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!

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World Cup 2011: India World Champions

April 3, 2011

That’s a sentence I thought I might never say!

That punch of Dhoni’s that was sent high into the stands, brought a billion dreams come true. And those of some old souls who didn’t live to see. This is big! This is the World Cup and yes, it’s true. India have won it!

This team, ably coached by Gary Kirsten et all, has given us many wonderful memories. From Perth to Wankhede, it’s been a wonderful journey. Not a roller coaster ride, but a smooth nearly blipless one. Thanks to Kirsten and co. Thanks to Dhoni for the cool headed leadership. Today, not even the harshest MSD critic would have a gripe in saying that he deserved the man of the match, perhaps more than any other time – for Tendulkar yesterday did what he normally does in tournament finals and deciders for over a decade. Thanks to the young team for bringing us all this joy! But let us not forget those who, since ’99, have sown the seeds for this victory in spirit. I still feel bad about 2003, but this is not the day for that!

This day, we celebrate!
And yes, this victory is for the people of India!
Cheers Team India! Vande Matharam!


India hanging by a thread in Mohali – Day 4

October 4, 2010

What a day of Test cricket it’s been. From Ishant’s bouncer’s and Zaheer’s yorkers to Hilfenhaus’s chin music, it’s a been a whirlwind of a day!

India ended the day at 55/4 needing another 161 runs to win the match. Gambhir got a shocker (some decisions have been seriously bizzare), Dravid threw his wicket away after taking 16 balls to get off the mark, and Sehwag soon followed suit. With VVS Laxman’s condition unknown, Australia may need only 5 more lower order wickets. I must say it’s odd that Dhoni sent Raina in when as a wicketkeeper batsman and captain Dhoni should have come out himself. Dhoni’s not been in great form. In fact, I can’t remember the last time he’s scored a decent 50. But this could have been an occasion.

On a day when India bagged a silver and bronze at the CWG, the cricket team’s fortunes at teetering by a thread. But that isn’t unusual, or is it? The accolades in other sport often comes when the cricket is floundering. Or are we just playing too much cricket? 😉


India’s tour of SL – Test 3 – Day 3

August 5, 2010

Now this is what you call a Test. This is more exciting than adrenaline overdosed T20. The match is evenly poised now, esp, with Sehwag snatching both openers. Earlier in the day, the Indian middle order collapsed again. Raina played very well to get to his 62. I’m turning into a fan. If only he could do this well overseas. Laxman got his trademark half century, but one expected more of him. I don’t have high expectations for Dhoni the batsmen, so wasn’t exactly surprized by the proceedings. I just had a smug smile when he was dismissed for 15.

Mishra and Mithun batted brilliantly and showed more poise that the top order (minus Sehwag). I hope that SB is wrong when he says this might be the last of Mishra we see for sometime.

The first session will be crucial tomorrow. India need to pile on the pressure and get 2-3 wickets and wrap the SL innings quickly to get a result. I think this series deserves another result.


T20 World Cup 2010: India crumbling 90-s style

May 7, 2010

The super eights are here. SA managed to not choke yesturday against NZ (allright, I’m being a bit harsh). But India have other plans.

For the teens of this age who may not have watched India in the 90s need not worry. There’s a 90-s style collapse going on. Vijay walks in hits a few, and leave. Ditto for Gambhir. Then Raina. Yuvraj gets another duck, carrying his spotless IPL (fix?) form.

I have been skeptic about this Indian batting line up for some time; which is also reason why I didn’t rave about India’s victory over SA in the first stage of the tournament. I don’t see batting stability or experience apart from Gambhir (Dhoni doesn’t count for me, neither does out-of-form Yuvi). As I write this, Dhoni has already fallen. Jadeja? Who is this Jadeja (deja vu – another 90s reminder) What is Ravindra Jadeja doing? Is he in as a fielder? After the dropped catches today, perhaps we need a new term for his place in the side.

Is the bowling better?

India are 40/5. They will need more than miracle to win this one.

Looking forward to a 90-s style excuse for loosing this one.

PS: I will eat crow (and my words) if India win this!

End of 90-s style rant.

PPS: Apparently there’s another fan of the old fashioned batsmen on cricinfo. “Umair: “It’s clear no lessons have been learned from last year’s disastrous England World Cup — the young Indian bats, weaned on the flat tracks of the IPL, cannot cope with fast, short-pitched bowling on livelier tracks. Just as SA has kept faith with Kallis and Smith; and Australia with Hussey, India should have included some older players with better technique. The fact that a Dravid isn’t going to have a 200 SR in an IPL match doesn’t mean he wouldn’t add value on pitches like the ones in England last year or this one.”

Yes, Dravid should have been there and that’s not just the Dravid-fan in me.


India Win Compaq Cup

September 19, 2009

But could have almost lost it. Credit to Sri Lanka, the top 5 – barring Mahela – gave India a run for its money, and us bored fans something to bite nails about.

Quick thoughts on what went well:

1. Tendulkar: Need I say anything? What a sublime innings to count for his 44th ODI ton.

2. Dravid opening: Despite the fact that he didn’t score big, he with Tendulkar set the platform for the other to build on. After a long time, Dravs did not look nervous and didn’t elicit the “oh my god, is he going to be out now” feeling I’ve had almost every ball of some his innings last year and in late-2007.

3. Harbhajan: He and Tendulkar won the match for us.

What didn’t go well:

1. Do we have a pace bowling attack? Where are the bowlers? RP, Irfan, Nehra, all disappointed.

2. Butterfingers fielding: Dhoni, Yusuf, Nehra, Kohli et all dropping catches like hot potatoes. Pathetic 😦

There will be a lot of ground to cover for this team in the Champion’s Trophy. On current bowling and fielding form, they don’t belong in the semi finals. A berth there is almost as dicey as it used to be in the early 90s.


IPL 2: So it isn’t boring after all

May 4, 2009

I must admit that I’m the one who vowed not to watch the IPL 2, who wore my thoughts on my sleeve about how this season can be nothing short of very boring. I’m now very guilty for I’ve watched more IPL matches this year than the last.

Credit must be given to the pitch masters of South Africa. It isn’t for nothing that the T20 World Cup in 2007 was such a hit. It isn’t just about the Bollywood babes, catchy tunes, and scantily clad cheerleaders. If the cricket’s boring (and the tickets expensive or spectators’ conditions poor), the tournament becomes doomed. By getting the pitches right and the ticket prices right (if the commentators and other tournament-folk are to be believed), cricket South Africa have ensured the success of the tournament.

Perhaps this even balance so produced by quality pitches have ensure that insipid sides like Rajasthan and weekend ones like Punjab don’t seem that great this year. Suddenly the Asnodkars and the Mascarenases don’t seem that valuable. You’ve got to get the cricket right here, which is why the good old folk – Dravid, Tendulkar, Boucher, Kumble – and those among the new who are worth their salt – Badrinath, Duminy, RP Singh – and the like are making merry.

The teams and their fortunes

Royal Challengers Bangalore and Deccan Chargers

The shift away from India has benefited two teams that found themselves at the bottom of the table last year: Bangalore and Deccan.

We all knew Deccan had it, it just wasn’t clicking for them. That RP Singh has had a lot of success in South Africa adds a lot to their attack.

Bangalore’s is the miracle recovery. I think it has more to do with team spirit and Kumble’s captaincy than Ray Jennings’ coaching. Besides they are the side with almost an all South African combination with Indian stars. They lucked out that the tournament moved to their real home. Bangalore doesn’t belong in India! 🙂 On yesturday’s thumping victory over Mumbai that involved chasing a score of over 140, while Uthappa’s innings might be a flash in the pan, Kallis I think has indeed found himself in the T20 version. I cannot end a paragraph about the BRCs without mentioning Dravid. He started the tournament with a sparkling 66 of 40-odd. That he is back in the squad will add the much needed backbone to the Bangalore team. Dillion du Pree, the debutant yesturday seemed like an inspired pick. Four overs might be too early to judge, but he may yet become the star of Bangalore attack, surpassing a certain lackluster Dale Steyn.

Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab

For those who just couldn’t understand how the Royals won the tournament last year, myself included, this year, so far has been a vindication. The team has little value in the young mavericks. Veteran Saffer batsman Smith isn’t exactly setting anything on fire; they are missing Sohail Tanvir the most. Watson might have been another flop here – not a huge fan of him.

Kings XI is kind of neither here nor there. Their bowling department has lucked out with the selection of Abdullah. They are missing Sreesanth, Lee and Shaun Marsh. Jayawardena isn’t in cracking form. For me this is a 50-50 team. Could go either way.

Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils

The two most balanced sides – Mumbai and Delhi – have got fairly good results so far, the latter more than the former. Mumbai’s bowling has expectedly been bolstered by Malinga’s form and Zaheer’s presence. Is it just me or does somebody else also think Zaheer seemed more lethal when he was bowling for Bangalore?

Delhi lost Shikar Dhawan this year, but thankfully for them, he isn’t in form. Viru is yet to blast away that 10+ an over rate for the first 6-8 overs, but it might only be a matter of time.

Chennai Super Kings

Last year’s uber geek team is languishing in the table. Why that is the case is beyond me. Dhoni and Albie aren’t contributing too well. But that apart, you’ve got to believe it’s a matter of a few wins to see them in the top four where they belong.

Kolkata Knight Riders

The most woeful of the teams this year. Given the degree of off-field woe which seems to be propagating on-field, they probably deserve to be where they are. The batting isn’t clicking, McCullum’s batting looks stressed; he’s not the free flowing carefree man from last season. Ganguly is smug, Ishant erratic and unsupported by horrible fielding which reminds of Indian team from the early 90s, Agarkar is well, just plain Agarkar. Buchanan and his army needs to be shown the door and Ganguly or somebody else made sole captain.