Category Archives: Cricket Teams

Teams playing cricket

The Great Escape–Day 5, 1st test

If the only way you could find out the score was through Cricinfo and you couldn’t get through to the site during the final stages of this game, it was because every Indian around the world was frantically hitting F5 (refresh) on his/her browser window Smile

It must have been frustrating, not knowing what had happened. Thankfully, it all turned out to be good news for India. When the eighth wicket fell at 124 and India needing close to a hundred runs to win, everyone (including me) had written India off. With Laxman batting with a bad back and a runner with Ishant Sharma at the other end and just Ojha to follow, it was only going to be a matter of time….but the fat lady hadn’t sung yet.

Somehow, Indian managed to pull it off – this will be remembered as one of the great wins on Indian soil, and firmly belongs with other classics such as Calcutta 2001. The architect of that Calcutta win was again responsible for guiding India through and IMO, should have been named the man of the match. Zaheer went away with the award, but it was Laxman’s magic that eventually won the game. Laxman has had a great run this year and while most people have a modest record in the 2nd innings – Laxman has thrived (his 2nd innings average is 50.47 compared to his 1st innings average of 45.67). Since 2009, every time he has been asked to bat in the 2nd innings, he has had a 50+ score. Laxman has also always reserved special treatment for Australia, against whom he averages 55.58 as opposed to 44.53 against the rest.

Credit should also be given to Ishant Sharma – coming in at No. 10, he scored 31 valuable runs and more importantly built the highest partnership in the Indian second innings of 81 runs with VVS Laxman. When he was out LBW (which was a questionable decision) to Hilfenhaus , India needed just 11 runs to win. What an effort! After a few tense moments of close LBW shouts, over throws, and confusion while running between the wickets, India managed to get those 11 runs. What a win!

Although the match was a nail biter in the end, it had its constant ups and downs. Each team somehow contrived to lose a good position every few hours and the match could have gone in either direction. One can’t help but feel sorry for Australia. I now truly believe that the golden era of Australian Test cricket is over – the Australia of old would never have lost a match from such a position of strength as they had today. Surely, they will rise again, but I wouldn’t bet on them regaining the ashes this year.

This test match had a combination of some good umpiring and some very questionable decisions – and when a match is as close as this, you can’t but wonder what if one of those decisions had gone the other way – India has been hesitant to use the UDRS system and this should be a wake up call for them.

-Mahesh-

Advertisements

Aussies retain advantage–Day 3 1st Test

The batting team cruises along nicely and seem to have all the momentum – then one wicket falls, and suddenly every thing changes. It happened on Day 1, when Ponting’s wicket fell and it happened again today when Tendulkar’s wicket fell.

India had just crossed 350 and both Tendulkar and Raina were cruising along nicely. Tendulkar looked set to score his 49th Test hundred, when suddenly against the grain of play, he fell LBW to North. That was the 5th wicket to fall – soon, the other 5 fell for the addition of just 51 runs.

Suddenly, the Aussies regained the advantage they had lost in the first two sessions, when Dravid and Tendulkar and Raina reduced the deficit sufficiently. Johnson took 5 for 64 and his two wickets of two balls (Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh) was partially responsible for speeding up the demise of the Indian innings.

This is going to turn out to be a really good test. If the Aussies, bat all of tomorrow and put up 250 on the board (plus the lead of 23), it will be a tough chase on a final day pitch.

I’d say that at the end of day 3, the Aussies still hold the advantage in this match. Having said that, if the Indians can dismiss the top 3 batsmen in the morning session of play, Aussies will be in a bit of trouble – their middle order is a bit flaky and I don’t expect the tail to pull through another rescue in the same Test. The Indians would be well aware of that – Harbhajan Singh needs to fire for that and let’s hope he does.

-Mahesh-

What’s all the hullabaloo about?

The batsman is out of the crease – the wicket keeper takes off the bails and as he walks back to the pavilion, someone from the opposition says something. The batsman turns around from his walk, points the bat at the player and a heated exchange follows. No, I am not talking about the Ponting run-out incident on the 1st days play at Mohali – I am talking about Harbhajan Singh being stumped of Clarke’s bowling in the 2nd ODI in Cochi the last time Australia were here in India.

Do you see a pattern? Its the same thing being enacted again, only the actors are different this time around. Was Zaheer out of line? Without a doubt. Should Ponting have turned around to exchange words? I don’t think so…

These two teams have a history of having a go at each other – and although I am not a big fan of this, I am not completely surprised by this incident either. But I found it funny that the Herald Sun calls Zaheer a “serial sledger”. What a laugh! The last time the incident happened, Harbhajan was portrayed as the bad guy, as he turned around to point his bat at the opposition after he was given out (the fact that someone said something to trigger that was somehow left out). Harbhajan is no saint, and neither is Zaheer – the point is, the Aussies aren’t either. So, I don’t see what all the fuss is about Smile

Coming back to the actual game, Australia made a mess of a really good position. They were 153 for 1 in the 42nd over, with both Ponting and Watson playing quite well, and then boom – the run out happened. Suddenly, the whole match turned around. The Aussies went into a shell, the runs stopped coming and by the end of the day, they had just added another 70 runs! If that wasn’t bad enough, they also lost another 3 wickets in the process. The Indians would definitely be happy with the opposition’s score of 224/5 at the end of the days play. It is not a bad achievement considering the fact that India were one bowler short (Ishant got injured) and  Harbhajan wasn’t really that threatening with the ball. The Australian tail can wag though, and India should be careful not to let them off the hook – particularly as they will be batting last in this match.

-Mahesh-

Some batting stats from the ongoing India A tour of England and Scotland

Most runs
Player Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 0 4s 6s
CA Pujara 8 9 3 662 208* 110.33 886 74.71 3 2 1 83 2
AM Rahane 8 9 1 494 118 61.75 648 76.23 2 2 0 63 2
S Dhawan 7 8 0 347 179 43.37 436 79.58 1 1 1 50 5
A Mukund 7 8 0 338 91 42.25 508 66.53 0 3 0 48 1
MK Tiwary 8 8 0 194 71 24.25 258 75.19 0 1 0 16 2
WP Saha 8 7 1 172 62 28.66 308 55.84 0 2 0 16 3
Jaskaran Singh 7 6 1 145 58 29.00 161 90.06 0 2 0 15 6
MK Pandey 7 8 2 111 36 18.50 152 73.02 0 0 0 17 0

Asia cup Indian ODI squad – Team looks fitter!

Yuvraj has been dropped. Add the dropping of Amit Mishra and the average fitness of the team has already gone up. Kris Srikkanth has also said that a lot of stress has been on fitness. The selectors have also looked at the record over the last year and seen how matches have been lost because of poor fitness and fielding! A pity they did not do that a year ago! They have also apparently looked at the consistency of the players’ performance to pick the team. The only consistent player in the current India A team has been Saurabh Tiwary and he has been rewarded with a call up. After all did he not score 3 fifties in the IPL? In case people forgot he also scored 3 centuries at an average of 98 in 5 matches for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy plate!!!!!! He might as well have scored 18 centuries in 20 matches for Alwarpet CC at the Chennai 1st Division League! Who cares about the Ranji Plate? BTW in case people missed it his last first class game was a Duleep Trophy match for East Zone and he scored 22. Forget those domestic giants like Pujara, Rahane, Badrinath, Manish Pandey, Abhinav Mukund etc etc. Did they perform in the IPL???? They only scored runs for their domestic teams! And that in the Ranji Elite or whatever that’s called. Of course Uthappa is injured and so was not considered. Yusuf Pathan has been dropped and rightly so. Ashwin has been retained because he is the only off spinner in the country at the moment who can keep Bhajji on his toes. Yuvraj can twitter about his daily visits to the gym but that’s not enough. He has to show off six packs in the next chewing gum ad before he will be considered fit. After all he is a proven performer and does not have to score runs anymore right? Jadeja has been retained because he can bowl the 5/6 overs that Yuvraj was bowling in the past. Cmon show me another left arm spinner in the country who can bat and field. And forget Iqbal Abdulla, he is only a domestic performer! So we minus Tendulkar we probably have the best team that has been selected. Except for my own personal opinions which are the following. Iqbal Abdulla for Jadeja and Badrinath/Pujara for Tiwary.

Sanjay

A conversation with Peter Roebuck

Srinivasan of the ‘Indian Voice’ in Melbourne organises a dinner around the Boxing Day Test every year featuring Peter Roebuck.

The venue is always at Indian restaurants, with names featuring ‘Punjabi’ ‘Dhaba’ ‘Masala’ ‘Curry’ and ‘takeaway’ in the usual permutations. The chef cum proprietor is routinely guilty 0f the interior decor, with a propensity for sequinned works featuring bearded grandees a-loll against bolsters receiving intoxicants from surahi bearing maidens with impossibly imposing implants. What looks very like a lungi on the wall with Taj Mahals all over it may well be my philistine eye not recognising a wall hanging when I see one.

None of this should take away from the menu which rarely deviates from Naan, dal makhani, mixed veg curry, papad and rice. For those of a certain persuasion, there a couple of other curries featuring body parts of young quadrupeds and bipeds.

The Roebuck dinner is an event I rarely miss, affording as it does the opportunity to fill up to the back teeth at the buffet for 10 bucks,  listen to one of the most engaging writers and fluent talkers about the game.

Sadly this time around the numbers were’nt there at all. Maybe something to do with the fact that it was Pakistan and not India playing Oz? Sanjay Manjrekar is perhaps right after all. Maybe most Indians are just interested in Indian cricket.

Nevertheless it made for a relatively committed gathering that welcomed Peter at about half past seven. The usual format was for everyone to hoe into the buffet, at the conclusion of which Srini would introduce Peter, who would then hold forth for a bit, followed by questions from the floor. Srini would then wind up with a present of a kurta (Peter’s favourite garment whilst in India) and invitations to contribute to Peter’s favourite charity.

Peter is one, one suspects, who will talk cricket through the night if given the chance. Here then, are a few excerpts.

On his castigation of Chris Gayle before the Windies toured and subsequent approbation.

Most readers will recall that Peter had blasted Gayle for his stance apropos Test Cricket prior to landing on these shores.

Peter said he consistently states his mind with the facts at hand. If that meant that he changed his views and opinions from time to time, so be it. So long as the process was consistent, the end results could well change. Certainly, once Gayle demonstrated some responsible leadership in Oz, Peter did not see his commitment to Tests as an issue any more.

On Umar Akmal blasting Peter Siddle for 19 in one over.

High praise from Peter who was reminded of a young Sachin who hit perfectly good deliveries breathtakingly well. The crucial thing that separated the ‘Nadamaadum Deivam’ (my phrase, not Peter’s) from Umar was the latter’s ‘youthful impetuosity’ that caused him to throw away his wicket after he reached 51. What struck him about Sachin back then, reminisced Peter was that, even at 19, he had a ‘calm centre’ within him that ensured that he was hitting the ball amazingly well on its merits, not just with youthful abandon.

On the ever so slight improvement in the provincial nature of cricket writing in the Australian press.

This was a topic that delved into areas outside of cricket such as an evolving national image, an improved understanding of the wider world and apropos cricket, soul searching post Kumble 2007. That said, what I understood him to mean was that the hacks are, person for person, more deserving of credit than is given them. For the most part, they tend to be aligned to either the Fairfax or the News Ltd stables, each of which caters to a certain demographic. Articles are then written to suit.

This reminded me of Suketu Mehta’s take on Bollywood film directors. ‘None of them are remotely the idiots that their movies would lead you to believe’. Or words to that effect.

On India being on top of the Test Totem pole.

Contrary to the jingoism and triumphalism that might be expected, we the discerning audience took the view that India’s reign would be short lived. Largely because the fab four were on the way out, our bowling still does not inspire, the much beloved BCCI still operates as a fiefdom dispensing benevolence and largesse etc etc. Without disagreeing, he also pointed out that India could not have reached the top without Australia, SAF and to an extent England stumbling periodically. In defence of the BCCI he pointed out the fact that state level cricketers could now make a decent living from the game. ‘Fathers who, fifteen years ago were doing all they could to dissuade their boys are now pushing them with the same force into the game!’

One eyed Indians.

He didn’t hold back in chiding Indians for seeing conspiracies and bloc politics whenever anything went against India or Bucknor did us in again. A pretty thin skinned and one eyed mob we were, said he. Hard to disagree, especially if you share my opinion that we conveniently lose sight of when we benefit , as we did with SK Bansal in that 2001 epic in Kolkata.

As an aside, has anyone heard of Bansal after that game?

And so it went, till Srini had to reluctantly call stumps. As we trooped out into the warm night though, we were all in agreement that we had NOT got our hard earned’s worth.

For, there was no ‘gulab jamun’ to finish off.

Soundar

Dravid gets another go at it!

Rahul Dravid has been included in the Indian team that will be playing in Sri Lanka and later on in South Africa in the Champions Trophy. His performances at the IPL seem to have paid off and he gets another life in the one day arena. Rohit Sharma is the player at the receiving end, unfortunately, in my opinion. I personally think that Rohit Sharma deserves another chance to prove his talent. He is certainly a future player for India and should have been retained in the side in place of Yusuf Pathan. Yusuf Pathan is a highly overrated player whose magic seems to work okay in the T20 form but is highly suspect in the one day version. If Rohit’s place was going to be uncertain, I would have thought he should have played in the Emerging Players tournament in Australia. That way, it would have given him an opportunity to prove to the selectors that he is still a worthy investment.

While Amit Mishra and Abhishek Nayar can credit their performances in Australia recently for their inclusion in the side, Virat Kohli may consider himself unlucky. He was by far the best player in the tournament and could have possibly taken Dinesh Karthik’s place. Clearly, politics has come into play with respect to the Dinesh Karthik/Pragyan Ojha situation, one sacrificed for the other

The rest of the side seems well balanced with Tendulkar coming back at the top and Raina possibly playing at #5 now with Dravid coming in at #3. I would think the playing XI would look something like:

1. Sachin Tendulkar

2. Gautam Gambhir

3. Rahul Dravid

4. Yuvraj Singh

5. Suresh Raina

6. M. S. Dhoni

7. Abhishek Nayar/Yusuf Pathan

8. Harbhajan Singh

9. Praveen Kumar

10. Ashish Nehra

11. RP Singh/Ishant Sharma

Let the games begin, I say.

– Srikanth