India’s tour of England 2011 – Trent Bridge Test – an Ad for Test Cricket

July 31, 2011

The Trent Bridge Test has been a great advertisement for Test Cricket. From the packed stands to the quality pitches, the game has provided entertainment to all. Granted, it has been a low scoring match, but has had all other ingredients that an engrossing Test match need.

The English collapse and recovery, Broad’s hat rick , Laxman’s art, Dravid’s colossal century, Yuvraj’s comeback,  the Indian collapse all interspersed with a bit of Indian tadka – the Praveen Kumar rant and the Sreesanth antics.  A word must be said on the umpiring – while Erasmus has been inconsistent, Asad Rauf has been so accurate, its almost inhuman.

Day 3 will be key. So will Ishant. This day will decide who the winner of the Test will be, for this most certainly will not be Draw.

Cheers to Test Cricket! It is alive and kicking!

 

Advertisements

And so Cricket begins – India vs. WI – Test 1 @ Sabina Park

June 22, 2011

After the mind-tiring IPL and the inconsequential ODIs, time for some Testing cricket action.

Sabina park brings back memories of a hard fought innings from Dravid a few years back. This pitch isn’t the same. But RD’s class is still there!

Praveen Kumar has just made his Test debut. Couldn’t believe that he was playing his first test match. Seemed like a seasoned pro. With Munaf perennially picking up injuries, Praveen’s dashing debut must definitely augur well. Furthermore, Raina has learned how to battle the short ones. Are things too good to be true? Can we win the first Test of a series? Let’s see.


Of India-Paksitan cricket and India’s wins – are they boring?

June 12, 2008

Three matches have gone by the tri-series featuring India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. All three matches had a predictable result. In the match against Bangladesh, after Sehwag fell, I was almost hoping for an upset.

Despite the fact that this series includes an India-Pakistan face-off, there is a sense of boredom about it. Is too much India-Pakistan to blame? Or is it the fact that India has been consistently beating them for some time now? Or is the lack of competitiveness from Pakistan? As for me, I thought Bangladesh in their match against India, for their standing in World cricket, batted better than Pakistan. Where is the spirit, Pakistan?

Let me ask the bigger question. Is it boring to watch India win? Is it even boring to watch ’em batt? I didn’t watch much of India’s batting after the goose-bump inducing T20 style Sehwag-Gambhir partnership. Other than noticing that Rohit Sharma is losing his patience, Yuvraj is his princely self and Praveen Kumar is getting better by the hour, there isn’t much to say. Are you missing the star clashes of old the Tendulkar-Shoaib or Ganguly-Shoaib? Or the lopsided Indian collapses from 100-1 to all out for just under 200?

Q points out here with hard facts, that India has been closing the India-Pakistan gaps. And that India has turned the tables. They have turned the tables indeed, but on a very weak Pakistan team. Pakistan won many games against an Indian team with some of best batsmen in Tendulkar, Azharuddin, Manjrekar, Dravid, Ganguly and the like. In that case, does the turning tables really count?

With this kind of one-sided cricket being played, I’m better off watching the other matches with more interest. The Aussies are 5-down on Day 1 of the Barbados Test. Gotta go catch some of that!

Ciao for now.


Bangalore pull it off: Bangalore Royal Challengers vs. Deccan Chargers

May 25, 2008

For an IPL match that was largely called a battle to avoid the wooden spoon, it entertained quite well.

The entertainment value was not top class, but it felt like standard cricket: not too euphoric, for the most part, and even boring sometimes, but not without fluttering a supporter’s heart.

The Bangalore Royal Challengers seemed to have carried on some momentum from their previous unbelievable win against Chennai. Without Zaheer and Praveen, one would have thought the bowling had chinks, but the local boys and under-19s contributed well to the line up. The team spirit seems to have gotten better over the past couple of games.

Gilchrist won the toss and chose to bat first. Dravid responded by opening the bowling with Kumble, a move that seemd to suggest that he has returned to thinking ways, as opposed to panicking. Risky? Yes. Payed off? Not completely, but the Kumble-Steyn combination stopped the Gilchrist-Gibbs pair get off to a flyer. The move almost payed off with Kumble appealing although unsuccessfully for lbw against Gibbs. It remained just a close one, which umpire Koertzen turned down. Steyn continued some his good work from the the last couple matches. While the Deccan run rate was kept down to 5-odd for the first couple of overs, the bowling change to Kallis brought some change in fortunes. Shortly after taking a pummelling, Kallis retired hurt causing worries for the bating. The local boy Vinay Kumar with U-19 Virat Kohli succeded in keeping the Deccans down as Bangalore regularly picked up wickets. Perhaps the biggest blow for the Deccan was losing the IPL star Rohit Sharma after he hurt himself while batting.

Going by Bangalore’s chasing record, going after 165 seemed tough, but there was some hope with Jaffer on top to lead some stability. However, Jaffer turned out to be the clown of the batting line up for first running himself out and then atrociously running out the injured but belligerent Kallis by some very lazy running. Misbah came settled down, thrilled and went. Dravid also came, threatened to lead the chase, thrilled indeed with a six and three consecutive fours- all priceless beauties (including a Misbah trademark cheeky reverse one), but departed by mis-timing one from Sanjay Bangar. It seemed to be over for Bangalore at that point with the asking rate creeping to over 10. However they weren’t destined for the wooden spoon. Thanks to some hitting from until-now indifferent White and Kohli, but mostly to Akhil for sealing it with 2 sixes towards the end of 18th over. At the end of the day, it was team work that did it for Bangalore: everyone chipped in when it was required.

Mallya! You spilled trash too soon. This team isn’t as bad as your mouth.

Go Bangalore! Go Dravid!


Bangalore Royal Challengers raise hopes, but disappoint: Bangalore vs. Delhi

May 20, 2008

Back at home after a mentally gruelling (viewers included) tour of a couple of cities, Bangalore returned to face the Delhi Daredevils. What started off well, thanks mostly to some big hitting from Kallis, didn’t go too well, as the other opener, Chipli, fell soon. Dravid disappointed; I thought he was up for another blinder. Among the positives were Shreevats Goswami, who came good on debut, Misbah delivering after being long due, and Chipli’s fielding. It was nice to see the young Goswami hit cleanly and fearlessly; he was fairly good behind the stumps too. My heart goes out to the young wicket keeper batsmen of today. With Dhoni as the ODI captain, these kids might just end up playing Ranji for the rest of their career. Apart from the Misbah and Goswami, the other batsmen were just the same with run outs being atrocious. Even run-out-master Misbah seemd to be mouthing ‘are yaar’ on seeing his partners running amock. On the bowling front, other than Steyn and Kumble’s performance, there isn’t much to write about.

Either way, it would have been a tough one to win, given that at a point Delhi needed only 5 per over. They should have gotten Gambhir/Sehwag earlier or bowled really tight and got wickets. On the bowling front, Zaheer and Praveen did them in, big time and Kallis seems to be really out of sorts. One more wicket or better bowling might have seen them edge past. But at the end of the day, the better team won.

It was good to see the BRC’s fight back and some team spirit in their ranks, for whatever it is worth. Like Dravid said, I hope they spoil somebody’s party and end up with at least one more win.


More IPL Drama: of support, captaincy, thrashings and ban-reductions

May 17, 2008

The IPL has become the new source of endless drama, probably the best reality TV ever. There has been more off-the-field action than even a tour of Australia. 

 

Where shall I begin. Yes, the Shoaib story. Media sources now reveal that BCCI’s knee-jerk cousin PCB might soften down Shoaib’s five-year ban. Considering that it might be based solely on his show for the Kolkata Knight Riders, is that justified? Not really. Neither was the five-year ban that was slapped on him only weeks ago.

 

On the Bangalore front, some buffoonery is now being offered for free. Apparently, BRC’s Praveen Kumar ended up in a police station for involvement in a drunken brawl with a doctor in his hometown of Meerut. While fellow blogger Ottayan asks two questions on this. I have only one question, which is Ottayan’s second: Praveen, was it Kingfisher or Royal Challenge?  J

 

Furthermore, after VVS Laxman’s show of support for Dravid, his Royal Challengers’ team mate, Kumble minces nothing while adding to the support in his Hindustan times column, saying that those who matter must understand what sport is about. Mallya in response, has half-heartedly declared faith in his team, after reiterating concerns on team performance and selection. Dr. Mallya, it is about the people, the faces who wear the team T-shirt. If you aren’t supporting the people in the team, what is the Royal Challengers team? Just a red-and-yellow T-shirt.

 

Meanwhile, Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah Rukh on being asked of the corporate culture and sacking creeping into cricket, gushes over having Ganguly as captain till he turns 106. Ganguly, on the other hand, had only diplomatic answers when asked of Dravid’s position.

 

“..Rahul Dravid is a great friend of yours. What if Vijay Mallya were to tell Rahul, ‘I don’t want you as a captain.’ Would you like that as a cricketer?

Sourav Ganguly: I’ve been in the situation of not being wanted as a captain (laughs). I haven’t liked it so I am sure Rahul won’t like it either.”

Perhaps, Ganguly is just thinking “nalla vennum, da unakku” (Tamil for now it’s your turn). I only hope that we don’t loose Dravid through this crisis.

 Back to cricket, Mumbai routed Kolkata today for an embarassing 67 from 15-odd overs. I almost wrote a post before the match with some hype for Ganguly, Shoaib, and Kolkatta’s odds, but my pre-match-hype-jinxed stopped me. But not posting didn’t help Kolkata, though Sachin flopped royally with a duck. Something told me that today, Tendulkar will get his first IPL duck, and for the first time, I wasn’t too upset about it.


Bangalore Royal Challengers face the heat – sacking begins

May 7, 2008

With the sacking of Charu Sharma as CEO of the enterprise, Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers seems to be facing an off-the-field crisis in addition to losing woes. Apparently, bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad is on his way out too. I suspect Dravid will be next. I don’t know what the sacking of the CEO can do, when the problems are on the field. The BRCs don’t seem to have any team spirit going for them. Seven games into the tournament, they don’t have an opening combination. The international players in the team seem indifferent to say the least.

As fellow blogger Apurv notes, there seems to be very little sympathy for Dravid, and that after a desperate yet scintillating, classical-cricket knock against Kings XI Punjab (which is btw, the most uninspired name). After seeing all the nothing-shots and slogs going for four and getting applause, it was a goose-bump moment to see Dravid almost effortlessly cut and drive so beautifully. That 66 off 50-odd balls was a treat to watch and would have been worth its weight in gold if only the other batsmen chipped in. So dismal was the showing of the Bangalore team against Mohali, that apart from Dravid’s 66 and Kohli’s 30-odd, the 10 extras conceded was the next highest and the third double-digit score. They were in soup – duck soup (pun intended).

Most bloggers and media folk seem to be baying for Dravid’s blood with every loss. Granted, he got some of team selection wrong and is not the most inspired captains; but he would have expected a bit more support from the Test greats. Kallis has been a flop with the bat and ball and Boucher as unpredictable as the weather. Of the entire lot, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan have given most bang for the buck.

In hindsight, it is fairly easy to speculate on the droopy-shouldered Bangalore team. Perhaps the knife had hanging at their throats for sometime now. One could almost sense that from Dravid and Zaheer’s desperate efforts. When the chips are down, nothing inspires more that trust and nothing deflates more that threats: a simple management principle that most people learn only when it’s too late.

Maybe this just goes to prove that people should stick to what they know best. Like I had mentioned before Cricket run by business men is like Tech companies run by those who don’t know more than a few buzzwords (and look for returns just as team is formed).

With such being the state of affairs, one can only feel sorry for the never-say-die man Rahul Dravid. 😦