October 15, 2008
The Mohali Pitch will not be the “usual Mohali” pitch. It will have bounce initially but will turn later. God! What does this mean? What do we do if we lose the toss?
Pacers and Kumble can use the bounce. But what if Ponting has figured out Ishant? Have all the Aussies gotten a hang of Kumble?
“Danger man” Stuark Clark may not play? But Peter Siddle may debut. What if our middle order can’t figure him out – given our records from a Lee in ’99 to Chris Tremlet in 2007 and Ajantha Mendis in 2008 (bowlers on debut)?
What if we can’t get Hussey at all?
It’s raining in Mohali. What could that mean?
Seriously, is it just me?
6 Comments | Anil Kumble, Cricket, Dravid, Ganguly, India, India-Aus series, Indian cricket, Kumble, Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly, Tendulkar, The Big 3 of Indian cricket | Tagged: 2nd Test Mohali, Ajantha Mendis, Anil Kumble, Australia, Australia's tour of India 2008, Bret Lee, Chris Tremlet, Clark, Cricket, Fab four of Indian cricket, Hussey, India, India against bowlers on debut, India-Aus 2008-09 2nd Test Mohali, Indian cricket, Indian middle order, Ishant, Ishant Sharma, Kumble, Lee, Mendis, Mohali, Mohali pitch, Peter Siddle, Ponting, rain in Mohali, Ricky Ponting, Stuark Clark, Test Cricket | Permalink
Posted by vmminerva
August 19, 2008
The Indian ODI side has lost another battle to Mendis. I’d written them off even before a single ball was bowled in the series. Soulberry is postively miffed and strangely I thought they should have been doing exactly what SB suggests.
But the anxiety and emotion isn’t just about this series. It is about the so-called mission to win the World Cup in 2011.
While there is value in the vision itself (I do have some reservations on the over-emphasis that the World Cup is getting, but I’ll save that for another day), for some time now it has taken precedence to common sense. I think the selectors and us, the serious-Indian-cricket followers, have mostly overreacted to the T20 victory. Just because a young side that won us a World Cup in a abridged format does not mean that was the way to go. Again, we also overreacted to the ODI series victory in Australia, which I have said time and again was largely due to Tendulkar and some good fast bowling from the younsters: not the Uthappas and Rainas.
This reaction has brought about precisely two things: a meteoric rise in the importance of Dhoni and wholesale recruiting of inexperienced youth from an U-19 cricket team. Dhoni’s recent success has hidden his rather mono-dimensional-nature as captain and less-than-solid batting from scrutiny. Dhoni isn’t a thinking captain, Azharuddin was. Dhoni is a lucky captain, at least so far: his troups have delivered. While there is nothing wrong with that the lack of ingenuitity or depth is bothersome. Perhaps this is the series which might expose these aspects of Dhoni further more. I’m not suggesting that we sack Dhoni now. That would be knee-jerk and the problem isn’t really with the captaincy, though I must add he hasn’t been doing much either. Besides, we don’t have a replacement captain. Please don’t suggest Yuvraj, he’s even worse! This itself is a crisis unprecedented in the last 10-15 years. When Azhar had to go, there was Tendulkar; when Ganguly was sacked, Dravid was ready. Even when Dravid stepped down, Dhoni made it because there was no one else, not out of his own merit. The second issue is of more importance. We’ve had a good deal of failures even the recent past of 3+ years from the Chappel era of recruiting U-19s to the Indian team. A cursory look at these names leads credence to the view that this really isn’t the way to go: Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Mohammed Kaif. In Rohit Sharma, Kohli and Ohja we perhaps have our next failed experiments. Domestic cricket is there for a reason and cricket is not a boys’ game. It involves either genius talent ala Tendulkar or just pure hard work. Gambhir learned it the hard way and is now back after having spent some time in the domestic circuit. Barring Tendulkar, the other Indian batting greats of today, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman roughed it out before they were even considered to represent the country at the highest level. The selectors need to look back this tradition, gather strength and change the way things are being done, though I fear it might already be a bit too late. Give it another year or a few more failed U-19 stars, and we might have to wait another generation for a set of solid batsmen.
Honestly, on the mission World Cup 2011, I honestly don’t see it happening. Teams that win World Cups generally have about 4-5 members who have played in an earlier version and have a mix of solid and swashbuckling batsmen and quality bowlers with variety. Australia in ’99 was probably the best Aussie WC team in the recent past. India’s 2003 WC squad was also probably our best and will remain that way for some time to come. I won’t comment on the 2007 WC here, much has been said about it. If honest effort is made to nurture good batting and bowling we might have a competitive 2015 WC squad, and unless anything miraculous happens I don’t see this particular ODI side winning a 50-over World Cup for us.
Meanwhile, in Soulberry’s thread, some have suggested what I have been ranting about for over eight months now: the reinstatement of Dravid in the ODI side. I would suggest that we include Ganguly too. We need some stability and some sanity. We need a batsman to hang around so the youngsters can learn what it takes to build an innings. Right now there is no mentor in the ODI team for the younsters. And please, Dhoni isn’t one! What happened to the rotation policy? We seem to only have a senior-elimination policy at the moment. Dhoni was picked as captain of the ODI side because he supposedly had a good rapport with the seniors, but the first thing that he did was sack Dravid and then Ganguly. We need to rotate the Big 3, not eliminate 2 and let Tendulkar chase his records. Having said all that, given the nature of BCCI, do I see it happening? No. But do I continue hoping? Yes.
I think at the end of this tour of Sri Lanka, we would have learned more lessons than we did in the past decade. The last instance of such a lesson-filled tour that I recall is probably the 99-00 tour of Australia. We need a good mix of the old and new to win matches and to build for the future. The veterans need to be around to show the way and the transition to the new order gradual. We have learnt a valid lesson from the ODI squad and one only hopes that after the 1-2 defeat in the recently concluded Test series, the same mistakes aren’t made with the Test squad.
18 Comments | BCCI, Cricket, Dhoni, Dravid, Ganguly, ICC Twenty-Twenty World Cup, India, India-Aus series, Indian cricket, Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, T-20 Cricket, Tendulkar, The Big 3 of Indian cricket, Yuvraj, Yuvraj Singh | Tagged: 2007 World Cup, Ajantha Mendis, Australia, Azharuddin, BCCI, Cricket, Cricket World Cup 2011, Dhoni, Domestic cricket, Dravid, Fab four of Indian cricket, Gambhir, Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, Greg Chappell, India, India tour of Australia 2007-08, India's tour of Australia 99-00, India's tour of Sri Lanka 2008, Indian cricket, Laxman, Mendis, Mohammed Azharuddin, Mohammed Kaif, MS Dhoni, ODI cricket, Pragyan Ohja, Rahul Dravid, Ranji Trophy, Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, selectors, Sourav Ganguly, Sri Lanka, Suresh Raina, Tendulkar, Test Cricket, The Big 3 of Indian cricket, The Big Three of Indian cricket, U-19 Cricket, U-19 Cricket World Cup, Uthappa, Virat Kohli, VVS Laxman, World Cup 99, Yuvraj Singh | Permalink
Posted by vmminerva
August 17, 2008
Ok, this is the third time in eight months that we’re playing Sri Lanka in ODIs. I admit I’m neither too interested nor too excited.
However, that doesn’t stop me from betting on some players from the Indian side:
1. Sehwag – has the best record against Mendis at the moment
2. Gambhir – after Sehwag, has seen the most of Mendis
3. Badrinath – he might the technique to handle Mendis/Murali
My prediction for the series Sri Lanka will win 4-1, assuming Mendis/Murali are played in all matches, though I reserve the right to alter that margin. 🙂
6 Comments | Cricket, India, Indian cricket, Sehwag | Tagged: Ajantha Mendis, Badrinath, Cricket, Gambhir, Gautham Gambhir, India, India's tour of Sri Lanka 2008, Indian cricket, Mendis, Murali, Muthaiah Muralitharan, ODI cricket, S Badrinath, Sehwag, Sri Lanka, Virender Sehwag | Permalink
Posted by vmminerva
August 11, 2008
I must first forewarn you that this is not an organized collection of thoughts. It’s a largely an emotional response to the series thrown away and hope lost of seeing the Fab-four in action together.
After a day and of half of holding on to the fine ray of hope, nearly living on the edge, the most logical result has shown its face. I’m sure fellow blogger Soulberry shares in my fatigue. Soulberry, you seriously raised my hopes with your stats on the Dravid-Laxman partnership. They looked promising, esp, Dravid, but I guess it just wasn’t to be. This goes to prove you cannot win a Test match with 4 injured players, especially if it includes your strike pace bowler. A few overs of Ishant could have made for a different story, but many will feel that he could only have delayed the inevitable.
It was a rather hyped series given the sub-continental flavor. As an Indian cricket fan, it is a sad day not because this is just another series loss, but because, I think we might have seen the last of the Fab-four playing together. Not because that should be the case, but because I think that will. Indian fans and the BCCI have been known for their knee-jerk reactions to everything: World Cup exits, victories and umpiring errors alike. I expect that one of the four places will now go to a junior and as SP predicted, I suspect that it will be Ganguly, but honestly, I think it should be Tendulkar. Either way, some of us, fans of the Fab-four, need to brace ourselves for some brutal ones to come.
While the rational side of me says it is only fair that one of these places go to a junior, a part of me also fears the selectors will pick the wrong senior to replace and give his place to a wrong junior. The selectors might pick a teenager who scored in the IPL 20, the likes of Rohit Sharma. We need to pick from our regional circles, a player who has scored well. Doesn’t matter if he is 30. The Gangulys and the Dravids, the two who have probably lasted the longest in the history of the game (apart from Tendulkar, of course) came in their late twenties, after being seasoned by good old Ranji. At the moment, the only batsman deserving of a Test call up is Badrinath, but I think Rohit will get it earlier and fail. That said, some of the senior folk could use some domestic match practice as well.
Galle victory notwithstanding, we lost the series in the first Test: mostly psychologically. There was pressure on the seniors from Asia-cup-fame Mendis, the fans, the press, the media, and I suspect the BCCI. Did the Fab-four lose this series for us? Yes and No.
Yes, they did contribute significantly to the loss. Let’s start at the top with “the God” shall we. Tendulkar seemed impatient and arrogant, more inclined to get his record that to play to a responsible innings. Nothing else explains the dismissal in the first innings of the First Test. Then Ganguly. Nothing seemed to be wrong with him, impatience and fear got the better of him. Dravid, seemed disturbingly out of form in the first Test. Batting seemed to invoke horrors in a man who nicknamed the Wall. There was one innings in which he was himself: the second innings of the decider Test and this is the only good sign for us among the Fab four. Laxman seemed solid in the first innings of the First Test, fell like a bunny 5 times, and resurrected himself to some extend in the second innings of the Third Test.
Yes, they lost it for us as Dravid, who has for long been the backbone of the batting did not find form until the second innings of the 3rd Test. We need the Wall to keep building the fortress to allow the other batsmen to build. There is just no replacement for the role that Dravid has played.
Yes, they lost it for us, as this is the first time in which they were all not scoring throughout the series.
But, no, it isn’t just them. Our bowler’s did not step up either. Other the Ishant, nobody looked like taking any wickets. Our wicketkeepers or wicketkeeper-batsmen, as we wrongly call them were pathetic with both their responsibilities. Kumble, surprizingly didn’t look like taking wickets. Our fielders lacked initiative, yes the young ones too. Last but not the least, there was the largely inconsistent and partisan referral system. A collective failure in performance and spirit caused us this series and takes us only further from that coveted #1 Test team position.
Having said all about the Fab-four, while they have been stellar in many ways, they have also been largely inconsistent through their illustrious careers. It would be hard to find a series in which all of them collectively consistently and consequtively scored heavily. It has been their class and showmanship with the bat that has earned them this tag. The again, winning Test matches isn’t about of collective centuries, it is about everybody doing their part and doing so well. This time, they failed to produce that face-saving century that they needed, or half century each, Lax and Dravs excluding (though I’m not sure that will save them from the selectors who will want to keep Tendulkar) . Also, more often than not, they have been bothered by a bowler on debut. Bret Lee, Chris Tremlet and Sohail Tanvir come to mind. Ajantha Mendis now joins this list. It will be interesting to see which way he goes.
The selectors have a many tough decisions now with the Aussies coming to town. Do you judge the seniors on one bad series? Do you put the mentally pressurized seniors on the spot with an ultimatum in the series against the Aussies? Or do you throw the younsters to the wolves? Do you give seniors match practice in Ranji or rest?
As RS rightly points out, the only one to gain from this is Dhoni. It’s a stroke of tactical masterclass from him to skip this Test series. I now predict a Sri Lankan ODI series washout by 4-1 or 5-0. Then will the same questions be asked of Dhoni’s boys? Let us see.
12 Comments | Anil Kumble, BCCI, Cricket, Dhoni, Dravid, Ganguly, India, India-Aus series, Indian cricket, Kumble, Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, T-20 Cricket, Tendulkar, The Big 3 of Indian cricket, Umpiring | Tagged: Ajantha Mendis, Badrinath, BCCI, Brett Lee, Chris Tremlet, Dhoni, Dravid, Fab four of Indian cricket, Gambhir, Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, India's tour of Sri Lanka 2008, Indian cricket, Ishant Sharma, Kumble, Laxman, MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Ranji Trophy, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Sohail Tanvir, Sourav Ganguly, Sri Lanka, Tendulkar, Test Cricket, The Big 3 of Indian cricket, The Big Three of Indian cricket, The Wall, umpiring referral, umpiring review system, VVS Laxman | Permalink
Posted by vmminerva
August 10, 2008
The situation on Day 3 of the final Test at Colombo is dire indeed and the crow pepper fry that Scorpy promised to eat a very far cry. At 161-5 and leading only by 14 runs, the script is almost already written.
The very fine ray of hope lies in this and this. Allow me to magnify the hope. As for rain, the weather men have got it wrong as far as the past 3 days have gone, but it’s not without reason that we say that weather is unpredictable. With all the bad luck that India have been having with the referrals and injuries, the partisan in me thinks we deserve a shot of luck. Rain gods, show your might! As far as an 2001 Eden Gardens encore is concerned, while I don’t expect a double from Laxman who has been foxed by Mendis 5 out of 5 times this series or Dravid to make a 180, the hope lies in the fact that Dravid has seemed very positive this innings, from the very first over. Yes, there have been some circumspect moments, but the clouds seem to be lifting to reveal our good-old Dravid. Laxman doesn’t look very sure but there are no devils in the pitch.
For the folk who think much of the youngsters – Parthiv lasted two balls. Take that! Sehwag is by no means a youngster and Gambhir has been the best of the lot as far as playing spin is concerned. We’ve seen the Indian middle order (and that of the Delhi Daredevils) collapse after these two fall.
Join me in sending positive thoughts and invoking the Rain gods. Rain, rain come again!
6 Comments | Cricket, Dravid, India, India-Aus series, Indian cricket, Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sehwag, Umpiring | Tagged: 3rd Test Colombo, Ajantha Mendis, Dravid, Eden Gardens 2001 Ind vs. Aus, Gambhir, Gautham Gambhir, India, India in Sri Lanka 2008, India-Aus series, Indian cricket, Laxman, Mendis, Miracles, Parthiv Patel, Rahul Dravid, Rain gods, Sehwag, Sri Lanka, Test Cricket, Umpire referrall, Umpire Review System, Umpiring, umpiring errors, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman | Permalink
Posted by vmminerva