Monthly Archives: April 2007

News in brief: Sunday 22 April 2007

Today marked an end of a great cricketing era. Brian Lara bid an emotional farewell to International cricket. However, he may still continue to play first class cricket. Which means Subhash Chandra and his cronies might woo him to play in the Zee cricket league. Should be interesting to see how things unfold.

A battle of equals took place in Barbados where England won by a whisker against the West Indies.

Back in India, Sunil Gavaskar continued his Aussie bashing by firing yet another salvo at Greg Chappell. Here we go again (sigh!)

Tamil Nadu beat a more fancied Punjab to clinch the first domestic Twenty20 competition.

Despite Sachin Tendulkar’s poor run of form, Ponting claims that he is the most technically correct player! Now why is Ponting being so kind?

Jacques Kallis has warned that Australia’s unbeaten record in the World Cup will count for nothing when the sides meet in the semi-final. Sure Mr. Kallis, we believe you.

Dilip Vengsarkar confirmed that Tendulkar and Ganguly were indeed rested and not dropped for the Bangladesh ODIs.

Clive Lloyd resigns as Match refree

– Vish

What’s happening to Tendulkar?

Sachin Tendulkar, the toast of the nation just a few seasons ago finds himself in an unfamiliar role of facing up to the wrath of his fans. He is now ridiculed by his once staunch supporters. The press has added their own spin on it and the cricket pundits yet another. Meanwhile, the coach questioned his attitude and finally, the BCCI have ‘rested’ him for the Bangladesh ODIs. These events would have hurt him badly.

We all know about the fickle nature of the fans and the press. Perhaps no one knows more about it than Tendulkar himself after 17 years of International cricket. I am sure he realises that the fans by their standard, have given him the longest rope of all.

In recent times we have been led to believe that Tendulkar has donned a new role for the ‘benefit’ of the team. I cannot imagine a more nonsensical reason. Does he and the think-tank mean to say that for nearly 15 years he has been the premier batsman and match winner, but they no longer want him in that role; but instead require a plodder? This seems to be a classic case of denial both by the team management and more importantly himself.

It is common knowledge that Tendulkar over the last 3 years has been gradually loosing is touch. The problem has been both physical and mental. Physically he is that much older and as a result, that much slower. His reflex degeneration has been rapid compared to others such as Lara and Jayasuriya. But that alone cannot be the reason for his failures. There are technical flaws. Too many times we see him get bowled; and too many times we see mediocre spinners get him out.

Bob Simpson thinks that Tendulkar is not watching the ball out of the bowler’s hand thereby depriving him of a few milli-seconds to get into position. While we are not totally sure what Tendulkar’s flaws are he nevertheless had the time, resources and above all the experience to iron out the kinks. If he has attempted to correct it but failed trying, then it is time to quit the game as suggested by Ian Chappell. But if has’nt tried hard enough, his attitude needs questioning.

The way he got out against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the world cup suggests that the flaws are very much there and unless he takes some immediate steps to address them, I cannot see him play beyond the England tour.

Tendulkar once feared and admired by his opponents is merely acknowledged these days mainly for his past deeds. The truth is no team looses sleep over him.

As a huge admirer of Tendulkar, I hope there is another twist to his tale and he turns things around. I would love to see him bow out on a high note; and more importantly on his own terms.

News in brief: Saturday 21 April 2007

-Mahesh-

Team for Bangladesh announced

Dilip Vengsarkar and his cohorts have announced the team for the Bangladesh tour. The team carries a few surprises, but I wouldn’t say I am entirely happy with the teams.

ODI team

  1. Gautam Gambhir
  2. Robin Uthappa
  3. Virender Sehwag
  4. Rahul Dravid (capt)
  5. Yuvraj Singh
  6. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk)
  7. Manoj Tiwary/Dinesh Mongia/Dinesh Karthik
  8. Piyush Chawla
  9. Sreesanth/RP Singh
  10. Munaf Patel
  11. Zaheer Khan

The things I don’t like about this team are –

  • Inclusion of Chawla in the the ODI team rather than the test team. If you wanted to include a spinner, Powar would have been a better choice.
  • I think an allrounder like Joginder Sharma would have been a better choice than RP Singh.

Test team

  1. Wasim Jaffer
  2. Dinesh Karthik
  3. Rahul Dravid (capt)
  4. VVS Laxman
  5. Sachin Tendulkar
  6. Sourav Ganguly
  7. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk)/Yuvraj Singh
  8. Anil Kumble.
  9. Sreesanth/VRV Singh
  10. Zaheer Khan
  11. Ramesh Powar/Rajesh Pawar/Munaf Patel

Things I don’t like about this team –

  • They have taken only one regular opener. Does this mean that Karthik is going to open the innings with Jaffer? Very likely. So, does Dhoni play in the team? Not sure. If Dhoni does play, then either Yuvraj or Ganguly will have to sit out. Unless Yuvraj puts his hands up to open the innings.
  • Why is Rajesh Pawar in the team? The only reason I can think of is to help them practice in the nets (Bangladesh have a whole heap of left arm orthodox bowlers). I don’t see him playing ahead of Ramesh Powar. Or is he?
  • What does Bose need to do to get into the team? VRV Singh hasn’t done anything of significance.

So, Is there anything I like about the teams? The answer is yes. Firstly, the selectors had the chutzpah to drop (the official word is “rest”) Sachin from the ODI squad. Although, I do not really agree with the move, the message it sends to everyone is quite strong – no matter how big you are, we may still drop you. The second thing I like is that they have not made knee jerk wholesale changes. I don’t think we could have afforded that…

-Mahesh-

Team India for Bangladesh…

The teams for the ODIs and Tests against Banglaesh has been announced by the selectors today.

ODI squad: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Manoj Tiwary, Dinesh Mongia, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh.

Test squad: Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid (capt), VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, VRV Singh, Ramesh Powar, Rajesh Pawar, Munaf Patel.

There are a few eye-raisers and a few good moves, in my view.

Good moves:


  • Bringing Dinesh Mongia and Manoj Tiwary in for the ODIs.
  • Dropping Virender Sehwag from the Test team.
  • Dropping Harbhajan Singh and Ajit Agrakar from both Tests and ODIs.
  • Dropping Irfan Pathan from both forms of the games.
  • Three spinners in the Test Squad

The eye-raisers:


  • The biggest eye-raiser is the dropping of Tendulkar from the ODIs. They have ‘spun’ it as “resting”, but I don’t, for one, believe it. He is playing with fire in the Twenty20 tournament and this dropping sends a silly message, especially when Virender Sehwag has been taken.
  • Retaining Ganguly for the Test squad rather than the ODIs.
  • Not including Ramesh Powar in the ODI squad ahead of Piyush Chawla in the ODIs.
  • No specialist opener for the Tests apart from Wasim Jaffer. This is a retrograde move. They are using Dinesh Karthik as opener. Although he opened in South Africa, this is not a great move. I have a feeling that Gautam Gambhir’s name was wrongly included in the ODIs instead of the Test team!

Overall this is an averrage effort.

— Mohan

Indian spin reserves

Vish and I were talking about India’s spin reserves today and discussing whether we haven anyone apart from Kumble and Bhajji who can make a claim for a spot in the national team. Here are some of the names discussed –

Leggies

  • Piyush Chawla, UP (Has already played for India)
  • Amit Mishra, Haryana (Has already played for India)

Left arm

  • Pragyan Ojha, Hyderabad
  • Rajesh Pawar, Baroda
  • Appanna, Karnataka (18 years old, just one season)

Right arm Off break

  • Ramesh Powar, Mumbai (Has already played for India)
  • R. Ashwin, TN (just one season)

There are also others like Mumbai’s Iqbal Abdulla (who has been talked about in the media but hasn’t played a single first class game yet) and YK Pathan (who bowls right-arm off break and bats reasonably). Obviously some of them aren’t ready to stake a claim in the national team yet, but surely the spin cupboard is not completely barren. BCCI and the selectors obviously have a much more comprehensive list. They just needs to pick and run with it – they need to ensure that they are sufficiently trained so we have at least one  or two spinners of class for the future….

-Mahesh-

Team to be announced today

Indian cricket fans are waiting curiously to find out what team the selectors are going to come up with today. There are several reasons why the team selection for a tour of a lowly ranked test nation like Bangladesh takes importance –

  • When the WC team was announced, most people knew what was coming. The team was going to be utmost a slight variation of the team that played WI and SL. Apart from Dravid, no one else’s place is certain in the team now.
  • Bangladesh under Whatmore are a much improved side than their world ranking suggests. The tigers have now defeated most of the top teams (South Africa and Australia included) in ODIs at least once and would like to carry their form into the test arena. An already wounded India wouldn’t want to take this team lightly by sending a second-tier team.
  • After the Worldcup debacle and the numerous rumours, debates, opinions and discussions that followed, no one knows for sure what the selectors are going to do. Whether the “seniors” are going to be replaced by “juniors” is a question only the selectors can answer. Everyone else (including people with their highly reliable “unnamed source”) are just waiting to find out.

In keeping with Mohan’s two team concept, I am going to name my own two teams (although one for tests and one for ODIs). Let me start with the test team first, which is fairly easy to do –

Test team

The test team has actually been fairly successful of late and their ODI failures tend to mask this fact. In my opinion, this team shouldn’t be messed around with much. Here is my team

  1. W. Jaffar
  2. Dinesh Karthik (wk)
  3. Rahul Dravid (c)
  4. VVS Laxman (vc)
  5. Yuvraj Singh
  6. Tendulkar
  7. Ganguly/Tiwary
  8. Zaheer Khan
  9. Munaf Patel
  10. Kumble/P Chawla
  11. Harbajan Singh/R.Bose

You may notice that Dhoni and Sehwag have been dropped altogether while Tendulkar has been dropped down the order. The main reason is that we still need an opener and that is why Karthik comes in to the team in place of both Sehwag and Dhoni. It will also allow us to play Yuvraj. Top players (including Lara, Richards and Inzi) have dropped down the order towards the end of the career and I think Tendulkar should do the same.

New entrants into the team are Bose, Chawla and Tiwary (more as backup cover than anything else). Sreesanth is apparently injured and will not be part of the tour. Depending on the pitch, it would be toss up between H. Singh and Bose.

I also think that Chawla should be picked for every tour so that we can groom him as a replacement for Kumble.

ODI team

The selectors have been given a directive to select a young team, and this is where I would make some “radical” changes. Here is my team in batting order

  1. MS Dhoni (wk)
  2. Tendulkar
  3. Uthappa
  4. Yuvraj Singh (vc)
  5. Dravid (c)
  6. Dinesh Karthik/(either Dinesh Mongia or Kaif)
  7. Tiwary/Rohit Sharma
  8. Joginder Sharma
  9. Zaheer Khan
  10. R. Powar
  11. Munaf Patel/R. Bose

(Raina is still injured and doesn’t find a place in the team)

Our experiments with Tendulkar batting in the middle have failed, so I would again move him up the order and get Dravid batting lower down. I have reserved 2 slots in the team for new comers and the team has a good balance of young and the experienced without overdoing either.

I don’t think we need to speculate too much as the “real” team will be announced in a few hours, but I would like to know what you think…

-Mahesh-