Tag Archives: Venkatesh Prasad

England Vs India: Test 2 Day 3 — England claw back…

On an intriguing day of Test cricket, England had their first good session of the ongoing Test match between England and India at Trent Bridge.

However, things did not go Englands’ way to start off. India had a solid first session on day-3 and did exactly what the doctor ordered — to see off the new ball and keep the scoreboard ticking. Ganguly looked assured and played with hunger. He was often seen egging his more illustrious partner on whenever Tendulkar played and missed to Sidebottom. The fire and hunger seemed to back in Ganguly. So also the swagger. He had even hooked Tremlett for a huge six over squre leg! And what’s more, to rub salt into the bowlers’ wounds, he made Tremlett wait at the top of his bowling mark as he turned sideways to admire the shot on the grounds’ TV screen! He was doing a Ganguly as only Ganguly can! This was a session that was India’s all the way. The forecast would have been ominous for England at lunch time. The scoreboard read 338/3. India had made 82 runs in 28 overs, had seen off the new ball and were playing Panesar with aplomb. Tendulkar was on 87 and Ganguly was on 53. Tendulkar was looking good for a century and even though Ganguly was 47 runs away from a three-figure mark, it seemed almost inevitable that he’d cross the three-figure mark too — he was playing as well as I have seen him play in a long time.

The first session of day-3 was clearly Indias’. Our session-by-session score card would have read 5-0 to India after 6 sessions of the match had been played.

At lunch time, England would have been looking for inspiration from somewhere. Maybe even an extra pair of legs! Maybe a fresh body? And that they did find. Suddenly, in the post-lunch session, it appeared as if England were playing with 12 players!

They clawed their way back into the match and even recruited an Australian to help them along in their journey. Tendulkar and Ganguly were sent packing by the Antipodean and England managed to get Dhoni out with their normal complement of players. Session 2 of day-3 had belonged to England.

Simon Taufel had a bad day at the office and unfortunately, the next time one of our Indian media pundits (or couch potato fans) adjust their spectacles, settle themselves comfortably into their chair/couch, dig the record book to say “it has been X innings since Ganguly/Tendulkar scored a century“, or “the last time Tendulkar/Ganguly scored a century was against a minnow“, the fact that the two players were robbed of certain centuries will have been forgotten. The record books merely state “SR Tendulkar lbw b Collingwood 91” and “SC Ganguly c Prior b Anderson 79“. And that is all there is to it. And that is all the scoreboard can say. You accept the good with the bad and move on. As Ganguly said phlegmatically, in his post-match, “You have to live with it“.

Just as Cook was not out, but given out in Englands’ first innings, the Indian team has to live with these two shockers from the normally good Antipodean.

And we should not really be making a big deal out of these screw-ups. We have to accept the good with the bad and move on. That’s exactly what Tendulkar did, and after a brief mind-fuse, Ganguly seemed to have accepted it too.

However, the worrying thing for Taufel would be his form. He has made some good decisions in this series so far. Of that there is no doubt. But he did send (if I am not mistaken) Dravid and Pietersen packing in the first Test. His handling of Cook, Tendulkar and Ganguly in this current Test could be the onset of a pattern. Just as players need to look at their form and their match preparedness, perhaps it is time for Taufel to stand back to take stock?

Jonathan Agnew, in his BBC blog, says that these two decisions ultimately “did not affect India’s position unduly“. Firstly, it is irrelevant whether or not it did. Secondly, I think it could well affect India’s position. Time will tell. However, I predict — perhaps foolishly — that there may well be a few more twists left in this match! More of that later.

England used their luck as a platform to claw their way into the match. Some will even say that they created their slice of luck — and that would be fair enough in my books! They stuck to their task manfully. Apart from Anderson who had suddenly started to look like the Anderson of old, all the other bowlers stuck to their task. Sidebottom and Panesar were particularly impressive. Their fielding never waned. Their players continued to chirp and chatter. One such monologue from Pietersen had perhaps crossed the line. It certainly caused Zaheer Khan to advance towards the slips cordon, threatening to introduce Pietersen’s face to the bat makers’ label. Perhaps Pietersen had asked about Zaheer Khan’s bat contract! As Andrew Miller says on Cricinfo, England need to talk less and bat more.

But then they did claw their way back into the game. Session-3 of day-3 also belonged to England, in my books. Although they did let Kumble get some runs and, in the process, develop a 50-run partnership with Laxman, they did polish off the India tail. They then batted sensibly and positively for the remaining 16 overs to end the day at 43 for no loss. England was helped by some poor bowling by Sreesanth. He seemed to be all over the place. He seemed to have lost his balance, his rhythm and his composure. He seemed horribly undercooked. Nasser Hussain, in his TV commentary, commented that Sreesanth did not bowl a single ball of pace in the morning nets! He bowled leg-spin instead! While Sreesanth appeared to be falling apart, Hussain commented, “I have no sympathy for the lad really.” Sreesanth’s final over of the day lasted nearly 7 minutes as he stuttered and spluttered his way to completion in an embarassing manner. It didn’t help either that Zaheer Khan and R. P. Singh seemed to be intent on bouncing out Strauss and Cook. But Sreesanth was the major disappointment for me. He would, I think, need an extended session in the nets with Venkatesh Prasad. If he doesn’t get his act together — and quickly — we could well see Romesh Powar as an extra spinner in the team for the 3rd and final The Oval Test match.

The match is delicately poised. My session-by-session score card reads, India 5, England 2. India is clearly in front. And they will be looking to Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan to deliver them the goods. They’d need a solid bowling performance on a somewhat unhelpful pitch. The first session of day-4 could again hold the key. India should, I believe, adopt a batten-down-the-hatches-at-one-end policy while they attack from the other.

England have another 240 to get India to bat again. If the England openers build a good foundation, like the Indian openers did, then a Pietersen cameo can help wipe off the lead. From there on, it could be anyones’ match, in my view. England have their work cut out. But India have not done enough to ensure they do not bat again. As I said earlier, I don’t think the chapter on this Test match can be written, completed and set off to the sub-editors’ desk. The pitch is still playing reasonably well. Day-3 may have been the best day for batting, but I did not see any signs that would indicate that the pitch would deteriorate dramatically on day-4. The odd ball is keeping low, which would lead me to conclude that day-5 could be extremely tricky on this pitch. Which is why I don’t agree with Jonathan Agnew. Another 60-70 runs would have meant that India cannot lose this match. Although India is clearly in the drivers’ seat, if England have an exceptional day-4, it could lead to an extremely interesting day-5 of this game. The weather forecast is for two good days.

All I can say is “bring it on”.

— Mohan

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India lose to RSA: A few lessons

India lost a tough game to South Africa; the first of the 3-match “Future Cup” Series. Despite having several players on the sick bed, India were able to field 11 semi-fit players. Talk was that R. P. Singh wasn’t quite there yet. Still, he played and so did a few of the others who caught the flu-bug. Unfortunately, the team balance was disrupted as a result of this; the team went in with two spinners — a luxury in cold conditions and on a seaming pitch! As a result, the first change bowler had to be Sourav Ganguly — and as part-timers tend to do, Ganguly leaked runs! Although the spinners did well to pull it back a bit, the good start that Andre Nel gave the South Africans on the field, the slow batting by the Indians in the middle-overs, the not-so-crash-hot batting finish by the Indians, Kallis’s well-paced innings and general sloppiness in the Indian bowling, combined to give South Africa a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

M. S. Dhoni, team vice-captain sat out his second successive match as vice-captain of the team! Dhoni is, incidentally, the guy who has been generous in offering the bug that he initially caught to everyone else in the team! 🙂

I am assuming that Team India pops those cold-flu-pills and rugs up to recovery prior to Fridays’ second game. I am also assuming that there are a few lessons that the team will learn prior to Fridays’ game!

The slow batting initially was understandable. Despite this piece that attempts to dissect Sachin Tendulkar’s batting, I thought Tendulkar paced his innings well. The conditions were hard and batting was tough on a two-paced wicket. He built the innings steadily and got out — stunningly, for the first time in his career of 137 Tests and 385 ODIs — on 99 runs!

In the end analysis, India was about 20 runs short. The real problem lay in the finish. The solid rebuilding-foundation that Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar had built was all but destroyed by Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma.

Yuvraj Singh needs to re-think his role, place and approach in the team. If he really wants to be the mainstay of Team India for the future, he needs to add consistency to his middle name which currently reads “Class”. Yes, he is a classy player. But just that is not enough. He needs to make each innings of his count. A pretty 20 is just not good enough anymore. He needs to be the clinical finisher that Michael Bevan was for Australia. This view is argued compellingly in a well-written piece on Cricinfo by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan.

India made 50 runs in the last 8 overs with 8 wickets still in hand! This phase would have hurt India’s chances in the final analysis.

I really don’t know what Gautam Gambhir is doing in the one-day side in England. Yes, he has scored some runs lately. Yes, he has tried to make the best of all the opportunities he has been given. But he is not an ODI opener. He is not inventive with his shot making. He is suspect against the moving/seaming ball and doesn’t have the best timing in the world. I think India have to give Uthappa a go in the next match.

Piyush Chawla has impressed in every outing since his debut. He played well against Ireland. Minnow or no minnow, one has to still put in the hard yards. And he did. His confidence appears to be high and he is grabbing these flu-induced opportunities to cement a place in the side. Rediff carried a piece which indicates that Chawla is the third Indian bowler to have claimed 6 wickets after only his second ODI! After Chawla’s 3 wickets for 47 runs in yesterdays’ match against South Africa, maybe they’ll do another piece on the number of ODIs Indians have taken to reach 9 ODI wickets!

The main concern for me is the largesse that India affords opposition teams in terms of wides and no-balls. With the new ICC rule on free-hits that is going to be brought into play from 1 October on, this slide should be halted and arrested immediately. This should be one of Venkatesh Prasad’s main tasks, I’d have thought. In yesterdays’ match, R. P. Singh bowled 6 wides — and that is a luxury really!

Rohit Sharma hasn’t impressed in his first outing. Here’s hoping he does better in future matches.

With S. Sreesanth back in the team — for Romesh Powar, perhaps — and with a hope that Uthappa plays ahead of Gambhir, it would be good to see a full-strength India take on South Africa on Friday.

— Mohan

Piyush impresses!

Piyush Chawla impressed everyone with a fine bowling performance as India cruised to victory against Ireland yesterday. I watched a few overs of Piyush yesterday and he has a very good googly that he uses a lot.  It was also interesting to listen to the commentary of former India leg spinner L Sivaramakrishnan. He said that Piyush had improved a lot, his hand was coming more straighter now, and he attributed this to the work put in by the Indian bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad.

– Sanjay

News in brief: 26 April 2007

It is a repeat of 1996 as Australia pulverise South Africa to meet Sri Lanka in the finals. The South Africans admitted that they were outclassed by the Aussies.

Osman Samiuddin examines the coaching question faced by most teams following their World Cup campaigns. Talking of coaches, Venkatesh Prasad, India’s bowling coach for the Bangladesh tour is excited about the prospect of his debut tour as a coach for the national side. Generally, we have observed that successful coaches including Whatmore, Buchannan and Moody had modest records as players. The corollary appears true too if you consider Chappell, Richards and Miandad. Based on this trend, we can expect a reasonable outcome from Prasad’s tenure for his record is neither ordinary nor extraordinary like his bowling skills.

According to PTI reports, Tom Moody is unlikely to be India’s coach

If reports are to be believed, Inzamam may be dropped from Test squad for Pakistan’s home series against South Africa. If it happens, nobody including Inzamam will be surprised or shocked.

‘Tendulkar playing for wrong reasons’ says Ian ‘calling-spade-a-spade’ Chappell without clearly specifying what those reasons are. By contrast, Viv Richards has come to Tendulkar’s supportearlier this week

– Vish

All time India One Day XV

The Aussies went through the exercise of picking an all time XI before the World Cup and while discussing in another thread with Mohan Krishnamoorthy, we came up with this idea of an all time India XV.

So, here is my team:

Opening

1. Sachin Tendulkar

2. Sourav Ganguly

Others who were considered for this slot were Virender Sehwag, Kris Srikkanth, Navjot Sidhu, Ravi Shastri and  Sunil Gavaskar.

Kris Srikkanth was one of the first openers in the world who attacked from the get-go. Navjot Sidhu could hit those amazing sixes coming half way down the pitch. But as far as openers go for an all time India XI, you can’t go beyond the peerless Tendulkar and Ganguly combination. Together they have over 25000 ODI runs and over 60 centuries. Moreover, the left-hander-right-hander combination would make this a killer opening pair. Even a Sehwag in his prime would not be able to dislodge this opening combination at its peak.

Middle order

3. Virender Sehwag

4. Rahul Dravid

5. Mohammed Azharuddin

Although I have not penned Sehwag as an opening batsman, with his “near 100” strike rate and attacking game, he would come out at No. 3 in my team. Rahul Dravid, aka ‘The Wall’ will easily slide into No. 4. His 40 plus average and 70-plus strike rate makes him an ideal bat in the middle order. I would slot Mohammed Azharuddin at No. 5. Although he exited International cricket in disgrace, he had accumulated over 9000 runs and was a great batsman and fielder.

The others who were considered but didn’t make the cut included Dilip Vengsarkar, Ajay Jadeja, Mohinder Amarnath, Sandeep Patil, and Yuvraj Singh.

Lower middle order/allrounders

6. Ravi Shastri

7. M. S. Dhoni

8. Kapil Dev

As far as all rounders go, you can’t beat that list. Ravi Shastri swatting the ball for a six after coming in in the 45th over was an awesome sight. Promoting him into the opening slot pretty much killed his slog game in his later years. He was also a useful spinner who could bowl out his 10 overs.

Dhoni’s business card should actually read “Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Wicket keeper, Batsman, Slogger”. Need I say more? He has got a strike rate of 98.49 and an average of 46.61. Dhoni comes in at No. 7 in my team. Kapil Dev, the allrounder, could easily bat up the order, but he would have to settle for No.  8. 

Full time bowlers

9. Zaheer Khan

10. Javagal Srinath

11. Anil Kumble

The No. 9 slot was a tough fight between Zaheer Khan and Manoj Prabhakar. Manoj Prabhakar at his best was a very good bowler at the death and wasn’t bad with the bat either. But for sheer energy and the variety he offers with his left arm pace, Zaheer edges out Manoj Prabhakar for the No. 9 slot.

Srinath would easily grab the No. 10 slot ahead of the likes of Agarkar and Prasad. A lot of people forget that Srinath was the leading wicket taker for India in one dayers until Anil Kumble overtook his record. Bowlers like Chetan Sharma, Roger Binny and Madan Lal shined in the odd game, but they just weren’t good and consistent enough to get into my pick.

Kumble, the highest wicket taker for India would get the lone spinners slot, ahead of the only other person challenging him – Harbhajan Singh.

To make up the XV, I would pick 2 other batsmen and 2 bowlers. The 2 batsmen slots would go to Jadeja and Yuvraj. Both very different players, but excellent fielders. Prabhakar and Agarkar would take up the two bowling slots.

So here is my final XV – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Azharudin, Ravi Shastri, M. S. Dhoni, Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajit Agarkar.

The XI, I have picked contains 5 bowlers who can bowl all of their 10 overs in addition to the “batting” allrounders such as Tendulkar, Ganguly and Sehwag. In some matches where just 4 bowlers would suffice, we would have the flexibility of bringing in an additional batsman such as Jadeja or Yuvraj in to the XI (who can themselves bowl a few overs).

So who would be the captain? The team is filled with players who have captained India, but my choice would be Ravi Shastri. He has a shrewd cricketing brain, but was never given enough chance to lead India.

-Mahesh-

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!

-Srikanth