Stodgy India save Napier Test

April 1, 2009

What a couple of days of Test cricket. Nowadays, it’s more satisfying to see a team save a match while chasing a mammoth total than it is to see a match with a result.

This was the occasion to show grit, and it was very satisfying to the hyped Indian batting line-up live up to their statistics. While Sehwag threw away an opportunity to show his captaincy prowess and give Dhoni some competition, Gambhir has taken a huge stride forward in his Test career. It will be sometime before we can truly bank on such innings from him for it takes more than just a few gritty innings to be called the Wall, even if it is Wall version 2. That said, credit needs to be given where it is due. He’s definitely a class apart from the other youngsters, Yuvraj included. Way to go Gambhir! I will not call you just a dumb slogger riding on form anymore.

Speaking of thrown away opportunities, add Dinesh Karthik to the list: his wicket keeping, from what I saw, left a lot to be desired. Looks like all of Dhoni’s competitors (for captaincy and keeping) have either given up or have no hope or intention. On to Yuvraj “I’m either a Prince or a rabbit” Singh. I think it is about time we replace him at Test level with some other promising talent. Where is Vijay who debuted against Australia? Now that would be a talent to nurture for the future.

Our good old Dravid once again did the job that only he does best, except this time, it was cut short by an umpiring error. Fellow blogger Soulberry has also ranted about this evil that cricketing has been plagued with of late. The newly elite Ian Gould has robbed us of what could have been another golden Dravid innings. Like Soulberry says, with such a sweetly timed six that one would wonder why there weren’t many more of those in his Test career. For the nth time, Dravid’s defence was serene and sublime. Brush me aside for being a fan-girl, but this innings of Dravs was definitely special. And some of us wanted him to retire. To me he looks good for another three years. I cannot stop marveling at the patience and grit. Go Draivd, you rock! Moving on, VVS and Sachin were vintage adding to the job that needed completion; nothing less.

So we think we battled it out. But not everyone agrees. This article by Kiwi journalist Paul Lewis had me thinking, and bit offended. True, we did in the past produced dust bowls in India, thanks to our internal pan-BCCI squabbles, we’ve often offered a green top to a side with exceptional fast bowlers. If there is a doubt on the ability of this Indian line up, which I think is probably the best one to deal with the green top on windy conditions (only I would replace Yuvraj with either a promising youngster like Vijay, or with good old fiesty Sourav) in over two decades. So, give us the green top and challenge us. Then we shall see who has conquered.


Ganguly sidelined….Again!

March 25, 2009

Deja vu strikes. At the risk of sounding like an irrational fan, why does this keep happening to Sourav? How many public insults does the man deserve? I’m sure the Dada-haters will be unfurling the scroll again, but seriously, I ask why? Is that streak of arrogance, or the Princely power hunger, or perhaps the defiance of authority that has epitomized the Sourav that we know?

To me, an IPL free spirit – who doesn’t give too much about the fact that’s it’s moved to South Africa, or that it’s even happening this year – Ganguly’s sidelining as captain makes it the IPL all the more insignificant. I’m sure I’m not alone for there were many of us Ganguly fans who were not too long ago haunting Reebok stores in the cities scouting for KKR T-shirts. Maybe we don’t need that KKR T-shirt anymore for now we do not have a team to support!

The KKR team derives it’s spirit from Ganguly. From the point of view of the team management, that the sidelining happened this year, when there wouldn’t be a match played in Kolkata is smart. But Kolkata does not forget or forgive.

“…let’s wait and see..” was what Ganguly had to say on the issue. Yes, we shall definitely wait and see how Kolkata reacts.


Clock ticks to selection: who will get Ganguly’s spot?

December 3, 2008

While there’s a bit of sadness that Dada won’t be playing, there’s some thrill in wondering who will get his place.

Cheeka gushed about Yuvraj after his centuries again England in the ODIs. But there are other people too, folks. Fellow bloggers Scorpy and Soulberry have been raving about Cheteshwar Pujara (whose idol is apparently Dravid) and then there’s Murali Vijay who made people take notice with his performances against Australia in the series gone by.

To choose between two good batsmen, one who has got 3 back to back triple-centuries (if memory serves me right) in Ranji and another solid batsman has got to be hard. I’d pick Pujara, for if you don’t pick him now, you’ll end up selecting him when he’s out of form. It would be sad for Murali Vijay to miss out, but if there’s any fairness in the system, he will get his place in due course.

Meanwhile, our friend Dravid who’s been digging it out in the domestic circles has got some runs. The scores read 38, 50+, 50+, and 83 in the last four innings, which is decent but still wary.

Hoping for Pujara…


Cricket Quickies: from Vengsarkar to Yuvraj and Younis

November 16, 2008

Yes, I promise to keep this short, for I’ve been rambling too much and I’m short of time but not of enthusiasm.

While channel surfing today, I caught a special on India’s tour of Australia in 1986 – an ODI at the MCG. Sunil Gavaskar was batting with a somber looking South India, whom I correctly guessed to be our very own Chika. While Chika’s simple style (at least of what I’ve seen in this innings) was catching indeed, what surprised me more was Dilip Vengsarkar. I’ve only known this man for the unkind words he’s had to say of Dravid. Today I got to the see the batting talent (among other things) that got him to the place from which he barbed. What struck me most in his expansive use of the crease, the sort of which reminds me of some 20-20 batsmen of late. The disregard for the stump guard that Vengsarkar displayed in this innings seemed very contemporary and is certainly not something I would have attributed to the batsmen from that age. Another thing that surprised me is that the next generation – Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Co – did not seem to have this disregard for the stump guard, but in fact meticulously guarded it and in effect seem perhaps rather orthodox given such precedents. If you’re thinking I’ve watched only one innings from the 80s and that my observations are off-base, do enlighten me.

Meanwhile, “flat-pitch-bully” Yuvraj slammed an impressive century at Rajkot and the cricket site are abuzz with polls of whether Yuvi should make it to the Test middle order. Strangely 72% of cricketnext visitors seemed to think so, while 52% of cricinfo visitors seem to think not! Strange isn’t it? I’d be interested in knowing the age groups of the folks to who’ve voted and their vote. In case you’re wondering, I voted against, on both the sites. 🙂

Another thought struck me today while watching parts of Pak vs. WI clash today. While I’ve labeled most of India’s recent ODI matches as boring, I found this one to be the contrary. I was not yawning, or absently glaring, waving my hands unconsciously when a four was hit, but was actually watching. There was class in Younis’s batting today (Ten Sports interrupted this with the ICL). There were elements from the ’90s batting, wristy flicks and “towards the ground” shots reserved in Indian cricket only to Tests nowadays. Call me old fashioned, but this was good ‘old cricket, without the fracas. May it live long!


Australia’s tour of India 2008-09: Series Overview

November 13, 2008

The much awaited Australia’s tour of India is over. India has won it 2-0. There is a sense of euphoria over the victory, but also disappointment over the quality of Aussie cricket. This was supposed to be the Border Gavaskar Trophy, the revenge series to avenge Sydney 08, the spirited fightback from both sides, with every session, if not every ball. There were phases of that, but sadly, what was supposed to last an entire series lasted only three sessions. The series was essentially one sided and I won’t be exaggerating in saying that we, Indian fans, were robbed.

Let’s look at this in a bit more closely, if you will.

Australia Batting: Top heavy, middle mostly missing except for Hussey with a fairly long tail. Yes, that’s the sort of batting that India had in the mid 90s. Their reliance on Hussey was reminiscent of India’s on Dravid until a very lately. Hayden was unable to score and by the time Katich found his foot to convert starts, the series was over.

Australia Bowling: Pacers did not take wickets, spinners made up the overs. Not much of a story there. Watson learnt some towards the end, but it was too little too late. Kreja is a definite prospect, but has a long way to go.

Disappointed: Brett Lee, Mathew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson (to some extent)

Ousters: Shane Watson, Cameron White, Stuart Clark

Still Shining: Michael Hussey is the lone Aussie shining

Captaincy: Ponting’s chinks in captaincy (and batting) are showing. Nagpur Day 4 overrate tactics was shocking, even raising suspicions of match fixing in some minds. That apart, we’ve seen nothing more than less than average captaincy. He’s been riding on the good fortune of having some champion performers in the past. Now that they’re gone, some creativity was required, which was lacking. But then again, the captain is as good as his team!

India Batting: Satisfactory, but could have done better given the big names and the conditions. Only Bangalore had low bounce, others seemed to aid batting more than bowling. So we should have gotten more runs. Harsh? Yes. We are a greedy lot when it comes to our famed batting line up. Gambhir did well, but has more to prove. If he survives the New Zealand series test, I’ll put a check mark next to his name. Viru, was his usual self. Dravid had a nightmare series, maybe when the Waugh curse passes, it will take the bad form along with it. I’ve said much about Dravid, so I’ll pass here, and just pray he finds his foot and grandly. To me, he’s still got it for two years at least. Sachin was again typical self- explosive at times, inglorious at other times. Ganguly impressed the most, and succeeded in his attempt to prove that he really shouldn’t be retiring. There was a sense of purpose in his batting, one so obvious in his ever since his 2006 comeback. Sad it had to be him, but the cries were almost deafening. Laxman, mostly good, mostly typical, but that is expected isn’t it? Dhoni, also typical, will butcher on a flat pitch and flop on anything else. I still think he’s got a long way to go as batsman. He’s banking on the “fear factor” he creates for the opposition. The new recruit and Ganguly-recommended Murali Vijay seems very solid. Is he the next Rahul Dravid? It’s too soon to give such huge tags.

India Bowling: Pacers very impressive on bata wickets. Spinners, could have done better, given the reputation, but maybe that has to do with the fact that the pitches didn’t exactly crumble. New recruit Mishra impressive, but again, lot to prove.

Disappointed: Rahul Dravid

Ousters: None

Still Shining: Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan

Captaincy: Kumble, satisfactory. It’s sad that both the drawn matches were captained by him. Dhoni, also satisfactory. Some of the field settings were refreshing, but I thought a couple of times, his keeping dipped ever so slightly during captaincy. Time will prove whether he can indeed keep and captain. He’s got a lot to prove before we can truly hail him.

In summary, perhaps it is Greg Chappell, who seemed to be behind Ponting’s century in Bangalore! Again, promising much and delivering nothing. After all of RCA’s hospitality, 22 odd different pitches, extra practice matches and all, this is all Guru Greg could do! Couldn’t resist that dig! 🙂