Tag Archives: New Zealand

Thinking ‘Out of the box’ for India’s tour of NZ

With India’s tour to Pakistan canceled, post 26/11, India had an opportunity of a slightly extended tour to New Zealand. And indeed, India are now playing an additional Test match and an extra Twenty20 in New Zealand.

However, instead of lengthening the tour to accommodate these additional matches, the extra matches have been featured at the cost of canceling the practice game that was originally scheduled.

India will also be playing five ODIs and a Twenty20 game at Sri Lanka from Jan 28 to Feb 10.

Once again, the BCCI has proved that if India does well in international cricket it is despite the BCCI and not because of it. The utter stupidity of this decision to cancel the scheduled practice game — in order to accommodate an additional Test and Twenty20 — shocks me.

The schedule for the series in New Zealand is:

– 25 Feb: 1st Twenty20 international, Christchurch
– 27 Feb: 2nd Twenty20 international, Wellington
– 3 Mar: 1st ODI, Napier
– 6 Mar: 2nd ODI, Wellington
– 8 Mar: 3rd ODI, Christchurch
– 11 Mar: 4th ODI, Hamilton
– 14 Mar: 5th ODI, Auckland
– 18-22 Mar: 1st Test, Hamilton
– 26-30 Mar: 2nd Test, Napier
– 3-7 Apr: 3rd Test, Wellington

Now, to my mind, there is no reason why a few (not just one or two, but a few) 3-day practice games cannot be organised for Team India between 25 Feb and 14 March even with the above itinerary.

If we consider the current India ODI team and Test team, there are players like Rahul Dravid, V. V. S. Laxman, S. Badrinath, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar who do not (need to) feature in the ODI team.

There are Team India ODI players like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan who are also a part of the Team India Test side. While they get acclimatised to NZ conditions by playing their ODI games, there is no reason why the rest of the Test team should not play a few practice games in NZ!

A more proactive and forward-thinking BCCI would have married the “making money” strategy with the need for practice and pragmatism to come up with a winning strategy. Unfortunately though, BCCI seems constantly incapable of thinking beyond the money prerogative — a strategy that necessitates more matches being played!

It would be easy to form the following two teams and have them play in New Zealand simultaneously:

ODI Team India:
Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel (Subs: Irfan Pathan, Virat Kohli, Pragyan Ojha, Mohammed Kaif)

NZ Practice Matches India:
Wasim Jaffer, M. Vijay, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V. V. S. Laxman, S. Badrinath, Parthiv Patel, Manpreet Gony, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, R. P. Singh (Subs: Ashok Dinda, Cheteshwar Pujara, Abhishek Nayar, Chetanya, Nanda, Piyush Chawla)

This assumes that Sachin Tendulkar and Ishant Sharma are “rested” from ODI duties. However, even if that is not a valid assumption, since both teams would be in the same country, players can be mixed and matched between the two teams!

In essence, what I am calling for is a marriage between the “make money” strategy with “pargmatic necessity” to come up with an innovative winning strategy.

Alas! The BCCI has repeatedly indicated that it is incapable of thinking beyond packed tours and money!

— Mohan

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T20 match reviews from Sportstar

Here are the reviews for the matches in the Super8’s and knockout games –

And here is Rohit Brijnath’s feature article on T20 – It is excitable, unruly, unsubtle and fun.

-Mahesh-

World Twenty20 Team

Adam Mountford from the BBC picks his World Twenty20 team. The twelve-member-team has in it two Indians (Yuvraj Singh and M. S. Dhoni). The team also includes two Australians (Matthew Hatden, Stuart Clark), one West Indian (Chris Gayle), 4 Pakistani players (Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul), one Kiwi (Daniel Vettori), one South African (Morne Morkel) and one Englishman (Kevin Pietersen).

Not only is Dhoni the ‘keeper, he is also captain of the World Team that’s been chosen by Mountford who says: “Not only is he a real entertainer, but who better to captain a T20 Dream Team than a real swashbuckling hero. Ian Chappell said on TMS that a team takes on the personality of its captain, and thinks India are playing without fear because of the character of Dhoni. That is how I want this super team to play.

1. Matthew Hayden
2. Chris Gayle
3. Yuvraj Singh
4. Shahid Afridi
5. Shoaib Malik
6. Misbah-ul-Haq
7. M. S. Dhoni (captain and wicket-keeper)
8. Morne Morkel
9. Daniel Vettori
10. Umar Gul
11. Stuart Clark
12. Kevin Pietersen

This is not a bad team at all in my view and has the right people in it.

Comments/views?

— Mohan

Ps: How come Ajit Agarkar and Matt Prior do not rate a mention? 🙂

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

Team Analysis for the Worldcup

The magazine Sportstar has done an analysis of theWorld cup teams. This is what they have got to say –

India : Perfect blend of youth and experience

The key is to do well in the first stage, where India often struggles to maintain form, so as to enter the second, better suited to India’s traditionally spasmodic style of play

Australia : Adapatbility is its forte

An eternal favourite, Australia will be the team to watch. For sheer consistency and quality of cricket, there is no team to match Ricky Ponting’s bunch of performers. History confirms that Australia has always been the team that has the character to win from hopeless situations.

West Indies : Consistency elusive

As host, the burden of expectations will be on the West Indies. The Brian Lara-led side is not without ability, but has, in the run-up to the World Cup, lacked consistency.

Sri Lanka : A side with good balance

The one significant advantage Sri Lanka has, going into the World Cup, is that none of its players are carrying injuries. The roster of casualties is long for other countries, particularly Australia, and for a side ostensibly loaded with geriatric men Sri Lanka isn’t doing too badly

South Africa: Attitude is the question

Four years ago, the South Africans got the Duckworth and Lewis arithmetic wrong on a rainy night in Durban; the team-management had blundered. This time Caribbean sun could shine on them

Pakistan: Enigmatic ensemble

There is reason to believe that Pakistan has a realistic chance of winning the World Cup. It may be an enigma, but it surely is a strong contender for the title, provided the players discover the collective way to dominate and not depend on individual brilliance

New Zealand Peaking at the right time

Stephen Fleming’s New Zealand has the variety and the depth to mount a serious challenge in the World Cup. It is one of the strong contenders for a place in the semifinals

England: Vaughan’s fitness vital

The first World Cup final victory can be a turning point in the English game’s history. It can obliterate the memories of more than 35 years in which they have underperformed and wipe out the dreadful defeats in Australia this winter

-Mahesh-

More accurate Super8 schedule?

This appears to be the most likely schedule for the Super8s we may end up with. The ICC obviously planned this schedule but didn’t publish it because there is always the potential for an upset in the group stage. It appears that the earlier article I wrote was a misinterpretation of how the seeding rules apply.

Aus RSA SL Ind NZ Eng Pak WI
Aus Apr 16 Mar 31 Apr 20 Apr 08 Apr 13 Mar 27
RSA Mar 28 Apr 07 Apr 14 Apr 17 Apr 03 Apr 10
SL Apr 16 Mar 28 Apr 12 Apr 04 Apr 18 Apr 01
Ind Mar 31 Apr 07 Apr 02 Apr 11 Apr 15 Apr 19
NZ Apr 20 Apr 14 Apr 12 Apr 02 Apr 09 Mar 29
Eng Apr 08 Apr 17 Apr 04 Apr 11 Apr 21 Mar 30
Pak Apr 13 Apr 03 Apr 18 Apr 15 Apr 09 Apr 21
WI Mar 27 Apr 10 Apr 01 Apr 19 Mar 29 Mar 30

-Mahesh-

Unravelling the Super8 schedule!

After the Rediff expose of the ICC schedule bungle — perhaps as a result of an overzealous website editor/copywriter — I did some thinking on the nomination of the teams as A1, A2, B1, B2, etc.

For a brief period the ICC schedule website, had the following rule in it (copied from Rediff who were quick enough to clip it from there!):

    Team names for the Super Eight stage are indicative based on the top two teams from the Group Stage qualifying. If these two teams do qualify they will be seeded in position 1 or 2 as specified regardless of whether they finish first or second in their group. For example, if South Africa wins Group A and Australia comes second, for the purposes of the Super Eights, South Africa will still be A2 and Australia will be A1.

Note that the ICC runs two schedule websites, here and here — the latter being the website being run for the ICC by its official Internet partner, http://www.indya.com!

Let us think this through logically. The Super8 stage is a league where every team plays every other team apart from the one from its own Group (which it would have played already and carried over points from). So, it doesn’t really make a difference which team is named A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D1 and D2 — given that they will all play each other! For example, even if India wins all its 3 group games and tops Group-B, it would not make a difference if India is named B2 and Sri Lanka (say) is named B1 — as long as India carries over 2 points into the Super8 stage.

Now, why would the ICC want to label India as B2?

Easy. If the ICC did that, India would play most of its games on Saturdays or Sundays. Big TV audience. Big moolah! Clever.

The ICC would maximise its TV revenue if it labels the teams in the following way (assuming no upsets in the Group games by the 8 minnows that are just there to make up the numbers and fatten the stats).

    A1: Australia
    A2: South Africa
    B1: Sri Lanka
    B2: India
    C1: New Zealand
    C2: England
    D1: Pakistan
    D2: West Indies

This will mean that marquee games (or showcourt games) that would have larger TV audiences would be on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays! Note the strategically positioned gap in the schedule between the Wednesday 4th April and Saturday 7th April. That’s so that India can play South Africa on Saturday the 7th of April, if we follow the labelling as above. An alternative to the above labelling is that D1 and D2 are swapped — this would make a toss of a difference to the “revenue earning” games that matter — as far as the ICC is concerned! The swapping of A1 and A2 will also produce reasonable dollar results for the ICC — after all, is that not their main concern?

However, I am pretty confident that India will be labelled B2 and Australia will be A1, regardless of the Group results.

In the event that the labelling is as I indicated above, India’s Super8 games will be:

  • Saturday 31 March: Australia V India
  • Monday 02 April: New Zealand V India
  • Saturday 07 April: South Africa V India
  • Wednesday 11 Apr: England V India
  • Sunday 15 April: India V Pakistan
  • Thursday 19 April: West Indies V India

How convenient? This is smart, but devious of the ICC, in my view. Devious because I haven’t seen this transparently explained anywhere. In the absence of such transparency, most people would like to believe that the labelling follows the normal rule which would suggest that the leader assumes first spot in the Group table…

— Mohan