IPL murmurs: Mumbai smartest thus far?

January 28, 2009

News of IPL swaps have been doing the rounds for a few weeks now. With the Pakistani players doubtful for IPL’s season 2, the franchises seem to be in tizzy to replace them.

Bangalore’s Royal Challengers has Misbah on the roster but seems to have found a replacement in Robin Uthappa, who it was tactlessly swapped for Zaheer Khan. Apparently, sport is something Mallya has trouble understanding, for Zaheer was among the better performers for BRC last year and is in the form of his life at the moment. If that isn’t tactless enough, Mallya apparently is looking to make a captain out of Karnataka boy Uthappa. While that might be a moderately successful marketing ploy to get the local crowds crooning “Uthappa, six bekappa“, it would be a bit strange to have the likes of Kallis and Boucher reporting to the kid who doesn’t feature in India’s ODI line up. Granted, it is not out of the ordinary to expect that Mallya wants current skipper Dravid  replaced, Uthappa might not be the right choice either.

Mumbai have gained Zaheer at the cost of Nehra. They have also “gotten rid of” (if I may use the term) Uthappa, for whom they have a better replacement in the traded Delhi Daredevil batsmen Shikar Dhawan. There is still more to see before one toss the “smart” crown around, but Mumbai seem to be singing the smartest song thus far.

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Why Ganguly?

September 17, 2008

I cannot help but ask. Why? Why Ganguly? Is it because something had to be done? Someone had to go? Some stop gap arrangement needed to be made to smother the screaming for including young talent? Or is it Peter Roebuck? We’ve reacted to Chappell’s remark on Sehwag before the tour of Australia late last year. So is that the new mantra to selection – listening to the Aussies? But now Ponting is questioning Ganguly’s omission. What do we do now?

The bigger question is this. Is Sourav not even good enough for the Irani Trophy. Well, the condescending talk from some of the “unnamed” selectors does make it seem that way. But then, I have another question. Why Jaffer? What has Jaffer done between his disastrous run in Australia earlier this year and now, to justify an inclusion to the dress rehearsal for the upcoming Aussie series. Or was he an automatic selection given that we are playing Australia at home or because Jaffer plays for Mumbai?

Turning our attention back to Dada, if you asked me, I could argue both sides: for and against the exclusion of Sourav Ganguly from the Irani Trophy squad. The argument against is jaded, so I’ll pass on that. Why does a Ganguly fan think this exclusion is good for him? Because it will wake up the lion in him – thought I’m not sure how many times he needs to prove his worth. Honestly, if he gets selected for the series against Australia, which he should, it will only have helped to have the lion (or should I say tiger) in Ganguly to be awake and growling. But one wonders, how long will he fight this sort of battle?

On the Kirsten/Kumble’s hand in this, I think the media has again sensationalized the story. I suspect it had more to do with Kirsten than Kumble. But maybe that’s just me, for I’ve never hid my dislike for Kirsten.

So why was it Ganguly? There are times like this when being a team man counts for more than anything else; when just that fact that you’ve tried as hard as you could have counts to your advantage. There is something about Ganguly that makes you think he took a situation casually. Maybe it’s his persona. Perhaps it is way he projects the facts. Maybe it is deju-vu from the old “I-don’t’want-to-play-the-new-ball” tactic. This is when you feel a little sad, that someone so gifted has thrown it away, almost arrogantly, like the straight sixes Sourav hits. This is why, I think, Dravid escaped the axe. If Dravid wasn’t the team man that we know him to be, even Kumble could not have saved him. But all isn’t well for Dravid either, for he scored two, yes, 2, in the Buchi Babu tournament in the match against Tripura. For once, I don’t think that’s very good news and feel a bit more apprehensive about this than I have before. If Dravid makes it past Irani, past Ausralia, he will have a good run for a year or so. If not, well yikes! God save Dravid and India.

Most of all this selection for the Irani Trophy seemed to me like the populist union budged this year. It tries to make everyone happy: the senior fans sans the Ganguly fans and the young aspirants. But the inconsistencies are glaring and it has been so through the years. Dravid was dropped from the ODI squad 3 matches after a brilliant match-winning 92 in Bristol. Yuvraj was persisted with after several failures for over a year, not more than 2 innings over 50. But that is Indian cricket for you!


Kumble enters elite 600-wicket club

January 17, 2008

When I think of Anil Kumble, the first image that comes to mind is one of a tall lanky man with a heavily strapped broken-jaw walking out to bowl for his team.

Kumble bowls with a broken jaw against West Indies in 2002
Kumble bowls with broken jaw. Pic: Hindu

What a man! What commitment! After being heavily criticized for things like being able to spin the ball, not being as effective overseas and such, this very man has achieved many great deeds and has perhaps won India more Tests than any other bowler. His illustrious deeds are crowned by “the perfect 10” wickets in an innings, being only the second, after Australia’s Jim Laker, to achieve that feat.

Today, at the WACA, on a pitch that was said to be a pacer’s dream, on a day when the honors clearly belonged to India, Jumbo persevered with his typical line-and-length to bag his 600th and became the first Indian to enter the elite over-600 club along with Muralitharan and Warne.

Kumble claims his 600th

Kumble gets 600! Pic: Cricinfo 

Coincidentally, his fellow Karnataka-mate Dravid took the catch to dismiss Symonds to break a potentially dangerous partnership and become a part of this historical moment for Kumble and India.

Dravid with the catch. Pic: Cricinfo

I thought it was really apt it was Dravid who took the catch as many the duo have a combined tally of 54 victims. Incidentally, today Dravid becomes one with the 3rd highest number of catches at 165, going past Brian Lara’s 164.

Congrats to you, Captain Kumble. Wishing you 100 more very soon!


Happy Birthday Uthappa!

November 12, 2007

Uthappa turned 22 yesterday. Success seems to have come to him at an age where many only start think of their first job, career, etc. But it was not without a lot of hard work and toil. Check out this cricinfo feature on the young Karnataka batting bombshell. Apparently he almost gave up on cricket; thankfully for India he only almost did.
The thing that struck me the most on reading the feature on Uthappa was his unbelievably positive mindset and his unshakable faith in and love for God.

Wish you many many more successful years, Robin!