Why Ganguly?

September 17, 2008

I cannot help but ask. Why? Why Ganguly? Is it because something had to be done? Someone had to go? Some stop gap arrangement needed to be made to smother the screaming for including young talent? Or is it Peter Roebuck? We’ve reacted to Chappell’s remark on Sehwag before the tour of Australia late last year. So is that the new mantra to selection – listening to the Aussies? But now Ponting is questioning Ganguly’s omission. What do we do now?

The bigger question is this. Is Sourav not even good enough for the Irani Trophy. Well, the condescending talk from some of the “unnamed” selectors does make it seem that way. But then, I have another question. Why Jaffer? What has Jaffer done between his disastrous run in Australia earlier this year and now, to justify an inclusion to the dress rehearsal for the upcoming Aussie series. Or was he an automatic selection given that we are playing Australia at home or because Jaffer plays for Mumbai?

Turning our attention back to Dada, if you asked me, I could argue both sides: for and against the exclusion of Sourav Ganguly from the Irani Trophy squad. The argument against is jaded, so I’ll pass on that. Why does a Ganguly fan think this exclusion is good for him? Because it will wake up the lion in him – thought I’m not sure how many times he needs to prove his worth. Honestly, if he gets selected for the series against Australia, which he should, it will only have helped to have the lion (or should I say tiger) in Ganguly to be awake and growling. But one wonders, how long will he fight this sort of battle?

On the Kirsten/Kumble’s hand in this, I think the media has again sensationalized the story. I suspect it had more to do with Kirsten than Kumble. But maybe that’s just me, for I’ve never hid my dislike for Kirsten.

So why was it Ganguly? There are times like this when being a team man counts for more than anything else; when just that fact that you’ve tried as hard as you could have counts to your advantage. There is something about Ganguly that makes you think he took a situation casually. Maybe it’s his persona. Perhaps it is way he projects the facts. Maybe it is deju-vu from the old “I-don’t’want-to-play-the-new-ball” tactic. This is when you feel a little sad, that someone so gifted has thrown it away, almost arrogantly, like the straight sixes Sourav hits. This is why, I think, Dravid escaped the axe. If Dravid wasn’t the team man that we know him to be, even Kumble could not have saved him. But all isn’t well for Dravid either, for he scored two, yes, 2, in the Buchi Babu tournament in the match against Tripura. For once, I don’t think that’s very good news and feel a bit more apprehensive about this than I have before. If Dravid makes it past Irani, past Ausralia, he will have a good run for a year or so. If not, well yikes! God save Dravid and India.

Most of all this selection for the Irani Trophy seemed to me like the populist union budged this year. It tries to make everyone happy: the senior fans sans the Ganguly fans and the young aspirants. But the inconsistencies are glaring and it has been so through the years. Dravid was dropped from the ODI squad 3 matches after a brilliant match-winning 92 in Bristol. Yuvraj was persisted with after several failures for over a year, not more than 2 innings over 50. But that is Indian cricket for you!


One Heck of a Domestic Season but Abysmal Coverage

September 6, 2008

A once-in-a-lifetime domestic season is upon us. Tendulkar has announced his availability for the Irani Trophy vs. Ranji champions Delhi; Ganguly, Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Dhoni are also expected to play. Can it get any better? Meanwhile, Dravid is already playing for Karnataka in the Buchi Babu tournament in Chennai. India-A, the future of the Indian Test team, is playing the next generation Aussies in Bangalore. All this is happening and the coverage is almost non existent.

Not even a scorecard of the Buchi Babu tournament. How I wish I was in Chennai, would have rushed to the stadium, weather permitting. Unfortunately, a very busy work week meant I couldn’t make to the India-A vs. Australia-A match right here in Bangalore. On that, all we get is a scorecard. Meanwhile, I join fellow blogger Scopy in my cable-TV rues. No, not Tata Sky, but my local cable operator in Bangalore is a madman. He decides what I should watch. At any point in time, we get only three sport channels: a toss up between ESPN, Ten Sports, Star Sports, NEO Sports and Star Cricket. If there’s a live billiards tournament on Star Sports and other such live matches on other channels, means I can’t watch “India glorious” on Star Cricket or “Dravid Deewar” on NEO Sports.

I say this is a great opportunity to rope in some sponsors and cash in. Where are the BCCI? Are they not hearing the jingling of coins? The sad state of some of the domestic tournaments as described by Pradeep Magazine in his book <i>Not Quite Cricket </i> comes to mind. This is the time to cash in, folks. Lalit Modi! Where are you when you matter the most? There are at least three other very excited bloggers who are wanting to see these matches: unabashed senior supporter Buzz and avid cricket follows Scorpicity and Soulberry, who has a dedicated blog for domestic cricket. Hope I haven’t missed anyone else. But I’m pretty sure there are enough of us crazy folk to at least partially fill a stadium or count toward the TRP ratings. Surely Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid will pull crowds. Having said all that, looks like we crazy folk can only rant this season.


Bangalore Royal Challengers Stun Mumbai

April 22, 2008

Have you heard the Mumbai crowd cheering for Jayasuriya chanting “Su-ri-ya Su-ri-ya”? Have you seen an Indian cricketer (Kohli) pull a catch from thin air? Have you ever seen Zaheer Khan field like a 19 year old?  If you haven’t seen any of this before, and you missed the Bangalore vs. Mumbai match from last Sunday, you have certainly missed something in your armchair cricketing (aka avid viewing) career.

After a crushing defeat at home, in a contest where Bangalore was written off even before a single ball was bowled, the Royal Challengers, shall I say “pulled an India”? If you are wondering what I meant by “pulled an India”, maybe I should qualify that by adding Dravid-ian India. Just like Team India came back to life in their away tours after a devastating ODI World Cup, the Bangalore team came back in a way no one (avid supporter vmminervaincluded) could have imagined. At the Wankhede, where they only had a countable minority of supporters, they stunned the locals to silence.

The Mumbai Indians were no pansies. They had a super hyped batting line up with the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya, Robin Uthappaand pinch-hitting all rounder Shaun Pollock; not to forget a star studded bowling attack in Harbhajan, part-timer Jayasuriya, and former India-cap Nehra. Jayasuriya thrilled for one over and perished. Uthappa entertained with a 38 ball 48, but impressive bowling and fielding from the Banglore side restricted the hosts to a respectable albeit cautiously chase-able 168.

Many things went right for the Bangalore side, most importantly the gritty spirit and fielding. They looked seriously threatened when Jayasuriya mauled the bowling with the crowd madly behind the Lankan bombshell. But the Mumbaikars felt ominously quiet when Zaheer effected a spine-tingling run out to get rid of Sanath. Zaheer seemed almost possessed on the day; I blinked several times to check if the catch or the save was indeed effected by Zaheer. With 20 overs of unbelievable fielding and a tidy bowling spell, he inspired the others to fielding standards that was distinctly un-Indian. Apart from Zaheer, Praveen Kumar did quite well; so did Balachandra Akhil, who, although ended up wicketless with an econ of over ten, did bowl exceptionally well. Like they say, the figures on the scorecard don’t tell the whole story.

The Bangalore innings started rather sedately. Chanderpaul faced the first few deliveries bring Wall-Dravid on strike. Jaffer thankfully sat out this game. For one very inspired Pollock over, Dravid looked desperately Wall-ish and in a good amount of anguish. But it changed after he hit one of the most beautiful textbook on-drives and Chanderpaul lashed away in his own characteristic way. Then some drama intervened; if Mumbai’s Thornley spilt blood on the pitch, Bangalore’s Chanderpaul pulled one onto his knee (with bat speed of 95 kmph) and rolled with pain before asking for a runner. But he almost needn’t have; shortly after Kohli’s arrival, Chanderpaul hit one over the top, right into Kulkarni’s hands. For a short while Dravid (yes, this the Wall I am talking of) steadied the ship with classic shots for four, before being c&b-ed by captain Bhajji. Following that, Taylor and Kohli put on some runs, but in the end it was the South African duo of Kallis and Boucher who took Bangalore home. All this to a very quiet Mumbai crowd and with the Bangalore sit-out cheering a wide “like they had won the World Cup” (quoting commentators).

Bangalore made a charecteristically Dravid-ian statement with their victory over Mumbai on Sunday. There is certainly long way to go, but this has given us Bangalore supporters some hope. Go Bangalore! Show ’em you can!


“Anil Kumble day” at The Oval

August 10, 2007

It was definitely India’s day at The Oval today, at the third test match of 3 Test series. When India started on Day 2 with 300 and odd runs with Laxman and a very edgy Tendulkar on 48 at the crease, 450 looked far away, however that was not to be. Tendulkar got his half century: a very different innings, calm yet troubled, slow but not without some stylish shots; there was one hook shot which showed everybody who he is, not that we don’t know, and two other good ones; so, good, that it looked liked that man on 82 was poised for a century. That, alas was not to be.

 After Tendulkar came Dhoni. With his scores from the series, you couldn’t expect much, but we were in for a surprize as a belligerent Dhoni got to 92. When one thought this was it, then came Kumble’s innings: one that all those who watched will remember for many years to come. With his brilliant unbeaten century, he becomes the second (after Shane Warne) with over 500 Test wickets and a century. What a record to earn at the age of 36! Today was definitely his day, perhaps on par with the day he got all 10 test wickets! Kumble defintely looked the part that he played today: a classy batsman, a determined man striving another record, not a tail-ender slogging for runs or struggling to beat his previous best of 88. So will Karnataka declare 10 August to be “Anil Kumble Day” or will they name a flyover after him? Whatever they do, I think he deserves every bit of the adulation he recieves.

The highlights of day for me are:
– Kumble’s unbeaten 110
– Tendulkar and Laxman’s half centuries
– Dhoni’s 92
Lowlights (from England’s p.o.v) 
– Prior’s wicketkeeping woes (as they continue today)
– Sidebottom’s ordinary spells

So the galacticos have amassed a mammoth 664, and got the early wicket of Strauss, which makes us believe more Indian-goodness is due. Cheers!