India Win Compaq Cup

September 19, 2009

But could have almost lost it. Credit to Sri Lanka, the top 5 – barring Mahela – gave India a run for its money, and us bored fans something to bite nails about.

Quick thoughts on what went well:

1. Tendulkar: Need I say anything? What a sublime innings to count for his 44th ODI ton.

2. Dravid opening: Despite the fact that he didn’t score big, he with Tendulkar set the platform for the other to build on. After a long time, Dravs did not look nervous and didn’t elicit the “oh my god, is he going to be out now” feeling I’ve had almost every ball of some his innings last year and in late-2007.

3. Harbhajan: He and Tendulkar won the match for us.

What didn’t go well:

1. Do we have a pace bowling attack? Where are the bowlers? RP, Irfan, Nehra, all disappointed.

2. Butterfingers fielding: Dhoni, Yusuf, Nehra, Kohli et all dropping catches like hot potatoes. Pathetic ūüė¶

There will be a lot of ground to cover for this team in the Champion’s Trophy. On current bowling and fielding form, they don’t belong in the semi finals. A berth there is almost as dicey as it used to be in the early 90s.


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. ūüôā 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!


Squad for Bangladesh tri-series, Asia cup sans Ganguly, Dravid, Tendulkar

June 1, 2008

Yes, for the first time without either of the Big Three (if memory serves me right). The squad is primarily the one that won the ODI series in Australia earlier this year with a few new faces.

Here they are: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt), Yuvraj Singh (Vice-capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, S Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, R P Singh, Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha.

My issues? Not including either one of Ganguly or Dravid (honestly, I would have like to see Dravid in). Neither are out of form, definitely not Dravid. He has scored over 300 runs in the IPL- that is mind you, only 16 short of Dhoni’s run count – with an average around 30. The young team, preparing for the 2011 World Cup and that is fine, but I think India will do well to use some of the services of the war horses for they still have a year (if not two) of cricket left in them. Sad? Yes. Expected? Perhaps Yes. I still had a glimmer of hope. But I think I see the harsh truth only now. Dravid and Ganguly might have played the last ODIs of their career. Fellow blogger Soulberry, saw this coming much and bade goodbye to them (in ODIs) back in January. I could dwell on this for a while, but I will save that for another post.

Moving on to the rest of the squad. Going by his recent IPL outings and the last couple of ODIs Uthappa doesn’t deserve a place. RP has been a bit shaky of late. As for the new inclusions Ohja and Yusuf, I haven’t watched much of Ohja, so can’t comment on him. I’m not sure Yusuf Pathan is as deserving as some of the Southern folk, esp, Chennai Super Kings’ Badrinath (as Ottayan duly supports). Meanwhile couldn’t help but feel sorry for Manoj Tiwary: one jet-lagged T20 innings goes poof and so does his India cap eh? Wonder what is the deal with Joginder Sharma? Why hasn’t Dhoni be able to get him? He seems to have a lot of trust on the guy.

Anyway, I’m not very excited about this series. Call me old-fashioned, obstinate, or whatever else, but without Tendulkar, Ganguly or Dravid, the India spirt is missing, at least for me. I might take a break from Indian cricket and watch the Aus vs. WI or Eng vs. NZ. Damn my cable operator, I don’t get Star cricket. Hope to find one soon that carries it.


India put Australia on back foot at the WACA – 3rd Test, Perth

January 17, 2008

A Chak de moment for India today, as they bowl out Australia without even one-full day of play. All this in none other than the WACA, known for pace and bounce and as an Aussie stronghold. It took India only 50 overs with Pathan striking early to remove both openers, Ishant coming good with the prize scalp of Ponting and Clarke, Kumble doing his usual magic and RP Singh blazing through to bag 4. Ricky Ponting, if you are listening, we can get you even without Bhajji. What have you got now? ūüôā

I’m starting to like Ishant Sharma more and more now. I initially didn’t think much of him. Give him one wicket and he seems like a different bowler. He seems sure to get better. Sreesanth, you have some competition! R P Singh has been a revelation for India in the past year; he bowled beautifully in England, was impressive in the 20-20 World Cup in South Africa and now seems very promising.

The batsmen need to cash in on the bowler’s hard work. Hopefully Sehwag will fire tomorrow and the middle order make its contribution. If India set the Aussie a total of 430+, they have a chance of wining this Test.¬† Chak de India!


A drab series ended: India-Pak 2007

November 20, 2007

Is it just me or was this India-Pak series just a little drab. There wasn’t too much of see-saw or nail-biting. Granted India did well, after a seemingly long draught of ODIs series victories, but this wasn’t what the India-Pak fan expected to see. There was no Shoaib-Tendulkar/Ganguly frenzy nothing much to look forward to with excitement.

For me the most disappointing thing in the series was Pak’s lack of enthusiasm. They just weren’t being Pakistan barring the final ODI esp after they got Tendulkar. Tanvir’s mad punch in the air after getting Tendulkar was the essence of¬†what Pakistan represents. They thrive in aggression and aggression helps them¬†raise the level of their game.¬†Seriously, this was a tame Pakistani side; so tame, that they looked like India under Dravid (don’t get me wrong, Dravid is a fine batsman, but I was never¬†a fan of his captaincy).

Shoiab Malik’s captaincy was¬†fairly boring. He seems to lack¬†the courage to¬†try something different, let alone gamble.¬†In fact, I can draw many parallels between Malik and Dravid’s captaincy, the chief one being defensive techniques employed.¬†But one feels sorry for the man who has been recieving flak for everything he seems to be doing. Ramiz Raja seems to be heaping it truckloads. The other disappointing factor from the Pak side was the absence of Imran Nazir in the first 4 ODI. Nazir, to me, is a classic Pakistani one day opener who can thrill with all the frills (but can also fail miserably under trying conditions)¬†¬†ala Afridi (who also disappointed big time) and provide a good platform for the middle order.

From the Indian side, there isn’t much for me to say aside of what I have I already been saying about the past few matches. A good victory, but this isn’t anything to gloat about; if Pakistan had been even 10% better, the result could have be harder to achieve if not different. Many things worked for India:
–¬†Dhoni’s captaincy
– Good opening partnerships
– Tendulkar’s in sublime form (or should I say holy)
– Yuvraj-Dhoni’s consistent contributions
– Better pace bowling
Some things look good for the future:
– Rohit Sharma’s gritty innings in the fifth ODI
– RP Singh and Irfan Pathan’s contributions through the series

Having said all that, the fifth ODI was a little bit of an aberration for the current resurgent India. Not just because that they lost, but the manner in which they did. If you were wondering what it would have been to watch Indian cricket in the 90s, this was what it generally was: mediocre bowling from the spearheads, abysmal part-time bowling, lazy fielding, and batting collapses. Ok, the fifth ODI wasn’t as bad, but fearfully close. The fielding was back to its lackadaisical style; the bowling was fairly poor except for flashes of brilliance¬†from¬†Sreesanth (which was followed by some big-time ball-spraying). Praveen Kumar had a fairly¬†good¬†debut, but I was more impressed with the new Pak wicketkeeper Sarfraz Nawaz and new-kid-on-the-block Fawad Alam. I had written about Rohit Sharma earlier and he definitely a promising prospect for post-Dravid India at #3. Indian batting fell¬†apart¬†with¬†flashy and almost reckless Tendulkar¬†dismissed¬†after a dangerous shot; ditto¬†for¬†Sehwag. Gambhir¬†was unfortunate but¬†not as much as Yuvraj. Uthappa¬†at #3 was a mistake; to me he¬†is more of an opener (in the right¬†conditions) or excellent #5. Even the 2 sevens¬†on Dhoni’s borrowed shirt couldn’t save India.

One other aspect of this series that has been on my mind is the relative ease with which both teams are being fined. First for slow over rate, then heavily fining Afridi and Gambhir and then Yuvraj for dissent (though I saw the coming the moment he gestured to the umpire). One wonders why a baby-face Ponting who blinks after lbw decisions and close stumpings doesn’t get the same treatment. If we are to copy the Aussies here, shall we call this racism?