The Asia Cup 2008 – another inconsequential tournament?

June 24, 2008

The Asia Cup 2008 involving the India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and UAE has just begun. Anybody cares? Perhaps the UAE and Hong Kong folk do and rightfully so.

To me this is just another inconsequential tournament with contest involving what has now become the usual bores – India-Pakistan-Bangladesh. Sri Lanka somehow seems a little less boring – or maybe that’s just me. Fellow bloggers on my blogroll and I have said much about the India-Pakistan overkill, so I won’t go there. The tournament schedule is organized such that two teams get knocked-off (which will most likely be Hong Kong and the UAE). Then the bores will slug it out in round-robin fashion.

What I will be interested in is the UAE team – lot of expatriate folks from the sub-continent in this team. Call me crazy, but cable-operator willing, I would like to watch these matches. For all you know, some of these folk may have their basics right! 🙂

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Hindustan Times interviews Dravid

June 22, 2008

Given his style of handling the media makes you think he would have succeeded in Hollywood, where elusiveness is a key ingredient to success. Yes, this is our very own Rahul Dravid.

Somehow I’ve always had a sense of awe about this man. Perhaps it’s his enigmatic nature, maybe it’s his penchant for orthodoxy, I can’t tell. What is so endearing about Dravid, at least for me, is that he is testament to the fact that introverted-ness and success are not mutually exclusive. Understandably, that is only when accompanied with grinding hard work, determination and talent.

There are things he does that seem to momentarily defy logic – his relinquishment of captaincy being a prime example – but make a lot of sense with time. Consider that after the disastrous World Cup 2007 campaign, he had not stepped down from captaincy. India go on a win an inconsequential, mostly relief-inducing series in Bangladesh and follow that up with a history-making Test series victory in England. Then the ODI-series loss in England and then Dhoni & Co. go and win the T20 World Cup. With the loss at the hands of the Aussies in the ODI series at home, shortly after the T20 World Cup, he would have gotten sacked as captain. In retrospect, a wise decision!

In this interview, he is characteristically Dravid, or Dravid as we know him. He speaks of the rather tumultuous year he has had: relinquishment of captaincy; having made his peace with losing a place in ODI side; reaching 10,000 runs in Test cricket,which he downplays while shedding light on his unbroken attendance record in Tests; and his criticism laden stint in the IPL. There is nothing new on the stepping-down-from-captaincy front. “I just felt the time had come to move on, and I just knew it”, synonymous with his earlier “ captaincy has a sell-by-date” reasoning. On the IPL, says Dravid, “..playing T20 cricket was new to me and I wanted to see how I’d go in that form of the game.” When asked about his run in the IPL and mud and slush that Mallya turned out to be, he stays with the safe “..there were other things that could have gone a bit better as well both on and off the field”. He doesn’t say much despite the bitterness that he would have felt. The slightest indication comes only when he talks of his young son and says that he “nothing to live up to” when spending time with him. There are hints of retirement too, but not anything we wouldn’t expect. “I won’t be playing after five years”, is something that is almost obvious. The only unexpected part of the interview is his denial of adhering to “copybook style” cricket, for which he is a poster-boy.

Mostly a very predictable interview, yet worth a read. Check it out here.


Pakistan lift Kitply cup

June 17, 2008

After storming bad weather amid a barrage of criticism, Pakistan managed to beat India and lift the Kitply Cup. As an India supporter, I’m not too upset, in fact, I’m OK with it. Some sloppiness aside, it was an evenly matched contest that we got to see in the final. Although I didn’t watch the entire match and cannot comment on most of Pakistan’s batting and Indian new-found middle order, I must say that Pakistan did well to win. Maybe it had to do with the PCB Board members’ presence. 🙂 Having said that, they seemed to lack self-belief. Until the fall of the 8th Indian wicket, they didn’t really believe that they had the match.

As for India, I got to see what I wanted to – the consequence of an Indian top order failure. As Pak broke thru the Delhi-Daredevils’ opening pair of Gambhir and Sehwag, the Indian batting seemed only a bit better than that of Delhi Daredevils. I mean, you don’t expect Yuvraj to hang around and play a long innings – he seems to have become more of a T20 batsman in ODI clothes with the temperment not helping one bit. Dhoni coming down low in the order didn’t help, neither did Irfan Pathan’s struggling angled-bat shots. Being beaten several times, Irfan seems to have lost it. I remember the days when he used to open the batting with Tendulkar, and then open the bowling. What has happened to that batsmen?

Meanwhile, too much cricket has indeed been played over the past couple of months. That is perhaps to blame for some of the loss of intensity. But then again, it’s only just another one of the zillions of cups. Do you also feel this way? Is this just another cup? Does this loss of India mean anything to you? If it doesn’t is that because there have been too many ODI tournaments or that India’s recent success has made us more tolerant as fans?

As for me, I’m looking forward to the upcoming India-Sri Lanka Test series.


Of India-Paksitan cricket and India’s wins – are they boring?

June 12, 2008

Three matches have gone by the tri-series featuring India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. All three matches had a predictable result. In the match against Bangladesh, after Sehwag fell, I was almost hoping for an upset.

Despite the fact that this series includes an India-Pakistan face-off, there is a sense of boredom about it. Is too much India-Pakistan to blame? Or is it the fact that India has been consistently beating them for some time now? Or is the lack of competitiveness from Pakistan? As for me, I thought Bangladesh in their match against India, for their standing in World cricket, batted better than Pakistan. Where is the spirit, Pakistan?

Let me ask the bigger question. Is it boring to watch India win? Is it even boring to watch ’em batt? I didn’t watch much of India’s batting after the goose-bump inducing T20 style Sehwag-Gambhir partnership. Other than noticing that Rohit Sharma is losing his patience, Yuvraj is his princely self and Praveen Kumar is getting better by the hour, there isn’t much to say. Are you missing the star clashes of old the Tendulkar-Shoaib or Ganguly-Shoaib? Or the lopsided Indian collapses from 100-1 to all out for just under 200?

Q points out here with hard facts, that India has been closing the India-Pakistan gaps. And that India has turned the tables. They have turned the tables indeed, but on a very weak Pakistan team. Pakistan won many games against an Indian team with some of best batsmen in Tendulkar, Azharuddin, Manjrekar, Dravid, Ganguly and the like. In that case, does the turning tables really count?

With this kind of one-sided cricket being played, I’m better off watching the other matches with more interest. The Aussies are 5-down on Day 1 of the Barbados Test. Gotta go catch some of that!

Ciao for now.


England win series 2-0 against New Zealand

June 8, 2008

Now this is cricket. I could watch only the last couple of days (including a shortened one) of the third Test at Trent bridge, but it was worth it.

There was a sense of peace to watching this match. Almost nothing happens in a split second. There is enough time to notice the players, the umpires, the field positions, etc. After the IPL razzmatazz, it was almost soothing to see cricket as we traditionally know. Add to it the lush green outfields of England set against the blue sky peppered with grey-ish white clouds, and you have paradise.

Romanticism apart, it was good cricket on display from England. Anderson bagged 7 in the first innings and Sidebottom 6 in the second. The New Zealand openers were pathetic. Only Oram, in the second showed some spirit.