Monthly Archives: October 2007

Challengers 2007: India Blues Vs India Red

In this first match of the series, India Blues won by a whisker. The good performers in the game were Suresh Raina and Joginder Sharma for the Blues. For the Reds, Praveen Kumar bowled and batted well. S. Badrinath, Mohammed Kaif and ‘keeper M. Rawat batted well. However, their efforts were not enough to get them across the line. Gautam Gambhir (run out by Sehwag!), Virender Sehwag (out for 9) and Dinesh Kartik (out first ball to Praveen Kumar) had ordinary days in the office! But it was Suresh Raina’s 92 that helped India Blues reach a respectable total especially after his team was 41 for 4 after Sehwag won the toss and chose to bat (strange decision) on a sticky wicket and with the prospect of dew while bowling/fielding!

— Mohan

Ps: And in a totally unrelated development, and apropos of absolutely nothing, M. S. Dhoni has had a hair cut. It has sent the Indian media into a tizz!


Are we balanced or biased?

It was with much interest that we read Peter Lalor, cricket writer in “The Australian” newspaper, commented on two posts (link1, link2) on our blogsite.

On reading through his comments, we did wonder if we did project a balanced  and objective view on this blog.

We have often disagreed amongst ourselves. This is often a sign of different opinions mixing together to form a tolerance-based balance. if nothing, the checks and balances are there. Given that this is a blog in which anyone who cares to can comment, our views have incited open debates and discussions on a range of topics.

We have, from time to time, praised, for example, the Australian team or the English team or the South African team for their strategy, their cricket, their work ethic, their professionalism, etc.

We have criticised teams (mostly Australia and England) for the way they play their cricket. We have also criticised the press (be it Indian or Australian or English — Mike Atherton). We have illuminated, objected-to and criticised crowd behaviour and player behaviour irrespective of where they come from.

But more than anything we have been very very critical of Indian cricket, the players, their attitude, the BCCI and its board members and most of all – the Indian press.

By definition, we are a blog for “Fans of Indian cricket”. it may be expected that we would be somewhat one-eyed in what we say. But we do try to be balanced and objective.

So, are the views and opinions on this blogsite balanced? 

We think so. We would, however, welcome your opinions on this.


The right way to celebrate…

Duh! This is what Andrew Symonds was referring to when he talked about the Indians’ celebrations on winning the T20 World Championship? He was suggesting that the Indians should have celebrated in such a manner that would have got them into trouble with the local cops. I think he was suggesting that the Indians did not celebrate hard enough perhaps?

Now we get it Symmo…

— Mohan

Rahul Dravid for “player coach” anyone?

As confusion continues to surround India’s coach-search, here is a left-field solution for Team India “coach”.

What do we know?

  • Rahul Dravid is in the last few years of his tenure as Team India player.
  • He is a deep thinker and a student of the game.
  • He is also perhaps a bit unsuer of his team-role after his captaincy relinquishment — and that reflected in his uncharacterestically lackadaisical ODI batting in the series against Australia.
  • The Team India players respect him as a thorough gentleman.

Why not appoint him as “player coach” and even a “coach in waiting” with Venkatesh Prasad (bowling coach) and Robin Singh (fielding coach) as his assistants?

Why him? And why not any of the others in the Big 3 of Big 4 or Big 5 as player-coach?

A couple of reasons spring to mind (although I need to think this through some more).

But before I develop this further, any comments/views on this left-field idea?

— Mohan

The India ODI team I’d like to see for the games against Pakistan

As I mentioned in an earlier post, keeping in mind the hectic schedule that is on the cards for Team India over the next 6 months and given the importance of the flagship series against Pakistan and Australia coming up, it would be best if the selectors rested Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from ODI duties for the series against Pakistan. That is probably the best thing that can happen for Indian cricket right now provided the alternative is sensible — and this could be tested out somewhat in the Challenger Series that starts tomorrow (25th Oct 2007) at Ahmedabad.

By skipping the Pakistan ODIs that go from 5 November to 18 November, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly would be fresh for the Tests against Pakistan that commence 22 Nov. Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar should turn out Karnataka, West Bengal and Mumbai (respectively). Mumbai plays Karnataka and Bengal plays Hyderabad in the first games of the Ranjis this year! They would be handy matches for the Big-3! In the second round that starts 15 November, although Karnataka has an easy outing against Himachal Pradesh, Bengal plays Baroda and Mumbai plays Tamil Nadu.

Provided the Big-3 get asked to play the Ranji games, following is the ODI team I’d like to see for Team India against Pakistan:

Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Robin Uthappa
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Rohit Sharma / S. Badrinath / Suresh Raina / Manoj Tiwary / Mohammed Kaif [2 of these 5]
M. S. Dhoni
Praveen Kumar / Yusuf Pathan / Joginder Sharma [2 of these 3]
Irfan Pathan
Harbhajan Singh / Murali Kartik / Piyush Chawla [2 of these 3]
Zaheer Khan / R. P. Singh


— Mohan

Challenger Series…

The Challenger Series starts tomorrow (October 25 2007) in Ahmedabad. It will run for 4 days with the Final to be played on October 28th at the same venue.

It is a flagship ODI tournament for the N. K. P. Salve Cup and, coming on the heels of the Irani Trophy, signifies the curtain raiser for the domestic season. It has also been the platform for many an impressive showing. Suresh Raina and Piyush Chawla were already good young players when they played the Challengers in the last few years. But their performances in the Challengers shot them into the national conscience — and national team selection.

Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan talks of some strange exclusions and inclusions in this years’ episode in his Cricinfo piece.

Big-name players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh, Irfan Pathan, are not playing. And now, with Piyush Chawla having recovered, Murali Kartik has also been rested! Why? He has only played a handful of games in the last few weeks. Why should Kartik not play on in the Challengers? I just don’t get it. I’d have thought that more time in the middle merely serves to augment match-fitness and match-readiness, especially for a spinner!

I have already mentioned in an earlier post that I find it strange that R. P. Singh, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan are not playing. Yes, the road ahead is littered with matches, but it is not likely that R. P. Singh and Sreesanth will play all of those games and Irfan Pathan is only now getting into a solid rhythm and momentum. In my view, they should have played this series. It is also strange, albeit understandable, that V. V. S. Laxman does not figure. Another strange exclusion is V. R. V. Singh.

As Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan says, the galling feature is the dominance of the West Zone players. Simultanesouly, the absence of players from Rajasthan (finalists in the Ranji ODI Championship last year) apart from Pankaj Singh and Karnataka (quarter-finalists in the Ranji ODI Championship) is quite galling. I’d have thought that at least Shailender Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Barrington Rowland (Karnataka) would have had a look in. This is particularly so in light of some strange inclusions, like Siddharth Trivedi. The case of Satyajit Sathbai’s inclusion makes good comic material even by BCCI standards! Initially, it seems Satyajit Parab’s name was announced. A day later, it was retracted and another Satyajit’s name was included — this time, the right one… Sathbai. But even his inclusion reads silly. I can’t see what Sathbai has done to warrant inclusion in the team! Tanmay Srivatsa, Pradeep Sangwan, M. Vijay, C. Raghu, B. Akhil and J. Arunkumar are others that can feel quite miffed at being left out.

And the name Yadav is apparently worth quite a bit in Indian cricket these days! Young lans will not be blamed for queueing up at magistrates courts across the land to change their surname to Yadav!!

With a growing expectation that the Big 3 will be rested for the Pakistan ODIs, the time is ripe for the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohammed Kaif, S. Badrinath, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, and Manoj Tiwary to make a strong statement or two.

It will also present an opportunity for Munaf Patel to redeem himself in the eyes of the selectors. Yo Mahesh should grab this opportunity too.

I expect Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Joginder Sharma and Pankaj Singh to emerge strongly from this though. This is a wonderful opportunity for these players to make their cases and emerge to give confidence to the selectors that they can address team-balance with these sorts of players. Having said that, Pankaj Singh is less of a batsman than Pathan, Kumar or Sharma. A dark horse in the team-balance stakes with bits-and-pieces players could be Abhishek Nayar. He is a first-change media-fast bowler for Mumbai and is in terrific form for Mumbai (back-to-back centuries against Karachi Blues and RoI).

I know I have been talking up Praveen Kumar quite a bit over the last year or so. I really do expect this lad to be a part of India’s ODI plans for the future. A strong showing here may even propel him into the Pakistan ODI series. It is a chance that he has to grab with both hands.

India Red:
Mohammad Kaif (capt), Karan Goel, Gautam Gambhir, Subramaniam Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Ravneet Ricky, Praveen Kumar, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Pragyan Ojha, Siddharth Trivedi, Ishant Sharma, Pinal Shah, Shrikant Munde, Paresh Patel.
Coach: Lalchand Rajput

India Blue:
Virender Sehwag (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Suresh Raina, Niraj Patel, Arjun Yadav, Joginder Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Amit Mishra, Yo Mahesh, Ranadeb Bose, Swapnil Asnodkar, Rakesh Dhurv, Saurabh Bandekar
Coach: Venkatesh Prasad

India Green:
Parthiv Patel (capt/wk), Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Murali Kartik, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Abhishek Nayar, Niranjan Behera, Iqbal Abdulla, Pankaj Singh, Munaf Patel, Gagandeep Singh, Srikkanth Anirudha, Satyajit Satbhai.
Coach: Praveen Amre

The series schedule is:
Oct 25: India Red v/s India Blue
Oct 26: India Green v/s India Red
Oct 27: India Green v/s India Blue
Oct 28: Final

— Mohan

Big Three or Big Two and the third?

We keep reading and writing about the Big Three of Indian cricket. Are all the 3 equally big enough to warrant being clubbed together or is it really the Big Two (SRT & RD) and the third (SG) – Comments invited.

— Sanjay