Monthly Archives: May 2007

Even better Day 2

India tightened the grip on the match on day 2. Dravid, Tendulkar and Karthik completed their hundreds, making it the first instance in test cricket where the top four batsman have compiled a ton. Dhoni made a cameo scoring a quick fire 50 before India declared at 610 for three.

Zaheer struck with the very first ball of the innings dismissing Javed Omar for a golden duck. Habibul Bashar fell in the next over to RP Singh and as I was messaging the score to Mohan, two more wickets(Shahriar Nafees and Mohammad Ashraful) fell! The wickets were falling faster than I could type…and I type fast !!

Zaheer took two wickets of consecutive balls and the  “hatrick” ball was dispatched to the boundary. The next ball – a dropped catch. Talk about excitement and drama!

Shakib Al Hasan and Rajin Saleh tried to rebuild, but Dravid brought on Kumble and like the two bowlers before him, took a wicket in his very first over. At the end of the day, half the Bangladesh team were back in the pavilion and the score read 58 for five. Not a good day if you are Bangladesh supporter. For an Indian supporter you couldn’t have asked for more.

On day 3, India’s plan would be to get them all out by lunch and enforcing the follow on. With Kumble fully fit, it is unlikely the tail will wag as much as it did in the last test match.

-Mahesh-

Good Day 1

It almost seems like a repeat of the previous test with India on top at the end of Day 1. The top order shone and the Rain God stayed away. He probably watched the first session of play from afar and was too bored to pay a visit 🙂

But the most important thing for a batting team on day 1 is to not loose any wickets before lunch. With the threat of new ball gone, they can then accelerate freely, which is what Karthik and Jaffar did. The Karthik-Jaffar partnership seems to be an all or nothing affair. They have so far had 2 partnerships over 150 and 2 partnerships worth nothing! Karthik really led the way after lunch, before Jaffar joined the party, thanks to some innocuous bowling from Bangladesh. The heat and humidity were far more threatening than the bowling and it got rid of both Karthik and Jaffar. Jaffar got a hundred, but Karthik must be ruing his missed opportunity. He still has a chance of coming back tomorrow to finish off what he started.

India eventually finished at 326 without the loss of any wickets and Bashar must be cursing himself for putting India in to bat. Dravid on the other hand must be a happy man, having helped himself to 88* – He was also scoring at a healthy clip of four an over.

Tendulkar replaced Jaffar at the other end and he crawled to 9 of 31 balls. He must have decided to not give away his wicket so late in the evening, so as to come back in the morning and start fresh. Still, I am not a big fan of this slow over-defensive approach – he has to back himself and get out of this defensive mindset or teams like England and Australia will have him for breakfast.

At the end of the day though, India are sitting pretty and the aim must be to declare tomorrow around Tea.

-Mahesh-

India bat first

Given the pitch conditions and the fact that Bangladesh’s bowling line up is not that great, it was surprising to see Bashar win the toss and put India in to bat. Obviously, the Bangladesh camp would have discussed the toss before the decision was made – I just wonder what the rationale was. Did Bashar think Mortaza and co could run through the Indian batting line up? Or did Bangladesh think the Indian bowling attack was too strong to face on a day 1 pitch?? Or did he not have enough faith in his own batsmen??? Whatever the reason, it was a good one from India’s point of view 🙂

At the time of writing this post, India have seen off the new ball without loosing a wicket and are 50/0 of 18 overs. Mortaza has bowled 7 overs and given away 6 runs – it is quite obvious that the Indians consider him to be their best bowler and the strategy would have been to play him cautiously.

It is a no brainer that India would like to bat just once in this match and I expect the batsman to pick up pace after the lunch break and end up with a score well over 300 at the end of the day.  

-Mahesh-

Team India XII for the second Test

India has announced its XII for the second Test against Bangladesh.

India’s XII for the Test is:

Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Rajesh Pawar, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Ishant Sharma, Ramesh Powar

No Yuvraj Singh. No VVS Laxman and no VRV Singh! Clearly, one of Inshant Sharma or Rajesh Pawar will get a game here (unless someone gets injured match-day)!

It is likely that Rajesh Pawar will sit this one out.

— Mohan

Retrospective for the 1st test

In Software Engineering, at the end of a project (or an iteration),  the team gets together to discuss/review the project and to reflect on what worked, what didn’t; what the team learnt and what the team is still trying to learn. The review process is called Retrospective and it is something the Indian team would benefit from if they ran one at the end of every test and series.

Here is my version of the Retrospective for the first test –

What worked?

  • Karthik as an opener
  • The batting of Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly (although they gave their wickets away at the wrong time)

What didn’t work?

  • Timing of the series! Bad conditions, bad weather, bad pitch.
  • The Indian fast bowling attack lacked penetration, particularly in the second innings. Zaheer was very ordinary in both innings and he is supposed to be the most experienced fast bowler in the match.
  • Ability to dismiss the tail (If India had forced Bangladesh to follow-on, the results could well have been different)
  • Dravid’s rotation of his bowlers (For instance, I couldn’t figure out why Sachin was brought on so late in the first innings, or why the opening bowlers were persisted with for so long in the second innings)
  • Jaffar! Zeros in both innings? Not good. Not good at all. He is also the only specialist opener in the team.

 What did the team learn?

  • How important Kumble is to this team in sub-continent pitches! But we didn’t need this match to tell us that.

What are we still trying to learn?

  • Is the 5+1+5 batsmen-wk-bowler combination the right one? We ended up playing a 4+2+5 combination, which sounds a bit ridiculous. And, with Kumble sick, we still bowled with just 4 bowlers. Not sure whether we’ve worked this one out yet.
  • We still haven’t figured out what the right make up of the batting. Do we keep Laxman and Yuvraj out of the team?  Surely, you can’t drop Rahul, Sachin and Saurav – they all batted well, plus Dravid is the captain. Dropping anyone from the middle order is basically out of question. Karthik cannot be dropped after his good performance and Jaffar is the only specialist opener. Again, not sure what the right solution is.

I am sure there are a lot more. Please feel free to add them in the comments section.

-Mahesh-

Strategy…(part 2)

The facts –

  • India currently lead by 193 runs.
  • Weather permitting, we may get 55 more overs today, according to CricInfo.
  • Kumble is unlikely to bowl today, but we still have 4 bowlers + Tendulkar.
  • Bangladesh batted 68 overs in their first innings, but were 8 wickets down  in the 48th over at one stage.
  • Batting on the 5th day pitch will not be as easy.

Taking all this into consideration, when should India declare? I reckon India should play just 8 overs. We should get the lead to around 230-240 and then declare. It would give us 45 overs to get them out.

If the match doesn’t start till 2:30pm – we should just declare at the overnight score. (Bangladesh requiring 194 in around 47 overs? – Game on!)

The result of the game is still very likely to be a draw, but it is worth trying…

Your thoughts?

-Mahesh- 

An Opportunity missed!

After having brought Bangladesh down to 149 for 8, India seems to squandered a wonderful opportunity to win this test despite the loss of almost 2 days of play so far. The lack of adequate penetration in bowling (and with the absence of Kumble from the attack), does not give us much hope for a win tomorrow. I will be happy to be proven wrong! The bits and pieces of the day’s play that I witnessed, the bowling was woefully mediocre.  Once again, Tendulkar seems to have been the only one who impressed the most in his short spell after the follow on was avoided. The bowling department, as I have said earlier, requires some serious fixing before the England tour.

Hopefully, Kumble is back tomorrow, and by scoring some quick runs, he is provided with an opportunity to bowl Bangladesh out. A possibility or wishful thinking?

– Srikanth

India declare

As Mohan suggested earlier,  India should have declared at the overnight score of 384.  It makes more sense considering the fact that we lost another day to rain. Instead, they decided to bat on…and after two quick wickets and the addition of 3 runs, declared at 387 for 8!

Not a great move, I guess. They’ve handed the psychological advantage back to Bangladesh.

-Mahesh-

Whatmore is ready, What more do you want?

Dav Whatmore is quite keen to coach the Indian team and the BCCI is quite keen to hire him too. According to reports, the seven-member committee is to meet on June 4 and the new coach to be named four to five days later.

There are few things working in Whatmore’s favour –

  • His success as a coach with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has been quite good.(Compare this to Greg Chappell, who never had any international experience before he took up the Indian gig. During his tenure as coach for South Australia, there wasn’t any significant change in results for the team)
  • He is seen more of a moderate (in the John Wright mould) and could fit well in the Indian system, where stars are big and egos bigger. Whatmore says he is quite comfortable handling the stars. This is the area where Greg Chappell had the most problems and Whatmore’s man management skills could come in handy
  • As Whatmore has spent a substantial time of his international coaching career in the sub-continent, he probably understands the psyche of the players, the passion of the fans, the hype of the media and the pressure that goes with it all much better than other international coaches
  • His name is the only one doing the rounds!

Dav Whatmore never made it big as a player and in a country like India where star status (Greg had plenty of it, no doubt) is sometimes more important than ability, this could be a problem. With the success of people like Buchanan as coach, this thinking is actually changing and Whatmore’s prior success in the job should also hold him in good stead.

Does Whatmore have all the attributes for a good coach? For India’s sake, I sure hope so…

(One of the things that has been discussed in this blog is that people who never made it big as a player sometimes make better coaches than people who had the natural ability and skill in their chosen sport. The main argument was that people with natural ability didn’t have to try anything different. They never had any shortcomings to overcome or techniques to correct, whereas the others had to learn things the hard way and this helps them when they become coach. Going by this theory and Whatmore’s previous successes, it certainly seems to be the case)

-Mahesh-

Hitting across the line!

Three Indian batsmen got out hitting across the line. I am reminded of the old adage that Neville Cardus used to write about “No square cuts before lunch!” That was the advice given to young Yorkshire batsmen who aspired to get into the Yorkshire team, let alone the England team! Of course times have changed a lot and batsmen have completely changed the way test cricket is played. Still patience is needed at times by batsmen and discretion is an important attribute that gets ignored. A bowling team like Bangladesh gives you many more lose balls than say Australia or South Africa. So if a batsmen is more discrete he gets more opportunities to score boundaries. Dravid, a stonewaller by repuation, scored 11 boundaries in his knock.

Coming to my point, the first to hit across the line was Dinesh Karthik. The score was 124 and the match is just 31 overs old. The ball is pitched outside the off stump and Karthik goes for an ambitious pull and gets out caught at mid off. Surely did the situation warrant such a shot? Yet Karthik “is an honourable man!” Next the Prince of Kolkata. Just completed a hundred with an abysmal flinch off a short ball. Immediately goes for the shot that had actually come off a few times in that knock and gets caught at mid off. Yet Ganguly “is an honourable man!” Finally the great man goes the same way hitting completely across a wide short pitched delivery to get caught at cover! Of all places! Yet Sachin “is an honourable man and so are they all honourable men!”

Accelerating is necessary but it has to be done with some amount of discretion. There were times when GR Visvanath could pound the third man fence with two gullies, a point and a third man. Today batsmen prefer the vacant onside as a better option. But are they quick onto the shot? Do they have enough power to belt it across? Is the ball close to the stumps to warrant such shots? Or is it ok if you’ve scored a fifty or hundred and can afford to take that chance! While Ganguly and Tendulkar atleast had done a big job in consolidating the innings Karthik should be just that little bit more patient. Even Ganguly and Tendulkar play the cut shot so well that they are better off backing themselves against such wide balls outside the off stump. Just a thought!

– Sanjay