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.


India win 2nd Test – A tounge in check look – Ind vs Aus 2008-09: Day 5

October 22, 2008

India triumph over Australia to go 1-0 up in the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2008-09 with a historic win in the second Test at Mohali. Team effort and proactive captaincy made this possible. Australia have been bringing the best out of India for the past 5 years now, with each victory arguably better than the other in quality.

Congratulations, India! A well earned victory! Cheers!

But the series isn’t over yet and there is still some good work to do.

Where now from here for India? India need to keep the intensity just where it is, if not turn it up another notch. The bowling attack with Ishant, Bhajji and Zaheer is rocking.  Mishra had a compelling debut. Delhi will be key and the selectors will have one hell of a task picking a playing XI. I shall save that for another discussion, but I must add that for once, I’m glad that this selection isn’t my job!

India’s batting is still a bit of a concern. Ganguly has been the best performer so far – he’s looked solid in defence, characteristic in attack and has played his natural game. Viru and Gambhir closely follow. There are still a few question marks around the others in the batting order with respect to solidity, based on current form.

As for the Aussie, I would give anything to hear from Greg Chappell. 🙂 I’ll save my comments on him till the end of the series. Ponting has some sorting out to do. Clarke is good only in patches. I don’t understand how Shane Watson and Cameron White made it to the side. The only reason I can think of is thier familiarity to the conditions from IPL. Watson, course played for the Rajasthan Royals and White, rather unimpressively for Bangalore Royal Challengers. I find it hard to believe that the Aussies don’t have anything better in the closet. Haddin has a long way to go – an average keeper and below-average Test batsman. Siddle was hyped beyond proportions, might be (along with Johnson) the better ones from the newer lot. Lee is obviously out of form/rusty. Two players hold the key – Hayden and Hussey. While lashing out at the apparent lack-of-quality/experience in the Aussie line up, in the back of my mind, there is this dark thought that India might face this very situation (maybe even worse with the batting) when the Fab four disappear from the scene. But that is not for this day.

This day, we celebrate for going one step ahead to re-gaining the Border Gavaskar Trophy! Cheers!


India with a chance – Ind vs Aus 2008-09: Day 3, 2nd Test

October 20, 2008

A lot can happen in two days. India’s middle order, precisely Ganguly, Tendulkar and lower-order batsman Dhoni powered India to a decent total of 469. Four quick Aussie wickets meant that the Aussies needed some damage control. That they did, but nothing more. In fact, the Aussie damage control would have looked a lot less fancier had Watson been given out by umpire Rudi Koertzen when he was actually out. That would have given the Indian think tank some food for thought about the follow on. But forget it, they would have never enforced it anyway.

A lot of things have been good for India:

  • Ganguly’s silken century, his 16th ton in his farewell series enabled fans to watch Grace and helped India to a good total
  • Dhoni’s “gadayudh” batting helped us get quick runs and goes to prove my earlier point that Dhoni cares to perform with the bat only when he captains (ok, ok, it was a batting pitch and I’m being a little harsh here)
  • Mishra’s dream debut got him a fifer. So, the spin closet has one worthy item in it. One in hand and in form is worth ten times the weight in gold of a closet full of junk
  • Gambhir and Sehwag have gotten us off to a flier.

What needs to be done:

  • Viru and Gambhir need to bat some more and get more runs quickly
  • Don’t know if Dravid will bat at #3 tomorrow, but this could be the best opportunity to cement his place among seniors. VVS seems like he’s currently on tenterhooks.

It will be interesting to see when – both in terms of run and timing – that the declaration comes. I would think setting Aus 450-480 in over 3.5-4 sessions would be a good ask. Will we do it?

PS: Meanwhile, for those of you looking for a daily dose of Dravid goodness, he’s only 5 short of Mark Waugh’s record for max catches in Test. Mark Waugh was really cheap in saying this, but I hope Waugh is wrong. The only person close to getting a pair is an Aussie and he’s called Matthew Hayden. Waugh! Which match are you watching?


India fail to capitalize – Ind vs Aus 2008-09: Day 1, 2nd Test

October 17, 2008

On a day that will only be remembered for the milestones, India’s top three batsmen will rue the fact that they failed to make merry on a what seems like a batting paradise.

In case you missed it, here are the milestones

  • Sachin breaches 12000 runs in Test Cricket
  • Sachin makes 50th Test 50 and is the second Indian to do so after Rahul Dravid 🙂
  • Sachin breaks West Indian Brian Lara’s record for most runs scored in Test Cricket
  • Ganguly crosses 7000 runs

Meanwhile, there was a game of cricket being played.

Sehwag should have paid attention. Dravid looked set for a big one with some of the shots reminding us just what kind of a player he is. He should have capitalized on what looked like his best innings in the last 4 Test matches. Gambhir should have stayed on, he got stuck after lunch and fell shortly after Dravid. I have no words for Laxman. Maybe he should not have been promoted up the order – it seems almost like some kind of a curse. Tendulkar and Ganguly each played a brilliant innings, one true to their reputation. This partnership has saved India some blushes.

India will do well do get to 400. Does Amit Mishra bat? My fellow Delhi-ite bloggers NC, SB and SP will know better if deserving debutant Amit Mishra can bat. Now a days one has more faith in India’s lower order than our middle.