Tag Archives: Sreesanth

The story since the last Kotla game..

The last time India played at the Feroz Shah Kotla, they beat Sri Lanka by a huge margin. Tendulkar scored a century and Kumble took a 10 for in the match. Irfan Pathan was the frontline fast bowler for India. He also opened the innings and scored a career best 93. Dhoni had just made his debut in the previous match and although Sehwag didn’t play the game, he was still a central figure in Indian cricket.

That was close to 2 years ago. Since then, a lot of things have happened. Pathan lost his in-swing, his pace and then his place in the team. Sehwag too lost his form and was dropped. Although Pathan has made a comeback into the ODI team, Sehwag is still not a permanent fixture.

Tendulkar went without scoring a hundred in the next 10 games and finally broke the streak with 2 centuries against Bangladesh. He has been averaging only 36.87 since the hundred at Delhi and if we take out his scores in the series against Bangladesh, he averages just 28.68.

Saurav Ganguly was dropped too and Yuvraj Singh (who had a 100+ partnership with Dhoni in the second innings) has been in and out of the team. Laxman’s position has also been in doubt during this period in spite of his 40+ average.

The one player who has had a consistent  presence in the Indian middle order has been Rahul Dravid – the wall,  although he has since given up his captaincy. He has been averaging 53+ during this time which is only slightly lower than his career average of 56.50. The other positive thing for India is that they have found two good openers in Jaffar and Karthik (or have they?).

In the bowling department, Kumble has been consistent as ever, although Harbhajan Singh dropped out of the team owing to poor form. This may well be Harbhajan’s comeback Test.

The fast bowling department has improved by leaps and bounds with Zaheer Khan finding his rhythm and the emergence of RP Singh and Sreesanth (although, the two may not play tomorrow owing to injury).

Now, that’s the story so far. What should we be looking out for in this test and this series? Here is my list –

  • How the openers perform: Sehwag has been kept out of the team in spite of a 90+ average against Pakistan. If any of the openers fail twice in a row, I would expect Sehwag to be back in the team, although a lot of people would argue that he shouldn’t open the innings anymore.
  • Performance of Laxman and  Ganguly: I am pretty sure these two players are on notice in spite of some decent scores in England. Unless they perform in this series, it would pretty much be the end of their careers.
  • Kumble as a captain: It would be interesting to see how he goes about captaining the team. I would also like to see he reacts now when someone misfields 🙂
  • Dravid and Tendulkar: I expect both these players to score well. Dravid in particular has a point to prove after he was dropped from the ODI squad. I also hope that Tendulkar’s true turn to form will happen in the ground where he scored his last “real” hundred.
  • Bhajji’s bowling: Harbhajan has bowled well in the ODI series. But that is completely different to Test match bowling. Pawar has had some excellent performances in the Ranji Trophy tournament and unless Harbhajan delivers, it is either Murali Karthik or Pawar boarding the plane to Melbourne in December.

What about the team for tomorrow? Kumble has hinted that Yuvraj may not play. With RP Singh and Sreesanth injured, India may turn to Munaf Patel (who has been called in as cover) to open the bowling with Zaheer Khan. I think this may be the team that plays tomorrow –

Dinesh Karthik, Jaffar, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Ganguly, Dhoni, Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Patel

And for a bit of trivia before I finish up:

  • India has a six-match winning streak at the Kotla
  • It is a lucky ground for the captain, Kumble having taken 48 wickets @15.45. He also has his best figures of 10/74(!) in this ground playing against Pakistan.

-Mahesh-

Advertisements

Team India for Pakistan Tests

The selectors chose a 14-member India that is not too different from that which was suggested on this blog a few days back. The 15-member side that we had suggested included Irfan Pathan. Gautam Gambhir was left out.

Interestingly, Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of the selection team, handed the team out in a media release and did not address the media as he normally does.

The team is (perhaps in batting order):

Dinesh Karthik
Wasim Jaffer
Rahul Dravid
Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly
VVS Laxman / Yuvraj Singh
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Anil Kumble (capt)
Harbhajan Singh / Murali Kartik
Zaheer Khan
Sreesanth / RP Singh

— Mohan

India win the Twenty20 tie convincingly…

India won the Twenty20 tie in Mumbai in convincing fashion. They played like the World Champions they are in this form of the game.

Peter I-may-be-one-eyed-but-at-times-I-am-also-blind Lalor, dismisses the game as a Bollywood drama, in his piece in The Australian. But I will persist with reading Lalors’ outpourings. I am, like John I-am-the-only-true-optimist-in-Australia Howard, an eternal optimist! My hope is that he will grow up one day to see that there is a world out there beyond the edge of his own nose!

Despite the best efforts of the Lalors to downplay and downgrade this Australian loss — afterall, the Lalors have to find succour in something when their team loses — this was an impressive win. Despite the utter lack of grace in defeat in their writings, this was a solid performance from India. When India batted, it seemed that they were in total control. Not for once did I think India would lose. Friends of mine switched off their TV sets of drifted off to sleep even as early as the 11th over of the Indian reply. It was that obvious that Australia had run out of ideas; it was that clear that India would win! Such was India’s dominance when batting.

Normally, Indian TV sets are turned off because of disgust at the teams’ performance! Not so on Saturday! One saw a totally relaxed and playful Indian dug out. The players seemed confident, cheerful and playful.

Lalor can continue to turn his nose at the Twenty20 game. I am confident that he would have filed a different report had Australia won and that is why I feel he needs to stop wearing nappies when he writes. Moreover, he sniggers at this victory and at this form of the game at his own peril. This form of the game is here to stay.

My view is that Australia hasn’t understood this game. It is not that this form of the game does not present a stage where skill could be demonstrated. It is not that teams with more muscle and no skill will win. Any such conclusions would be wrong — and would be in the growing dictionary of Lalorisms! It does, however, shorten the gap between the best and worst teams because intensity-levels need to be switched on for a relatively shorter period of time.

Australia, one felt, got it wrong by selecting the wrong team for this game. I could not quite understand why Brad Hogg sat this game out. It is somewhat known that the Indian players do not rate Hogg’s spin too highly. Most players are, apparently, able to read Hogg vry well and ascribe the wickets he has got mainly to the fact that Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson have often made the early inroads. Be that as it may, I do feel Hogg would have created more pressure on the Indians than the bowling complement that Australia had for this game.

Australia also lacked the intensity in this game — especially when India batted. Apart from Ricky Ponting, the other batsmen appeared to be trying too hard. They did not play with their customary swagger and confidence that one has got so accustomed to.

And who knows? Brad Hodge may have played his last game for Australia. He has had a nightmare of a month and will want to put this behind him. Age is not on his side either!

After Australia won the toss and elected to bat, the Indian bowling and fielded was what can best be described as an “Indian effort”. Apart from Harbhajan Singh and, to a lesser extent, Murali Kartik, the rest of the bowlers bowled too many “gimme” balls. The worst culprit in this department was Sreesanth. A different team or even a different Australia would have taken this ill-disciplined attack apart. However, the wrong Australia turned up to the park on the day and India got away with a highly gettable 167!

The Indian batting was clinical, controlled, fearless and purposeful. Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh batted with composure and calmness that meant that India did an Australia and won in a canter.

In fact, it looked like the players had exchanged clothing at the start of the game! While India played with flair, purpose and intensity, Australia played without a plan, with flagging spirits and displayed some ordinary fielding and bowling. The bowling was mostly off target and the number of wides and no-balls reflect that. The fielding was also somewhat ordinary.

A question has to be asked: Why won’t this same team do for the ODIs against Pakistan?

In an interesting move, India rested Zaheer Khan. And that is the sort of courage that Team India needs in its selection as it moves forward into a brave new world.

Another topic for another day…

— Mohan

Ponting has been shopping for nappies?

Ponting is apparently riled and upset at the baiting and the taunts that his team has been receiving from S. Sreesanth. He is so upset that he wants the Match Referee to do something about it.

He said, “It was disappointing the other day to see that happening. He chirped me on the way out to bat, as well. When I got a chance to ask him about it later on, he ran away and said he wasn’t talking to me at all. He said he was talking to someone else. It happened probably four or five times the other day when we lost wickets; him running past somebody coming off the ground. But what can you do about it if the authorities aren’t going to do anything about it?

Oh poor baby! A tight cuddle from his mama should set him right, I am sure!

Now, let’s re-visit what Ponting said ony a few days back. In the context of labelling India’s aggression as “fake”, Ponting said of of Dhoni, the Indian captain. “As soon as any words were said at all on the field, Dhoni went and complained to the umpires, so they have gone from one extreme to the other in a matter of two days.

So, given his latest charge to the nappy-shop, is Ponting’s aggression also “fake”?

Moral of the story: If you can’t take lip, don’t give it… And once you throw a stone into an open drain, please do not whinge about the splash-back!

Meanwhile, the chin-music nonsense has commenced. Shaun Tait, the guy who wanted Indian’s to show Andrew Symonds some respect the other day, says, “Traditionally they (India’s batsmen) have been exposed to short pitched bowling and haven’t exactly liked it. If I do get a run, it would be nice to run in and stick a few up the noses of the Indian batsmen, for sure.” Sigh!

— Mohan

Team India for 5th ODI @ Vadodhra

India is often loathe to change a winning combination unless real (or make-believe) injury forces their hand. However, I have a feeling that a change or two may be necessary to the India team that beat Australia in Chandigarh.

Option-1: Rest Zaheer Khan for Sreesanth

Despite a tight last over in the Chandigarh match, Zaheer Khan has not been bowling as sharply as he can. Even though we should acknowledge that he is bowling at Hayden and Gilchrist — both champion players — he has looked off-colour. Moreover, with Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh and Irfan Pathan the bowling has a “sameness” look to it. With that in mind, it may not be a bad idea to bring in Sreesanth for Zaheer Khan.

Option-2: Rest Dravid for Badrinath or Rohit Sharma

The Vadodhra pitch is known to be a turner. An additional off-spinner in the form of Badrinath, would be a useful option to go with. Of Rohit Sharma and Bardrinath, I’d go for the latter because his off-spin is generally quite sound — perhaps more sound than the options Rohit Sharma provides with his bowling. This option may gain more credibility in light of the fact that Dravid hasn’t really looked in great touch in this series thus far.

Option-3: Combine option-1 and option-2

This would be my preferred team for this all-important match. Apart from strenghthening the bowling, this option would also strengthen the fielding! However, I do not believe Team India will go with this. It is most likely that the same winning-team will play this match too. But if I had my druthers I’d go with the following team:

Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Robin Uthappa, S. Badrinath, MS Dhoni (captain), Irfan Pathan, Murali Kartik, Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesanth, RP Singh.

Substitutes: Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid, Zaheer Khan.

— Mohan

Aussie Media starts its summer early…

Sreesanth is back in the news…

Sreesanth seems to be so much in the news that it almost appears that he is cornering more newsprint in Australia than John Howard — and this, in an election year!

This just goes to show the obsession that the Aussies have with anyone who is even remotely aggressive towards their own players. Agreed Sreesanth has behaved like a git, but for Peter Lalor to make Andrew Symonds out as a tranquil angel seems to suggest that Peter Lalor has been smoking something to make himself more tranquil. If Andrew Symonds is a “man of peace and tranquility“, then I have a full head of hair!

In the latest episode, Sreesanth appears to have earned the ire of the Aussie players and press for having said, “Hard luck mate, you’re going to lose.” as Symonds trudged out on his way to the pavilion. Sreesanth, who was 12th man in this game, was carrying drinks for the on-field players at the time!

Oh no, that can’t be right. He shouldn’t have said that to these proud Australian angels; these absolute exemplars as human beings and elite sportsmen! Of course, it was perfectly ok — and indeed celebrated with much mirth and enjoyment — for Steve Waugh to quip to Herschelle Gibbs, “You’ve dropped the cup mate” on that fateful day in 1999.

Alex Brown writes in The Age about this spat too and indicates that Lalchand Rajput, the Team India manager as saying, “We were trying too hard [to intimidate] at the start, and now we have learned to relax. That should be a wake-up call to the Australians. They have been dominating world cricket for so long, but there is always a circle, and now is the time for other teams to gang up on them.

Richard Earle, writing in The Herald Sun, also talks about this incident and says that this marked a new low in relations between the two teams. Hmmm! Lower than when Symonds sledged Sachin Tendulkar — and copped a spray back — during play perhaps?

In another article Richard Earle comments that former Indian captains are tearing away at each others’ clothing and are cracking up under intense pressure by becoming involved in a public spat.

This is all nothing new. It is just that the usual Aussie media ganging-up-against-the-opposition-strategy has commenced a little earlier this summer. Sigh!

— Mohan

Badrinath makes the cut…

S. Badrinath, the stylish Tamil Nadu middle-order bat and captain, gets the call up for the 5th ODI thanks to a groin injury that Gautam Gambhir sustained at training.

We had, earlier this year, profiled S. Badrinath on this blogsite. Mahesh profiled Badrinath as well as a slew of other playets in his excellent “Future Prospects” series.

Also read a profile of (and interview with) Badrinath on Rediff.

Unlike Murali Kartik, Badrinath wasn’t surprised by the call up! “I’d say it has come at the right time“, he said!

I’d be very surprised if Badrinath gets a go in the next game, but I think he could, if Sachin Tendulkar is still injured. Tendulkar did not take the field in yesterdays’ game but the team management put it down to a “minor niggle”.

I have a feeling that India will go with the same combination that yielded the team its first win of the series. I’d have been tempted to bring back Sreesanth for the (initially) erratic R. P. Singh. But the Singh perhaps redeemed himself through those two tight end-overs.

— Mohan