Monthly Archives: July 2007

Going forward

Both Vish and Mohan have put forward their thoughts on what India need to do going into the next match. I think they’ve both made fine points. I however do not think that the team will change. Barring a sudden injury, I do not see the team change at all. Yuvraj will still carry the drinks and the opening pair of Jaffar and Karthik will continue. RP Singh has impressed and will keep out Bose and Ishant for the next game.

Vish and Mohan also suggested that Tendulkar should come lower down the order. I agree. Towards the end of their careers, a lot of great players have come lower down the order than what they used to in their prime – there is no real shame in it and it does not mean you are lesser of a batsman. I hope the team management and Tendulkar realize this. But again, I feel this will not happen.

As was pointed out in the two posts, there were plenty of positives that India can take from the game. But IMHO, the biggest positive would be the fact that they did not lose. England would be really disappointed that they could not win, while India would be elated that they did not lose. This may sound funny but I think by not losing (after being so close), India actually will be in a better state of mind than England going into the second test!

Mohan also spoke about the need for a big score or two from the middle order. Sure, a big score would help, but I feel that India should be thinking partnerships. Aussies have done this with great success over the years and the Indian galacticos would do well to learn from this.

If I was unsure that India could win in England before the first test, I am now somehow more confident that they can – in spite of almost losing the game. The main reason is the bowling. If they have been able to bowl out an in form English batting line up twice for less than 300 (that too after bowling the initial sessions badly) I think they have a chance.

Can’t wait for the second test to start !

-Mahesh-

Egg turns to Hour Glass

Cricinfo’s Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan, in an excellent analysis at the end of Day-4 of the recently concluded 1st Test between England and India, indicated that India went into the Test with an egg-shaped strength graph but came out of it with the strength graph looking strangely like an hour-glass.

And so, we have a strange situation of it being an egg (or a gilli — of gilli-danda fame) turning into an hour glass.

Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan’s thesis is that India went into the Test match with its much vaunted middle-order as its key, underpinning strength. What we got at the end of the game was a situation whereby the players that we expected relatively lesser stuff from stood up, put their hands up and asked to be counted.

Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, R. P. Singh, Zaheer Khan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sree Santh came out of it with their heads held high. The personnel that were expected to slaughter the greenhorns in the opposition had surrendered meekly — twice in one game.

It is so true. Tim de Lisle talks about this as Goliaths being in awe of Davids!

I suspect that it is a case of IBRADM too. Somehow, the Indian middle order needs to get out of its slumber and deliver the goods. Far too often in recent memory, the middle order has surrendered the initiative through purposeless and listless batting.

Sure Englands’ bowlers bowled well. But these are champion batsmen that we are talking about. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V. V. S. Laxman have scored nearly 30,000 Test runs between them! They are not wet behind the ears! Surely they can do better. Surely they can turn their 30s into 60s and their 60s into hundreds!

The bowlers have shown that they can pull things together — I say this inspite of the horror start to proceedings in both innings. Zaheer Khan bowled well in patches. Sreesanth seemed to have great difficulty bowling to left handers. Kumble was not as penetrative and did not ask as many questions as he normally does. Inspite of these deficiencies, the bowling stuck to the task. I thought Dravid marshalled his bowling resources brilliantly. I have hope that this department will improve in the 2nd and 3rd Tests. If the bowling improves — and they will, I believe — then, what is needed is a rethinking of the batting strategy.

India cannot go into the 2nd Test with a “everything will be right” attitude with respect to the batting. Something has got to change. There has to be fresh thinking. There has got to be fresh blood. There has got to be a shake-up.

I know that my suggestion may not be palatable to some, but one of the following has got to happen:

(a) One of Ganguly or V. V. S. Laxman will have to step down and make way for Yuvraj Singh. From what I saw of Ganguly, I observed a willingness for the fight. I saw the fire still burning. He wanted to be in the fight and he also delivered India an important breakthrough with his bowling. I did not see the willingness for a fight in Laxman. He is no Michael Hussey at #6. And so, I would suggest that Laxman sits out this next match.

(b) If (a) doesn not happen — for whatever reason — then at the very least, Sachin Tendulkar needs to swap his position with V. V. S. Laxman.

For India to go into the next match with the same middle order would be — in my view — a folly. In this 1st Test, against a weak attack, India got out of jail. Surely, India can do better than that!

India will go into the 2nd Test in a positive frame of mind. It is certainly better going into the 2nd Test with a scoreline that reads 0-0 rather than 0-1. The bowlers bowled the opposition out twice for under 300. India’s 2nd innings score equalled Englands’ score in the 2nd dig. One could say that but for the crazy first hour, India may have done better. However, the fact remains that the egg-shaped graph failed India — twice. And that is a trend that has existed for quite some time now.

This is the right time to start infusing new blood into the team; new blood that will bring with it personnel who want to fight in a real Test of their mettle. This is, I believe, the opportunity to commence the process of ringing in the changes.

Dinesh Karthik shows that he wants to be there. He wants to fight. Every outing is treated by him as a gift — and potentially his last outing! We need more of his tribe in the team.

It is time for Indian cricket to start its own changing of the guards. The time is now…

— Mohan

Heck, we can still beat England!

Thank the Rain Gods
The first Test is over, while most of the fans were disappointed to see the sixth wicket fall with over 50 overs remaining and resigned to the fate of another Lord’s defeat, I had started my rain dance and heartfelt prayers to Varuna. The rains came, and yes, India were lucky to get out of jail; and to be fair England deserved to win. But life isn’t always fair and that’s that.

But still, there were positives
While a lot will be written about the positives and negatives of this match (Mohan Krishnamoorthy already has some incisive comments after Day 4), Dravid can take heart for the fact that 3 of his youngsters put their hands up to be counted – RP Singh, Karthik and Dhoni.

What was most impressive was that our inexperienced pace attack helped to dismiss England twice for under 300.

The middle order of Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman didn’t have a spectacular outing but there were periods where they looked in control, even if not on top of the bowling.

The English bowling
Apart from Monty, India haven’t faced much of the English pacers in the Test arena. Sidebottom is a much-improved bowler compared to his disastrous debut in 2001. The Indian line up except for Ganguly is all right handed and it is not easy to face a lefty who consistently swings it in. I am certain the Indians would have learnt their lesson and play him just a fraction late and mostly on the front foot (tip by Jeff Boycott on BBC) at Nottingham.

The real surprise package was James Anderson who bowled exceptionally well. The Indians need to come up with something to tackle him at Trent Bridge. For starters – a positive attitude will be of great help.

The Laxman question
India is likely to go in with the same eleven and so will England. Laxman is likely to get the nod again ahead of Yuvraj.

Laxman is a class act but needs time to settle down before he can let loose his array of strokes. This often means he will be a slow starter. Another problem is that if Dhoni gets out early, in my opinion Laxman doesn’t have the ability to shepherd the tail. He can be slow to adapt to the changing situation of the game.

I believe (much to the chagrin of Tendulkar fans and fellow bloggers), Tendulkar and Laxman should swap places. Tendulkar has the ability to shift gears as well as rotate the strike better than Laxman. For once, let us be bold and try something different.

Heck, we can still beat England. Just win the toss, put 400+ on the board and get Pietersen cheaply 😀

– Vish

England Vs India — Test 1: India’s chances and take-homes…

The last day of the 1st Test in the ongoing England V India series promises to be a cliff-hanger. Both teams will think that they can win. David Lloyd is confident that England will win. Ravi Shastri thinks that England have their nose in front but believes India can win if they go into the last day in a positive frame of mind. Shastri believes that Dinesh Karthik is the key!

Like David Lloyd, I think we are in for an excellent last day’s cricket.

The weather could play spoil sport though. The forecast for St Johns’ Wood is for rain with a high of 17 deg C and a low of 14 deg C.

If we get a full days’ play, there should be a result in this game. I don’t think India can win. With Dravid and Tendulkar back in the pavillion and with Jaffer, India’s 1st innings hero, back in the hut, I believe the task will be huge for Karthik, Ganguly, Laxman and Dhoni. India may salvage a draw if the weather helps out too.

I would be most happy to be proven wrong though.

Jaffer’s was a really soft dismissal. He was playing well — albeit with the IBRADM (India Batsmen’s Recently Afflicted Defensive Mindset) — and Karthik was playing with positive intent. A lapse in concentration combined with laziness cost Jaffer his wicket. Dravid was unlucky to be given out as the ball pitched outside off, but these things happen in cricket. But the worst dismissal of the day, from an India point of view, was Tendulkars’. He should have stayed on till the end of days’ play and he should have been looking to score runs. If he had been looking for runs, he would have played that ball with his bat! Instead IBRADM meant that there was a defensive malaise about his game. I believe it cost him his wicket.

It is an uphill task for Karthik, Ganguly, Laxman and Dhoni. India needs a further 243 runs to win. This is not going to be easy on a 5th day wicket. I say this even though Karthik is playing well and Ganguly is playing positively. Panesar is bowling well and the other England pace bowlers are bowling well. I can’t see any of them having a bad day at the office. So, I don’t believe India will make it. Laxman is in a strange no-mans’ land. Dhoni is out of sorts. So, unless either Karthik or Ganguly score a big hundred, I’ll be looking to the weather Gods!

But there have been some good take-homes from this gig for India:

  • Karthik appears to improve with each dig. Yes, he did get out in the first innings and he dropped a sitter to let off Strauss. But the lad appears to want to be there. He seems to look at each opportunity as a gift and wants to make the most of it. His batting in the second innings has been a treat to watch.
  • R. P. Singh has been a terrific positive too. In only his 5th Test match, this young 21-year-old player from Uttar Pradesh has shown tenacity and guile. He has taken his first 5-fer and I suspect that, provided he does not travel down injury-lane, there will be more of these before he hangs up his boots. He has 22 wickets from 5 Tests at an average of 26.90! So these are early days yet, but to get on the honours board at Lords’ at such an early stage of his career will give him much confidence.

All in all, it promises to be a fascinating day-5.

— Mohan

What an opportunity, Dravid’s captaincy and all that!

I write this as I watch RP Singh clean bowl Pieterson for a magnificant hundred and clean up the innings with a 5 fer. Well done, RP!!!!

However, my beef is against the captaincy during the day. While some of my comments may be interpreted as sheer venting in frustration, there must be some truth in it. I was completely baffled by the fact that RP Singh was brought on more than 90 minutes after lunch. He was by far the best bowler before lunch bowling absolutely beautifully. I could see the rationale of bowling Zaheer Khan at one end because he was special as well but to see Kumble get such a long bowl was strange to say the least. Kumble’s bowling was ordinary, mediocre and lacking purpose. But he continued on….

And there was more than the occasion where Dravid’s captaincy was remarked as being reactive and not proactive, one such comment coming from the mouth of one Mr. Ravi Shastri…..Dravid is a strategic thinker and a “big picture” man, but I am beginning to suspect that he lacks the sharpness required on the field to make key operational decisions. I thought Ganguly was better at it….Mohan, I suppose we agree to disagree again?

With respect to the state of the game, what an opportunity for the “fab three” to sign off their greatness. A realistic target with not necessarily perfect conditions to bat on, a Lord’s test match, first in the series, you couldn’t ask for a better situation to deliver! All the very best to them.

– Srikanth

India’s future – Hopes stay alive

On an otherwise disappointing couple of test cricket days for India, its future has silently delivered a massive victory in the first game at the tri-nations in Sri Lanka. The Indian colts trashed the Sri Lankan team by 159 runs with the UP ranji player and captain of the side, TM Srivastava scoring big. Iqbal Abdullah, the left arm spinner from Mumbai, who has been spoken highly off by Tendulkar himself, captured three wickets for 14 in his seven over spell. Ironically, as I happened to just get off the telephone with my cousin arguing vehemently in favor of at least two of the seniors in the Indian side to stay on for a little longer, one part of me wants to see some of this future talent a little sooner in the current side. On a related note, Abhinav Mukund, briefly mentioned in a previous post of mine, had a modest start to his career as an Indian prospect scoring 13 of 13 balls. Our best wishes to him.

– Srikanth

Eng vs Ind Day 1 Session 2 & 3 Highlights

-Mahesh-

Eng vs Ind Day 1 Session 1 Highlights

-Mahesh-

India’s back in the game, Or are we?

A lot of people consider test cricket to be boring. Nothing really happens for overs and overs. Plus when it rains, there is nothing much either players or spectators can do. But for the connoisseur, test cricket is the real cricket. The game is fought over 5 days and fans know that something exciting can happen in just a matter of few overs that can turn the game upside down.

England went into the day with a slight edge over the Indians. England’s plans would have been to get the score well over the 400 run mark. After all, they had Pietersen, Bell and Prior – all accomplished batsmen, who had scored heavily in the recently concluded test series against the West Indies.

From India’s point of view, the dressing room talk would have centered around how they can restrict the English to less than 350.

England had started Day 1 really well and were cruising at 200 for the loss of just one wicket and even after Strauss fell, they were 250/2 at one stage, with both the captain and Pietersen in good flow. England at that stage were probably thinking of a score of around 500-550. Then the game turned on its head – two quick wickets to end the day, heavy rains the next day and some inspired bowling from India with the new ball meant that eight wickets fell for just 46 runs. England were all out for 298 and India were back in the game.

When India came out to bat, their first target would have been to see off the new ball without the loss of any wickets. That was not to be the case as Karthik and Dravid fell in the 9th and 12th over respectively. Tendulkar and Jaffer then started to build a partnership and just when things were starting to look up for India, Sachin fell for 37. India would have done well to have finished the day without the loss of any further wickets, but Jaffer got out for 58 with just 3 more overs remaining for the day. India finished the day with 145 for 4 (compare this to England’s 268/4 at the end of day 1) and have lost the ground that they gained earlier.

All is not lost yet. India now need a couple of good partnerships to take the lead. India need a lead of at least 75-100 runs to still be in the game and that is what they would be looking to do. But as I said earlier, it only takes a few overs to turn the game upside down…

-Mahesh-

Streaming video: India vs England

For those who can’t get the telecast on TV, follow these links to watch live cricket online –

Link 1

Link 2

I’ve got to admit the quality is quite good – on broadband, it is as good as watching it on TV. If you find any other links, please post them as well 🙂

-Mahesh-