Match poised for good contest – NZ make 315 in Bangalore ODI

December 7, 2010

Thanks largely to Franklin’s blitz, NZ have scored 315. Now this is bound to be a good contest.

Looking at the bowling stats for the match, Ashwin fared better than Zaheer Khan and Nehra while bowling to Franklin (despite two of those overs having come after over 43).

Bring it on, fellas!

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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!


Steely Dravid steals the show – series heading to a result

November 22, 2010

With a mammoth 191, which could have been a memorable double ton, Dravid stole the show today in a charecterestic fashion. On a day when people waited for Tendulkar’s 50th century and many other bizzarre statistics, Dravid played a watchful hand to take this game out of New Zealand’s reach.

Because I missed the first century of the series, I made sure I watched this one. Got a bit excited after the 50, and more so after the runs started to flow. Once the straight drive from circa 2003 showed up in the innings today, I started to feel that this might be a big one. The late-cut was played to perfection. The signature patience was there. Apart from a few moments of indiscretion which Dravid visibly chided himself over, the innings was one of perseverance. What is very heartening to see is that this wasn’t a scratchy ton like the one from 2008 against SA. It was one played with much deliberation, thoughtfulness and caution perpered with some of the most beautiful late-cuts. The high price he sets over his own wicket has returned; maybe it never disappeared, but the results he got made it seem so. Apparently, the NCA and Kirsten had a lot of do with the preparation, esp against the left armers, (McKay for the day). What was also nice to see was some shots from T20 which one seems him play so well in the IPL.  Pity to have missed out the double ton, though.

Despite all of what’s been said about how Dravid has played this series, and in the last year, I think a lot also has to do with this day when Pujara was sent in at #3. Even that very day, when Dravid came in to bat at 5 after Tendulkar, there was a little less of the visible desperation and a bit of determination rising.

Maybe it is second wind for Dravid! May Bhogle’s prophecy come true.

Congratulations Dravid. Wish you many many more such innings!


Dravid Scores!

November 7, 2010

After what seemed like an eternity for a close Dravid follower, it was mainly relief to see a century coming from him.

I must clarify, that “see” meant “read on Cricinfo”. That was the case primarily because I couldn’t watch another failure from him. Add work to that, and there’s a compelling reason, but mostly the first. When I checked the score, I braced my mind to see the fall of the second wicket, but was pleasantly surprized almost each time, happy to see the 50 and satisfied to the see the 60 turn into 100 in very short time (by any standard). The attacking shots, and the late cuts that I caught on highlights, were very reassuring.

Fellow blogger SB, puts the feeling in perspective in a more emotional way, that I could have. Read that here, as SB talks Dravid once again.

There will be the naysayers this time also. Yes, it is the Kiwis, and yes, once can glare at the strike rate, but look what happened today and look at the strike rates of Tendulkar and Laxman, in the first innings. That will tell a story. Spin it the way you like!


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.


South Africa choke again – Champions Trophy 2009 Roundup

September 28, 2009

What a roller coaster it’s been thus far? Sri Lanka beat South Africa and then loses to New Zealand and a Aussie-battered England. South Africa beat New Zealand but lose to England.

In the other group, tournament favorites (despite their issues) Australia suffer a scare against what they called a “second string” West Indies. Pakistan almost lose to West Indies and then embarrass the #1 ODI team India (more on this in my next post).

All these developments make the tournament more interesting upto the semi finals, but it remains to be seen if the interest levels prevail if the top 3 ODI teams don’t make it to the semi finals. Forget the ICC ratings, don’t we want to watch the best battle it out? Does wining two games in a row make a team better than one which has won several games in trott in the past which has bought them the interest and respect of cricket lovers world wide? Many questions that need answering. I will hold my opinions till the end of the trophy.

Who shall we blame now? Chokers South Africa or free spirited England? Shall we blame Andrew Strauss for denying Smith the runner? I do actually, because runners have been provided before for cramping batsmen, esp from the sub continent, and by denying the runner Strauss showed how insecure he was about Smith being there. Isn’t it easier to effect a run out when you’ve got three people trying to communicate with one another about taking a run? Returning to the blame game, shall we blame the injuries for India’s loss?

The organizers need to wake up about the pitch making malpractices. I have seen at least two games so far where the pitch played a Man-of-Match worthy role in a team’s victory. Not to take away from Shah-Collingwood or Malik-Yousuf in the games England and Pakistan played against South Africa and India respectively, but there was nothing in this for the seamers. If ODI cricket dies, let us not blame the format, for there is more to this than meets the eye.


India at the Compaq Cup 2009: yo yo so far

September 13, 2009

It’s been a while since since we’ve watched India play, so the Compaq cup was rather inviting. Though a  mostly inconsequential tournament, it seems to provide feed to the bored.

While India bowled and fielded well against New Zealand, given our reputation in those areas, but did not bat like the #1 ODI team they became following that victory. I have issues with the ICC ranking system which seems to be playing catch up rather than paint a picture. If you ask me, India were peaking as an ODI side,  just after IPL 2008 and started the downward trend perhaps just after IPL 2009. Australia, on the other hand, have been slumping since late 2007, following the World Cup. That the ratings have taken this long to reflect the fortunes of two teams – India and Australia – seems mocking.

As for the second ODI against, Sri Lanka, India played like a side not interested in the proceedings, barring Tendulkar, Dravid and Harbhajan. The bowlers were straying and spraying. Ashish Nehra’s first over set the tone. Though early in road were made with the wickets of Dilshan, Sangakkara and Jayawardena, Kandamby was allowed to cut loose and cause havoc. Batting woes were bound to follow. Dinesh Karthik promised, but perished and there was no real batting after Tendulkar and Dravid, both of whom looked resolute to prove that they were still as good as one can get. Perhaps it wasn’t a backward move after all to recall Dravid.

The only solace from the loss to Sri Lanka in the 2nd match is the statistics. More often than not, if India won the match leading up the finals (baring semi-finals), they went on to lose the finals. One cannot resist but hope that maybe this is a good omen.