India win thriller: VVS – Spectacular is thy middle name

October 5, 2010

Limitations sometimes propel people to greatness. Sometimes, when something is missing, you focus more on how to compensate for that missing something. This time, there were two batsmen with limitations – VVS with his back spasm and Ishant with a knee issue – that fought with sterling grit to snatch victory from near definite defeat!

VVS Laxman proved yet again that he’s not only special, he’s Spectacular. Having played perhaps the most innings (for a solid Indian bastman) with the tail, he knew how it had to be done. It’s just that the luck and grit was needed from the other side. The kind of calmness and poise he brought with the bat was invaluable, not to mention juggling a runner and a tail ender. Even today, year after the Laxman-ODI debate,  many fans of Indian cricket will rue why he never made it to the Indian ODI team.

I started watching today’s proceedings on after Ishant came to the crease. I was expecting a bit more from Harbhajan, for all his improved batting and the like. I must say, equal credit in the win must go to Ishant. What he couldn’t do in Sydney in 2008 to draw a match, he did to win this one. And what a time to choose to display such grit! Kudos to the young fellow. With temperment like this, he’s bound to go a long way! And that must only auger well for India.

The Aussies deserve special mention for their efforts, for without that, today’s match would not have been the nail biting advertisement for Test cricket that it was. They peppered the top order with bouncers, chin music, rib rackers and the like, causing them in turn to crumble, although not without some semblance of a fight. Hilfenhaus was perhaps at his best (from my memory of him in recent games). But they perhaps missed Bollinger in the later half of today. Despite that, the fielding from an Aussie side was a bit below par. They don’t generally drop this many catches, and miss this many run outs. Ponting’s lack of the gambler’s instinct didn’t help either. I don’t understand why he didn’t try Clarke’s off spin.

Mediocre umpiring on also played its hand in the game. But fortunately, the errors went in favor of both sides equally. If Hussey missed out, so did Gambhir. If Ishant was given out lbw off a clear edge, Ohja was given a reprieve. What iis strange is that even the third umpire got at least one controversial decision wrong. This is what keeps me still against the controversial Umpire Refferal system.  What needs to be done, is the quality of umpiring improved. If the on-field umpire isnt sure what to do, he must ego-lessly refer to the third umpire, and not merely give in to vociferous shouts from in-fielders.

Having said all that, it was still a thrilling day of Test cricket. It’s unfortunate that one team had to lose. While I’m not complaining too much about that, I think in the end, the battle was more in the mind, as it turns out with many such thrilling games.

Long live Test Cricket.

Looking forward to Bangalore!


What IPL cash does: Laxman retorts Afridi, Symonds goes fishing

September 1, 2008

I’m not sure which story came out first, Laxman’s or Symonds’. I’m not even sure what prompted Afridi to trash talk his IPL captain. Granted, Hyderabad’s Deccan Chargers ended up at the bottom of the table, but does it even make sense to blame a guy who captained less than half the matches in a tournament whose format is new to the cricket world in general?

“Laxman lost the plot” was what Afridi had to say. This is almost humour – one of the more irresponsible batsman calls his captain name. To top it off, Afridi didn’t perform to his best ability in the IPL either. Perhaps it was a “paid holiday”, to quote South African pacer Dale Steyn.

The normally quiet Laxman proved he is no Dravid to wait and make a statement with his bat. He has responded to Afridi’s comments by questioning Afridi’s team ethic and stating just what is and isn’t on.

I wonder what has caused the rather reserved Laxman to lash out. Pressure on losing his Test place after India’s disappointing Test tour to Sri Lanka? Worries about losing his IPL cash? I’m tempted to the say its the second, as VVS has been rather unfortunate to have never been able to cement his place in the ODI side, missed out on being part of the 2003 World Cup squad, and thus the several endorsements that come in the way. But I think it is a combination of both forms of pressure.

Meanwhile, down under, Symonds just got sacked from the team for going fishing, in what I thought was a harsh decision (from our limited view).  Wonder if it’s got to do with the fact that there was some bad blood about Symonds getting a bigger cheque from IPL. Or is just plain politics? Many bloggers were suggesting after Symonds’s run of luck from the Sydney Test earlier this year that his luck might run out soon. Is this it with the luck?

Whatever the deal is in both cases, it seems, at least at the moment, that the IPL is doing some significant damage. What’s a bit scary is that there is no remedy in sight.

India now accused of blackmailing!

January 8, 2008

Robert Craddock writes in the Daily Telegraph in typical Ponting’s Aussie style “…India’s suspension of the tour while they wait for an appeal on the suspension of Harbhajan Singh is a veiled form of blackmail and must be treated with the harsh response it deserves. If the ICC feels Harbhajan was worth suspending, it must not crumble in the face of a subcontinental blackmail from the world’s most powerful cricket nation.” Perhaps in Craddock’s dictionary, demanding for justice constitutes blackmail.
He goes on to say, “….If the Harbhajan verdict stands – as it should – and India abandon the tour, then so be it. Their nation will be in disgrace, their team retreating as men who cowered in the face of substantial adversity.[…] It’s a shame India have sulked, because many Australians felt deeply sympathetic for the dreadful hand they were dealt in Sydney.” And what good is sympathy alone? So, Mr. Craddock, should the Indians have thought themselves lucky to have one of their lot baselesly charged with something as serious as racism after what seemed (to any non-racist person) to be an unfair hearing? Perhaps you would have liked it if the Indians took what was dished out at them in a typical-subcontinent style, moved on without making any noise and welcome some more with open arms.

“Very Very Special” Laxman and Dravid stabilize India – Sydney Test, Day 2

January 3, 2008

Day 2 of the Sydney Test will be remembered (among other things) for a truly special one from VVS, saving the day, yet again with another Dependable. Dravid and Laxman seemed to be contrasts of one another: one agonizing, the other flourishing; but together, they saved the day and have set a solid base for India to build on. Siddhartha Vaidyanathan called it Will and Grace and very aptly said.

The ominous devil in Dravid’s form showed its face yet again today. He started with a spanking four off the first ball in the post lunch session, reminding us of the majestic batsman that now seems to be hiding under the same face. There were some aggressive, almost un-Dravidian shots, but there were other agonizing times when he was beaten and went run-less for a 45 minute period of over 40 balls. There was even a cheer from the audience when he broke this draught to move on to 19 and Dravid humoring them on by lifting his bat to celebrate the single! But what was important was Dravid’s fight, and that he was confident: just in some pain, not struggling. To put up this sort of fight, when everything seems to be going against you takes tremendous grit; and to open the innings when out of form is humongous. It takes warrior – not just a wall – to do that! Go Dravid! You’re definitely due for a big one. We know you will.

I don’t have words for VVS’s amazingly special innings, his third consecutive century at the SCG – one without help from the umpires :). To have watched it is a privilege. What more need I say? It’s is mental, not just bizzare to ever think of dropping this man for any form of the game.

On that note, I end this post today. Need to catch some highlights of the VVS Special. Hope the good-old Tendulkar-Ganguly duo come good tomorrow.

Go India! Go!

Umpiring errors help propel Australia – Sydney Test, Day 1

January 2, 2008

Just when the Indian fan starts to sit up and watch the game, umpiring errors strike! India were on a roll today when they had Aus on the mat for 140-odd runs with only 4 more wickets in hand.  Symonds came to the crease, and stayed on it after being gifted at least 2 lives by umpire Steve Bucknor and one by the third umpire on a stumping. Ponting was let off when on 17, but was given out lbw when on 55, when there was a thick edge. What is with umpiring these days? India have been on the receiving side of some horrendous decisions in the past year. But India are not alone. Sri Lanka having recently toured Australia were victims as well with the Sangakkara episode readily coming to mind.

There is a strange issue with Australia and its a vicious circle. Umpires are under pressure when Aus is fielding, and the bowler gets the benefit of the doubt; and the Aussie batsmen receive the benefit. The only way to turn tables on this issue would be for other teams to defeat them, but that won’t happen unless the issue is addressed. And no, I don’t believe the oft quoted-adage “some times they [umpiring decisions] go against you…” with sometimes now becoming a couple of times every innings often.

Check out more reactions on this:

Summary, Day1 of Sydney Test
Adelaide Now, Match Summary
Bucknor helps Australia recover

I’m not looking forward to watch India batting now, given the standards of umpiring by this trio.