to result in a big and easy victory for India. I also have a feeling that this series is going to finish with a 3-0 scoreline to show in favour of India.

At the moment, India is just having it too easy which makes the games one-sided and pretty boring to watch. Luckily, Jaffer's awesomely stylish batting made watching the game's progress tolerable. What a delightful batsman he is!

I only hope the Pakistan players(those of them who are not injured, that is!) stand up and show some teeth.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Life being a Railwayman

Just came across this nice write-up at Cricinfo from Sanjay Bangar(remember the guy?; the picture might refresh your memory).

He talks about how it is being a domestic cricketer playing for the railways, some memorable lessons and enjoyable moments during travel and the camaraderie he enjoyed with his mates.

Gives some nice perspective into how different life as a domestic cricketer is from the lives of international cricketers. Go read it if you haven't already.


Atapattu bows out of International cricket

There, another fine "aging cricketer" bids adieu to international cricket. Nice that he signed off in style by scoring a fighting 80 in his last test match while trying to save his side from utter humiliation against the Aussies (they lost the game and the series though). At least some consolation for him that he is leaving on his own terms after having had to have a bitter tiff with the selectors.

So, here's bidding TaTa and Goodbye to Marvan Atapattu. Guess he is heading towards India now. Rumours are that he will play for the Indian Cricket League. I wouldn't mind watching him play here. Quite a neat and stylish batsman he is; or should I say was?


Whay wasn't Yuvraj made the Indian ODI team captain?

This is why:

Yuvraj Singh has been fined 20% of his match fee for "showing dissent at an umpire's decision" during the final ODI between India and Pakistan in Jaipur.

Yuvraj was given out by umpire Suresh Shastri during India's chase, after he miscued a pull off Umar Gul to the keeper. However, instead of walking, an upset Yuvraj stood his ground, and indicated the ball had hit his shoulder and not his bat or glove. Replays suggested that the ball had hit his shoulder.

Agreed, Yuvraj was not actually out and it was some very incompetent umpiring by Suresh Shastri that brought his stay to an end. I also agree that he is an awesome player for India, probably our best ODI and Twenty20 cricketer right now.

But in situations like these, he does tend to go overboard with his reactions, doesn't he? I mean, that was serious dissent he showed towards the umpire! He just stood there staring coldly at the umpire for about 2 full minutes! And then he made this really cocky looking gesture indicating that the ball went off his shoulder and not the bat. Obviously, very unbecoming of a senior player, let alone the captain of a team.

And, I suppose, that is the reason why the top spot went to Dhoni who is by far more calm and calculating among the two; qualities that are absolutely crucial for a successful captain.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Couldn't agree more with Ian Chappell

The Sri Lankans sure don't seem to be enjoying the Australian tour very much. Actually, not many teams do.

Brett Lee is on fire and the Lankans are already following on in the first of two test matches in the series. They are in deep deep trouble and the Australians are on top.

I only hope India don't fare so badly in the test series Down Under. By the signs of things, whoever is handed the job of captaining the Indian team (I think it should be Kumble) for the series has his job cut-out.

Now I know what Ian Chappell meant when he said, had Sachin accepted the captaincy job, he would have put the future of his international career in jeopardy.

In his words:
Tendulkar has saved the selectors from what could've been not only an embarrassing decision but also a costly mistake. If he had accepted the captaincy and India went on to lose the series badly to Australia, it could have hastened his retirement.
Chappell might not have been very correct in advising Tendulkar to retire a few months ago, but this time around, I suppose his views are spot on.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Surprise surprise!

Congratulations to Anil Kumble!!!

The Indian selectors have sprung up many surprises in the past. But this one beats them all. And it is a pleasant surprise this time, which is something very rare. Though Anil Kumble was always in the race for test captaincy, I, frankly, never expected him to be made captain. Dhoni was the clear favourite, especially considering the selectors' rather funny habit of unconditionally preferring youth to experience when it comes to new selections or appointments. Besides, every rumour that was coming out from the BCCI camp was pointing towards Dhoni's appointment as captain.

Anyway, this is great news. Kumble does deserve the honour. He is one of the players who has been toiling for the team for many years with not much recognition. Plus, his vast experience and extremely sensible way of dealing with situations will come of use now. He has always been a self motivated player and this development will motivate him even more to perform well for the team.

So one Karnataka player stepped down from the mantle and another has taken his place. There have been talks of Dravid having stepped down owing to internal pressures. How long can Kumble survive? Lets see. The Australia series will be the perfect touchstone.

Lets hope the warrior with a big heart will lead India to a memorable series victory Down Under!


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dravid's omission might not be that bad a decision

Almost as soon as news spread that Rahul Dravid was 'rested' for the final India-Australia one-dayer, almost every cricket follower started reeling out his opinion about the decision. Endless reams of paper have been devoted to discussing the issue and the majority verdict is that the omission was unfair and undeserving of Dravid.

Now, here are my two cents.

Dravid is undoubtedly a great batsman and has been a determined soldier for the team for a long time now. He also, probably, has many more jaw-dropping performances in store to offer to Indian cricket. But then there is also the irrefutable fact that his average from his last ten ODI innings is a paltry 9 runs. Plus, it is also a fact that a whole lot of talented players are waiting at the sidelines.

Ofcourse, it is only a temporary loss of form that Dravid is suffering from and as the selectors themselves say, the odds of Dravid making a comeback are very high. But surely, the process of regaining form does not need only international cricket. Domestic cricket can do the job just as well.

Also, it surely is not necessary to carry an out-of-form batsman in the team while many other capable players, if included, could do a better job.

Additionally, the decision will also send out a strong message to the players that Vengsarkar's recent threats about nobody's place in the team being permanent is not just a toothless remark.

Who knows, Rahul Dravid could come back to international cricket as a more stronger batsman and that could only be good news for India. So all things considered, Rahul Dravid's 'resting' may only be for the greater good.

By the way, on a side note, there is also the lingering question of why Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly were spared by the selectors even when they went through even longer stretches of even poorer form. But lets push that question aside for now!!


Friday, October 26, 2007

Don't miss this match for anything

Pakistan can't afford to lose the ongoing ODI series against South Africa since it is a home series and they have already lost the test series 0-1. Losing the one-day series too can be too embarrassing for them.

On the other hand, South Africa would love to finish off the tour on a high and stamp their authority. They'll be especially eager to prove a point to the cricket world since a few questions have been raised about their vulnerability against spin bowling.

And to top it all, the series is in the balance at 2-2 with one match to go which means the 5th match scheduled to take place at Lahore on the 29th of October is going to be the decider.

Then there is Afridi on one side, who is in smashing form, and there is Gibbs on the other who really gave the Pakistan bowlers some spanking in the 4th ODI.

So take my advice and make sure you catch the match live. If you love cricket, this one is going to be a treat! Atleast, it has all the potential to be one.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Gavaskar has a point

I don't agree with all that Gavaskar says. Infact, I really dislike his brand of cricket commentary and normally mute the television set when his commentary is on. But I think he has made a pretty pertinent point when he criticised the match referee and match umpires for not having taken any action against the concerned players for the ugly scenes that were on display throughout the just concluded India-Australia ODI series.

Gavaskar's views on the matter:
"One is not privy to the report the match referee may have sent to ICC but the fact that not even one player from both sides has been reported and reprimanded shows the referee and the umpires did not do the job assigned to them and that was to see that the game was not brought into disrepute and the spirit of cricket maintained.

"He [match referee] is there not just to protect the umpires from the players but to see that the game goes on without any untoward incidents and what happened between the two players was definitely not cricket. By abdicating their responsibility, match officials let the game down big time and have raised a big question mark on their ability to control the game and players.

"It would be sad if the ICC turns a blind eye to what happened during the series, for even while accepting that the game has changed and become far more aggressive than yesteryears, what was seen on the cricket field did not do any good to the image of the game nor enhance the quality by any stretch of imagination."

When you come to think of it, it is really strange that in a series that has been more in the media eye for poor on-field behaviour, not one player was actually reprimanded by the powers that be.

Players have been openly critical about the opposition's unhealthy tactics and there have even been obvious cases of dissent against the umpire's decicions. Yet, somehow, no one is found guilty.

Whatever the reasons, such apathy on the officials' part towards on-field events will only work towards taking healthy aggression towards vulgarity, which should not happen.

Hope someone takes note of what Gavaskar is trying to say.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Australia would be itching to get back

The Aussie captain had this to say after his team tasted an uncharacteristically comprehensive defeat at the hands of India:
"We fell short by 15 runs. We gave away too many extras - 23 extras means four extra overs. We did it the other night also and we need to buck up. Harbhajan and Kartik bowled well. Gambhir batted well. We would like to play more matches against the new generation Indian players."
Two Twenty20 defeats in a row and I think that last line (in bold letters) can mean only one thing: Punter badly wants another Twenty20 game against the "new generation" Indians to try and get back at them.

I have a feeling that this is only the beginning of a healthy rivalry that is going to get started between the Indian and Australian teams in Twenty20 cricket.

Ponting and all of us will have to wait till the 1st of February when India and Australia will meet at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for another Twenty20 international game. That's a long wait but let me tell you, the action on that day is going to be well worth the wait!


India keep the winning streak going

The Indian team has just proved why they are World Champions in the shortest format of the game. Inspite of some not-terribly-impressive fielding, sharp and clever bowling and extremely sensible batting saw them through the one-off Twenty20 match against the Australians with 7 wickets in hand and 11 balls to spare.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that it was important for India to win this Twenty20 match to prove it too critics around the World that the World Cup win was not a mere fluke. Well, they have done more than just win the match. They have sailed through to victory with some ease.

There were some good individual performances in the game coming from the Indian side. Harbhajan & Gambhir once again played a pivotal role in India's win. Infact, I have a feeling it is going to be either Gambhir or Yuvraj who will score the first century for India in Twenty20 cricket.

But it was made amply evident that team effort is what will eventually win matches for you in Twenty20 cricket. There are only four overs per bowler and each of them have to do well in order to keep the opposition under pressure. Likewise, lightning quick cameos from each batsman will do more damage than, say, a 70 off 60 balls from one or two batsman like it happens so often in ODI cricket.

Ponting made a good 76, but other batsman didn't have much to show and I guess that is where the Australians lost the match. In contrast, the Indians have a 63, a 35 and a 31* from the top four batsmen and that is where they proved superior.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Looking forward to the Twenty20 match

The lackluster performance of the Indian team in the just concluded India-Australia ODI series not withstanding, I find myself looking forward to the India-Australia Twenty20 game that is to be played today with total anticipation.

For one thing, this is the first time I will watch India go into a match as World Champions. And the other reason is simply because Twenty20 cricket is so damn exciting, especially when it is Australia we are playing against!

I suppose this is the only format where India could be termed as atleast ' slight favourites' against the ODI World Champion side and I hope it remains so even after this match.

It will mean a lot of good things if India win this match. There are people out there who think India's triumph in the Twenty20 World Cup was a mere fluke. I honestly think that is not the case and that India played some pretty consistent good cricket to clinch the World Cup against all odds. A win here will work towards proving that.

Besides, Australia will very obviously be hurting from having to taste defeat at the hands of India in the semi-final of the World Cup; a defeat that prevented them from adding the Twenty20 cup to their cupboard of trophies. And if India win here too, it might just trigger off an India-Pakistan-ish rivalry between Dhoni's and Ponting's men in this format of the game, just like India's test series victory in the 2001 home series set off an Indo-Australia rivalry of sorts in test cricket. If that can happen then it can only be too good for cricket!

I am all for this Twenty20 format of the game and I am all for an Indian win today!


Friday, October 19, 2007

A victory inspite of the batsmen

India's batsmen did all they could possibly do to try and ensure India lost even the final match of the India-Australia series but fortunately the tail-enders snatched an unlikely victory for India and saved the team from utter embarrassment. Anyway, inspite of the continuing display of incompetence by the Indian batsmen, it was a good match to watch for two reasons.

The first reason is that India won against Australia, which does not happen very often and therefore deserves celebration.

The other reason was Murali Kartik's beautiful spin bowling. Watching him bowl was like watching an artist at work. I can't believe he was out of the team for so long. Just take a look at the way he took his wickets. Every single one of them (except that of Symonds, maybe) was a result of totally tactful spin bowling. The fact that he was on a hat-trick two times in the match is, I feel, ample proof of what a thorn he was in the Australian flesh.
19.5 Kartik to Hodge, OUT, and thats that, as Hodge, with limited footwork, pushes at a shorter and quicker delivery outside off stump and gives the wide slip catching practice, ending a scratchy innings in which he couldnt force it against the spinners

19.6 Kartik to Symonds, OUT, and the big man goes first ball! The ball's pretty ordinary, short and wide outside off stump and Kartik's extremely lucky to get Symonds, cutting at it and looking on as Tendulkar, in the covers, dives forward and takes a good catch!

31.1 Kartik to Haddin, OUT, Kartik gets him with the arm ball! Haddin gets a half-stride forward to a delivery pitched on middle and straightening. The ball strikes him low on the front pad and that was an easy decision for Umpire Saheba

31.4 Kartik to Hogg, OUT, bat-pad! flighted on off stump, Hogg gets a stride forward and appeared to get an inside edge onto the pads. Uthappa at forward short-leg takes the catch and the rest are certain they've got the wicket. Hogg looks rather unhappy with Saheba's decision though

31.5 Kartik to Lee, OUT, Kartik takes five! flighted on off stump, draws Lee onto the forward drive and succeeds in getting an outside edge to RP Singh at gully. Kartik's on a hat-trick here...again!

35.5 Kartik to Hopes, OUT, Hopes misreads the turn! flighted around the middle stump. Hopes goes back and the ball spins from middle, goes through and clips the off stump. Big daylight between bat and pad on that one. That's six for Kartik... what a comeback!
Yeah, what a comeback to international cricket! Coming in to bowl against the Australians when they are on top at 108/2 off 17 overs and going on to take 6 wickets to reduce them to 193 all out is a great feat indeed. And I feel this is the only comeback he'll need to make for a long time to come.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Proof that Sreesanth is overdoing it

The recent comments Sreesanth has been making in the press are, I think, obvious proof that Sreesanth is over-thinking and overdoing the aggression part instead of just trying to play good cricket. This is what he has reportedly said(from cricinfo):

"It's not a new Sreesanth. I am trying to find that exact limit between really bad and really good. See how far I can go."

Sreesanth has been flicking through a book on temperament during the series and said the game was "almost 90% mind". "How you manage yourself on the field is important and even if they are playing mind games on it or off it, cricket is very funny, it always wins," he said in the Australian. "That's what happened in the lead-up to the Twenty20, everybody was questioning our ability but we still won the World Cup.

Well, what can you say to that "almost 90% mind" quip?! And the "managing yourself is important" quip?!

He is very much a fresher to cricket and I have no idea why he wants to complicate things for himself. I really feel he should be thinking: "good bowling is almost 90% about putting the ball in the right areas".

Why care about mind games at all? Just go out there and bowl well. Should be simple for an international bowler. And he can do that. We all know that. Just why do these people complicate things unnecessarily?

Sreesanth, shut up and just bowl. You are selected into the Indian team for that. Not to ponder over mind games and such crap.


Monday, October 15, 2007

India deserving losers

Ponting had said before the Nagpur match that the match was like a final and I thought India would have a go at the Australians with all their might. Instead they really proved how unprofessional they are. In such an important match, if an international bowler bowls as bad as he did then there is no surprise in the fact that India lost. Yeah, I'm talking about Sreesanth, There really is no use of carrying him around only for the odd spark of brilliance. If he is not consistent, then there really is no use for him in the team.

And then the batsmen. It is very rarely nowadays that Sachin bats the way he did yesterday. In a must-win match and from a pretty comfortable situation the batsmen showed total lack of professionalism and the way they wilted from a very winnable situation with so many wickets in hand is shocking to say the least.

Surely, India deserved to lose the series.


Take a look at this stat

As usual I was browsing through cricinfo and I came across this stat that should be shocking but is not actually that shocking since it involves India and Australia.
The last time India successfully chased a target against Australia was way back in 1998, in Sharjah, in what came to be known as Sachin Tendulkar's 'Desert Storm' series. Since then, India have attempted the task, either willingly or otherwise, 18 times, and failed on 15 occasions, with three matches, including the first game of this series in Bangalore, having no result.
Speaks volumes, doesn't it?


Friday, October 12, 2007

Pakistan lose the series. Inzamam retires.

Cricket has a way of not allowing its players the privilege of a happy ending. Inzamam, a big man, both literally and figuratively, bid adieu to cricket after a truly amazing and glittering career. But his retirement had to coincide with a drubbing for Pakistan.

These scenes,

had to be accompanied by these,


I thought the Indian cricket team was improving.....

Looking at the trend in the India-Australia series so far, I thought India was improving with every game. The first match of the India-Australia series got rained out. But consider the 2nd, 3rd and 4th games. The 2nd match at Kochi, India lost by a rather huge margin of 84 runs. We again lost for the second time in the third match at Hyderabad. But this time the margin was slightly better at 47 runs. Then came the Hyderabad match where the Indian team won the match by a small margin of 8 runs.

And just when I thought another win could be around the corner this happens(from cricinfo):
A nine-wicket win for the visitors, as comprehensive as they come. The pace bowlers, lead by Brett Lee and five-wicket hero Mitchell Johnson, suffocated the trigger-happy top order and with only two partnerships to speak of, one worth 41 from the last two batsmen, India limped to a total of 148. They failed to even bat out 40 overs. Only four men reached double figures.

Australia then cantered to a nine-wicket win. Adam Gilchrist had a great day, pocketing six catches, being part of a run out, and then getting into some form with an unbeaten 79 from 77 deliveries.
I would not have minded much had it been a loss in a well fought match. But this is just atrocious, not to mention extremely frustrating.

I just don't know for how long Dhoni can stand straight and look the Australians in the eyes when congratulating them after yet another loss.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A win!

Yeah, India won! I know that is unbelievable but that is what happened! I never thought much about India's chances(my bet was on 6-0) but they have yet again proved how unbelievable they are.

At last the batsmen came together and rocked the party. Dhoni found his timing. So did Uthappa. And everything went right. I still feel Tendulkar is not doing enough to justify his place in the team though.

Anyway, now this win means India is still in the hunt for a series win. Which in turn means Australia will come at us even harder in the coming matches.

This is when the real challenge begins.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Does Vengsarkar mean what he says?

Here is what Vengsarkar, India's chairman of selectors, has said:
"There are many players like S Badrinath and Suresh Raina who are performing with the India A side. These guys are waiting for their chance and you cannot ignore them. It's a professional set-up and nobody can take their place for granted."

Clearly, Vengsarkar had some people in mind when he said that. A warning for the seniors' ears? Could be. It really is time to think about Tendulkar's, Ganguly's and Dravid's role in the team. These men have been invaluable for Indian cricket in the past. But then, that is the past and people have a tendency of softening up with time

In a match where India needed 290 runs off quality Australian bowling, Tendulkar managed 43. But these 43 runs came off 71 invaluable balls in the powerplay overs. Compare and contrast that with Yuvraj's score of 121 off 115 balls or Dhoni's 33 off 37.

It is an obvious and un-ignorable case for promoting Yuvraj and Dhoni up the order. It is also an obvious case for the demotion of Sachin Tendulkar. But would he fit in the middle-order? As Vengsarkar says, there are good middle-order players such as Suresh Raina waiting at the sidelines for some time now.

So where would Tendulkar fit in, or would he? That is the million dollar question that everybody has been avoiding for a long time. I guess it is now too long.

Come on Vengsarkar. It is time for some bold decisions. Let's cut the talk. Show us what you can really do.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hair's case

Hair has always been a hard umpire. He has made decisions that other umpires would never dare to make. One such decision cost him his job.

But knowing his particular style of dealing with issues, this recent lawsuit against the ICC, protesting against his sacking, shouldn't come as any surprise. Hair is surely going to give this all he has and he clearly intends to drag the ICC, and thereby the game, through as much mire as possible.

His particularly sharp remarks on the alleged 'racial discrimination' issue provide ample indications as to how scandalous this could be.
"If I had been from West Indies or Pakistan or India, I might have been treated differently, like Doctrove.

"At the time we told Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, that we believed the marks we found on the ball were deliberately put there. After the match I was continually pilloried in the media by Shaharyar Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, and Inzamam, which was clearly in breach of ICC conduct ... and yet it did nothing to prevent this.

"I asked Speed if it could possibly be performance related but he agreed that my performances since joining the elite panel had been generally very good and I had been continually ranked in the top three umpires. I was at a loss to understand how my career could possibly be effectively ended unless it was by a racially motivated and racially-discriminated process."

Whatever the outcome of the case, this lawsuit is easily one of the biggest cricket has seen so far.
And if Hair wins it, the ICC could probably have to shell out millions as compensation. Surely, that is motivation enough for ICC and Speed to defend with all their heart!!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Aussies stamp their class

You might have read a zillion articles with the same title as this one. The reason is simply that you just cannot think of a more apt title when you sit down to write about a match after having been witness to as clinical a performance as the Australians came up with against the Indians today. And since it concerns the Australians, that happens pretty often too.

I had mentioned about a lot of talking having happened between the players even before the series began. The first match at Bangalore was when we were to find out which team could back up the talking with a solid performance. That match got washed out (luckily for India, perhaps). But, nevertheless, the Aussies did give us enough evidence, at Kochi, as to which is the better team. Their bench strength in unbelievable and the way someone always puts his hand up when the other has failed, is fast becoming a hallmark of the team.

That said, the Indian team obviously has a lot to do if they are to see any success in the ODI format in the near future. The problem of not being able to seize the initiative even when we have been able to get one foot through the door, is an old one. Add to that the other worry of giving away too many runs in the death and the problem becomes massive.

The need for a genuinely quick bowler is, once again, quite apparent. Dhoni's boys migh have won the Twenty20 cup, but the sooner they (and us) realize how less the win means when it comes to ODI cricket, the better.

No one could put it better than Gilchrist did:
"The quicker we move on from this Twenty20, the better. Everything keeps getting drawn back to that. Congratulations to India, they had a wonderful victory, beautiful celebrations ... we all enjoyed it, we've never seen anything like it. But I'm more interested in the fact that we're 1-0 up in this one."
Very hard to disagree.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lots of talking going on

Where the Australians are involved, you can be sure of one thing. There will be a lot of verbal play and mental games before the start of the actual game. And this time is no different.

Symonds tries to taunt the Indian players:
"Something has been sparked inside of me, watching them carry on over the last few days. We have had a very successful side and I think watching how we celebrate and how they celebrate, I think we have been pretty humble in the way we have gone about it. And personally, I think they have got far too carried away with their celebrations. It has definitely sparked passion inside of us. It has certainly spiced it up as well."

Ponting makes the age-old "Pressure is on them" quip.

Uthappa retorts:

"We are looking forward to carry on our winning momentum when we meet Australia in the first match on Saturday and there will not be any pressure on us. We are just looking forward to take on Australia"

Knowing that Sreesanth can get overly excited pretty easily the Aussies seem to have singled him out saying "he does not scare us" and that they have "seen how he plays and will not be surprised this time".

Sreesanth, typically, seems to have taken some of the banter to heart:

"Now I hear that Ponting and his team have singled me out, this is in fact a boost to my confidence. This means that I have the stuff in me. I think if I am aggressive, only then can I perform better and I would be back to my normal self."

Now, that is a lot of talking, isn't it?

In about 8 hours time we will get to know who comes out on top on the field.


Friday, September 28, 2007

The Australians are here

Whoever said ODI cricket would lose its appeal with the advent of the Twenty20 format. India's Twenty20 triumph seems to have only added to the excitement behind the India-Australia ODI series Chinnaswamystadium set to begin at Bangalore tomorrow. The series is billed as a battle between two World Champions and I have to say that when put that way, it does make the 'battle' one to look forward to.

Its been a long long time since international cricket was played at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. That is, if you don't count the Afro-Asia Cup matches. Naturally, the whole of Bangalore is looking forward to this match. Infact, I was passing by the Chinnaswamy Stadium the day when the ticket counters opened and you wouldn't believe how long the queue for the tickets was. Almost about a couple of kilometers is my guess. Many people received a cash advance from their employer and immediately went to the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

The tickets were, not surprisingly, sold out the same day.

Some 50,000 spectators are expected to turn up and, while it will be a headache for the security personnel, the atmosphere at the stadium is going to be absolutely electric!

The schedule for the series of seven one-dayers and one Twenty20 international:

September 2007
Sat 29 (D/N)
14:30 local, 09:00 GMT 1st ODI - India v Australia
M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
October 2007
Tue 2
09:00 local, 03:30 GMT 2nd ODI - India v Australia
Nehru Stadium, Kochi
October 2007
Fri 5
09:00 local, 03:30 GMT 3rd ODI - India v Australia
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad
October 2007
Mon 8
09:00 local, 03:30 GMT 4th ODI - India v Australia
Sector 16 Stadium, Chandigarh
October 2007
Thu 11
09:00 local, 03:30 GMT 5th ODI - India v Australia
I.P.C.L. Sports Complex Ground, Vadodara
October 2007
Sun 14
09:00 local, 03:30 GMT 6th ODI - India v Australia
Vidarbha C.A. Ground, Nagpur
October 2007
Wed 17 (D/N)
14:30 local, 09:00 GMT 7th ODI - India v Australia
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
October 2007
Sat 20 (D/N)
19:00 local, 13:30 GMT Only Twenty20 International - India v Australia
Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai

Here's hoping for a well fought, high intensity series!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Who won the Twenty20 cup...the players or the BCCI?

When a jubilant Indian team was enjoying the sweet results of all their hard-work, when the players were celebrating victory, when the men-in-blue were posing for the team photograph; on all these occasions Sharad Pawar and all his BCCI chums somehow got their faces complete with broad grins in the way too, didn't they?

Alright, forget that. But what can you say about this:
One would have thought that the 15 cricketers who brought India the glory at the Twenty20 World Cup were the heroes being felicitated at the Wankhede Stadium, but a look at the dias would have suggested otherwise.

The front row was filled with BCCI top brass and Maharashtra state ministers with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni the only Team India member finding a place among the 'elite'.

In fact, the whole spectacle seemed like a carefully organised political rally with Board President Sharad Pawar, who is the Union Agriculture Minister and a political heavyweight of the state, playing to the galleries in his short speech as if it was an election rally. He was clearly trying to take full mileage out of the unexpected victory that Dhoni and his bravehearts achieved at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

And to think that is same 'BCCI top brass' had actually voted against the Twenty20 format at an ICC meeting!!

Useless bunch of opportunists! Get your hands off that cup Mr.Pawar!


ICL is obviously slipping

Mohammad Yousuf, along with Abdur Razzaq and Imran Farhat, had signed the contract agreeing to participate in the Indian Cricket League just a few months earlier. Apparently he was miffed over not having been selected into Pakistan's Twenty20 team for the World Cup. He then went missing for over a month and could not be reached. And now he comes out and says this:
"Whatever I have achieved is because of my country and I am willing to do anything for Pakistan. I didn't know this clause in the ICL contract that priority had to be given to the league instead of Pakistan when international matches are happening simultaneously."
Now that looks a bit shady to me. With all the controversy surrounding the Indian Cricket League, I think it was only too obvious that the National Cricket Boards were not particularly happy with the ICL luring their players away. It was common knowledge that the boards wouldn't think twice before banning players who chose to shore up with the ICL from representing their respective countries in international cricket matches.

The point I am trying to make is that whether Yousuf knew of that little clause in the ICL contract or not, he should surely have been aware that he was putting his international career in jeopardy when he signed that contract.

I suspect Yousuf's change of heart has more to do with the ICL-BCCI tussle and the public launch of the BCCI's own 'Indian Premier League' rivaling the ICL. These developments might have dented his confidence in the ICL's success. I had suggested in an earlier post that the cricket boards were losing the battle with the ICL and they might have to swallow their egos. But things seem to be turning around. Yousuf's withdrawal might only be the first of many to come. If not, it will atleast make other players think twice before considering shaking hands with the ICL.

The ICL is obviously slipping. But it still has one advantage on it's side. Money.


The unsung hero

I think it is almost unfair that Yuvraj performed so well for India that the other real hero in India's triumph really did not make it big in all the news stories going around about the new 'n' young team. Dhoni was praised for his captaincy and Rohit Sharma for a fearless debut and the bowlers for containing the batsman.

But another deserving person that has really not recieved as much attention is Gautam Gambhir. Just take a look at his stats and you will see what I mean. He scored 227 invaluable runs for India in the World Cup at a very impressive average of 37.83 runs per match. What's more is that he was the second most prolific run getter in the tournament after Matthew Hayden and I suspect he would have bettered Hayden had the Scotland match not been rained out.

Maybe the cause for his not really being in the media eye was his strike rate. 129.71 is obviously lower than the strike-rates of some of the other players but the steady starts that he gave certainly proved very useful for those coming lower down enabling them to chance their arms around.

Infact I really think Gambhir deserved to have been awarded the Man of the Match award ahead of Irfan Pathan for his extremely sensible innings in the finals when the 'big stars' couldn't come up with the stuff. He scored almost half of the team's total in that game and his delightfully risk-free and clean, yet run-fetching, strokes were truly of the finest class. If not for him, I doubt if we would have been able to reach that score of 157.

Anyway, I am pretty sure the unsung hero's consistently good performances have not escaped the notice of the selectors and he should be opening the innings with Sehwag in the home series against Australia which leaves an unanswered question: Where in the batting line-up will the selectors find a place for Ganguly and Tendulkar? Only time will tell.


Monday, September 24, 2007


The perfect finale! An India-Pak cricket match can never disappoint. Never ever. And this was the first time India were meeting Pakistan in a World Championship final since 1985 and it just couldn't be dull. It being dull would mean going against the laws of nature.

And accordingly, even as India was cruising away for a disappointingly unexciting and easy victory, the Gods sent in Misbah-Ul-Haq and Sohail Tanvir to re-arrange things as they are meant to be. Man, quite a shock they both gave!

From a hopeless 77-6 when they lost Afridi to getting as close as one boundary away from victory, it was nerve wrangling to watch Pakistan's sudden revival. Pakistan suddenly needed just 6 runs of 4 balls.

And then came the ball from Joginder that Misbah-ul-haq scooped up to send it over and above short fine leg. The camera panned to show the ball in the air. Every Indian was only too aware of fine-leg being inside the 30 yard circle and for a few moments I felt unparalleled despair. But the fairy tale story had to have a fair-tale ending. The ball came down. It had not gone beyond short fine-leg and Sreesanth had the ball in his hands. Victory!

Wow! What a moment! Only the second time India have been crowned world-champions and that too so much drama preceding the moment. It's 1983 all over again. Maybe even better.

Some great moments captured in pictures:


Sunday, September 23, 2007

India wins. Pakistan wins. We all win.

What a dream run this is proving to be. The Australians came up against the opening batsmen with their tails up. The plan was obviously to intimidate the Indian batsmen with extremely aggressively tactics. But none of that ancient ploy worked. The start was steady and the middle and end were truly booming. Yuvraj is the man of the moment and you will hardly see a cleaner striker of the ball. Dhoni's shrewd captaincy, Sreesanth's accurate bowling and Harbhajan's clever guiles did the rest.

Earlier Pakistan had already won their semi-final match against New Zealand with ease and thus were through to the final clash of the Twenty20 World Cup. And when India won against Australia at Durban, the crowd went berserk. I suspect the excitement was only half because India have reached the final, the other half being in anticipation of a mouth-watering India-Pak battle for the cup.

Really, Twenty20 couldn't have asked for a better brand ambassador than such a final encounter. And to think that these two teams couldn't even get through among the top 8 teams about 6 months ago. It certainly makes this final look like pre-ordained destiny. Just hope another Indian victory and another gem from Yuvraj is part of that pre-ordained destiny.

And by the way, do we really need a coach?


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yuvraj's six sixes

Easily the most exciting six balls of the Twenty20 World Cup so far. Who wouldn't enjoy such clean hitting?

India take on Australia today in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup and I only hope, along with a few billions of other Indians that we win. I also hope Pakistan win the other semi-final so that the final would then be an India-Pakistan showdown. What a cracker of a match that would be!

On another note, it is sad and almost unfair that the South Africans couldn't get through. There really is something about the South Africans and the World Cups. It happened in the 1999 World Cup when South Afirca fell short of a solitary run in order to enter the finals. It happened in the 2003 World Cup too when they were done in by the Duckworth-Lewis system, again falling short of a mere run. And now it has happened in the first Twenty20 World Cup too when they needed just 126 tuns from 20 overs; an easy task that looked certain to be completed until they made a real mess of it. It does look like someone has cursed the team to never taste World Cup glory.

Anyway, all that is yesterday's business. Today is the day when the teams that play the finals will be decided and it is going to be one hell of a day.

This Twenty20 World Cup is proving to be far more entertaining and well-organized than its 50-over counterpart.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Twenty20 is good!

Well, I was away from home for a long time and had to do some catching up with some pending work when I was back and hence the long period of inactivity on this blog. So now, here I am. Back to blogging on my favourite sport after the hiatus.

But whether I have been blogging or not, I have, needless to say, been very keenly following the cricket action. As Harsha Bhogle said on ESPN said when the Twenty20 World Cup began, cricket now 'has a new baby'. And as it turns out, the new baby is awesome!

There were people complaining, and rightly so, about how the on-day game sometimes becomes too predictabile. The first 15-20 overs and the last 8-10 are always meant for thrashing the ball around and the period in between for knocking the ball around when everyone relaxes and the game is almost in a dormant phase. The new powerplay rules could do nothing to better the situation as fielding captains almost always opt to have the powerplays back-to-back and get finished off with them.

But now what the Twenty20 format does is to remove the period of 'knocking the ball around' from one-day cricket. So all you have now is 'thrashing the ball around'. All that the batsmen care for is to amass more and more runs. And which means the bowling team is always thinking about plugging the leaks.

Everyone is on his feet. There are no let-ups. The game is fast paced. A match ends quickly leaving you hungry for more. Moreover, after the long drawn and boring World Cup this is the perfect antidote we all wanted.

Purists, stay aside. Here is undiluted action and we want more of it!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

India's spinning strength

It was after a pretty long time that we got to watch two Indian spinners bowling in tandem in a one-day match playing outside the subcontinent. And as it turned out, the selection was a masterstroke. Infact it almost seemed to be the sanest thing to do. Maybe it did not happen much in recent times due to the lack of some good spinners. But now, I am pretty sure Romesh Powar and Piyush Chawla are going to feature in the Indian team for a long time to come.

Piyush Chawla was very successful in outwitting the batsman on more than a few occasions and Romesh Powar's control was absolutely awesome to watch. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble have finally got competition. Whatever happens in the next match, one thing is for sure: India will once again go in with two spinners whatever the pitch report might be like.

So the India-England series is now level at 1-1. Still, though India got 329(and that is huge) and won the match by 9 runs, there is still that feeling of inadequacy.

For starters, the fact that we allowed England to get so close to the target of 330 even after having gotten them on the mat at 240-7 is a shame. Then there is the pathetic fielding and catching which still remains to be the haunting ghost for India. Wonder what Robin Singh, the fielding coach, is upto. As far as I can see there is no obvious improvement in the fielding at all. No diving stops in the outfield and no extra efforts to stop the extra run. And ofcourse catches continue to go down by the dozen.

There are 5 more matches to go and to beat this England team(as unpredictable as their Indian counterparts) and take the series is surely going to take a lot more than what the cricketers did in this match.

And surely Dhoni needs to be coming before Yuvraj Singh. He takes a lot more time to settle down than any other player and it would in India's best interests if he can get some balls to play off quietly, for, after that, he can be very explosive. He should be coming in at No.4 with Dravid at 3 and Yuvraj at 5. Some food for thought there for the think-tank.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Bizarre moments

Something very strange and uncharacteristic happens every now and then in cricket that makes us sit up and take notice. One such incident happened during the first one-dayer in the India-England series that is in progress right now.

Sachin Tendulkar was batting and I don't remember who was bowling but the bizarre part happened when the ball neatly hit his stumps yet the bails remained rooted to their spot. They did not budge an inch!

And since the cricketing rules say that the bails need to be dislodged for a batsman to be declared out, Sachin was not out. Damn lucky and damn bizarre!

Here's the video. You can clearly see the ball hitting the batsman's stumps. Thanks to Amit for having uploaded the video.

And while you are at it here is another video I managed to rummage from Youtube showing various previous instances where the bails fail to come off inspite of the ball actually hitting the wickets (look from the 30 seconds position to 1 minute 30 seconds of the video). On one occasion the bails even jump up in the air but manage to settle back onto the stumps. The batsman was declared not-out. But you can clearly hear the commentator asking 'Isn't that out?' since the bails were actually dislodged before they settled back.

Truly bizarre. There is just so much that can happen in cricket. It is a beautifully complicated game.


Couldn't agree more with Javed Miandad

Javed Miandad was a great player in his times. He can also talk some crazy stuff at times, but this time I think his observations on the 'ICL - National Cricket boards' rift are spot on when he says:
"I don't think this policy of banning players is going to work practically. Since the ICL is not something which the governments have objected to, I think any player can go to court and challenge any ban on him to play in and for his country.

The International Cricket Council and its member boards need to take the ICL seriously. Because it has the potential like the Kerry Packer series to snowball into something big.

Every player has to look to his future and security. In Pakistan there is no financial security for your retirement days."

The ICL does pay big money which the cricket boards cannot match and so it is only logical that most players will consider themselves fortunate to be even approached by the league.

Inzamam-ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Abdur Razzaq and Imran Farhat are players who have already given the nod to the ICL and more are sure to follow. Banning all of them would not be too practical, would it?

So, it should only be a matter of time before the boards should start considering shedding their confrontational attitude towards the ICL.

I am sure the boards realize it too. They are defeated. Only a matter of how long their ego will hold up now.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just one of those days, hopefully

Everybody was pretty sure England would be no good in the one-day series and that India would run away with the trophy by a fat margin. While praise was being showered everywhere about the Indian team effort in the test series and the intense desire to win that India displayed these traits seemed to have gone on a sudden holiday in the first one-dayer of the series of seven.

Rahul Dravid's decision to bowl first against England will be subjected to much discussion and debate just like what happened when he decided not to impose the follow-on in the Oval Test. The wisdom of hindsight tells us there was absolutely no swing or any kind of assistance available to the bowlers from the pitch and hence the debate. However, the fact remains that England were just too good for India and India just too bad to merit a victory.

Really, the only two batsmen who look capable of delivering very consistently are Dravid and Kaarthick. Though every other batsman in the Indian team too is worth his weight in gold, the haunting unpredictability is still a worrying factor.

That said, the English batting was simply superb. Cook and especially Ian Bell scripted truly beautiful innings. Totally, as Collingwood later said England played a 'perfect kind of game'. But then it is very rare that a day is 'perfect' in cricket. And so, I hope India can bounce back in this series in the second game. Atleast that will provide temporary relief if not for the more permanent alternative namely consistency.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The one-day series is here. Match on!

India tasted sweet victory in the test series which means that England will be looking for blood in the one-dayers. Meanwhile India have a lot to prove on the one-day front after that humiliating exit from the World-Cup. Freddie Flintoff, the all-powerful all rounder, is back into the England team and Yuvraj Singh, having proven his destructive abilities with the bat in past games, is back for India. All in all, one thing is clear. Both teams are desperate for victory and that, to me, seems like the perfect setting for a fiercely fought series of seven one-day games.

But surprisingly there are many out there who think England's chances are much too bleak. Infact I was shocked to read this article that says:
"India will expect to win the series by match five and perhaps as early as match four. Anything closer than a scoreline of 2-5 could be considered progress for the home side.

England remain moderate in limited-overs, and equally both their philosophy and strategy remain mysteries to many observers. It is a long way to the 2011 World Cup, and England will need every match and every minute. India, similarly hopeless in the recent World Cup, are no great shakes either, but an ageing team contains enough flair and nous to win comfortably."

I never realized England are so bad in limited overs cricket! Any team with names such as Flintoff, Pietersen and Vaughan can' t be that bad. As the article itself points out, India were no good at the World Cup. And if the Indian cricketers can shrug that debacle away and claim the series then why can't England do that too?

Remember, this is cricket. Every game is anybody's game till the last ball is bowled. So lets tune in to the action and find out what happens.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Indian Cricket League moves into overdrive

While the people at the BCCI continue to vigorously try and thwart the progress of the Indian Cricket League, the ICL chiefs themselves seem to be pretty busy going about gathering new recruits into their constantly increasing fold.

Hitherto, the recruits had mainly been retired players from around the world which made Sharad Pawar point out the 'futility' of the exercise because according to him people would not want to watch old players battling on a cricket field and would rather prefer watching some fresh blood doing the job. Well, Sharad Pawar better think up some other excuse to term the ICL as futile because the ICL has now shifted gears and seems to be going on an expansive recruitment drive covering not just young domestic cricket players in India but also players from Sri Lanka and Pakistan as well. As expected, this has caused quite a flutter among the respective cricket boards.

While the BCCI had already served a ban from playing any Ranji or International cricket matches on any player who chose to team up with the ICL, the Pakistan and Sri Lankan boards too have done the same with their players. Infact I am mildly surprised that so many from the Ranji arena have shown interest in the Indian Cricket League inspite of the ban. Clearly, that points to two things: there is big money on the cards and the pull of the Twenty20 format and just the thrill of being involved in something radically different is too much to resist.

To say more about the enforced ban, it doesn't seem very practical to me in the long term. Say, someone like Ambati Rayudu, who became the first Ranji player to sign up for the Indian Cricket League, blossoms impressively in the ICL games. Now, given that these games will involve high profile and high quality players a good performance will undoubtedly point towards some talent in Rayudu. In that case, can the selectors still resist selecting such a promising player into the International squad? After all the ultimate goal for the Indian team is victory, ban or not.

Infact, according to Subhash Chandra, the man behind the League, the main purpose of the ICL itself is to serve as a 'laboratory for innovation' wherein players can be tried and tested before throwing them into the international scene. So, will the BCCI ever start seeing the League as a laboratory rather than as mere competition? Only time should tell.

In any case, it will be very exciting to find out what the Indian Cricket League could offer to Indian Cricket. Go ICL!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Matt Prior's lesson

Matthew James Prior came into the India-England series as a shining prospect for England. What with him being the first English wicketkeeper to have scored a test century on debut and all that. Before Prior, England were desperate to find a proper wicketkeeper-batsman, a role which both Paul Nixon and Chris Read couldn't perform to the selectors' satisfaction. After the West Indies tour, where Prior prospered, England had found their answer.

And now, after a month of playing India, Prior is left looking like the dumbest of wicketkeepers. His batting in which the selectors placed so much faith was horrible throughout the series. Scores of 1, 42, 11, 7, 0, 12 is hardly what you expect from a wicketkeeper-batsman.

But his biggest sins were obviously those innumerable catches he managed to drop throughout the series. Dropping players like Tendulkar and Laxman can be very painful for the opposition. I doubt if he would have been able to make up for those dropped catches even if he had gotten a century with the bat.

Prior's story is one which would normally deserve some sympathy. Still young in international cricket, he could be easily pitied citing cliches such as 'burden of expectations on young shoulders' or 'he has time on his side and will improve with experience' and so on.

But then he has lost any claim to sympathy too, given his antics on the field. If he chooses not to realize that he is still a youngling when he resorts to hassling the batsmen from behind the stumps and if he chooses to put his own incompetence in the background while picking on the opposition players then the same excuses of being young and inexperienced cannot be brought up in his defence.

That lesson of giving respect in order to deserve any and of concentrating on one's own job rather than that of others might be the biggest lessons that Prior could take from this test series.

Something he could learn from Dhoni maybe. Dhoni was not exactly spectacular behind the stumps, but in contrast to Prior, he was atleast sensible enough to remain quiet there.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A forgettable match but a very memorable and famous series win

Victory! Sweet Victory! This is medicine for an Indian cricket fan after the totally disastrous and painful campaign at the World Cup(yeah, its difficult to put that out of your mind). The English will be cross that India have fouled their near perfect Test record at home by winning this series 1-0. A record that they have proudly held close to their hearts for a long time has been stealthily snatched away. But surely India deserved the series victory. This is what Rahul Dravid & co. set out to achieve and three cheers to the team for having completed the mission successfully!

Naturally, there will be talk of India having escaped defeat in the first match of the series at Lord's courtesy the rains which helped India procure this series win. And that is why I badly wanted India to win the third match so that the question of such talk could never come up.

But then Pietersen batted beautifully. So did Ian Bell. Infact England were so much better in the second innings that Dravid's decision to give them a target of 500 was almost justified. Some dropped catches helped too.

Still, it is disappointing that India could not secure a victory. I mean, when you have a first innings lead of 320 runs with almost two full days to go in the match anyone would expect victory, follow-on or not, late declaration or not.

The drawn match, however, should not be stopping us Indian fans from celebrating this historic series win. One that will be remembered for a long time and one that will take India that much further towards shedding that rather embarrassing tag of 'poor travellers'.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Sharad Pawar's claim

The Indian Cricket League is an "out and out commercial venture" says Pawar in a letter to Digvijay Singh, a member of the Congress party, who had earlier written to Pawar seeking to goad him into dropping the arms he has taken up against the ICL.

But with all due respect Mr.Pawar, just how, may we ask, non-commercial is the BCCI? You would only be fooling yourselves by proclaiming the BCCI to be a non-profit organization. We all know you are in it for the money. Could you please cut the nonsense and tell us the truth? Anyway, we already know it. Here it is.

The BCCI is disapproving of the ICL not because it is a commercial venture and surely not because it is only Twenty20 cricket they are promoting as Pawar wants us to believe. They see the ICL as a parallel organization that could prove a threat to BCCI's monopoly over the game. Simple.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Abdur Razzaq is unhappy...and why not?

Abdur Razzaq is easily one of the names in my list of favourite one-day international cricketers of all time and it is sad that he will not feature in the Twenty20 World Cup. He has so many times won matches for Pakistan coming in to bat in impossible situations and watching him smother the ball in Twenty20 cricket can only be a treat.

Now, the reason behind Razzaq's exclusion seems beyond logic to me and it does not help that the Pakistan selectors too have chosen not to divulge their reasons, if at all they do have any. Razzaq is, as expected, angry:

"If this is the way I am going to be treated after serving the country honestly and diligently, I should be the one now to decide when to make myself available for national selection. I don't know what the logic was. I am a senior player and deserve a phone call. When I was injured no one in the board bothered to call me up and find out how I was doing."
I think it would be correct to say that Razzaq has in no way over-reacted and his disappointment and anger is justified. The selectors and the PCB are caught on the wrong foot and I can only hope that they patch things up with the explosive batsman.

If things fail to calm down, Pakistan's loss might become the Indian Cricket Leagues's gain as Razzaq is apparently one of the players approached by the ICL and he is reportedly giving the offer some serious thought.

We'll have to wait and watch how this drama unfolds.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Anil Kumble steals the show!

As the 2nd day of the 3rd test drew to a close there would not have been one Indian player disappointed with his performance during the match. Infact, the day was such that it seemed like the Gods had decided that any Indian who decided to walk on the Oval ground would suddenly turn into a near faultless man. The English players must be very staunch Christians as they generously helped God's cause by doing their bit on the field by spilling catches, missing stumping chances, conceding an astonishingly high number of byes and generally being poor fielders.

The poor fielding only served to further frustrate the already hassled English bowlers on an unresponsive pitch against in-form batsmen. And all the Indian batsmen cashed in. Kaarthick did well yesterday. Laxman was pure finesse in human form and played some absolutely delectable shots before nicking Tremlett to Prior who shocked everyone by holding on to the offering. Tendulkar too got runs, though at a very slow rate compared to the others. And then there was Dhoni who came in, looked jittery in the beginning, tried to play some orthodox cricket before deciding enough was enough and lashing out murderously at Panesar & co. 92 runs was his contribution to the Indian total in lightning quick time.

But all those who thought Dhoni would be the top scorer for the Indians and there was another record that would be set with no century involved in a high scoring innings, were proved wrong. For, the star of the day, Anil Kumble, walked in inconspicuously and conquered the English bowling with some superbly crafted shots endlessly coming one after the other from his willow and effectively stunned the Oval crowd with his century making effort. Almost a flawless innings enhanced in stature by the unexpectedness. And when the fine, lion-hearted man with an eternally child-like enthusiasm for the game celebrated his century everybody who was a witness couldn't help joining him in earnest joy. What a moment!

Thanks to that effort the Indian total is now at 664. I was hoping for atleast 550 and this total goes beyond all expectations.

With Zaheer Khan removing Strauss early when the English 1st innings began, it is obviously advantage India. But a wary eye is still necessary. England do have some hard hitting quality batsmen and once the ball gets older, the going will get tough for India.

The 3rd day is bound to be a hard day for the bowlers and it will be interesting to find out how they respond. Will Kumble strike gold again?


Friday, August 10, 2007

Making the bowlers sweat

I must say Rahul Dravid won a great toss at The Oval just like he did at Trent Bridge. And now, just like the Indian bowlers responded impressively in the previous match it is upto the batsmen to come up with the goods and make an imposing first innings score. So far so good. You can't complain too much against the batsmen when the score reads 316/4 at the end of first day's play. But while its is nice to see all the batsmen batting with comfort, the lack of really outstanding individual performances is still a worrying factor.

It happened at Trent Bridge too where India scored 481 without a century. But that was in difficult conditions where 481 was huge. Here a first innings score atleast 550 is necessary to be able to exert any pressure on the English batting (the English line up of Strauss, Cook, Vaughan, Pietersen, Collingwood, Bell and Prior seem formidable enough to me on this pitch). And that means either of Sachin, Laxman or Dhoni need to stay put at the crease and get a big one.

Meanwhile, Kaarthick continues to inspire awe and hope in equal measures. The world seems to have forgotten his original profession as a specialist wicket-keeper and his flowing transformation into the opener India were looking for is baffling and at the same time a tribute to his dedication and unquestionable talent. He seems bent on fulfilling Greg Chappel's prophecy stating him to be a captain of the Indian side in the making. Good for him and for the Indian side. Whatever Javed Miandad might opine and however well Gautam Gambhir might perform in the tour games, this opening pair of Jaffer-Kaarthick should be kept intact.

And as Kaarthick's dream run continues, poor umpiring decisions continue to haunt Ganguly.
From cricinfo commentary:
79.5 Collingwood to Ganguly, OUT, well, the part-time bowler has made the breakthrough. The ball again nips back at Ganguly who is taken on the pad and a loud appeal is upheld by Ian Howell...but, oh dear, the replays show a big inside edge and Ganguly is unlucky. Collingwood gets his second scalp of the series, and both have owed plenty to the umpires.
That umpiring blunder not only cost India a wicket but probably a few runs too as Ganguly and Tendulkar were building up a nice partnership at the time. It is a shame that such incidents should occur that take the spotlight away from the action on the field. Maybe it is time the ICC started making some changes. Like tennis, we could have the batsmen appealing against umpiring decisions with a maximum quota of appeals per team in a match. Because, Ganguly was, I am sure, pretty aware of the edge and in such cases where the batsman has seen more than the umpire an appeal system could greatly help.