Author Archives: theblackirishman

World Cup – The way ahead for India

Having watched most of India’s games in the current WC (I can actually watch it from my WC too, but thats a topic for another post 🙂 ), I am not that unhappy with Dhoni’s approach thus far. Here is what I have learnt thus far (I can feel Mohan reaching for his keyboard…)

  1. 5 batsmen pick themselves . VS, SRT, VK, YS and MSD
  2. so too do ZK and MP in the (lack of) pace department
  3. Harbhajan Singh has not quite set the world on fire, but any talk of dropping him might get me being clubbed with Navjot Sidhu, so he stays 🙂
  4. After watching the Ashwin bowl all his overs in Power Plays yesterday, he gets my nod for the 4th bowler’s spot

That leaves 2 spots. The skills required are

  • A pace / Seam up bowler
  • A spinner
  • A power hitter

Given that Yuvraj has been bowling quite effectively, he more or less fills the spinner’s role. Combining him with Yusuf / Raina ticks the last 2 bullet points. On yesterday’s evidence, Yusuf gets my vote, but I agree he has not quite filled the power hitterr’s role convincingly.

That leaves us with one spot to be filled in by a good pace bowler. Here is the rub. Dhoni has generally picked an extra batsman (on current form, GG) leading to a lot of criticism with regards to lack of balance (Mohan has definitely started to type 🙂 ).

Oddly enough, I find myself agreeing with Dhoni. I think this reflects the lack of confidence in the third pace bowling option (Neither Nehra nor Sreesanth fills me with confidence, specially trying to defend a small total  when the batsmen havent quite delivered). This sort of, be default, leads to …..lets bolster the batting idea!

So, in summary, for this world cup, I think the first XI has to be

VS, SRT, GG, VK, YS, MSD, YP, HS, RA, ZK, MP

Paddy

The Hamilton Test, Day 3

Tendulkar & Yuvraj started off with a flurry of boundaries off Martin & O’Brien, who were bowling a bit short. Tendulkar had come out with a different attitude. Day 2 was all about grafting and getting in. Today he was playing strokes at every opportunity. He got to his 42nd hundred pretty quickly but as Shastri pointed out he played & missed more in that period than all day on Day 2! Then the bowling tightened up, the length was increased resulting in a couple of maidens. Yuvraj then shouldered arms to a straight one from Martin coming around the wicket and lost his offstump!! Dhoni struggled early on with his timing but Tendulakr calmed him down while he continued his sublime batting form. Surprisingly Vettori took both bowlers after 6 overs each and the change worked in favour of India and they went to lunch with a lead of 100 with 5 wickets. The session to India.

Soon after lunch, Dhoni started to play some shots. He did not look very convincing, almost got caught by Ryder but a couple of balls later was caught behind trying to hook a bouncer. This was not a wicket for really playing shots, unless your name ended with KAR 🙂 . By now, O’Brien was really pounding the ball in. Dhoni’s wicket spurred him on and he got a beauty to lft off just short of a good length to snort up on Tendulkar, getting the edge. Tendulkar had made 160 by then and India was 164 ahead. There  was a bit of lusty hitting by Harbhajan. Surprisingly Vettori took himself off at this point and brought in Mills. While Mills picked up Harbhajan trying to drive on the up, his bowling continued to be pedestrian with Zaheer peeling of 16 from his next over. Zaheer continued in that merry vein taking India past 500 before Munaf was picked up. India scored about 130 runs in this session while NZ got 5 wickets. Even I reckon.

The kiwis got off to a disastrous start with McIntosh nicking the second ball of the innings to Tendulkar. There seemed to be no doubt about the catch in the minds of the umpire or the fieldsman but slow-mo replays kicked off a lot of conjecture about the cleanliness of the catch. Guptill & Flynn settled down and the former played some lovely drives. The Indian pacers kept a full length and a tight line. It was tough test match stuff on a 3rd days wicket that did not offer much to the bowlers. But being on the slow-ish side the batsmen had to be cautious too as Guptill found out when he drove a bit casually at Harbhajan and was picked up by Sehwag at mid-off. Mills came on and I thought Dhoni missed a trick by not bring the quicks immediately back for him. He did bring Munaf back for the last over of the day and after tormenting Mills with 4 of the first 5 balls, Patel put him out of his misery by nailing him in front of middle & leg. With 3 wickets, India just edged out NZ for honours in that session.

Session tally  : India 7 and NZ 2

With Harbhajan getting some turn and high on confidence, the kiwis have their work cut out tomorrow

The Hamilton Test, Days 1 & 2

I decided to (finally) pull the proverbial out and post the match summary. One of the benefits of being unemployed is that a test match that runs from 9 am to 5 pm presents no challenges from a watching perspective 🙂

Day 1

The first session was notable for two things. One, an Indian captain choosing to bowl first overseas and Two, the manner in which his bowlers backed him up. Vettori & Moles had gone on record saying they would bat first and Dhoni surprised everyone (Read horrified for some of us long-suffering India supporters) by going against local wisdom. The ball did nothing the first two overs and then the Zaheer & Ishant started to pitch it up. The rest was a dream come true from an Indian perspective. The combination of some accurate bowling ,an inexperienced batting line up and a moist pitch and humid conditions with just enough movement resulted in NZ collapsing to 60 odd for 6, even against a  backdrop of some average ground fielding, missed run out opportunities and dropped catches. This session, undoubtedly belonged to the visitors.

The post lunch session was an interesting one. The Indian bowling was persistent for the first 45 mins or so. But the lunchtime sun had dried the pitch out and there was precious little lateral movement. The experience of Vettori and the sheer talent of Ryder blunted the bowling during this period and then proceeded to take it apart in the second period. In fairness, the Indian bowling was not bad, just unimaginative and not penetrating. The field setting was not quite in sync with the bowling. Also both the batsmen rode their luck with edges, aerial shots falling safe etc etc. The session definitely was the home side’s.

Eventually, in the post tea session,after Vettori posted his 3rd Test century,  Dhoni dived superbly to take one such edge to bring Vettori’s captain’s knock to an end. Ryder too, deservedly, got his ton after some excitement at the other end, helping NZ to get to 279. The bit I found inexplicable during the Vettori-Ryder partnership of 186 was the Indian team’s attitude. They seemed to be quite relaxed, laughing & joking and did not seem to feel any undue pressure!!  Sehwag & Gambhir negotiated the 7 overs with Gambhir a bit scratchy and Sehwag smacking a few boundaries off the hapless O’Brien. Given that India took 4 wickets and did not lose any in this session, I’d give this session to India

Day 2

Sehwag & Gambhir started off well with some agressive running but a direct throw by Franklin from the deep caught Sehwag napping and he was run out by a mile. Gambhir and Dravid put together a century stand with Gambhir slowly improving from a scratchy start with several plays & misses to something more like his normal strokeplay. Dravid looked as good as I remember with solid defence punctuated with some ferocious square cuts off anything wide. Both men played Vettori’s first spell competently with 6 overs conceding 24 runs! The NZ bowling maintained a good line for the most part but bowled enough balls short for the batsmen to keep scoring around 3.3 or so an over. There were very few drives down the ground, most boundaries were hit square off the wicket mainly on the off-side. At 79 runs for 1 wicket, I’d give this session to the visitors.

Post lunch, the  bowling tightened up with more balls being pitched up. Unlike day 1, the ball continued to move around and Gambhir fell to an ambitious drive outside the off stump to Chris Martin. Tendulkar hung around but struggled to time the ball with one pull off Vettori almost being caught by Flynn. Meanwhile Dravid prospered and started playing relatively agressively before losing his off stump to a peach of an incutter from O’Brien. The session produced 2 key wickets of set batsmen on a slowish wicket but India did get 88 runs – even stevens in my book

Post Tea, Vettori went into containment mode initially with Ryder and Franklin and then coming on himself. This was vintage NZ – Tight bowling and fielding. Neither batsman was timing the ball and the scoring was down to a crawl. With about 10 overs to go for the new ball both sides went into a waiting mode for the new ball. The new ball immediately produced the wicket of Laxman in the first over. Pretty much a replay of the Gambhir dismisall, driving at one well outside the off stump! But it did do the trick for Tendulkar. He timed the new ball sweetly and one particular upper cut over slips for four left one and all gasping. With about 7 overs still to go, the players went off for bad light. 81 runs and 1 wicket probably lands this session in India’s court.

India is trailing by just 1 run, but with Yuvraj just in with a virtually new ball and probably swing friendly conditions, anything is possible. If NZ can make quick inroads tomorrow morning and restrict India to a lead of under 50, the match would be wide open given that India will bat last on a wicket that is providing some assistance to spin. However, if Yuvraj & Dhoni hang in long enough and India gets 150 ahead, it could be tough for the kiwis against Harbhajan.

Cant wait for the morrow

The Black Irishman

India Vs England on Setanta

The England tour is covered (all 7 ODIs and the 2 tests) by Setanta. You can sign on from www.setanta.com. There is a $15 Rego and then $15 every month.

However, for Foxtel customers, the first month’s charge is down to $1 (instead of $15) if you register before the 15th of this month. Here is the schedule

November 14th
1st ODI 2:15pm – 10:30pm LIVE  
November 17th
2nd ODI 2:15pm – 10:30pm LIVE 
November 20th
3rd ODI 2:15pm – 10:30pm LIVE
November 23rd
4th ODI 7:45pm – 4am LIVE
November 26th
5th ODI 7:45pm – 4am LIVE
November 29th
6th ODI 1:45pm – 10pm LIVE     
December 2nd 
7th ODI 7:45pm – 4am LIVE
December 11th-15th
1st Test 2:45pm – 10:30pm LIVE
December 19th-23rd
2nd Test 2:45pm – 10:30pm LIVE

All Times EDT and subject to confirmation

The Black Irishman

An interesting parallel

Going into the Delhi test brings up an interesting memory…..

Several months ago, the visitors has been soundly thrashed by the completion of the second test. The third test venue was a fortress for the home team (Perth) and the only question at the start of the test was the margin of defeat for the visitors.

Sound familiar? Well, the visitors have called up a fresh opening batsman , just like the visitors had done back in Perth.

Dream on Oz fans 🙂

The Black Irishman

Now it is official…

Tony Greig in an interview posted on the Cricketnext website has spelt out something that most of us long suffering fans of Indian Cricket have known.

‘Indians don’t retire, they’re kicked out’

Read the full transcript

 

The Black Irishman

Test series wrap up

Here is my summary of the 4-match series…..

Australia

Pluses

  1. Brett Lee – He is bowling the best I have ever seen. In my view he is the best bowler in the world at present – Probably the single biggest difference between the two sides
  2. Matthew Hayden – His batting, specially against India is just awesome – his absence was telling in Perth
  3. Stuart Clark – Started off in McGrath-esque style but tailed off towards the end of the series

Minuses

  1. Lack of a genuine spinning option – This could really hurt in places like SL, Ind and against the English & Souh Africans 
  2. Shaun Tait’s inability to perform in favourable conditions
  3. Batting against sustained swing bowling
  4. For a team that prides itself on aggression and always on the lookout for a win, both the over rate and the scoring rate while batting were not upto to their usual high standards
  5. Catching was well below par

India

Pluses

  1. The re-emergence of Virender Sehwag and possibly, Irfan Pathan
  2. Ishant Sharma – A rare breed of Indian paceman that is not reliant on swing but pace, bounce and the ability to bowl long spells
  3. An ability to sustain (relatively) high energy levels in the field for 3 test matches in a row

Minuses

  1. The abject failure of Wasim Jaffer and Yuvraj Singh against top quality fast bowling
  2. Rahul Dravid’s continued mortality
  3. Harbhajan Singh was (again) woefully short of expectations. He was consistently outbowled by Virender Sehwag and Andrew Symonds in the last two matches.
  4. The bastmen’s (specially the seniors) well recognized inability to retain focus when fighting for a draw. This was evident on the last day at both Sydney and Perth.
  5. The standards of ground fielding seem to have (I know this seemed impossible 🙂 ) dropped further

From an Indian perspective, their poor performance on the last day in Sydney, when they could not bat out two sessions, came back (quit justifiably) to haunt them. I would have loved to see Australia’s batting response in Adelaide had the series been level and they had to go for a win.

 The Black Irishman