India Draws – Ind vs Aus 2008-09: Day 5, 1st Test, Bangalore

October 13, 2008

After what seemed like an eternity, India has managed not to lose a match batting 4th. I had mentally written them off and that mostly due to the poor show in Sri Lanka. I’m still trying to tweak Cricinfo’s statsguru to spit me the results of India’s draw percent when batting second. I’m pretty sure this must be low (esp in the last 3 years). From memory I recall only 2 from the last 3 years – the one at Lords (which really shouldn’t count) and one against South Africa.

Going by that, this is an achievement. But what that also says is that the Aussies have lost some of their sting without McGrath, Warne and Gilchrist (behind the stumps). Haddin has a long way to go. Watson, Haddin, Cameron White (who also plays for Bangalore Royal Challengers) don’t really strike me as great Test cricketers. Unless they go the Symonds way with their game, we may see some mediocre results from them in the near future.

As for India, NB from Soulberry’s TCWJ puts so succinctly, what seemed so muddled in my mind. To me, here are the worries:

  • Middle order: Granted, we’re getting some stinkers from the umpires from time to time, but the middle order isn’t really on strong footing. There are flashes of brilliance, but only flashes, and that’s causing anxiety. Ganguly seems best of the four at the moment. Doesn’t that tell a story in itself (with due respect to Gangs of course)? Meanwhile at the top order, Gambhir has not had too many answers either.
  • Spin bowling: We all know about Harbhajan’s “I-need-a-wicket-to-start-thinking”. That apart, Kumble has been very worrisome.
  • Fielding: Allright, we’ve never really been a great fielding side, not even when the Fab four where in their prime. Gambhir’s dropped catches were atrocious! So much for the “young-agile-fielding-sides”

Interestingly this time, both teams have seen some decline from previous glory. Can India put a 300 plus total? Can the middle order post 200 runs by themselves? Can India bat better than Australia? Can Australia take 20 wickets? Will they bowl better than the Indian quicks? Strange how it can become isn’t it?

Maybe we will get only 2 results from this series.


Kirsten, will you shut up?

September 5, 2008

To me, these comments seem like they’re from the Aussie camp. First he says Dhoni is ready to “take over”. This will no doubt induce fear in the senior Indian batsmen for they know what Dhoni’s captaincy will mean. While Kumble himself may not be too much bothered, it does not auger well that a coach is suggesting publicly that a captain must go (sooner rather than later).

As for me, Kumble must captain as long as he is in form and as long as the senior batsmen aka Fab Four are around for it’s is clear that Dhoni cannot and choses not to “handle” the seniors. To me that isn’t a great trait in a captain. A good captain needs to be fair and pick the best available team – senior or junior. So far, he has been lucky in that his team has won, but luck will take you only so far. The victories have largely come as a result of wining crucial tosses or other results going India’s way. Maybe that was a bit harsh on some of the young talent – yes, some are promising, but I suspect most won’t make it. But that is a discussion for another day.

After the captaincy “tamaasha” as Soulberry calls it, Kirsten has been making statements about Andrew Symonds’ absence in the upcoming home series against Australia. Why is Kirsten telling them why Australia should bring him along. Don’t get me wrong, we will miss Symonds if he doesn’t make it. It will definitely take a little out of the spirit that India-Aus has been over the last 5-6 years. But that is no excuse for this.

Fellow blogger Trideep has warned Kirsten thus. But I think there is more drama in store.


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.


IPL Drama: Harbhajan slaps Sreesanth

April 26, 2008

On Friday night, after a rather irritating inter-city commute, I turned on the TV to catch the score from Yuvraj’s Punjab XI vs. Mumbai match. I was explaining to an elderly member of the family about how this match is being played between two losers. Shortly after checking the score (and the one-sided balance of the match at that point), I switched off the TV and put an end to the crazy day that was, wondering in the back of my mind if others shared my view on this being the clash between the sore losers. This morning, when I checked Hindustan Times (online), the front page had a picture of Sreesanth crying with Preity Zinta and teammate consoling him, which made me to think that Punjab has lost another one; but that was only until I read the caption under the picture.

Harbhajan, Mumbai captain, apparently lost his cool after Sreesant had said ‘hard luck’ and responded by hitting him beneath the eye. While I have not yet seen that footage, the media is aglow with images of a teary eyed, inconsolable Sreesanth.

My initial reaction to Bhajji hitting Sree and the drama that ensued was embarrassment – on behalf of Harbhajan. Bhajji has ruined it and has made Team India, the BCCI, and us (bloggers/viewers/fellow India supporters) and look like clowns after having supporting him in the controversial row with Symonds. The next reaction was – what self respecting 25 year old man cries on field when the entire world is watching? That might be harsh, but honestly, he also gets a bit of sympathy from me. While the media reports that Harbhajan threatened to complain about Sree to Tendulkar et all, if the latter sledges his batsman, perhaps something nastier was said and Sree, shocked that his career might be on the line, reacted the way he did.

All this leads me back to the question I had asked before the start of the IPL. Is IPL good for Indian cricket or will the league rivalries get ugly? After all, Harbhajan and Sreesanth are members of the Indian lineup first and such rows, however downplayed are bound to leave feelings of embitterment.

What shall we now think of Harbhajan? Should we now be more wary when we support him? With such behavioral problems, doesn’t he become a bit of a liability when touring? After this, teams like Australia and South Africa are bound to play up any little thing out of proportion. What about Sreesanth? The aggressor now becomes the cry baby. He is sure to be taunted with this for a good part of his career. Let’s not even think about what could happen when he tours Australia next. 😦

Shame on you, Harbhajan. You have now breached our trust; you have also added fuel to the embers of the burning controversy stirred up in the recent tour of Australia. Shame on you too, Sreesanth, though to a lesser degree, as it seems like you were the victim of senior-chauvinism so rampant in Indian cricket. We want to see Sreesanth the aggressive wicket-taker, not the Sreesanth the clown or Sreesanth the cry baby!


Kumble enters elite 600-wicket club

January 17, 2008

When I think of Anil Kumble, the first image that comes to mind is one of a tall lanky man with a heavily strapped broken-jaw walking out to bowl for his team.

Kumble bowls with a broken jaw against West Indies in 2002
Kumble bowls with broken jaw. Pic: Hindu

What a man! What commitment! After being heavily criticized for things like being able to spin the ball, not being as effective overseas and such, this very man has achieved many great deeds and has perhaps won India more Tests than any other bowler. His illustrious deeds are crowned by “the perfect 10” wickets in an innings, being only the second, after Australia’s Jim Laker, to achieve that feat.

Today, at the WACA, on a pitch that was said to be a pacer’s dream, on a day when the honors clearly belonged to India, Jumbo persevered with his typical line-and-length to bag his 600th and became the first Indian to enter the elite over-600 club along with Muralitharan and Warne.

Kumble claims his 600th

Kumble gets 600! Pic: Cricinfo 

Coincidentally, his fellow Karnataka-mate Dravid took the catch to dismiss Symonds to break a potentially dangerous partnership and become a part of this historical moment for Kumble and India.

Dravid with the catch. Pic: Cricinfo

I thought it was really apt it was Dravid who took the catch as many the duo have a combined tally of 54 victims. Incidentally, today Dravid becomes one with the 3rd highest number of catches at 165, going past Brian Lara’s 164.

Congrats to you, Captain Kumble. Wishing you 100 more very soon!