Note to Mr. Dhoni: Tone down the boorish talk

March 20, 2008

Yes, we all know your “young” side won the ODI series in Australia. We saw the much-overdone celebrations and cash rain. Agreed, it was a good victory. But this is Indian cricket, where it is often the case where one is generally elevated to great heights only to feel greater impacts when pushed off the cliff.

I was pretty clear about the players I wanted in the side. It is sometimes very important to send the message across. That’s what I said to the selectors as well. You can see the kind of team I got. It’s very important because the process and the timing were criticised a lot.

Did you really have to say that? The message was for everyone to see and would have remained better, had you shut up.

The critics questioned this side but now that it’s performed you need to back it. We all knew, and you all knew, what would have happened if this side didn’t do well in Australia.…Now that it has done well, why don’t you appreciate the performance?

We all know that if it weren’t for the rained-out matches, the results could have been very different. And, the chief contributors were the bowlers and Tendulkar. The other young batsmen are yet to prove their worth with consistently good performances.

Need to watch the mouth Mr. MSD! Perhaps that is something you have yet to learn from the statesmanly Kumble.


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!


Top 10 reasons to watch the Tri-nation ODI series

February 3, 2008

At the outset, it seems like a fairly boring series. In fact, after the 20-20 World Cup, I’m finding the 50-over version to be a rather predictable and boring affair which takes too much time. Granted there is some entertainment in this form along the lines of batsmen getting centuries and stuff, but other than that, the 50-over version is losing its charm. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t completely bought into the T20 mania; the new ultra-short version is undoubtedly entertaining, but has its drawbacks. I think Test cricket on good pitches still rocks like none other.

Back to the point I was going to make; yes, the Commonwealth Bank Tri-series featuring India, Sri Lanka and Australia. I still feel compelled to watch parts of the series for the following reasons:

10. Bret Lee

9. M S Dhoni – media-handling 😛 after being defeated (I expect this to happen a good number of times with the “thin-as-ice” batting line up)

8. Lasith Malinga – bowling and hairstyle 🙂

7. Mahela Jayawardena – captaincy and batting

6. Murali’s bowling

5. Sanath Jayasuriya

4. Kumar Sangakkara

3. Ishant Sharma bowling to Ponting

2. Adam Gilchrist’s final ODI series

1. Sachin Tendulkar in sublime form

Cheers!


Should the sub-continent teams think again?

February 3, 2008

After a hostile series and more interest in off-field action, this tour of Australia will perhaps go down in history as the one of the more infamous in the history of the game, perhaps second only to the Bodyline series (based on what I have read about Bodyline).

I think it all started with the Aussies getting chucked-out of the T20 semifinals, that scar is still red and burning. Added to that was India’s aggressive on-field behavior ala Sreesanth and off-field salvos fired ala Uthappa seen during Australia’s recent ODI tour of India; throw in a few Indian victories, and you have a desperate Aussie side, plotting revenge at any cost (something that I think they need not do with the quality of cricket they play). So the Bhajji issue was raised. Arrive the Lankans, and the eggs and abuse are hurled.

Fellow blogger Ottayan suggests that in the wake of such hostility, it is better to call off the series. I ask why not re-think the whole idea of sub-continent teams touring Australia, at least for the moment?


Gilchrist calls it a day

January 27, 2008

Adam Gilchrist’s retirement announcement came as a shock announcement for most fans, that too considering that he had been saying that he might pull on for just a little longer.

Gilchrist waves to the crowd

 Gilchrist waves to the crowd in farewell Source: Cricinfo

As for me, I was first shocked, then disappointed, then sad. Gilchrist has always been my favorite Aussie cricketer (and one of my favorite cricketer of all time) and to see him calling it a day is a little sad, but that is selfish of me.

I can’t recall the first innings of Gilly that I had watched, but I know I would have watched in awe. I distinctly recall the twinge of longing that I often had I when I watched Gilly – that India didn’t have such a consistently explosive batsman. The most recent of Gilly’s innings that comes to mind his mind-blowingly spectacular innings in the 2007 World Cup final against Sri Lanka. It was probably the most entertaining innings that I have seen till date, not just of him, but of any batsman.

Gilly has been a savage ODI bastman and a refreshingly attacking, dangerous Test bastmen: one who could single-handedly turn a Test match. To me, he not only redefined the approach to Test batting, he also redefined the wicket-keeper batsman’s role so much so that many teams, I guess, wanted to have someone at least resembling his skill level. Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara is an illustrious example of one who follows Gilly’s footsteps.

Another trait of Gilchrist that I admire is his courage: he would walk if he knew he was out, even if it was a World-Cup semi-final. In today’s world where ethics and values are often redifined for selfish gain, such honesty is to be lauded very highly.

At the end of the day, I will remember Adam Gilchrist for the entertainment he provided and for having the courage to be an honest cricketer.

Thank you all the wonderful memories, Gilly, and wish you all the best!


Tendulkar sizzles! Laxman shines

January 24, 2008

It is probably very few batsmen whose centuries seem to be getting better than the previous ones. For even fewer, centuries are numbers which are counting like fours! Sachin simply sizzled on his way to his 39th Test ton at the Adelaide oval, with many shots reminding us of the ‘Tendulkar of old’: the baby-faced kid who used to loft some of the best bowlers for sixes.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan beams in his article “If anyone missed Tendulkar’s innings in the first three Tests they should have simply landed up here. He was attacking in Melbourne, authoritative in Sydney, and innovative in Perth but this was the combination of them all. It had the moments of adrenaline-fuelled strokeplay, a hint of chance, a dash of inventiveness and tons of intelligence. Bringing out his percentage game against a high-quality bowling attack, he stood alone.

Congratulations seems almost belittling! Way to go SRT!

SRT was so thrilling that Laxman’s innings seemed routine in comparison, but that was only because he was batting with the master on song. Laxman pulled India out of trouble yet again with beautiful strokeplay. It was rather unfortunate that he fell to bouncer, yet again.