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!


Sachin breaches 12K

October 17, 2008

Not only did Sachin break Brian Lara’s 11.9k+ record, he went on to create a new 12000 run club in Test Cricket. Who better than Sachin to have inaugurate the most elite of clubs?

What was most striking today was the way he tore apart Aussie bowling on his way to a brilliant 88. I really thought he would get to the 100 today (nervous 90 jitters apart). He certainly deserved that, and what an occasion that would have been. But that will remain so.

Today, it is all about Sachin – the man Indian never tires to watch.


Congratulations Indian media, you’ve bettered the Aussies!

October 3, 2008

The Aussies have been very quiet this time. There were no proclamations of whitewash, announcements of thier “targets” and the like. Whether it’s the IPL cash or a new strategy, we might never know. But the Indian media have taken their place with what I like to call “senior ragging”.

The Indian media has the rumour mills working overtime with the “Ganguly retirement deal” and the VRS pact with seniors to plan retirements by December. What’s more appalling is the tone.

“Plan your retirement and you will be accommodated [irrespective of form and performance].”

“We want to give you are farewell, so take it now.”

That was on today’s Times of India. Is there a worse way to disgrace a sportsman? or a self-respecting human being? This is disgusting, Indian media! Shame on you!

If you need more, check this out on cricketnext. If you look through the entire set of picture, you will note that the seniors are “attempting” to take catches and Dhoni plays with the football. Why the uncertainty surrounding the senior’s capability and the certainty around Dhoni’s? Why this exaggerated age bias? Granted some of the Fab Four/Five might be past their prime, but we all see that, and they perhaps know that too. Why the disgraceful tone? Rambling a bit off-topic, what disappoints me the most, is that, we as Indians, historically have been known for “respecting elders” have now seemed to have forgotten our values. Why is young India so rude? This isn’t specific to cricket alone. There’s an obvious age bias in everything. Though, as a youngster, I reap the benefits of it, I think there is something wrong with this.

Meanwhile, a starkly different toned article has surfaced on Cricinfo – this one by Rohit Brijnath. Thank you Mr. Brijnath! In a very romantic article, Brijnath captures the essence of why the Fab four/five are entitled to their “hurt” on being “rubbished off” and told to shut off. They’ve been fighters all along. We’ve always wanted them to be that way. Why are we now expecting them to go tamely? While I’ve had different thoughts on this as late as last fortnight with my bid for a farewell to them, I’ve changed my mind on this matter. Perhaps the most fitting way for them to go in on their own – be that by being dropped or an unprovoked retirement announcement – not by a forced retirement scheme, certainly not with this tone. I also enjoyed Rohit’s nicknames for the Fab five: The Great One, the Precise One, the Defiant One, the Intense One and the Elegant One. Definitely Indian cricket will be different without them and it will take some stomach for some of us fans to read an India scorecard without Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and Kumble. But while they’re around, why not treat them with some respect, for all the joy they’ve give us?

With all this, we’re bound for one hell of a series!


Squad Announcement – Ganguly in, Mishra the surprize

October 3, 2008

Yes, Dada is in; something for Ganguly fan to cheer. Many expected this. Fellow blogger Ottayan, sarcastically or seriously suggested that this might very well be the case.

While I rejoice in Ganguly’s Nth coming, Souberry will surely be thrilled by the inclusion of Amit Mishra. I guess the change in selecion panel did it for him.

My only gripe – yes, we always have something to barb about BCCI’s selections – is Badrinath’s selection. My vote would have been for Aakash Chopra, but I don’t think he’s got the right age. At the moment 19 is a good age. Furthermore, with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s score against Australia in the ongoing tour match, Chopra will be forgotten, unless, logic prevails.

Rest of the squad remains intact, at least for the moment:

Anil Kumble (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, S Badrinath,  Amit Mishra

Go Dada! Rock em!