Tag Archives: Australia v India

Team on the rise…

Does age matter?

The Australian team has a lot of experience. But that also means old and the majority of their players are on the wrong side of 30. In comparison, only Tendulkar ages over 30 for India. Although the Aussies threw themselves in the field, took some brilliant catches and ran between the wickets well, I do wonder if age did play a part in Australia’s loss in the CB series.

I’ll let you make your own judgement –

India Age Australia  
Chawla 19 Johnson 26
Ishant Sharma 19 Clarke 26
Rohit Sharma 20 Hopes 29
Raina 21 Haddin 30
Praveen Kumar 21 Bracken 30
Tiwary 22 Lee 31
Uthappa 22 Clark 32
Karthik 22 Symonds 32
Pathan 23 Hussey 32
Munaf Patel 24 Ponting 33
Sreesanth 24 Gilchrist 36
Yuvraj Singh 26 Hayden 36
Gambhir 26 Hogg 37
Dhoni 26    
Harbhajan Singh 27    
Sehwag 29    
Tendulkar 34    

 

Bowling and batting reserves

Australia played their full strength team in the CB series – their best batsmen and bowlers played and there was no one on the injury list. But compare this to the Indian team. There was no Zaheer Khan and no RP Singh – two stand out performers for India in the tests, who didn’t play the CB series owing to injury. And their new find – Ishant Sharma also didn’t play in the second final. And two of their top batsmen – Dravid and Ganguly were left out in favour of younger players. In spite of all this, India came out on top – it just goes to show that there is plenty of batting and bowling reserves for India.

Sachin still the master

Expectations from Tendulkar are always high and he didn’t quite live up to those expectations in the early part of the tournament and when he had scores of 5, 0 and 2 some doubts were raised on his batting form. Commentators were even suggesting leaving him out for Sehwag. But when it mattered the most, the little master struck form. His final 3 scores of the tournament read – 63, 117* and 91 – scores that were responsible for India’s eventual win in the tournament.

Leading from the front

Ponting seemed distracted through out the series and if you leave out his score of124 in a match that really didn’t matter for Australia, he averages just 7.4 runs. Australia in the past used to operate under the philosophy that if you get the captain, you get the team. In a reversal of roles, the Aussies found themselves on the receiving end this time, with their captain woefully out of sorts and team suffering as a result.

In contrast, Dhoni averaged close to 70 with the bat and often pulled the team out of trouble. His glove work was good behind the stumps and all the moves he made as a captain (like bringing in Kumar or Chawla) seemed to work. He lead the team from the front and Dhoni should take a lot of credit for the ODI series win.

Sydney Test loss, the turning point

The Melbourne test was almost a practice game for India. Fresh of the plane and with the only tour game rained out, the Indians didn’t have a chance for a real hit out prior to the Melbourne test and it is no wonder they lost the game. They made some improvements in Sydney test, but still lost. You can argue endlessly about bad umpiring decisions, sportsmanship and batting collapses, but the truth of the matter is that the distractions off the field somehow seemed to galvanize the team and their performance since then has been on the raise.

Australia on the other hand let the distractions affect their game and somehow found Harbhajan Singh repeatedly getting on their nerves. It seems they are themselves not immune to their own mental disintegration mantra.

Best team in the World?

The Indian team is certainly improving. They did beat the No.1 team in their own country. But claiming that India is the new leader of World cricket is a bit too rich. There is still plenty of improvements to be made and let us not forget that they didn’t even get past the preliminary round of the World cup last year.

The Aussies played good cricket over a prolonged period of time to claim the title of the best team in the World. India also need to win consistently over a considerable duration of time to claim that title. Until such time, I will only consider it as a team on the rise.

One swallow does not make a summer…

-Mahesh-

Crunch time for both teams…

It has been a long-hard-painful summer. Most of us can’t wait for it to finish. The Australian fan may even be happy for the series to end today — which would mean that India win the CB Series Final — just so that the Indians would go away! India has hung around like an itch that just will not go away! The Australian players and press have stumbled from one embarrassment to the next and will want this long and arduous summer to end!

But there is pride at stake.

The Indians will want to finish off the tour in the second game itself. I feel that if the series goes to a 3rd game, Australia will be favourites to lift the CB Series Cup in Adelaide.

But in order for the finals series to go into a 3rd game, Australia needs to raise its intensity and game. They are behind the eight-ball at the moment and despite potential injuries to Sachin Tendulkar and Ishant Sharma, the Indians will feel that they have their noses in front at this stage. Australia will want to pull itself back into the CB Series Final today. Australian coach Tim Nielsen has called for a tough-as-nails aggressive approach from his team.

This Australian unit is a champion outfit that’s just lost its way a little. Perhaps the team was just a bit too distracted by the off-field goings-on. Its captain, Ricky Ponting, appears to be stumbling from one disaster to the next. But he is a master player and it is hard to keep a master down for too long. This Australian team is hurt and they are going to come hard at the Indians at the Gabba today. Make no mistake about that.

What happened on Sunday in the first final is now history. Both teams have a lot to play for today. Australia will be playing to remain in the series and India will want to finish it all off. India will want to end this acrimony-and-controversy-ridden tour.

But this will not be easy for India. Not many teams have defeated Australia two games in a row! Having said that, the Australians have lost their last two games — to Sri Lanka and India. But the Australians are ODI champions and will play hard.

On four occasions visiting teams have squandered a win in the first outing of a three-match-series-final to then go on to lose the series. NZ lost in 1980-81, South Africa lost in 1993-94 and 1997-98 and Sri Lanka lost in 2005-06.

India is likely to play both Ishant Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar despite their finger and groin injuries respectively. I think that this could be a dangerous move. I’d support the inclusion of Virender Sehwag for Sachin Tendulkar and Sree Santh for Ishant Sharma. But I think this is unlikely. Either way, despite a good showing in Sydney, I feel it is unlikely that Piyush Chawla will play. I would think that either one of Munaf Patel or Sree Santh could get a game.

Here’s hoping that Harbhajan Singh does not offend the pristine Australian media by scratching himself in public once again!

— Mohan

The Harbhajan Singh case “scratched”, as expected…

As expected, the ICC has said that it is perfectly within the rules for cricket players to scratch their arm pits during any passage of play on the cricket field!

At the end of Sundays’ CB Series Finals game, that came at the end of a summer in which the Australians have been constantly beaten at their own mind games, The Sydney Morning Herald heralded new and hitherto unvisited depths of despair! The Australian media captured a photograph of Harbhajan Singh scratching his armpit and claimed that this was evidence enough that the feisty Sikh was making “monkey gestures”.

In doing so, the media in Australia merely demonstrated that, apart from the players — particularly the captain — who had already shown signs of getting there, it was possible for the media to mentally disintegrate too!

All of this emanated from the Australian media making a “mountain out of a molehill”. More precisely the Australian media caused a stink out of a Sikh’s public scratch by claiming that Harbhajan Singh imitated a one-handed monkey when he proceeded to scratch his right armpit!

To support such a wild and mildly obnoxious (Ooops! That word again!) claim, the smart investigative Australian reporters whipped up a photograph and thumped it on the desk of the ICC Match Referee. On close inspection, the photograph showed a cricketer — Harbhajan Singh — scratching his armpit! It may have been an ungainly scratch. And on Channel-9’s new and yet untested device, the scratchometer, that photograph did produce a bit of a stink! But apart from that there seemed to be nothing much wrong with that photograph!

But the reporters, the sub-editor and the entire editorial staff pressed on anyway in a gripping manner, straight from the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein territory! Either that or they thought they were filming an episode of Seinfeld!

The reporters proceeded to get a few random statements from a few Australian fans in the crowd. Nice idea, and smart thinking 99! But these fans were hardly credible! They apparently wore T-shirts with the words “Monkey See… Monkey Do” emblazoned on them!

Don’t laugh! This is really serious!

This was getting way beyond Seinfeld territory by now!

What was worse, however, was that these comments were procured from Australian fans in Bay 29 who constantly hurled racist abuse at Harbhajan Singh himself — they admitted to this themselves! Some of these choice chants included “show us your knot” and “get a haircut” – both references to Harbhajan Singh’s Sikh roots. These chants were spitefully racist in nature! Yet, the Australian media bent over backwards to concoct a case of racism on the person who was seemingly at the receiving end!

I mean, if things had gotten any funnier, it would have been part of a Monty Python sketch!

Fortunately for most people around the world, the ICC ruled that it was perfectly legitimate, although perhaps a tad noisome, for human beings to scratch themselves when they itch! It is a custom that is practiced with annoying regularity in most parts of the world although it would seem that Australians — particularly Australian reporters and even more particularly, reporters from the Sydney Morning Herald — have somehow been exempt from this particularly distasteful habit. Perhaps this is in their job description — although, it would make an interesting case for any equal opportunities commissioner to see a Job Description Statement that showed up employers as scratchists!

Newspaper reporters in Australia were last seen scrambling all over themselves in a bid to beat a hasty path to Australian Quarantine officials to see if they could press with a legislation that banned public scratching.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has not issued any comment on the racist abuse hurled in the direction of Harbhajan Singh!

— Mohan

Monkey Letter

Regular reader, Sampath Kumar has sent this letter in to The Age today. He sent it in to us and we thought we might share it with all our readers…

Dear Editor,

Has Pauline Hanson become the speech writer for Mathew Hayden and Sports Editor for The Age, at the same time?

Instead of The Age, publishing an action shot of Sachin Tendulkar,who scored a century and won the game, on the front page of the Sport section of The Age today, we see a picture of Harbhajan Singh scratching his right arm pit, with the caption,”more monkey business?”

I challenge you to show this picture to 1000 Aussie kindergarten kids and ask them what they think of the photo. I bet my house that not one — that is right — not one will connect a man scratching ONE arm pit with a monkey.

Instead of Harbhajan Singh facing an ICC tribunal, it should be the Sports Editor of The Age that should be worried about a phone call from the Australian Press Council, asking for an explanation.

Sam Kumar
Melbourne, Australia

Cricket Australia to reprimand Matthew Hayden?

Cricket Australia is reported to have said that it will make a “significant announcement about a current Australian player” at 5pm AEST (1130 IST).

It could be about the retirement of Brad Hogg. But then Hogg has already announced his retirement plans separately!

So speculation is rife that Matthew Hayden will receive a wrap (Edit: Sic! I meant to write “rap”) on his wrists from Cricket Australia — and so he should, in my view, for calling Harbhajan Singh an “obnoxious little weed”; a story that has received some discussion on this blogsite.

Matthew Hayden is also reported to have said that he would love to meet Indian pace bowler, Ishant Sharma, in a boxing ring!

Now, it is quite likely that Matthew Hayden will indeed receive his wish of being in a boxing ring soon! Unfortunately, he could well be facing off with his employers! Time will tell…

— Mohan

Edit: Matthew Hayden’s obnoxious comment is available here as an audio clip.

News and Views…

There have been a few things happening. So I thought I’d blog a “News and Views” type post.


  • India beat Sri Lanka to enter the finals of the CB Tri-Series. Praveen Kumar broke the back of the Sri Lankan innings through some incisive pace bowling. Sri Lanka never really recovered from there. I have been saying this for quite some time now… and I will say it again! I am not sure why Praveen Kumar should not be a part of every game that India plays. In fact, I’d even say that he is not a bad #3 option too! He has a reputation of hitting big sixes in domestic cricket.
  • After playing the last dead-game in Melbourne, the Australians will take on India at the SCG on Sunday March 2.
  • The latest round of reprimands and fines in cricket in Sydney in the CB series match between Australia and India has received due coverage in Australia. Contrast the approach of The Age (Jamie Pandaram) and The Australian (Peter Lalor). The latter opinion piece does not even mention that Ricky Ponting was fined in the same match for slow over rates!
  • Peter Lalor goes one step further today by suggesting that Ishant Sharma gave Saint Andrew Symonds a “foul mouthed spray”. Ishant Sharma copped a fine and in my view, that was fair enough. Did poor Saint Andrew Symonds deserve a spray for saying “Well bowled champ”? Oh no way!
  • Unfortunately, instead of saying that the Indians will not indulge in sledging and instead of saying that the Indians will work hard on learning how not to be affected by foul-mouthed hoons, its ODI captain has instead said, “It’s an art and [the Australians] are good at it, but the Indians will learn soon.” Pray why?
  • The BCCI, it seems, has had enough of all this nonsense and wants to empower on-field umpires to come down hard on sledging. It is not often that I agree with anything that the BCCI mandarins say, but on this one, I am on their side! I reckon on-field umpires should be given a yellow, green and red card. A Yellow Card is a first warning to a player in the match. A Green Card would mean that the player is out of the game for half hour. A Red Card would mean that the player sits out the rest of the match! The umpires decision is final. Period. That’s one way to stamp out all this on-field nonsense.
  • In his match report on the India v Sri Lanka match in Hobart, Peter Lalor says, “No, it was all very pleasant when India played Sri Lanka. More a neighbourhood social than an international match.” Wonder why? The team of All Saints was busy dressing up for the Allan Border Medal night. And when they were not busy dressing up, they were busy frothing on Radio!
  • Yes, just when you thought things were going along swimmingly, Saint Matthew Hayden jumped in, head, foot and arms flailing and called Harbhajan Singh an “obnoxious weed”. How nice now! I would be surprised if Cricket Australia do not tape the big Queenslander’s mouth. If he worked in my organisation, I know what I would do. I do not know what sort of weed the big Queenslander has been smoking lately, but it is clearly having an effect on him!
  • The Indians think Matthew Hayden called Harbhajan Singh a “mad boy” in the Sydney match. So what if he did? But the big opening batsman from Queensland said, he called him a “bad boy”. Ooooh ooooh! Baddy Baddy Bad Boy! Phew, that makes it alright then! The “bad boy” tag — rather than the “mad boy” yelp — becomes even more acceptable to Hayden because he thought in his own simple mind that Harbhajan Singh should be flattered. But of course! Duh! “Bad Doy” is “a clothing range is it not? What the…..?
  • Did these guys go to school at all? Not that they have to, mind you. Clearly, some of them haven’t left the school yard where most people leave all of this puerile nonsense.
  • Read a transcript of Saint Matthew Hayden’s eloquent interview here. I am shocked that Cricket Australia are sitting on their fingers after this blatantly disrespectful interview. I thought the Australian way was to leave all the verbal nonsense on the field!
  • The Australians apparently got really upset with Harbhajan Singh after the Indian spinner reportedly subjected Australian skipper Ricky Ponting “to non-stop abuse” in the Adelaide match. Oh poor thing! That’s not fair, is it mommy? Get him a nappy… quick! Talking of nappies, Ricky Ponting is expecting one… Not a nappy… a baby!
  • Meanwhile Saint Pontiff Matthew Hayden has taken it upon himself to provide advise to young Ishant Sharma on on-field behaviour! Saint Pontiff Matthew Hayden said, “He is just young. I have said to him many times, you are 19, take it easy. At the end of the day you are 19, why don’t you just worry about your bowling for a while.”! Wonder why, at 37, Hayden does not follow his own advice? Things that make you go WTF…
  • So now Ishant Sharma needs advice too. Hmmm! Let’s not forget that this was the young lad that shook Andrew Symonds’ hand in Sydney in that infamous Test match. What advice is he going to receive from Saint Matthew Hayden — halo and all — on appropriate on-field behaviour?
  • India take on New Zealand in the U19 semi-final game in Malaysia.
  • Gary Kirsten has arrived in India to take up his responsibilities as Team India Coach. Anil Kumble and he met with BCCI officials. This is in preparation for India’s Test series against South Africa, who will play three Tests against India in India, at Chennai (March 26-30), Ahmedabad (April 3-7) and Kanpur (April 11-15).
  • One of Gary Kirsten’s immediate tasks will be the appointment of a team physio — John Gloster will quit his position at the end of the ongoing CB Series. Kirsten also appears keen to recruit his long-term business associate and mental skills coach Paddy Upton on a permanent basis! Perhaps Upton could teach the team to learn how to ignore (rather than retaliate well to) the Saints from the opposition team.

— Mohan

Bad starts cause a loss…

India lost a tight game to Australia thanks to two bad starts. India started badly while bowling and recovered in the middle overs! While batting, again, India made a hash of the start. Although the Indian batting recovered from that wobble, the magnitude of the bad start meant that India lost by 18 runs. The fact that India got that close is a credit to the Indian middle-order batsmen!

As M. S. Dhoni said at the post-match interviews, India can take a lot of positives from this game.

When India were bowling, an Australia total of 380 seemed likely at one stage. Australia got off to a sensational start with Ponting and Hayden murdering the bowling attack. In particular, Sreesanth bowled like a millionaire! He bowled so inconsistently that one almost whipped the prayer mat out to seek Ajit Agarkar’s re-appearance in the Indian line up! India pegged Australia down to a less daunting 317. In particular, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh bowled brilliantly. This meant that India’s 4-bowler strategy appeared to have worked… just! I am not sure if this is a strategy that can be persisted with.

Despite the good bowling in the middle overs, in order to win, India would have had to overhaul the highest 2nd innings total at the SCG prior to last night.

Another bad start — this time in the batting — meant that, at 51-4, a score of 200 looked like a huge mountain to climb. Yet, India recovered, thanks to Gautam Gambhir, M. S. Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh to get to a total of 299!

There are positives and these include the middle-overs bowling and the middle-overs batting. There is little doubt that M. S. Dhoni is a calming influence on this team. He rallies his young cadets to keep fighting till the end. In players like Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Irfan Pathan, he has a core set of players that will respond positively too.

Gautam Gambhir is batting really well these days. He was in fine form and batted with a calm head on his responsible shoulders. In the absence of firepower at the top and with the dodgy form/knee of Yuvraj Singh, on this ODI tour, Gambhir has been the foundation on which the rest of the team has been built. If he had lasted until the ball-change in the 34th over, the match result may well have been different; a fact that he acknowledged himself in the post-match sound-bytes!

The performance of Robin Uthappa was also a revelation. Prior to this game he hadn’t really had a major opportunity to showcase his undoubted skills. Apart from a weakness that he has early on in his innings — of shuffling too far forward and across — Uthappa looks like a sensational and dependable batsman. He has a calm head on his shoulders and, like Gambhir, appears to love a tight situation! In that sense, he has a Michael Bevan like quality to his batting. Along with the indefatigable M. S. Dhoni, Uthappa looks set to play a long innings in Indian cricket.

The match was played at the SCG, the very cauldron that saw the infamous MonkeyGate explode in the faces of the Australia and India teams! The same venue saw the alleged instigator of that blow-up cause another one last night — this time with Ishant Sharma. After being bowled by a beauty from the young Indian tearaway, Symonds appeared to say something to the Indian bowler who responded by giving Symonds a few directions to the dressing room. It is somewhat unlikely that Ishant Sharma will escape a fine and a reprimand.

Most Match Referees will, these days, slap a fine on send-offs to the dressing-room unless of course, it is carried out by “fine Australian cricketers” — when such actions will be seen as “natural aggression, which should not be removed from the game” or some such platitude. Be that as it may, giving the batsman a send-off is a no-no and young Sharma should be prepared to cop it on the chin!

In another interesting twist in last nights’ game, the match referee, reacting to a claim made on Channel-9 by Ian Healey, seized M. S. Dhoni’s gloves after the veteran Australian gloveman claimed that Dhoni’s gloves were illegal!

The Indian team should ask some searching questions of its opening bowlers and opening batsmen. I would not be surprised if we see either Sachin Tendulkar or Virender Sehwag drop down the order in the all-important game on Tuesday against Sri Lanka. Similarly, I would not be surprised if Sree Santh is asked to sit out that game. The team may also want to accommodate Praveen Kumar in the mix.

— Mohan