2011 Cricket World Cup off to sluggish start

March 4, 2011

So the World Cup has started, huh? Really, when does it start? The warm up matches were more interesting.

Barring the Ind-Eng thriller and superb Ireland – Eng match, the games seem to be just going through the motions. The new WC stats on the longest/biggest six seems irrelevantly annoying.

After the Ireland – England  game, I have become a fan of Ireland. In fact, so much so that I would like to see them beat India. Maybe Bangladesh should beat South Africa too. This World Cup needs more thrill. Waiting for that!

 


Sehwag sees India through!

August 17, 2010

What an innings, Viru! A very un-Sehwag-ian innings, reminded me of the Test innings he played at Galle in 2008. A very sedate start and some patchy strokes gave way later to a match (and bonus point) winning innings. Strangely enough, Sehwag managed to average the innings out almost a run-a-ball.

Cheap Lankan tricks notwithstanding, that should have been a hundred!


Why India lost to Pakistan? – ICC Champions Trophy 2009

September 28, 2009

The freakish record we held against Pakistan is gone now and I can’t say it doesn’t hurt. Granted, Pakistan weren’t the strongest team of the 8 that play the Champions Trophy. But there have been other times lately when they weren’t as strong, but we weren’t this disrespectful either.

India went about this pompously. We didn’t respect Pakistan as a worthy opponent on the cricket field. We expected to throw some stuff at them and for them to fall prey to it. They don’t have batting solidity; their bowlers don’t have the experience; Afridi is a freak; Yousuf is selfish; Asif may not play. All this we said; maybe for a second, even if we forgive such arrogance, we cannot pardon the disrespect for the history that has been India-Pakistan cricket. India didn’t see this a match they must win, didn’t see it as stepping stone to the semi final, didn’t even see it as a clash worth its popcorn money. They saw it as just some cricket match. If we lose this, we need to win the other two.  That’s all it was.

If India lose to Australia and the West Indies and don’t make it to the semis, I won’t feel as let down as I felt after this loss. India-Pakistan was special, and it doesn’t seem to be anymore. That is a loss that’s hard to explain but will leave most Indian cricket fans with a dull headache that ceases to throb.


England’s last chace to save face

September 20, 2009

History awaits England at Chester-le-Street. If they manage get whitewashed 0-7, it will be an unprecedented feat. Australia on the other hand will look to extend their lead on the recently re-gained ICC #1 position – for whatever that is worth.

This England team, that will board the flight to the Champions Trophy will need to face-saving victory to fetch its morale from the nearly bottomless pit. Had I a chance, I would do the following:

– Give Onions his ODI debut. Let’s face it. Mascarenhas is playing as a fielder 😉
– Show Owais Shah the door (at least for the time being)
– Fetch Trott and Bell

Will I watch it? At least for a while, if England show some soul.


Cricket Quickies: from Vengsarkar to Yuvraj and Younis

November 16, 2008

Yes, I promise to keep this short, for I’ve been rambling too much and I’m short of time but not of enthusiasm.

While channel surfing today, I caught a special on India’s tour of Australia in 1986 – an ODI at the MCG. Sunil Gavaskar was batting with a somber looking South India, whom I correctly guessed to be our very own Chika. While Chika’s simple style (at least of what I’ve seen in this innings) was catching indeed, what surprised me more was Dilip Vengsarkar. I’ve only known this man for the unkind words he’s had to say of Dravid. Today I got to the see the batting talent (among other things) that got him to the place from which he barbed. What struck me most in his expansive use of the crease, the sort of which reminds me of some 20-20 batsmen of late. The disregard for the stump guard that Vengsarkar displayed in this innings seemed very contemporary and is certainly not something I would have attributed to the batsmen from that age. Another thing that surprised me is that the next generation – Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Co – did not seem to have this disregard for the stump guard, but in fact meticulously guarded it and in effect seem perhaps rather orthodox given such precedents. If you’re thinking I’ve watched only one innings from the 80s and that my observations are off-base, do enlighten me.

Meanwhile, “flat-pitch-bully” Yuvraj slammed an impressive century at Rajkot and the cricket site are abuzz with polls of whether Yuvi should make it to the Test middle order. Strangely 72% of cricketnext visitors seemed to think so, while 52% of cricinfo visitors seem to think not! Strange isn’t it? I’d be interested in knowing the age groups of the folks to who’ve voted and their vote. In case you’re wondering, I voted against, on both the sites. 🙂

Another thought struck me today while watching parts of Pak vs. WI clash today. While I’ve labeled most of India’s recent ODI matches as boring, I found this one to be the contrary. I was not yawning, or absently glaring, waving my hands unconsciously when a four was hit, but was actually watching. There was class in Younis’s batting today (Ten Sports interrupted this with the ICL). There were elements from the ’90s batting, wristy flicks and “towards the ground” shots reserved in Indian cricket only to Tests nowadays. Call me old fashioned, but this was good ‘old cricket, without the fracas. May it live long!


Finally watched Jannath

September 19, 2008

Ever since the seemingly cricket based Jannath hit theatres, I’ve been wanting to watch it. By the time I figured out which theatre to go to, on which weekend, at what time, it was gone. 😦 So after lingering in my things to-do list, watching Jannath took a back seat to life. But finally, it happened as, the movie TV debuted last weekend on UTV.

I must admit, my hindi is rusty and that’s being very mild, so maybe there were finer aspects of the story I did not get, but as a cricket fan, I was disappointed. What I expected was a thrilling run through of how matches are fixed. What I saw was a standard Bollywood flick wrapped in cricket-flavored paper. Pradeep Magazine’s Not Quite Cricket gives you a better run down of strange world of match fixing.

So what was it? Basically, boy meets girl with a twist. Emran Hashmi meets Sonal Chauhan at a mall and is smitten; what he is also smitten with is lust for money. One things lead to another, and Hashmi ends up in South Africa and joined the big league of match fixers. He fixes one match by promising the captain of an “Asian-looking” country to throw a match, and another by promising to take another captain “fine-leg” watching. We see that the captain gives in, after he gets his century. 🙂 The strange part is that the “fixed” game was being played like an ODI, but in whites and the cricket ball is red, mind you; they speak of overs, and run rates, and runs to get in balls remaining, yet they also speak of first innings and second innings. Did they got get their basics right? That was a huge let down. Maybe I was expecting too much.

After this incident, the boy meets girl storyline continues, boy goes to jail after girl shows him up after being distraught on finding out what he does for a living, boy comes out of jail, courtesy his match-fixing bosses. Girl urges him to quit the fixing business, he tries, but returns to it, after yielding to his persuasive bosses. Then, as you if didn’t expect, there is a World Cup tournament. Again, players are in whites, and there is talk of innings. In the climax scene (yes, spoiler follows), one of the key players slips from his Asian looking, Hindi speaking, team in the reception area of a hotel only to have his English-looking coach find out and follow him. The player meets Hashmi, obviously, in a very public area of the hotel, which is strangely deserted, and trades money as Hashmi tells him how many runs he will get. Enter the coach, Hashmi’s henchman, who is also with him, takes his gun out and in a series of movements, the coach gets killed. The police arrive, the player blames Hashmi and the latter tries to escape only to meet the now-pregnant Sonal who urges him to surrender. The tragic end is that when as surrenders, drops his gun, he also drops a diamond ring – which he has kept ever since he first met Sonal at the mall – right next to it. When he bends down to pick up the ring, the police shot him dead and Sonal cries. The movie closes with Sonal and a little boy (their son) going grocery shopping. She runs out of money at the counter and the little boy puts some of his stuff away saying “Maa, mujhe yeh nahi chahiye” – something his father could never do.

I would give the movie 5.5 out of 10 for storyline and a full 10 for the music by Pritam, which I have enjoyed for some time now. I wouldn’t say that watching it was a waste of time, but it could have been a much better movie, as it didn’t really do justice to cricket wrapping paper it boasted of.

Phew! Had to get that out!


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!