Daily Archives: 1 August 2007

What has luck got to do with it?

A lot of people have labeled Vaughan’s freak dismissal in the second innings as “unlucky”. Freak dismissal? Yes. Unlucky?? I don’t think so!

I can think of several ways you can get out where the term  unlucky could apply:

  • Umpire giving you out, while you actually are not
  • You got out because of a freakish bounce in the pitch (caused either by a strategically placed jelly bean or because of the general nature of the pitch)
  • The ball ricocheted from a fielder’s helmet and you were out caught
  • You are playing book cricket and you picked a page ending with a zero!

Unfortunately, Vaughan’s dismissal does not fall into any of these categories. It was caused by the fact that he did not play the shot properly or the ball was quicker than he expected. Or both.

-Mahesh-

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BCCI may advertise for post of coach!

According to this article in the The Hindu, BCCI may actually advertise for the post of Indian Cricket team coach according to Niranjan Shah. It is a bit of a U-turn from a few months ago, when he said “No, we won’t. There’s no need to; we will do it in our own way.” in response to a question on whether the post will be advertised. Hmm….

-Mahesh-

Highs and Lows of 2nd Test

Highs

  • A great comeback for India after almost losing the test at Lord’s.
  • Zaheer Khan was a revelation. His 9 wickets in the game pretty much set up the win for India. In this match he joined a select list of left arm fast bowlers like Akram and Vaas who have taken 150 or more test wickets.
  • The bowling of Sidebottom. Although he did not get too many wickets, his duel with Tendulkar in the first innings was great to watch
  • The much vaunted Indian middle order finally came good. What was good to see were the partnerships (The Fab Four were all involved in 50+ runs partnerships). It was also good to see a fluid Ganguly and an extremely determined Tendulkar.
  • The first Indian opening century partnership in England since God knows when. They had wiped out three fourths of the England first innings score and eased the pressure on the Indian middle order 
  • The wickets of Pietersen and Prior. Those were two gems of deliveries from RP Singh.
  • Tremlett extracted good bounce from the wicket, didn’t concede too runs and took 3 wickets each in both innings for England. It would be a pity if he has to make room for Hoggard in the next match.
  • The batting of Vaughan. His rear guard action in the 2nd innings brought England back from the brink. If he had stayed another hour at the crease, England could very well have come on top in this test.

Lows

  • The bowling of Sreesanth for India. What has happened to this lad? After the first test in South Africa, everyone said that he was the next big thing in Indian cricket. The conditions in England were also said to suit him well. Prasad needs to put a lot of effort into sorting him out.
  • The bowling of Anderson for England. After an almost match winning performance at Lord’s his bowling was uninspiring and listless. He was supposed to be the lead bowler for their team, but let them down by taking 1 wicket and conceding over 150 runs in the process.
  • The umpiring has been pretty ordinary throughout the test. I understand that it is a difficult job and the close up slowmos, hawk eyes and hot spots that the TV viewers have access to are probably making them look worse than they really are. Still, I think both Howell and Taufel would rather forget this outing.
  • The behavior of Sreesanth. His aggression in the field is completely misplaced and it would be better if he spent all this energy more usefully(like in bowling :)). Shouldering the opposition captain! Seriously, what were you thinking, Sree? Imagine the uproar it would have caused in India if someone like Tremlett had done that to Dravid or the vice captain Tendulkar. This behavior is just not on.
  • The Jelly bean episode. Although it fired up Zaheer Khan and gave us something to talk about apart from cricket. the whole episode was a bit childish.

-Mahesh-

Zimbabwe Select Vs India-A

India-A won the first match of its tour of Zimbabwe convincingly. Piyush Chawla was destroyer-in-chief, with 4 for 30, in Zimbabwe Select’s second innings. The 69 runs that were needed for victory were polished off by Irfan Pathan, the opener, who made 39 off 49 balls.

The second match of the series sees Zimbabwe Select staring down the barrel! Zimbabwe Select first allowed India-A to score 524 for 8 declared. Cheteshwar Pujara, the opener, Parthiv Patel and S. Badrinath made centuries. Irfan Pathan made a duck! In response, Zimbabwe Select are 67 for 5 with Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha being the chief-wreckers.

I just don’t see the point of tours of Zimbabwe. Perhaps the next tour will be to France and then Holland and then USA, followed by a gruelling tour to Tahiti! Bah!

— Mohan

Indian Team for the Oval Test

Team India have a nine-day gap between the end of the 2nd Test match and the start of the 3rd and final Test at The Oval. The 3rd Test commences 9 August.

In between, from the 3rd to the 5th of August, India plays Sri Lanka ‘A’ at Leicester! This is a bit wierd! I am not aware of a touring team playing another touring team — and that too an ‘A’ team — in a 3-day practice match! Could well be a first?

India have a few questions to answer, notably:
– Whether Sree Santh plays at The Oval, and if he does, what his mental state is.
– Whether Yuvraj plays at The Oval.

Sri Lanka ‘A’ have some decent players in its ranks. Its one-down player, Michael Vandort, has already played 9 Tests for Sri Lanka (including those against Bangladesh recently) for an impressive average of 52.91 including 3 centuries. Thilan Samaraveera, the ‘A’ Team captain, has played 39 Tests for an average of 41.53. He has also snared 14 Test wickets with his off-spin bowling. Kaushal Lokuarachchi is said to be a useful all-rounder. He bowls legspin, bats well and has played in 4 Tests and 19 ODIs. Dammika Prasad and Akalanka Ganegama are useful fast-medium bowlers who are rated quite highly. They have both played a handful of ODIs. They will be able to offer a good practice for the Indians ahead of The Oval.

I believe India needs to play the following in their XI for this game (in batting order):

Wasim Jaffer
Dinesh Karthik
Gautam Gambhir
Yuvraj Singh
VVS Laxman
Rahul Dravid (c)
MS Dhoni (wk)
Ramesh Powar
Ranadeb Bose
S Sreesanth
Ishant Sharma

Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, R. P. Singh and Sachin Tendulkar should earn a break and get some R&R.

Despite the win in I do believe India needs to sort out the Yuvraj Singh question. I do feel that the process of future-building needs to commence now — and not in the future. The Fab Four will not be around for ever. Yuvraj Singh needs to be blooded and the time is now.

Despite Laxman’s fighting 50 in the 2nd Test and despite Dhoni’s match-saving innings at The Lords’ I believe one of them need to make way for Yuvraj Singh for The Oval game. Apart from being an opportunity to play a future middle-order bat for India, Yuvraj Singh lends greater agility to the fielding and is also able to bowl a containing line of left-arm spin — if needed. One of the drawbacks in Team India in the 2nd Test was that there was virtually no one who could bowl an Ashley-Giles-type or even a Monty-Panesar-type of containing-line at one end. Yuvraj Singh may give India that option.

Moreover, if Sree Santh appears to be still undercooked in the Sri Lanka ‘A’ game, I feel he should make way for either Ranadeb Bose, Ishant Sharma or Romesh Powar. The Oval does afford spin on days 3 and 4 and so, Powar would be a tempting option to go with. It depends, however, on how Bose, Sharma and Powar bowl in the tour game.

— Mohan

England Vs India: Test 2 Day 5 — No coach but many oval beans?

This was a terrific team performance by India to win the 2nd Test match against England. It was a good win indeed. And this was achieved without a coach!

David Lloyd can whinge all he wants about it being a lucky toss to win, but if England continue to wallow in their self-pity and if they continue to be lured by excuse-mongering, they’ll be in a sorry frame of mind when they go into the 3rd and final Test match of this series at The Oval.

Yes, it was a good toss to win. However, by pinning England’s loss on that one event, as the one-eyed — or is he totally blind(ed) — David Lloyd was trying to do would be foolish. I thought both Andy Flower, Englands’ Assistant Coach, as well as Peter Moores, the England Coach, got it spot on when they dismissed the importance of the toss. Andy Flower said that it would be tempting but weak to pin the reasons for the loss on the toss.

The Indian bowlers bowled well in this match. They put the ball in the right spots and they asked searching questions. I certainly haven’t seen Zaheer Khan bowl with as much guile, intensity, purpose and energy as he did in this match. He was ably supported by R. P. Singh. And although Kumble merely polished off the tail in both innings, he did the job. He would be disappointed with his showing — especially in the 2nd innings — and I am sure he would use the 9-day break between games to work on his shortcomings. Sree Santh had a sorry outing in this match (more of that later). But

But overall, the bowling unit performed well. The core unit was supported well by Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar too.

The Indian batting came good. The openers batted in a truly special manner. That set the platform for the Fab Four to accumulate the runs.

This was a wonderful team performance. In the past, several of India’s overseas victories have been set up by only a few people. I can think of Dravid, Dravid and Dravid. Did I mention Dravid, by the way? Think back to Headingly, Rawalpindi, Adelaide and Jamaica. Agreed Laxman contributed big-time in Adelaide and so did Agrarkar with his magic spell of bowling, but without Dravid’s brilliant 70+ in the second innings, India may have lost that one.

However, this victory was different. This was a good, solid team performance. Almost everyone played a part. Zaheer Khan did. R. P. Singh did. I thought his balls to dismiss Pietersen and Prior were the balls of this series so far. Kumble contributed by polishing off the tail in both innings — someone has to do it! Jaffer and Karthik did, with their solid opening partnership which dealt the Indian middle-order with a solid platform. The England 1st Innings score had been all but wiped out when the Fab Four got their opportunity. One cannot underestimate the value of this opening partnership. The Fab Four came into their own in this match. Although Dravid did not make enough, he did continue the foundation that the openers had provided. I thought Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly played with much application and determination. I thought this may have been one of Ganguly’s best innings ever! VVS Laxman played well too…

The only players that missed out were Dhoni and Sree Santh.

From all of Dravid’s post match sound bytes, it does appear as though Sree Santh will be given a chop on the knuckles and a dreessing down. Ravi Shastri wanted an internal disciplinary action. I don’t know if the Indian team will go that far. But I do believe he will receive a dressing down. A visit to a shrink may be in order too.

Are India poor travellers? Dileep Premachandran and Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan from Cricinfo explode this myth. Suddenly, India’s away record is second to Australia’s! So much for the “stamp the visa and stamp out the team” tag that Team India has had to live with. In the last 10 years or so, ever since Ganguly took over the captaincy reigns, India have won in South Africa, Australia, West Indies, England (twice), Pakistan and Sri Lanka. If we discount the shocking series in New Zealand in 2003, India has won important games in all Test playing countries. Of course, I have not considered Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in this analysis.

Indeed, since 2000-01, India has won more matches overseas than it has lost! In that period, India has played 36 overseas matches, won 13 and lost 10! If we ignore the New Zealand series of 2002-2003 and all wins in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the results read: 28 matches, won 8, lost 8. This is better than any other team barring Australia!

The problem with India has been consistency, continued-focus and retained-intensity. As Dileep Premachandran argues, almost every good overseas win has been followed by a loss! What India needs is to put her foot on the pedal and leave it there.

The fact that the team bounced back from the near-defeat at Lords’ to a win at Trent Bridge augurs well for India. The determination to win was there and it was evident. Hopefully India will retain that hunger when they step onto The Oval. There is a chance — a brilliant opportunity — to create history here. I don’t believe the Fab Four and Kumble — all on their last visits to England, surely — won’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

I mentioned earlier on that England would be foolish to pin the reasons for their loss on the toss-loss. The reason I say this is because it takes the focus completely away from the ordinary performance of Alistair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior. Yes, the England bowlers bowled well. They bowled under worse conditions than India did. And yet they stuck to their task manfully. However, to ignore the problems that Struass and Cook are having would be foolish. To ignore the impetuosity of Collingwood and Bell in the first dig would be silly. They played atrocious shots when the situation demanded that they respect the conditions as well as the bowlers a lot more. And Collingwood, after getting a start in the 2nd Innings could not keep going. Ian Bell, like Alistair Cook and Andrew Strauss, is in all sorts. Matt Prior should really focus on his game and not on his next sledge. He, like his co-conspirator in the India Team — Sree Santh — appears to have lost the plot. A visit to a shrink would be needed to get him to focus on the next ball rather than the next sledge!

Which is why I think David Lloyd is being one-eyed! He needs to open the other eye and realise that there are some real problems that need to be solved; some questions that need to be answered.

So, let us head to The Oval. Hopefully we well see some more of those oval sugary beans there too so that Zaheer Khan can get fired up once again.