India’s tour of England 2011 – Trent Bridge Test – shall we sing the lament now?

August 2, 2011

Four days of Test cricket.

Two and quarter days of fighting cricket. The remaining was trash. Add in some vaseline, Bell runout gate and all you get is a waste of time.

India’s 2nd innings was a joke. Laxman and Dravid perhaps were too frustrated and let the others do some of the cleaning. What did the others do? Sachin made another meaningless half century. Harbhajan forgot to feign injury while batting to score 40 odd. Dhoni and his ODI boys did the usual. There is no excuse for this.

One cannot blame the bowlers too much. They toiled hard on day 1 and on day 3 without support. Some of field settings at key times were the most defensive I’ve seen in a decade. It felt like we were back to the post-Azhar Sachin and second-innings-Azhar age. Granted, the bowlers caved at time, bowling outside off, wide, and making it easy for the batsmen to score. What was required was some unity and team spirit. There was nothing like that going on. Maybe that had to do with divisiveness on Bell run-out-gate.

Ganguly was right. This season will tell us just how good a captain Dhoni really is.

As after any drubbing, there are more questions than answers. But I don have one answer – India are losing this series.

I will eat crow if they level!


India’s tour of England 2011 – Why the tours of England are special

July 31, 2011

I’ve almost always had a rush of nostalgia when India is about to tour England. The green grass, blue skies, the contrast between the “Surf-excel-white” clouds and the tourquise blue of the sky, the picturesque grounds, the lovely breeze and the occasional sweater worn by the spectator adds an element of other worldly magic to the drama that is about to enfold. India’s tours of England have brought back some lovely memories that run back to the summer of’96. There are several such occasions – the World Cup 99, the tour of 2002 and the Nat West final to name a few. The tour of 2007 seems so fresh, I can recall many of details – Zaheer Khan and the jelly gate, Dravid’s tired captaincy, his struggle with runs, Wasin Jaffer’s lazy elegance, Dinesh Karthik’s rise to consistent 45-50 opener, Kumble’s century, Micheal Vaughn’s batting, Tendulkar’s struggles in the 90s, and what not.

Part of what makes this special is a rather mundane aspect – the time of play for the Indian viewer. You can come back from work, either on a high, or tired and drained of energy, and let your mind take on something completely different and to be engrossed in it. There are days when the cricket energizes you and days when it lets you lament.

Another tour is upon us. And this tour, as in 2007, is touted to be last of the greats of India’s batting – Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman. Thus the need to savor it is greater than ever before. One hopes that there is, somewhere in India, a kid who yearns to emulate their techniques and deeds!


And so Cricket begins – India vs. WI – Test 1 @ Sabina Park

June 22, 2011

After the mind-tiring IPL and the inconsequential ODIs, time for some Testing cricket action.

Sabina park brings back memories of a hard fought innings from Dravid a few years back. This pitch isn’t the same. But RD’s class is still there!

Praveen Kumar has just made his Test debut. Couldn’t believe that he was playing his first test match. Seemed like a seasoned pro. With Munaf perennially picking up injuries, Praveen’s dashing debut must definitely augur well. Furthermore, Raina has learned how to battle the short ones. Are things too good to be true? Can we win the first Test of a series? Let’s see.


World Cup 2011: My India-Pak World Cup Story

March 31, 2011

For the story to make sense, I need to rewind to 1999. The wonderful politicos had announced that the match would be screened at the beach on a large screen. I had no plans to watch there. It was 2:30-ish PM. Folks at home settled around the TV. But alas, we lost power within 10 overs, thanks largely to the beach screening. So we had no choice but to listen to radio commentary on a battery powered walkman with speakers. (Yes, in ’99, they were still cool). In what was an unusually long power cut on our area, the power returned only after 10:30 PM.

Interestingly enough, something similar happened yesturday. There was no power cut, but there was a TV issue at home. Got to see parts of India batting. After the 5th wicket fell, the TV issue got very bad and had to switch off.

So yet again, for an Ind-Pak World Cup match, I had nothing but radio commentary; got a chance to refresh some of my “book” Hindi. But thank god for “Akaash Vaani”, I could still follow the game. Also found out that there was a 15-20 second delay between radio commentary and Star Cricket feed, for there was a short delay between my celebrating a Pak wicket and my neighbors loud cheering. So much for that! The annoying little part about the Akaash Vaani commentary was the premature declaration of India’s victory – at the fall of Afridi’s wicket – and interview with Rathnakar Shetty on the successfully “completed” World Cup.

This gave me a chance to appreciate the power of visual information. You see so much visually, and no amount of high pitched, emotionally charged audio can replace one snap shot. A picture is truly worth a thousand words!

After all the firecrackers, it started to settle that after 2003, India have made it to another World Cup final. Heart also went to Afridi and Pakistan’s heart broken fans. But somebody had to lose this. Only wish the match was a closer one!


World Cup turning into an Asia Cup

March 27, 2011

With Aus, South Africa and England bowing out, the World Cup is turning into an Asia Cup. The manner in which West Indies made their exit was quite pathetic as well. It was almost depressing watching England lose yesterday. I was hoping for an Ind vs. Eng final. 😦

Australia and South Africa, with the organized cricketing infrastructures they have, will take a serious look at their structure to make ammends for the future. It will be interesting to watch the developments on that front.


2011 Cricket World Cup off to sluggish start

March 4, 2011

So the World Cup has started, huh? Really, when does it start? The warm up matches were more interesting.

Barring the Ind-Eng thriller and superb Ireland – Eng match, the games seem to be just going through the motions. The new WC stats on the longest/biggest six seems irrelevantly annoying.

After the Ireland – England  game, I have become a fan of Ireland. In fact, so much so that I would like to see them beat India. Maybe Bangladesh should beat South Africa too. This World Cup needs more thrill. Waiting for that!

 


India win NZ series 1-0

November 24, 2010

Yay!

Could have been a more convincing series victory, had the pitches been more conducive. Credit to NZ for a good batting display in the first two matches of the series. Pity that they got a few bad decisions in the Nagpur Test from umpire Nigel Long. Despite, that I still believe the URDS referral system in its present form won’t help. What will help is the way umpires like Taufel refer when they aren’t sure. There’s an element of self-respect/ego from the umpires that takes a beating while doing that, but when they do let that go a little bit, it buys them back a lot respect.

Positives for India from this series:

1. Gambhir showing signs of returning to form from a temporary slump. The ODI series and added responsibility as captain might help that further.

2. Man of the Match Dravid finds his lost touch and gets runs! There cannot be better news before the SA tour starts. Yes, the conditions will be different there, but one know what to expect from a veteran.

3. Pace battery charged up – Ishant seems in great form. If Zaheer returns, both of them on SA pitches can be a handful. Sreeshant has had a good comeback too.

Can’t wait for South Africa!