Gilchrist calls it a day

January 27, 2008

Adam Gilchrist’s retirement announcement came as a shock announcement for most fans, that too considering that he had been saying that he might pull on for just a little longer.

Gilchrist waves to the crowd

 Gilchrist waves to the crowd in farewell Source: Cricinfo

As for me, I was first shocked, then disappointed, then sad. Gilchrist has always been my favorite Aussie cricketer (and one of my favorite cricketer of all time) and to see him calling it a day is a little sad, but that is selfish of me.

I can’t recall the first innings of Gilly that I had watched, but I know I would have watched in awe. I distinctly recall the twinge of longing that I often had I when I watched Gilly – that India didn’t have such a consistently explosive batsman. The most recent of Gilly’s innings that comes to mind his mind-blowingly spectacular innings in the 2007 World Cup final against Sri Lanka. It was probably the most entertaining innings that I have seen till date, not just of him, but of any batsman.

Gilly has been a savage ODI bastman and a refreshingly attacking, dangerous Test bastmen: one who could single-handedly turn a Test match. To me, he not only redefined the approach to Test batting, he also redefined the wicket-keeper batsman’s role so much so that many teams, I guess, wanted to have someone at least resembling his skill level. Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara is an illustrious example of one who follows Gilly’s footsteps.

Another trait of Gilchrist that I admire is his courage: he would walk if he knew he was out, even if it was a World-Cup semi-final. In today’s world where ethics and values are often redifined for selfish gain, such honesty is to be lauded very highly.

At the end of the day, I will remember Adam Gilchrist for the entertainment he provided and for having the courage to be an honest cricketer.

Thank you all the wonderful memories, Gilly, and wish you all the best!


Tendulkar sizzles! Laxman shines

January 24, 2008

It is probably very few batsmen whose centuries seem to be getting better than the previous ones. For even fewer, centuries are numbers which are counting like fours! Sachin simply sizzled on his way to his 39th Test ton at the Adelaide oval, with many shots reminding us of the ‘Tendulkar of old’: the baby-faced kid who used to loft some of the best bowlers for sixes.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan beams in his article “If anyone missed Tendulkar’s innings in the first three Tests they should have simply landed up here. He was attacking in Melbourne, authoritative in Sydney, and innovative in Perth but this was the combination of them all. It had the moments of adrenaline-fuelled strokeplay, a hint of chance, a dash of inventiveness and tons of intelligence. Bringing out his percentage game against a high-quality bowling attack, he stood alone.

Congratulations seems almost belittling! Way to go SRT!

SRT was so thrilling that Laxman’s innings seemed routine in comparison, but that was only because he was batting with the master on song. Laxman pulled India out of trouble yet again with beautiful strokeplay. It was rather unfortunate that he fell to bouncer, yet again.

Dhoni – villain or scapegoat?

January 23, 2008

When we are supposed to be talking about the Adelaide Test, look what’s grabbed the headlines – rifts in the team. Yet again, there is this seniors vs. juniors all over again. If new reports are to be believed, it was not Vengsarkar but Dhoni who insisted on the Ganguly ouster. Apparently, the selectors considered including Dravid too.

Dhoni doesn’t seem to be dealing with this very well. When asked about it, “…still have one more Test match to go, so I think we should wait with the questions regarding the One-Day players. We have waited for two days, let’s wait for another six days..” was what he had to say. Not pleasing the Indian media is a dangerous thing for an Indian captain – a thing Dravid learnt the hard way. On the youngsters dealing with the situation, he said “’s not about the people’s expectations, it’s about the players’ expectations.” Perhaps, Dhoni who claims to have learnt a lot from Kumble, also seems to have had lessons of arrogance from Ponting. You don’t want to alienate yourself from the fans, Dhoni; that could get ugly. Remember that match when the crowds at home cheered for the opposition team?

Allow me to emotionally rant here. This begs the question – is Dhoni, with head-rush from the T-20 World Cup victory, a villain or a scapegoat? If this young side with batting line up as brittle as fresh ice succeeds, Dhoni will be spared. If not, he will be made the scapegoat. Consider this, Dhoni is sure to have already lost some public favor. In an emotional country like India, his alleged back-stabbing will earn him the wrath of the Dravid-Ganguly supporters and some neutrals alike. Should his side lose out – which is almost a certainty given that it is the Aussies that they will be facing, and that too in Australia – his captaincy will come into question. His batting has already been questioned time and again; it is only now, after the T-20 success and some against Pak in the recently concluded series in India, that there seems to be some silence on that aspect. With the series lost, fans crying and burning effigies, and the media joining the party, BCCI will be back to the situation of being under pressure of media and public opinion. Then, as my friend Ottayan jokingly suggests, Dhoni may be soon playing his farewell match!

India ODI squad announced – BCCI spring another unpleasant one

January 20, 2008

This time Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman get the axe. If Laxman and 17 are jinxed for the Aussies, the BCCI is also jinxed. If it gets praise one day, the rotten tomotoes and worse follow soon. What is with this anti-Dravid-ism? He seemed to show signs of returning to form. Ganguly seemed to be in good-knick too (except for the Perth Test). Laxman has been cursed long ago and labeled a Test player. I don’t see why they can’t be persisted with.

This time, emphasis on fielding was the excuse for dropping Dravid and Ganguly. “The emphasis was on fielding abilities and they wanted a young fielding side for the series. That’s why you see a lot of youngsters in the side.” I don’t consider Ishant Sharma to be a great fielder.

And what is with Yuvraj’s selection? If you were to apply the same yardstick that was used oust Dravid after the ODI series againt Australia in India, Yuvraj’s single-digit scores in this Test series should have earned him ouster. Not that it is justified; neither is. I’m not sure if we can count on seeing Dravid back in an ODI, we can certainly count on the BCCI for springing an unpleasant, controversial surprise out of the blue.

India thrill at the WACA – 3rd Test at Perth

January 20, 2008

India has made it into the history books once again, after this victory at the WACA becoming the only sub-continent country to trounce the Aussies at their home-advantage ground. A memorable feat considering that India were 2 down in the series, embroiled in controversy, and written off completely. This was supposed to the be the match in which Australia would steamroll their way to a 17-match winning streak, in which Shaun Tait would sizzle by bowling at 170 kmph, in which Australia could crush India with a 4-pronged pace attack and make mockery of the halchal that India raised after the controversial Sydney Test, but that wasn’t to be. India thwarted the Aussie streak yet again.

There were several memorable moments in this game for me, Dravid in the first innings, Laxman pulling it off yet again in the second, and so on, but if I were to chose one, it would be Ishant Sharma’s magical 7+ over spell. The young teenager had one of the best batsmen in the world poking, leaving, and beaten before he finally claimed Ponting for the second time in this Test match. And this was the boy who, even as recent as the Pakistan series, looked too raw for Test cricket. This awe-inspiring story will definitely live on for years to come. Three cheers for Ishant!

Another heartening thing from this match was to see the so-called inexperienced Indian bowling attack blossom. It may be a tad too early to call this the beginning of a new age of Indian pace bowling, but it certainly instills a lot of hope. It was also good to see Sehwag and Pathan back in the squad contributing all round. Way to go India! Way to square the series!