Tag Archives: New Zealand

Wise Words from Ranatunga

Ranatunga has categorically said that this is the strongest Indian one day side ever and is the side to beat. I have not had a chance to read through all the posts and comments on  this blog on the possible last four combinations. Having said that, I find it difficult to argue with Ranatunga’s selection of India, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand. The only side that I might have had different would have been West Indies instead of New Zealand. Home side advantage is a huge factor in the World Cup and particularly in the Caribbean. My prediction of an India v Sri Lanka still stays. It is interesting to note that Ranatunga has a very high regard for Uthappa and recommends that Uthappa open in all the games. I am not so sure I agree to his view that Sehwag should be up at the top, atleast, I am not convinced yet. What is most satisfying to hear is his comparison of this Indian side with the winning combination that he lead in 1996.



A tale of captains…

I decided to have a look at the ODI and World Cup stats of the eight captains that are captaining the likely Super8 teams.

By the way, I have to acknowledge CricInfo for all the stats that I have compiled together — in this and previous articles. Where would we all be without this magnificent treasure-house of cricket data, information and knowledge?

First, their overall career ODI stats (organised in the decreasing order of batting average):

Name |M |Runs |HS |Avg |100s |50s |W |Best |BowlAv |

The first thing to note is that they are all batsmen. So comparing their bowling is hardly worth it. The only one from this list that does bowl — and that too, occassionally in ODIs — is Greame Smith. But it is hardly anything worthy of serious note. Smith and Vaughan are the relative fledgelings of the captains’ group — in terms of overall number of games played. It surprised me to see that Vaughan has only played 77 ODI games overall!

There appears to be a distinct clustering here. Ponting, Lara, Dravid and Inzamam belong to one cluster. They have batting averages around the 40s. Ponting and Lara have converted a lot more of their 50s into 100s. That could be explained by their position in the batting order as much as anything else. We observe that Dravid and Inzamam have a larger proportion of 50s against their names. However, their is not much between this group. With the exception of Ponting, whos is a mere 144 runs away, all of them have over 10,000 runs in the game! That is a sensational performance by any yardstick!

With an average close enough to 40, Greame Smith could claim that he belongs to this grouping. And perhaps he does. But I’d place him on his own. As far as I am concerned, the jury is out on him. This could be his World Cup. If it is, I would say that he belongs in the first grouping.

The remaining three captains (Fleming, Jayawardene and Vaughan) bring up the rear. In my view, Jayawardene has been a somewhat disappointing ODI player. He is a class act, but does not seem to have the wherewithal to convert his style and panache into high scores. He is one of the more frustrating players of our time. I thought Sri Lankan cricket missed a beat by not appointing Sangakkara as captain. How Jayawardene will turn out over the long run is anyones’ guess! But it sure is disappointing to see him in a clustering with Fleming and Vaughan. In my view, he is a better player than that and he is probably not as tactically-astute as Fleming or Vaughan.

Now for a look at the performance of the Super8 captains in World Cup games (again, organised in the decreasing order of batting average):

Name |M |Runs |HS |Avg |100s |50s |W |Best |BowlAv |

Again, it is amazing how far ahead Dravid is from the rest! There is daylight between his performances (in terms of batting average) and the rest! One could conclude that the big match brings out the best in him. And that is not entirely surprising, given his mental strength, discipline, self-belief and sheer determination.

The disappointments in this list are surely Inzamam and Jayawardene. Maybe this will be their World Cup. Who knows?

— Mohan

India’s schedule for the World cup?

Mohan’s article was an interesting read about results in the Group stage that would maximize India’s chances of advancing to the semis. But, here is what I think will be the standing at the end of the Group stage –

Group A Group B Group C Group D
1. Australia India New Zealand West Indies
2. South Africa Sri Lanka England Pakistan

The reasoning for these standings is that I believe the 8 teams shown above will beat the minnows easily and the real test is the match played between each other. Of these, I think Australia will beat South Africa, India will beat Sri Lanka and so on…

Based on these standings, these are the games India will be playing –

Date Opponent
March 28 South Africa
April 01 Pakistan
April 04 England
April 12 New Zealand
April 16 Australia
April 18 West Indies

It is interesting to see that if this scenario plays out, India’s last game of the Super 8s will be on the 18th of April against the hosts – West Indies. All other teams will have another game to go after that and I hope India would have already qualified by then – rather than wait on the outcome of the next three games, which they will have no control over…


Group results that would be good for Team India

A few basics on the tournament points-rules first. Let us remind ourselves that:

  • The World Cup 2007 has 4 Groups (A, B, C, D and E) of 4 teams each.
  • The top two teams from each group (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D1, D2) will advance to the Super8 stage.
  • In the Super8 stage A1 will not play A2, B1 will not play B2, C1 will not play C2 and D1 will not play D2.
  • So, Super8 teams will only play 6 games each in the Super8 part of the tournament.
  • Any points that teams may have earned against the other qualifier from their own Group will be carried through.
  • At the end of the Super8 stage, the top four teams will go through to the semi-finals.

Let us also remind ourselves that the Groups are:

    [Group-A]: Australia, Scotland, Netherlands, South Africa
    [Group-B]: Bermuda, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India
    [Group-C]: Canada, Kenya, England, New Zealand
    [Group-D]: West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland, Zimbabwe

Like most cricket fans and pundits, the expectation is that Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, England, New Zealand, West Indies and Pakistan will make the Super8.

Let us further assume that we do not have rain, game-abandons and ties.

Given that most of us on this Blog would want Team India to maximise its chances of entering the semi-final stage, I feel that the following results in the Group stages of the World Cup 2007 will be good for India’s chances.

  • India wins all its 3 Group-B games — against Sri Lanka, Bermuda and Bangladesh.
  • Australia thrashes the living daylight out of South Africa in its Group-A!
  • England manage to win only one of their Group-C games and that is against New Zealand. England then proceed to lose to Canada and Kenya and bomb out of the tournament. This is not a pipe dream, but a regular England thing when it comes to World Cups in any sport! But more seriously, it would be good if England were to beat the Kiwis.
  • West Indies beats Pakistan.

Reasoning? I think a team would need 3-4 wins out of the six Super8 games plus one from its Group-game to be a safe shoe-in to the semi-finals stage. I believe that of the Super8 teams, India can beat England, West Indies and New Zealand. If we add to that a Group-game win against Sri Lanka, that would then be the games that India needs. Unless India plays some exceptional cricket, I expect the team to lose to Australia and South Africa. Even though India has never lost to Pakistan in her World Cup outings, the India V Pakistan game is always a lottery. So, a win there would be a bonus.

India’s semi-final contenders are, in my view, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan. Despite the recent chest-beats from Barry Richards and Sunil Gavaskar, I still feel that there is daylight between Australia and the rest of the teams and they must be a dead-cert for the Semi finals. So, the best results in the Group stage would be those that disadvantage South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan. Hence the results-suggestions above.


— Mohan

My Great Indian Moments at the World Cups

I am sure every one of us have had our moments-to-cherish in each of the different World Cups. My own World Cup connection began in right earnest during the 1983 World Cup campaign. Just in time for the commencement of the World Cup, a television appeared in our living room! This was a first for our household! It was a big moment for all of us at home — certainly for me, since I could stop being a pest with the neighbors; I no longer needed to ask them for permission to watch games and programs on their television and in their living room!

The World Cup final was when I had my first of many encounters with built up nervous energy. I remember pacing up and down and sweating it out like a nervous teenager on his first date, egging India to win. I doubt I will ever forget that moment when Kapil Dev took that brilliant catch — that was almost the defining moment for Indian cricket itself!

This then brings me to the topic! Here are my Indian moments at all the World Cups since 1983 (inclusive).

1983 Prudential World Cup

The final was certainly it. The six by Kris Srikkanth of Joel Garner was a big moment. At home, it felt as though we yelled so hard and loud, we felt we had broken the sound barrier! Until then, it seemed as though Garner was this unpenetrable bowler. Kapil Dev’s catch to dismiss Viv Richards and the final wicket of Michael Holding made up some of the brightest moments for me as far as I can remember. The semi-finals did have its moments too — with Sandeep Patil taking on Bob Willis and Yashpal Sharma making a fine half century. In the lead up game, India beat Zimbabwe after being 17 for 5 at one stage. This was thanks to a terrific 175 from Kapil Dev! Unfortunately, there is no video footage of this match!

1987 World Cup

This world cup should have been India’s but for some bad mistakes by India in the semi-final game. The best moment for me in the tournament was the amazing century partnership between Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth in the game against New Zealand at Nagpur. The sweep shot off Martin Snedden by Kris Srikkanth was etched into memory. Gavaskar rained sixes on the ground and scored his one and only hundred in ODIs — as though to prove a point! This match had John Wright opening for New Zealand. It also had a moment for trivia-buffs — Chetan Sharma took the first every hat-trick in a World Cup!

The first game against Australia in Chennai was quite the finish — there certainly were some deja vu moments for me that night with Maninder Singh being the last man out again against Australia in Chennai (remember the tied test!) with one run to tie… In the semi-final against England, the man with brooms — Graham Gooch — and poor shot selection by Kapil Dev were moments worth erasing from memory.

1992 World Cup

While it is generally believed that this was one campaign worth forgetting for India, I cannot speak much about it since I was in Godforsaken land then and did not have a chance to watch a single game. This World Cup was marred by poor team-selection (for India) and also poor rain-rules (this was pre-Duckworth-Lewis days). However, I do remember that India should have won the games against England and Australia early in the tournament and this may have made a big difference. It is also worth noting that when Tendulkar scored, India won those games.

1996 World Cup

While this saw the emergence of Sachin Tendulkar as the most dominant force in World Cups, the magical moments for me were all in the quarter-final game against Pakistan in Bangalore. This match saw a terrific platform-setup by Navjot Sidhu followed by fantastic knock by Ajay Jadeja that included an amazing six of Waqar Younis. The other big moment was when Venkatesh Prasad took Amir Sohail’s wicket — the Jadeja-six and the Prasad-wicket events are two moments are worth entry into any all-time-World-Cup-memory DVD collection. The tension and excitement in the game against Australia at the Wankhade Stadium could be felt even when we watched it on television..

So, you want to watch the Prasad-Sohail incident? Well, here we go…

1999 World Cup

The Ganguly-Dravid partnership at Taunton in the game against Sri Lanka was a particular highlight of this edition of the World Cup. In particular, it was a joy to see the way Ganguly handled Muthiah Muralitharan. Ganguly made 183 in that game. We also witnessed a superb century by Tendulkar on his return to the World Cup after travelling to India to attend the funeral of his father who passed away during that World Cup These were some of the brighter moments in an otherwise dark World Cup for India.

2003 World Cup

This will be remembered as the World Cup that we should have won, but did not! I still wonder what went wrong! This was the perfect campaign for India till the very end, when we came up against a rampaging Australia in the finals. India’s campaign in this World Cup was very similar to the 1985 Benson-and-Hedges World Championships. India played like a champion team throughout the 2003 World Cup tournament. There were so many special Indian moments, it is hard to pick one.

The demolition of Caddick and his ego by Tendulkar at Kingsmead was a special. So also the Sehwag-Tendulkar show against Shoaib Akthar in India’s game against Pakistan. Mohammed Kaif’s almost forgotten gutsy performance in the same game against Pakistan in the presence of a resurgent Waqar Younis (the cover drive that he played of Waqar Younis to kick off his innings was breathtaking!) was one for the special-DVD too. We also saw some superb piece of swing bowling by the pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra against Sri Lanka and New Zealand were also terrific. Nehra’s magic against England was a joy. Ganguly’s liking for the Kenyan attack was as good as it gets. My particularly special moment was Alec Stewart getting caught plumb in front by a peach of a delivery from Nehra. This itself was worth every penny of the 180-dollars I paid for the tournament telecast.

2007 World Cup

I am sure the 180-or-so-dollars that I will be paying this time around will be worth every penny too. In this context, I think I spoke too soon about ATN and its magnanimity. They are charging a fair bit for the telecast… But I will subscribe. Because of those special moments.

Go India!


Letter in The Age…

Read this letter to the editor in The Age, Sunday 18 February 2007 (go to page 4 of this link to read this letter online). The letter is reproduced below.

The letter is on Australia’s loss by 10 wickets to the Kiwis. Since that loss that Sampath Kumar refers to in his letter below, the Aussies have lost yet another one to the Kiwis. Wonder what Kumar will write now?

— Mohan

10 wickets, mate. I’m bloody gutted!

I AM gutted. Bleeding. How could the Aussies go down by 10 wickets to the Kiwis on Friday. Don’t tell me, it is good for cricket. What is cricket without us winning. Even me dog is refusing to eat its tucker.

Mate, it’s the end of the world. If not, bloody close to it. I can’t go to the supermarket without the bloody Kiwis looking and laughing at me. And half of them are over here. Who let them in? I would rather have more Lebanese than Kiwis. At least, they can’t beat us in cricket.

And the missus — who hates cricket and more so, me watching it on the telly and supporting the Aussies — laughed so much on Friday she went into premature labour. She is taking revenge on me; now she wants to call the baby son, Lou Vincent Kumar. She gave me a second option: Paul Collingwood Kumar.

I want the Parliament reconvened. I want a royal commission. Sack the bloody coach. Buchanan is useless. Put Warnie at the helm. If he refuses, pay him double. Or bring back conscription and make him do it.

If Johnny Howard doesn’t do anything about it now, we won’t win the World Cup. And when it happens, just remember, I told you so.

Sampath Kumar, Mornington