Daily Archives: 23 September 2007

Dhoni is made of sterner stuff!

He is a street smart intelligent cricketer, a cool head and tremendous belief in his ability. I have been watching the T20 matches and especially the way Dhoni has been batting in the games. He has been a real revelation. He has hardly looked like giving his wicket away. He has put his head down everytime and ensured that he bats right through to the end.

Yesterday he came in at the end of the 14th over and stayed on till the penultimate delivery when he was run out. 36 off 21 balls with 4 fours and a six. The boundaries were safe hits in the gaps mostly.

Take the South africa game. Dhoni comes in the 11th over and again is run out 2 balls before the end of the innings. 45 of 33 balls with 4 fours and a six. Again ahrdly any hits in the air, clean htting in the gaps, and sensible responsible batting.

And in the England game he came in the 16th over, stayed till the end making 10 off 8 balls, no boundaries or sixers and remained not out watching the Yuvraj blitz at the other end.

I am really looking forward to the ODI series now.

— Sanjay

Sreesanth fined…

Sreesanth was fined 25% of his match fee for excessive appealing in the T20 semi-final. And the entire Indian team has been fined for its slow over rate, having bolwed one over short of its quota in the allowed time in the same game. All players were docked 5% for this offence while M. S. Dhoni wore a 10% levy on his match fee.

The adjudicating referee was Chris Broad… Enuf said!

Sreesanth did carry on like a pork chop in that particular appeal. I will be the first to admit that. But I am sure the same referee may have said, “It is good to see young players showing such controlled aggression on the field. We do not want to deveop robots but players that play with passion”, or some such nonsensical and radom string of cliched platitudes if it had been a Brett Lee or a Shane Bond that had carried on in the same manner.

This is not persecution complex speak, although I am leaving myself open to such an interpretation/judgement. However, I have seen many a referee turn a blind eye to similar ‘shows of dissent’ providing the “passion-robot” argument as cover.

I was watching the game with a friend of mine and we debated Sreesanth’s aggression mid-way through the game.

As I have said before on several occasions on this blogsite, I am not a fan of sledging. I do not believe sledging should have a place in world cricket. However, it does exist and it is not a scourge that is going to go away. I am comfortable to accept that.

In this landscape, we talked about whether or not Sreesanth should “be changed”. I personally think not. For two reasons. I do not believe it should be either necessary, or indeed possible, to change a John McEnroe into a Bjorn Borg. Indeed, it would be wrong. Each player derived their energy from their manner and to straight-jacket one would be both wrong as well as harmful to the player. Sressanth is an atypical Indian bloke. He wears his heart on his sleeve and demonstrates his passions and emotions externally. That is where he derives his energy from. So, just as each of the fingers of our hands are different, we should try and tolerate this difference that exists. The South Africans do and this allows them to tolerate and accept Andre Nel and Jacques Kallis in the same team. The former would rather spend the rest of his life in a night club while the latter treats the cricket field as though it were a monastry! In my view, Indians should learn to tolerate and indeed celebrate this difference too even though it breaks the mould as well as the stereotype that “we” are used to. And of course, even that stereotype is changing. As India herself changes into a more progressive and world-aware nation that demands to be heard on the world-stage, her people are changing too. So cultural stereotypes will change — perhaps even in our own lifetime — and Sreesanth is perhaps the first of this new generation.

Of course, the player in question would look silly if he carried on like a pork chop without either the talent or the results that would be necessary and required to back it. Even though I personally do not like too much carry-on on the field — and that is my personal opinion on this matter — I am not suggesting that each player be delivered a straight-jacket along with his cap on debut. I would be happy to let each player be his own, but they would need to show results on the field for the team and they should not let the team down with their antics. And in my view, apart from that one afternoon of madness in England, Sreesanth is doing just that — he is delivering results for the team.

And so, in my view, rather than jump up and down and deliver a straight-jacket to Sreesanth because his antics clash with our own personal frames of reference (and I say this because a lot of ex-cricketers have tried to do just that) we should learn to tolerate this difference. Who knows? Over time we may even celebrate it!

— Mohan

The best two teams

Before the tournament started, if you had asked me who the semi-final favourites are – my answer would have been Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand. I am sure a lot of people’s reply would have been the same. An India Pakistan final would have never even crossed anyone’s mind at that stage.

But looking back, they have been the two best teams on display. Pakistan have been outstanding – they’ve beaten everyone, except India. And that too in a bowl out – after they tied the game. Shoaib Malik has led them from the front with his batting and people like Misbah-ul-Haq have supported him well. Their bowling also has a very good variety in Asif, Afridi, Gul and Tanvir – no wonder they are not missing Shoaib Akthar as Sambit Bal points out.

India have also looked good in the tournament. Their only loss has been to NZ in a match they should have won after a brilliant start. India dominated the next three games against England, South Africa and Australia. Unlike Australia, where the middle order has looked suspect, India’s middle order is thriving with some good batting from Yuvraj, Uthappa and Dhoni. Sehwag and Gambhir have also given the team a flying start in a couple of occasion. The Indian bowlers have also bowled well in the tournament and the fielding is a far cry from the shoddy display in England.

It’s going to be a good final and I am really looking forward to it…

-Mahesh-

It’s an India Pakistan Final!

What a great game it turned out to be….In my earlier post, I had written that the Aussies were the favourites to win the game. Maybe some one forgot to tell that to the Indian team…or if they did, they didn’t believe it.

India did start a bit tentatively though- the very first ball was nicked by Gambhir for the ball to fall short of Gilchrist. India had made just 36 by the end of the 6th over with Sehwag back in the dressing room. By the end of the 8th over, India had lost both openers and the score was just 41. Enter Yuvraj Singh – and then the game turned on its head. The very second ball he faced was dispatched off for a six and that was just the beginning. Yuvraj made 70 of 30 balls and dominated the bowling – it included 5 sixes and 5 fours! The 3rd wicket partnership between Uthappa and Yuvraj yielded 84 runs in 6.3 overs which ended up being the backbone of the Indian innings. Uthappa scored 34 (of 28) and Dhoni chipped in with 36 (of 18).  India finished the game on 188.

189 was a still very gettable target and the Aussie openers have been playing well throughout the tournament. India needed a couple of good performances from its bowlers and that’s what they got. RP Singh got the new ball to bowl first as reward for bowling well in the tournament, but it was Sreesanth’s performance that kept India in the game. He started badly with a four of his very first ball but took the wicket of Gilchrist in his first spell and even bowled a maiden. He was completely fired up and bowled like the Sreesanth we have come to know and admire. And when Hayden and Symonds were taking the game away from India, he came back to take the all important wicket of Hayden. Hayden made 62 (of 47 balls) and his innings included 4 sixes and 4 fours. When Hayden departed, Australia needed 55 of 32 balls and they still looked on target to win with 2 more overs left from India’s fifth bowling option (which had gone for 38 in the first two)

Pathan then took out Symonds and when he was out, Australia needed another 33 of 20 balls with 6 wickets remaining. Bhajji was the other bowler who was outstanding for India and when he took the wicket of Clarke in his last over with a yorker (what a huge wicket that was?), Australia needed 27 from 12 balls. RP Singh bowled one of the best overs under pressure conceding just 5 runs and it then came down to  22 runs in the last over with Hussey on strike.

Dhoni juggled his bowlers well and captained the side brilliantly, but when Joginder Sharma, who had gone for 31 runs in his two overs, came back to bowl the last over there were a few nervous moments. He started with two dot balls and then took a wicket. The match was finally sealed in favour of India.

Playing at Durban meant that it was like playing in India and Harsha Bhogle commented that he hadn’t seen so many Indian flags in a match even in India! There was even a sign in the crowd that said “India has home advantage”.

India now play Pakistan in the final. The tournament organizers couldn’t have asked for a better finale to the tournament. It is a great comeback for two teams that were knocked out of the World cup in the preliminary round just a few months ago.

-Mahesh-

The Subcontinentals edge out The Antipodeans

In an unexpected twist, the script for the T20 World Cup was dynamically altered — or the script writer was asleep on the wheel — in a dramatic manner that sees an India-Pakistan final! Before the tournament had started, experts were talking of the following combinations for the final: Australia-England, Australia-SouthAfrica, SouthAfrica-England, Australia-NewZealand, SriLanka-England… Not many of the experts’ picks featured either Pakistan or India for the final! After all, here were two teams that were bundled out of the ODI World Cup in March-April 2007 in the very 1st stage itself!

The two Subcontinental powerhouses were in considerable disarray subsequent to that early-exit. Pakistan lost a coach. Although Greg Chappell didn’t suffer the same fate as the Pakistan coach, he too departed as India coach. The Pakistan cricket Board went about their repairs in a quiet and seemingly efficient manner. The dead wood were cleared out and some fresh faces/legs were brought in. Geoff Lawson was hired in as coach — a smart move. And a new captain was put in charge. But then, as is always the case with Pakistan cricket, just when things seem to go right, they don’t! A player smacked another player with his bat during practice and out went Shoaib Akhtar from the team! More enquiries. More navel gazing. More disarray. No one gave them a chance!

India, meanwhile, had lost its coach. And the BCCI bungled its way through its appointment of a team coach! What more do you expect of a cricket board that puts in a late advert for a coach with requests for applications to be sent to cricketborad@gmail.com!! That’s right boRAd. And yes. They have specified a GMAIL account. Amidst this extreme aura of unprofessionalism, the team did well in England with a “74 years young” cricket manager. The team went to South Africa with a new captain, without a coach, with Lalchand Rajput as cricket manager and with a young and rather inexperienced team.

But yet, after Pakistan beat New Zealand easily and after India edged out Australia in a thriller, India and Pakistan meet in the finals in two days’ time. Who could have scripted this any better?

It perhaps just goes to show that T20 shortens the gap between the good teams and the weaker teams. This can only be good for world cricket. After all, I don’t think many people would be interested in a tournament where all Australia needed to do to win it was to turn up!

The finals should be a blast. It will be an advertiser’s dream as many millions will be glued to their TV sets in the Subcontinent. I just can’t wait for Monday!

— Mohan