Mendis propells Sri Lanka to lift Asia Cup 2008

July 8, 2008

Ajantha Mendis was the reason for me to watch the Asia Cup final. Though I wished the result went the other way, it was an interesting cricket match to see, unlike several other matches in same tournament and the recently concluded Kitply Cup; also a good lesson learned for the Indian batting line-up and Dhoni.

To me, death-by-spin was bound to happen to this Indian batting line up. While Q states here that Mendis ran through a line-up known as the best players of spin, I say that while that is historically true, it isn’t of this batting line up. This Indian line up with “I-don’t-play-spin” Yuvraj and inexperienced youth like Rohit Sharma and Uthappa, who in my opinion lack soundness in technique that has thus far embodied Indian batting, is far from deserving of the “best players of spin” tag. Historically, India earned the tag because the batsmen had a chance to play against the some of best spinners. That is no longer the case. Other than Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, there isn’t too much of interesting stuff in India’s spin closet. And no, Piyush Chawla, though seemingly effective, has a long way to go.

As for Yuvraj, if I were captain, I wouldn’t know what to do with him. He’s doubtless got talent, but I’m of the opinion that you can’t play spin, you don’t belong in the middle order. Perhaps he can open the innings – something that if I recall correctly, he has reservations about. Even better would be to pack him off to play Ranji – and he isn’t the only one who should be going. So much for a guy who’s upset over not making to a Test XI.

Meanwhile, our “anti-Ganguly-Dravid” friend Ottayan (I took the liberty of branding you that, Ott) suggests that this web around the batting line up is likely to heighten voices “clamoring for Ganguly and Dravid” in the ODIs. Yes, Ott, it might do just that. Though I must say you surprised me with your comment as  “..itself is not a bad thing”. Guarded though it was, it was defense for “the Arms”, as Soulberry calls them. Yes, Ottayan, I will resume my own clamoring though I have done that time and again. 🙂 Thank you for egging me on.

Honestly, if were allowed to pick only two seniors, they would be Tendulkar and Dravid, who will play at the cost of Yuvraj and Sharma(?), at #4 and #3 respectively.

So what of Dhoni’s captaincy in the final? Well there isn’t much one can do if you pick Uthappa in place of a bowler. RP Singh has been off color and Irfan Pathan seems lost. These are folk, who along with Rohit Sharma (who I have lost patience with) that I will drop. The youngsters need seasoning and there is nothing like good hard Ranji for that.

Going back to Mendis, a star is truly born. He still has to a lot to prove, but judging by what we’ve seen so far, he augurs well for Sri Lankan cricket and for spin bowling.

This will make India’s upcoming tour of Sri Lankan more watchable. Mendis or not, I was interested in the ODI series for the Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid against Murali foremost and umpire-challenging second. But the ODI series is now spiced up with Mendis being a definte inclusion. If he is picked for Test, then all the merier.

Bring it on! I can’t wait for this tour!


A round up thus far on the NatWest ODI series

August 29, 2007

So 3 ODIs are up and England lead 2-1, after two top order batsmen let India down in their chase of 280+ plus score in the 3rd match in the series. Considering the order in which the results were achieved, it seems almost fairy tale; it seems like it was made to keep the fans interested and guessing.

After listening to Ian Chappel’s comments on the changes to the one day game, I would definitely agree with them: they are messing around with it a little too much. The new rule which states that non-striket can start his run when the bowler’s backfoot reaches the ground does seems like “cheating” (again, quoting Ian Chappel). Enough has already been done to degrade the quality of the one day game. The powerplays in my opinion are bringing the game down; you can win or lose a match because of the it. The shortened version of the game is becomming more of a mind game than a sport; granted, cricket has always been a 50-50 psychology-sport, but the balance has started to tilt, and I don’t like it. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

Here are some highlights/lowlights from the ODIs thus far :
Hightlights:
– Flintoff’s near come-back and 5-for (or should I say Michelle) 🙂
– India’s batting on ODI-2
– Piyush’s 2 of 2 against Pietersen
– Monty’s first succesful run-out

Lowlights:
– Umpiring standards and Tendulkar’s missed ton (again!)
– Paul Colligwood’s hogging of England’s bowling attack
– India’s fielding
– India’s chasing
– Agarkar’s bowling

Meanwhile, there’s a very nice interview of the Prince of Calcutta. Check it out here. Siddartha writes this one beautifuly, evoking a good amount of emotions. You tend to picture scenes from the Ganguly’s younger days: those of power, aggression and attitude, all of which provided team India with a dimension that it never had (or wasn’t seen for some time until then). You see tinges of that very dimension now in Zaheer, Sreeshant, RPSingh, and Tendulkar.

Cheers to the improved team India!