Monthly Archives: June 2007

Good win for India

When we look at the score card a few months from now, we may not realize how close a game this was. India winning by 6 wickets with 5 balls to spare seems like an easy win. It was anything but.

After some good bowling performances at the beginning of the South African innings, India was able to restrict them to 226. India went into the game with 5 full time bowlers which was kind of baffling. I have never been a big fan of India going with 5 bowlers in test matches. But even if that could be justified to some extent, I just couldn’t understand the rationale behind playing 5 bowlers in a one day match. The funny thing is that apart from Powar, none of the regular full time bowlers completed their quota and it was left to Yuvraj and Tendulkar to complete 10 full overs. 

In India’s innings, Tendulkar let his bat do the talking and the highlight of his innings was the way he handled the short pitched stuff. He sent a strong message to his critics, who seem find  lots to  say even when Sachin scores well. In a post match interview Sachin said  –

It is their job to have opinions. When I hold a cricket bat in my hand it’s a far tougher and bigger job. That is what I will concentrate on.

Ganguly and Tendulkar added another century partnership to their tally making them the pair with the most century partnerships in ODIs. Tendulkar also completed 15000 career one day runs, which will take quite an effort to beat.

Ganguly eventually fell in the 29th over when the score was 134. Soon, there was a mini wobble with India loosing another 3 quick wickets including that of Sachin for the addition of just 8 runs. When Karthik and Yuvraj came together, they needed another 86 runs of around 17 overs and they were the last recognized batting pair. One more wicket and it could have been curtains for India.

Karthik is still highly under rated as a batsman and hopefully this good solid innings under pressure in a must win situation for India will help in silencing some of his critics too. Yuvraj finally played to his potential and in the end India seemed to win comfortably. And as I said earlier, it was anything, but that.

-Mahesh-

Gambhir unwell…

Vice captain M. S. Dhoni has done the right thing by passing on the flu-bug to Gautam Gambhir, who has been sidelined for Fridays’ second match of the “Future Cup” Series against South Africa! 🙂

Gautam Gambhir will be sorely missed from Team India (not!) 🙂

Unfortunately, Sreesanth is still unwell. However, Ranadeb Bose and Ishant Sharma have joined the team. It is likely that one of them will play in Fridays’ game.

Unfortunately, Dhoni’s initial flu-bug-transferred-outing of Agarkar wasn’t strong enough, as Agarkar’s flu lasted just one match! Agarkar is fit for Fridays’ match and may play 🙂

Likely India team:
Ganguly, Tendulkar, Uthappa, Dravid, Yuvraj, Karthik, Dhoni, Chawla, Agarkar, Zaheer, R.P.Singh

— Mohan

Classic catches

Classic Catches

Optimist meets the Pessimist

Sachin scores 99
Optimist: Sachin is back in form. He is getting his eye and will soon get into rhythm.
Pessimist: 99 runs in 140 plus balls. Hardly any sign of dominating of the attack. He struggled against the pace and lift of Ntini & Nel. If he cannot be his domineering self he is better off down the order.
Optimist: The wicket was difficult. It was not easy to drive early. India had lost 2 quick wickets. We needed someone to anchor the innings. If Sachin had not batted the way he did, we would have gotten all out for 120.
Pessimist: I can understand his slow start. But once he completed 70 plus runs and India were around 160 odd for 2 at about 37 overs, he was just pushing sigles and working towards his hundred. He should have accelerated at that time.
Optimist: If Sachin was playing for the hundred he would never have got run out on 99.
Pessimist: Instead he got run out when he shouldn’t have. It was a pointless run anyway and he forgot that he is not as quick as he used to be.
Optimist: Anyway Sachin is back in form and that’s what’s important.
Pessimist: Anyway India lost the match so it is not that important.

– Sanjay

India’s search for coach ends…

Bush as Coach

-Mahesh-

India lose to RSA: A few lessons

India lost a tough game to South Africa; the first of the 3-match “Future Cup” Series. Despite having several players on the sick bed, India were able to field 11 semi-fit players. Talk was that R. P. Singh wasn’t quite there yet. Still, he played and so did a few of the others who caught the flu-bug. Unfortunately, the team balance was disrupted as a result of this; the team went in with two spinners — a luxury in cold conditions and on a seaming pitch! As a result, the first change bowler had to be Sourav Ganguly — and as part-timers tend to do, Ganguly leaked runs! Although the spinners did well to pull it back a bit, the good start that Andre Nel gave the South Africans on the field, the slow batting by the Indians in the middle-overs, the not-so-crash-hot batting finish by the Indians, Kallis’s well-paced innings and general sloppiness in the Indian bowling, combined to give South Africa a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

M. S. Dhoni, team vice-captain sat out his second successive match as vice-captain of the team! Dhoni is, incidentally, the guy who has been generous in offering the bug that he initially caught to everyone else in the team! 🙂

I am assuming that Team India pops those cold-flu-pills and rugs up to recovery prior to Fridays’ second game. I am also assuming that there are a few lessons that the team will learn prior to Fridays’ game!

The slow batting initially was understandable. Despite this piece that attempts to dissect Sachin Tendulkar’s batting, I thought Tendulkar paced his innings well. The conditions were hard and batting was tough on a two-paced wicket. He built the innings steadily and got out — stunningly, for the first time in his career of 137 Tests and 385 ODIs — on 99 runs!

In the end analysis, India was about 20 runs short. The real problem lay in the finish. The solid rebuilding-foundation that Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar had built was all but destroyed by Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma.

Yuvraj Singh needs to re-think his role, place and approach in the team. If he really wants to be the mainstay of Team India for the future, he needs to add consistency to his middle name which currently reads “Class”. Yes, he is a classy player. But just that is not enough. He needs to make each innings of his count. A pretty 20 is just not good enough anymore. He needs to be the clinical finisher that Michael Bevan was for Australia. This view is argued compellingly in a well-written piece on Cricinfo by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan.

India made 50 runs in the last 8 overs with 8 wickets still in hand! This phase would have hurt India’s chances in the final analysis.

I really don’t know what Gautam Gambhir is doing in the one-day side in England. Yes, he has scored some runs lately. Yes, he has tried to make the best of all the opportunities he has been given. But he is not an ODI opener. He is not inventive with his shot making. He is suspect against the moving/seaming ball and doesn’t have the best timing in the world. I think India have to give Uthappa a go in the next match.

Piyush Chawla has impressed in every outing since his debut. He played well against Ireland. Minnow or no minnow, one has to still put in the hard yards. And he did. His confidence appears to be high and he is grabbing these flu-induced opportunities to cement a place in the side. Rediff carried a piece which indicates that Chawla is the third Indian bowler to have claimed 6 wickets after only his second ODI! After Chawla’s 3 wickets for 47 runs in yesterdays’ match against South Africa, maybe they’ll do another piece on the number of ODIs Indians have taken to reach 9 ODI wickets!

The main concern for me is the largesse that India affords opposition teams in terms of wides and no-balls. With the new ICC rule on free-hits that is going to be brought into play from 1 October on, this slide should be halted and arrested immediately. This should be one of Venkatesh Prasad’s main tasks, I’d have thought. In yesterdays’ match, R. P. Singh bowled 6 wides — and that is a luxury really!

Rohit Sharma hasn’t impressed in his first outing. Here’s hoping he does better in future matches.

With S. Sreesanth back in the team — for Romesh Powar, perhaps — and with a hope that Uthappa plays ahead of Gambhir, it would be good to see a full-strength India take on South Africa on Friday.

— Mohan

Rakesh Patel gets called-up; might even play!

On the back of the piece yesterday on Team India struggling without a coach, a fully-fit-physio and a few players, who are down with a cold-flu-virus, comes this announcement that Rakesh Patel has been called-up as reserve bowler. Apart from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, it appears that S. Sreesanth, R. P. Singh and Ramesh Powar are all down with a bad bout of flu that has afflicted the Indian camp.

In what could be seen as a welcome development, it appears that Ajit Agarkar caught the flu bug too and can, hence, not play either! 🙂

Ishant Sharma and Ranadeb Bose, who were both selected only for the Tests against England, have left India to join the team.

The only fit bowlers in the camp appear to be Zaheer Khan and Piyush Chawla!

With this in mind, the team has called up Rakesh Patel, who was playing league cricket in Liverpool. Twenty-eight year-old Rakesh Patel had an impressive 2006-07 Ranji Trophy domestic season. He was the third highest wicket taker, behind Ranadeb Bose and Joginder Sharma, with 37 wickets from 8 matches, at an average of 21.0! In the Ranji ODI competition, he only played 4 matches for 9 wickets at an impressive average of 18.22!

From another report, it appears that Arjun Yadav, son of Shivlal Yadav — former India player — has also received a call-up. Twenty-five year-old Arjun Yadav is an all-rounder. He plays for Hyderabad, bowls off-breaks and bats right-handed. He too was working the League circuit in England.

If Sreesanth is not fully fit for tonights’ match against South Africa, it is likely that both Patel and Yadav might play!

Likely India team for tonights’ game against RSA:

Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautham Gambhir, Rahul Dravid (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Piyush Chawla, Arjun Yadav (or S. Sreesanth), Rakesh Patel, Zaheer Khan,

If Tendulkar hasn’t fully recovered from his flu-bug, Robin Uthappa might get a game!

— Mohan

Ps: Are there no Mumbai players playing in the English League circuit? 🙂

Team India: Sans Coach, Physio and a few players!

“No coach, no problem”, said Robin Singh on the eve of a long and arduous Team India tour of Great Britain. Team India did not appoint a coach thanks to a series of blundering steps by the committee which was tasked with managing the coach-selection-process. This farce then resulted in the appointment of septuagenarian Chandu Borde, as Team India Manager; a fact that precipitated much mirth and humour!

Meanwhile, while all of this has been happening in India, thanks to the rabble that was put together for the coach-selection-process, Sri Lanka quietly went about their business with clinical efficiency. After appointing Trevor Bayliss as Coach of the team, they have progressed even further. They are in the process of appointing Greg Blewett or Jonty Rhodes (or maybe both) as Bayliss’s support staff. I salute the focussed Sri Lankan approach.

Pakistan too went about its business in a professional manner. Three candidates were interviewed and the recommendation points to Dav Whatmore. However, the PCB is not making their decision final until both the potential appointee and the employer are satisfied with the terms and conditions.

Take note, Niranjan Shah!

Although Robin Singh, India’s fielding coach said, “no coach, no problem” when talking about the mess Indian cricket is in, one can’t but help wonder, “But what else can he say?”

Meanwhile, Team India physio, John Gloster has tripped on a boundary rope and fractured his hand! The team has called up London-based Nitin Patel as interim-cover for Gloster! Patel works as physio at the ECB cricket academy. India-A physio, Vaibhav Daga, is also on stand-by.

And as if all of this wasn’t enough, at least seven Team India players are reportedly down with a combination of cold-flu and fever. This includes ODI vice-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who missed the first match of the tour against Ireland!

What a terrific start to a long season!

— Mohan

Piyush impresses!

Piyush Chawla impressed everyone with a fine bowling performance as India cruised to victory against Ireland yesterday. I watched a few overs of Piyush yesterday and he has a very good googly that he uses a lot.  It was also interesting to listen to the commentary of former India leg spinner L Sivaramakrishnan. He said that Piyush had improved a lot, his hand was coming more straighter now, and he attributed this to the work put in by the Indian bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad.

– Sanjay

Breaking News: BCCI spokesman makes sense

In a rare and rather surprising development, the BCCI have just announced that it is in the process of putting together a long term plan for India-A tours. If this report is to be believed, it is a significant achievement by the BCCI for coming out with a statement that not only makes sense but also means so much for Indian cricket if executed well.

It is something we fans have been hankering for a long time and commonsense has finally prevailed.

To put things into perspective, while countries like Sri Lanka have been having regular A tours as well as playing visiting international sides, India have not had a proper A tour since the top-end series down under a year ago. No wonder the cupboard seems bare Mr Vengsarkar!

– Vish