Monthly Archives: February 2007

My Great Indian Moments at the World Cups

I am sure every one of us have had our moments-to-cherish in each of the different World Cups. My own World Cup connection began in right earnest during the 1983 World Cup campaign. Just in time for the commencement of the World Cup, a television appeared in our living room! This was a first for our household! It was a big moment for all of us at home — certainly for me, since I could stop being a pest with the neighbors; I no longer needed to ask them for permission to watch games and programs on their television and in their living room!

The World Cup final was when I had my first of many encounters with built up nervous energy. I remember pacing up and down and sweating it out like a nervous teenager on his first date, egging India to win. I doubt I will ever forget that moment when Kapil Dev took that brilliant catch — that was almost the defining moment for Indian cricket itself!

This then brings me to the topic! Here are my Indian moments at all the World Cups since 1983 (inclusive).

1983 Prudential World Cup

The final was certainly it. The six by Kris Srikkanth of Joel Garner was a big moment. At home, it felt as though we yelled so hard and loud, we felt we had broken the sound barrier! Until then, it seemed as though Garner was this unpenetrable bowler. Kapil Dev’s catch to dismiss Viv Richards and the final wicket of Michael Holding made up some of the brightest moments for me as far as I can remember. The semi-finals did have its moments too — with Sandeep Patil taking on Bob Willis and Yashpal Sharma making a fine half century. In the lead up game, India beat Zimbabwe after being 17 for 5 at one stage. This was thanks to a terrific 175 from Kapil Dev! Unfortunately, there is no video footage of this match!

1987 World Cup

This world cup should have been India’s but for some bad mistakes by India in the semi-final game. The best moment for me in the tournament was the amazing century partnership between Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth in the game against New Zealand at Nagpur. The sweep shot off Martin Snedden by Kris Srikkanth was etched into memory. Gavaskar rained sixes on the ground and scored his one and only hundred in ODIs — as though to prove a point! This match had John Wright opening for New Zealand. It also had a moment for trivia-buffs — Chetan Sharma took the first every hat-trick in a World Cup!

The first game against Australia in Chennai was quite the finish — there certainly were some deja vu moments for me that night with Maninder Singh being the last man out again against Australia in Chennai (remember the tied test!) with one run to tie… In the semi-final against England, the man with brooms — Graham Gooch — and poor shot selection by Kapil Dev were moments worth erasing from memory.

1992 World Cup

While it is generally believed that this was one campaign worth forgetting for India, I cannot speak much about it since I was in Godforsaken land then and did not have a chance to watch a single game. This World Cup was marred by poor team-selection (for India) and also poor rain-rules (this was pre-Duckworth-Lewis days). However, I do remember that India should have won the games against England and Australia early in the tournament and this may have made a big difference. It is also worth noting that when Tendulkar scored, India won those games.

1996 World Cup

While this saw the emergence of Sachin Tendulkar as the most dominant force in World Cups, the magical moments for me were all in the quarter-final game against Pakistan in Bangalore. This match saw a terrific platform-setup by Navjot Sidhu followed by fantastic knock by Ajay Jadeja that included an amazing six of Waqar Younis. The other big moment was when Venkatesh Prasad took Amir Sohail’s wicket — the Jadeja-six and the Prasad-wicket events are two moments are worth entry into any all-time-World-Cup-memory DVD collection. The tension and excitement in the game against Australia at the Wankhade Stadium could be felt even when we watched it on television..

So, you want to watch the Prasad-Sohail incident? Well, here we go…

1999 World Cup

The Ganguly-Dravid partnership at Taunton in the game against Sri Lanka was a particular highlight of this edition of the World Cup. In particular, it was a joy to see the way Ganguly handled Muthiah Muralitharan. Ganguly made 183 in that game. We also witnessed a superb century by Tendulkar on his return to the World Cup after travelling to India to attend the funeral of his father who passed away during that World Cup These were some of the brighter moments in an otherwise dark World Cup for India.

2003 World Cup

This will be remembered as the World Cup that we should have won, but did not! I still wonder what went wrong! This was the perfect campaign for India till the very end, when we came up against a rampaging Australia in the finals. India’s campaign in this World Cup was very similar to the 1985 Benson-and-Hedges World Championships. India played like a champion team throughout the 2003 World Cup tournament. There were so many special Indian moments, it is hard to pick one.

The demolition of Caddick and his ego by Tendulkar at Kingsmead was a special. So also the Sehwag-Tendulkar show against Shoaib Akthar in India’s game against Pakistan. Mohammed Kaif’s almost forgotten gutsy performance in the same game against Pakistan in the presence of a resurgent Waqar Younis (the cover drive that he played of Waqar Younis to kick off his innings was breathtaking!) was one for the special-DVD too. We also saw some superb piece of swing bowling by the pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra against Sri Lanka and New Zealand were also terrific. Nehra’s magic against England was a joy. Ganguly’s liking for the Kenyan attack was as good as it gets. My particularly special moment was Alec Stewart getting caught plumb in front by a peach of a delivery from Nehra. This itself was worth every penny of the 180-dollars I paid for the tournament telecast.

2007 World Cup

I am sure the 180-or-so-dollars that I will be paying this time around will be worth every penny too. In this context, I think I spoke too soon about ATN and its magnanimity. They are charging a fair bit for the telecast… But I will subscribe. Because of those special moments.

Go India!


Team India Selection: Who will play?

Now that Team India is in the final stages of preparation prior to flying off to the West Indies, it is that time for fans like us to speculate on team-sheets and talk about who will play in the big games.

Unless they sustain an injury or a terribly sudden and inexplicable loss of form, it is safe for us to assume that Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan are dead-certainties in every game that India plays. This list of dead-certs consumes seven positions.

We have to play four more. Given the above list, ideally this would be 2 batsmen and 2 bowlers — with the added condition that at least one of the two batsmen should be able to bowl at least 5 overs and share the 5th bowlers’ quota alongwith Tendulkar, Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh. Ideally, both of the batsmen should be able to bowl at least 5 overs.

The two out-and-out bowler spots could be

    A: [Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh] or
    B: [Sree Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh]
    C: [Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh]
    D: [Munaf Patel and Anil Kumble]
    E: [Sree Sreesanth and Anil Kumble]

My personal preference is for [A] above. Under this option, I’d suggest that the team opens the bowling with Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel. I’d also bowl-out Munaf Patel on the trot and send him inside the pavillion with a feigned injury — Dinesh Karthik can then substitute in the field for Patel! 🙂

The two other spots could be (two bats or bats-who-can-bowl):

    1: [Virender Sehwag and Irfan Pathan] or
    2: [Virender Sehwag and Robin Uthappa]
    3: [Robin Uthappa and Irfan Pathan]
    4: [Dinesh Karthik and Virender Sehwag]
    5: [Dinesh Karthik and Irfan Pathan]
    6: [Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa]

As I have said in a previous post on this blog, “I do not believe that the team should look to have Pathan bowl-out his 10 overs. He is not, in my view, a 10 over bowler in ODIs. He should be treated as a “bit bowler” in the same mould as a Jacques Kallis or a Michael Clarke or an Andrew Symonds or indeed, a Virender Sehwag. That may help clarify his role in the team a bit better. Of course, there will be days when he bowls magnificently to have figures of 10-2-35-3. But then, these should be bonuses rather than the norm.”

Of the 2 batsmen combinations, I think we can eliminate [6] above since it does not satisfy the additional bowling caveat. Of the remaining five combinations, my preference would be to go with [1] above for the warm-up games. In this situation, Sehwag would open the batting with Ganguly. In the event that Sehwag does not hit his straps in these warm-up games, we should go with option [2] or [3].

Clearly, at least in my mind, the unresolved spot-tussle is for India to select 2 from Pathan-Sehwag-Uthappa. My feeling is that in the two warm-up games, all three should play to settle the issue.

I have a feeling that Dinesh Karthik will be a “Water Carrier” in this World Cup unless one of the bats sustains an injury or a terrible loss of form.

So, the team sheet for the warm up games should read (Tendulkar rested):
Uthappa, Ganguly, Sehwag, Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, M.S.Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel.

And it is likely that the team-sheet for the first two games

    March 17, Bangladesh V India — Group B match, and
    March 19, Bermuda v India — Group B match

(both at Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad) could read:

Sehwag, Ganguly, Pathan, Tendulkar, Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, M.S.Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel.

And yes, in this team, I would go with Pathan at #3.

— Mohan

And so they are off…

Team India departs today for the West Indies. Everyone from Shah Rukh Khan to Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister, has jumped in to wish the team.

The endorsement functions are all over. The farewell extravaganzas are all over. It is head-down-bum-up time for the team.

Rahul Dravid sought to downplay the hype about the World Cup being that precious trophy that the senior pros in the side desperately wanted. He instead sought to transfer the pressure onto Australia by terming them as favourites to win the Cup.

Greg Chappell exuded confidence meanwhile, saying that India had the team to win the Cup. He exhorted his senior pros to give off their best indicating that it was now time to deliver the Cup to the many fans in India.

We at i3j3 also send our best wishes to Team India.

— Mohan

Beware of “Old” Teams

Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka’s vice-captain has commented about this 2007 World Cup edition belonging to the veterans of the game: Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Sanath Jayasuriya.

I would go one step further in this regard.

In terms of overall ODI experience, Team India with a combined total of 2203 games among its World Cup fifteen is only 14 games behind the Sri Lanka team total. Australia is in the third place on this metric. I did not bother looking at other teams since I do not believe they would even come close.

On paper, as a result, India and Sri Lanka are seemingly the most experienced sides in the World Cup. The World Cup is a different beast altogether when compared to a low-intensity ODI game. In these games, as countries like South Africa, New Zealand, and England for that matter, have realized, cumulative experience makes a big difference to the overall end-result. While youth and fitness are important factors in determining victory chances, I do believe big-match experience counts significantly when it comes winning the World Cup.

With the added complexity of uncertain pitches in the West Indies, this World Cup will most certainly be a tournament that is played out as much in the minds as it is on the grounds. India and Sri Lanka are most definitely ahead of the pack.

As a result, I would actually add more to the list of names that Sangakkara has referred to. Players such as Anil Kumble (Sanjay Subrahmanyan and Mohan Krishnamoorthy have already discussed his utility at length), Sourav Ganguly, Marvan Attapattu, Muthiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Rahul Dravid and Ajit Agarkar are all going to be key figures.

I am predicting that this going to be World Cup for the experienced.

I am predicting that we are going to witness an India v Sri Lanka final.


Sreesanth on Song

Sreesanth is working on penning and performing a song written by himself in prep for the world cup!

– Srikanth

World Cup Outlook Calendar

CricInfo have the WorldCup fixtures — at this stage, the warm-up games and group games only — as an Outlook .ics file.

Follow this link and upload the schedule into your Outlook.

— Mohan

Vice captain Sachin Tendulkar

We haven’t talked about Sachin Tendulkar’s vice-captaincy role on this blog. In the recent past, a few big-name past players have weighed into this issue. Kapil Dev thought it was an unwise move. Anshuman Gaekwad has weighed into the issue too and has hailed this a good move. Of course, Gaekwad was coach when Tendulkar was India captain.

Kapil Dev said he was opposed to Sachin Tendulkar being offered vice-captaincy. He indicated that the vice-captain should be a ‘grooming’ role for a future step up to captaincy. Given that scenario, he’d have preferred someone younger. Sane thoughts. Wise thoughts. However, he then proceeded to blow sanity away — like only he can — when he said the vice captaincy should have been offered to Sourav Ganguly! Last time I checked, Ganguly was (and still is) 360 days older than Tendulkar! Duh!

Let us remind ourselves that Virender Sehwag was vice-captain in the South African ODI series. Due to his shocking form with bat, he was replaced for the Tests by V. V. S. Laxman. After all, if a players’ place in the team itself is in question, pray why have him as the vice-captain?

The World Cup team has Sachin Tendulkar as vice-captain.

Firstly, as Gaekwad says, Dilip Vengsarkar should be commended for coaxing Tendulkar to take on the vice-captaincy role. This is a move that has Indian cricket’s interests at its core. Tendulkar has always been a loyal, passionate and unshakeable servant of Indian cricket. I do not believe that the vice-captaincy will not do much to either diminish or augment that aspect of his game. He will play as only Tendulkar can. He has always been a fiercely responsible and a thorougly committed player that has the team’s best interests at heart. Again, I do not believe that the vice-captaincy mantle will not do much to either diminish or augment that aspect of his game.

Yet, I think this is a good move because I think it sends a strong signal to the rest of the team. The combination of Dravid, the process-freak-and-workoholic and Tendulkar, the committed-passionate-wizard — both with over 300 games of ODI experience — will send a message to the rest of the team. Where one will drive the players to give off their best by dint of his own work-ethic and discipline the other will exhort to give off their best by dint of his passion, pride and commitment. And when needed, the two will scrum to come up with ways of dealing with tough situations as and when they crop up.

— Mohan

India-Australia ODI Glut…

Tim May has lashed out at the glut of India-Australia games that are being planned over the next year or so. We have pointed out on this blog a few times over the last few weeks that India has an extremely crowded schedule in 2007 through to mid-2008.

What seemed like a brief respite in the schedule in May 2007 has now been filled with a meaningless India-Australia series in Ireland. Ricky Ponting immediately expressed his exasperation at this announcement. The Ireland games are mainly to accommodate India’s TV Rights commitments — India have to play a minimum number of overseas games a year. This was after an attempt to play an India-Australia ODI series in New York — of all places — fell through. According to CricInfo, “Under the conditions of an agreement signed between Zee TV and the Indian Cricket Board, India have to play 25 offshore ODIs over a five-year period.”

Ponting expressed concern over the crazy scheduling of the Ireland series.

Now Tim May has weighed in to the glut-argument. He says, “Australia will play India 21 times in the eight months from June this year. From the perspective of players and spectators, it’s going to dampen your interest. And it detracts from the commercial value of the product. Vision has been lost about what’s important and what is not.”

— Mohan

The Great Indian Huddle (Pepsi Advert)…

One last video for the day — could not resist! This is also an old one called “The Great Indian Huddle”. Nice advert. Cute kid.

— Mohan

Ps: I have no connection with Pepsi. We have merely pasted adverts here that have a cricketing theme.

Ooh Aah India Aayaa India

Seems like today is a video-day for me… This video has been doing the rounds for a while now. I think this video was produced prior to the Champions Trophy — happy to be corrected.

Anyway, it features a whole lot of people including Shah Rukh Khan, John Abraham, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and a support cast of thousands — or so it seems!

— Mohan

Ps: I have no connection with Pepsi. We have merely pasted adverts here that have a cricketing theme.