Cricket Musings of the past few weeks – CB Series concludes, India U-19 World Champs

March 11, 2008

Much has happened in the last couple of week for me to catch up with on my blog. The long, almost never-ending tour of Australia was finally over, with India and Australia sharing the honors with victories the ODI and Test series respectively. The young colts in the Indian U-19 team brought home another World Cup. The IPL tamashaa also went on, but I won’t go there in this post.

As for India’s tour of Australia, I enjoyed the Test series much better that the ODI and the one-off 20-20. It’s rather sad that the Test series will be remembered more for the controversies, and the result on paper remains India 1-2. That should have read the other way around. A Test series win for India this time around would have been the deserved and fair result and a tribute to the Kumble-lead seniors. But that is over.

Moving on the CB ODI series, which was mostly boring to me at least, other than Sachin, nothing was worth watching (from the India-batting point-of-view). Rohit Sharma deserves some credit for the gritty 66 that helped see Sachin to his maiden ODI century on Aussie soil. But other that Rohit, none of the younger batsmen seem ready to form the core Team. Gambhir is impressive, but something in me says that he seems more like Yuvraj – riding on form rather than correctness. But having said that, I would pick Gambhir over Yuvraj on any day. Despite the ODI series win, I’m not very euphoric. And no, it isn’t because this side didn’t include two of my favorite batsmen: Dravid and Ganguly, but because, this side didn’t have the batting stability that the two senior member brought with them, even during their early stages. The young bowlers lead by Ishant Sharma, Sachin, and the rain-washed matches set the stage and shared the honors.

As for India’s victory in the U-19 World Cup, the image that will remain in my mind is of Virat Kohli shhh-ing his team when only one ball remained to be bowled to the South African side batting in the final match of the tournament. It’s not won until it is actually over and won. The kid has more maturity and sense of sportsmanship than many others in the cricketing world!


Of Dhoni, Yuvraj and the Commonwealth Bank ODI Tri-series

February 17, 2008

Took a rather unplanned blogging break since early Feb. Catching up with mundane things and what not. Ok, on to cricket.

I had written earlier that India would get thrashed in the Tri-series. Well, thrashed may not be the right word, considering that the rain gods played their part to wash out of couple of matches; however, till date, I stand correct and predictably so with my hunch about this batting line up.

What I didn’t expect was the success of the young seamers. Ishant has become the man of the Tour carrying his dream Test form to the ODI series, scalping crucial wicket at important junctures, making the Aussie batting line up look the weakest I have ever seen (given their standards).

With Yuvraj fizzling out as fast the Reliance Power IPO and the Dhoni-Yuvraj pact that seems to be going on, I think captain Dhoni needs a rap on his head (not to say that today’s match hasn’t done that). To persist with an out-of-form Yuvraj and making adamant media statements that he will play in every game seems like an emotional (not instinctive) decision to me. Rewind back to the ODI series against Australia in India in late 2007, an out-of-from Dravid was benched and then hideously shown the door as far as the ODI team is concerned. Isn’t it fair to expect similar stands taken with Yuvraj also, or rather the other way around, shouldn’t the team management have persisted with Dravid? Old questions being asked again and again, on the face of every Indian defeat. To me, the equation is as follows:

1 out-of-form Yuvraj + a thin as ice batting line up = -2 batsmen OR 3 out-of-form Dravids

Pick your worst. If you are anti-Dravid-ian, my guess is you would pick the second one. As for me, any day, I would pick 3 out-of-form Dravids over an out-of-form Yuvraj.

As a result of today’s match, many questions will be asked of Dhoni. Picking Munaf over Sehwag, promoting Pathan, selecting Uthappa who hasn’t been among the runs even in the Ranji matches, not playing Dinesh Karthik or Piyush Chawla and many more.

As for the rest of the series, I don’t think this Indian batting line up deserve to make it to the final. Actually what would be entertaining would be to see a toss up between the Sri Lankan batsmen and the Indian pacers headed by Jayawardena against the Aussies. Now that would be a match to watch!