India retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy with 2-0 victory

October 25, 2010

A bit late to the party, so will reserve the detailed comments. Congratulations India! Thanks Australia for an engaging series. Wish it was more than 2 Tests, though.

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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! 🙂


India Win Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-0

November 10, 2008

Yes! The trophy is back. Pity that that the final day had to be on a Monday for I got no work done, but couldn’t watch history being made live. Yes, I caught the highlights, but it just isn’t the same!

There is much to be said, more to be analyzed, and I’ll save that for later.

Let me leave you with the (rather selfish) thought that, you might have read here first that India will win 2-0 and get the shiny baby back!


Kumble Shocks Nation with Kotla Farewell

November 2, 2008

It was a regular Sunday afternoon. The spirited Kotla crowds were cheering the stroke play of Laxman and Ganguly’s trademark six. Suddenly they fell very quiet. No, it was not the fall of an Indian wicket. Anil Kumble, the King of Kotla, had just announced that he would retire at the end of the day’s play.

Kumble did not shock the Delhi crowd alone, but shell-shocked a cricketing nation, just like he bamboozled batting greats throughout his career. We all knew it was coming, and soon, but it seemed to fans to come out of the blue. Why you may ask? Perhaps because there was no time to let it sink; maybe because he has been such a regular fixture in an Indian line up; perhaps because we admire him so much; perhaps because this is the end of a Golden Era in India cricket. The numbness and lumps in the throat are justified for this is no mere bowler. This is Anil Kumble. The Kumble who took all 10 wickets in one innings; the Kumble who took over 600 wickets in all; the Kumble who bowled with a broken jaw; the Kumble who never gives up; the Kumble whose statesmanlike captaincy through an acrimonious tour of Australia made him the best ambassador of the gentleman’s game; the Kumble who bowled with a stitched up finger and the Kumble who took his last international wicket from a return catch with an injured hand.

Kumble, the cricketer, has been special to me in many ways. Aside of inspiring me to experiment spin bowling with a tomato, he’s done much inspire any average Joe that with hard work, one can scale great heights as Anil Kumble’s career is a tribute to this. As a bespectacled young man who took the field, he did not take the cricketing world by storm. He did not spike to success either. Kumble’s career progress has been almost boringly gradual, one nurtured by sweat, blood, toil, unrelenting hard work, a craftsman’s talent and soldier’s spirit. Yet underneath it all, there is a good human being, a man who managed the impossible task of staying clear of controversy in a cricketing nation that thrives on and devours it with voracious appetite. His manner was distinctly south Indian: low-key, polite, and humble. His success is testament to the fact that one does not need showmanship or bravado to reach great heights. All that is required is a committed soul that always gave a hundred percent to the task at hand. Success will automatically follow.

Dravid and teamates throne Kumble

Dravid and teamates throne Kumble. Picture Source: Cricinfo

To an extraordinary man, one of the Fabulous Five of Indian cricket, and an excellent ambassador of the gentleman’s game, here is a shoddy free verse of praise:

Oh Captain, My Captain!
You have stunned us all
With your adieu today
Created a void
that will take more
than just talent to attempt to fill.

Though we shall cry a river today
we know that you deserve better
For you are a man who’s won us
so many matches
given us so much joy and
made us proud to be Indians

We will forever remember
the rhythmic stride
the baritone voice
the “got-cha” celebration
and the Jumbo spirit

While you may be missing
From the cricket field
we will take pride and solace
that when the name of bowling
legends are flashed across
the screens in the years to come
we will read the name
Anil Kumble
etched with a grace that is
gentlemanly and so wholesomely Indian.

Hail Kumble!


Draw Looming – Ind vs Aus 2008-09: Day 4, 3rd Test

November 2, 2008

After promising much the Delhi Test is moving slowly and boringly towards a draw. As butter-fingered India dropped as many as four catches today, to let Australia off the hook, the most worrying aspect was the attitude and general lack of purpose. Ishant was wayward, Mishra didn’t look like the guy who took 7 wickets in the last match and Kumble toiled spiritedly to end up with three after largely disappointing spells, given his stature. While Sehwag weaved magic with the ball, he disappointed again with the bad. Where was the need for that shot? Ishant played a horrible shot for the first delivery he recieved as nightwatchman, and would have been gone that very ball. But it was his fate to face a carbon copy of that delivery and play the same shot only with a different result. So much for being nightwatchman. But perhaps it was Dravid’s fate to have to walk out today. Fellow blogger Soulberry sarcastically takes a dig at Dravs here. Was I the only one who was nervous for Dravs?

Tomorrow, most likely will not produce a result (unless we mess it up horribly), but India can use this well for batting practice. Dravid, this is your chance! The others have got their face saving centuries. For Heaven’s sake, Dravid, grab this, with both your hands, and show us some magic. And no runs per ball ratio nonsense.


Another VVS Special – Ind vs Aus 2008-09: Day 2, 3rd Test

October 31, 2008

While Gambhir continued his onslaught to get his maiden double century, VVS showed why he is a very special player and why the people who advocated dropping him for a fifth bowler should be embarrassed and hide. He plays very quietly, knocking it around and before you know it, he’s got a hundred. Give it some more time and he’s past 150. Vintage VVS was what we saw today. What struck me the most was his reaction on the century (gesturing a bowler). Why are the seniors taking the media so seriously? Media scrutiny has been happening for some time. Granted, it’s more targeted towards the Fab four now, but the best way to get them off your back is by ignoring them and performing.

That apart, there are many questions/concerns from today’s proceedings. First, Dhoni’s irresponsible innings. He isn’t captain, so he didn’t care enough. What does that tell you of attitude? I can point to several such instances now. Secondly, I thought Kumble declared a bit too early. They should not have given Aus more than 10 overs to bat. Why? Thirdly, can India bowl Aussies out twice on this track? Doesn’t seem to anything in it yet. Furthermore, what does this innings mean for Laxman? He may have got the monkey off his back for the next match, but there are now two monkeys on Dravid’s back. I will save my thoughts on VVS at #3 for after the Delhi Test, but there will certainly be some talk about this.

As for tomorrow, the first hour will be key. India will need 2 wickets in the first session. Post lunch is often a sleepy session and nothing much happens. If India don’t act quickly, we might be headed for a draw.


Gambhir blazes – Ind vs Aus 2008-09: Day 1, 3rd Test

October 29, 2008

Most batsmen have a similar beginning. There comes a time when a young maverick sets the stage ablaze. Question are asked if that was an aberration, a mere spike from an average cricketer. What sets the legends apart from the regular cricketers is that they answers those very questions with the same answer again and again. Then the questions will change. They will ask why not another one? Then they will expect excellence in trying conditions and then demand. Legends answer all of these questions, and satiate the expectations in their own characteristic way: some emphatically, some grindingly. Then the bar is raised and for those that make it through, the legend in them is born. With time, situations get difficult – bad patches come and some last seemingly for an eternity. Legends see several such patches, hope for them to pass and climb out of the hole quickly. But sometimes, somewhere along the way desperation sets in. Every effort, in as much as it is earnest, seems so much harder than it should be. For some this is the end; the fortunate ones see them through. Those that do, reach a kind of nirvana, a sense of carefree bliss and the legend then unleashed in full power.

Today, I believe we’ve had glimpses of all of this.

Gambhir is now at the brink of having expectations raised. He’s answered the mundane questions several times but better tougher ones will surely await. More will be expected of him in the days to come. He holds a definite promise. The true test will come abroad. New Zealand might be harsh, but it will give us a good picture. Dravid on the other hand, is the legend in desperation, trying too hard to climb out of a hole he has dug for himself. It remains to be seen if he has utterly lost it, or will raise through to prove a point yet again. While I have my fingers crossed for the latter, I beginning to have very grave worries. Sachin, was the blissfully carefree man, playing a different game altogether, thoroughly enjoying himself. Pity that his innings came to an end so soon, but so do many blissful times.

Laxman may have played yet another axe-saving innings. While that should not take away from the class or the beauty of the innings, there is more he is capable of and will be expected of, especially when promoted up the order. Does the coveted #3 beckon?

I won’t go into the Australian bowling as I watched only the scorecard live on Cricinfo and then the highlights on TV. That being the case, it doesn’t take a genius to say that the Aussie bowlers have struggled and are resorting to the dirty old sledging tricks.

Where from here? India need to bat the most (if not the whole) of Day 2, make good use of the conditions and post a good total. If you ask me, anything between 500 and 600 will do. Then, our pacers and spinners can have a crack at the Aussie batsman.