World Cup 2011: India World Champions

April 3, 2011

That’s a sentence I thought I might never say!

That punch of Dhoni’s that was sent high into the stands, brought a billion dreams come true. And those of some old souls who didn’t live to see. This is big! This is the World Cup and yes, it’s true. India have won it!

This team, ably coached by Gary Kirsten et all, has given us many wonderful memories. From Perth to Wankhede, it’s been a wonderful journey. Not a roller coaster ride, but a smooth nearly blipless one. Thanks to Kirsten and co. Thanks to Dhoni for the cool headed leadership. Today, not even the harshest MSD critic would have a gripe in saying that he deserved the man of the match, perhaps more than any other time – for Tendulkar yesterday did what he normally does in tournament finals and deciders for over a decade. Thanks to the young team for bringing us all this joy! But let us not forget those who, since ’99, have sown the seeds for this victory in spirit. I still feel bad about 2003, but this is not the day for that!

This day, we celebrate!
And yes, this victory is for the people of India!
Cheers Team India! Vande Matharam!


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!


Finally, some truth: Dravid scores over Tendulkar

August 17, 2010

A new study by economists at University of Ulster and University of Queensland that has the India media whining, rates Dravid and Sehwag over Tendulkar. While many fans may express surpize over the results, close watchers of cricket would agree that mere averages do not truly reflect a value of a player and the study brings to light what many of us have been screaming about for years!

This study rates a rough 60 in a total of 200-odd over 200 in total of 600.

There are several tables with rankings for different parameters . The “Top Fifty Batsmen in Test Cricket” rates Dravid, Ponting at 4, Kallis at 5, Tendulkar at 7 and Sehwag and Kambli at 8. This uses the Gini co-efficient to measure the “evenness of results”. We see similar ratings for “Home and Away Certainty Scores”, “The Relation between Individual and the Rest of Team”. In another table “Contributions to Their Team Score by the Top 50 Batsmen in Test Cricket”, Dravid ranks 5, while Sehwag and Tendulkar rank 6. It is noteworthy here to mention that Sehwag is at 6th position, having played in only72 innings; Dravid’s rank was from167 innings and Tendulkar’s was from 209. What is more reflective of this is the “Ranking by Average, Value-Adjusted Average, and Value-Added Adjustment” where Sehwag leads Indian batsmen with a value adjusted average of 79, Dravid with 71 and Tendulkar at 70.

While it can be argued that such studies have their biases (Laxman does not feature here) and uses the right set of parameters to crank out the right set of results, one cannot help but notice that if there is real value, it will shine beyond mere hyperbole.

This paper is a must read for the nerdy amonst cricket fans. It can be downloaded from the Berkeley Electronic Press.


India’s tour of SL: Laxman leads India to victory; series level

August 9, 2010

In a scintilating day of Test cricket, fans of this form of the game revelled in its beauty and unpredictability. Test cricket is alive and kicking, folks. All one needs is a good pitch (and not to mention decent bowlers). After several months, I watched nearly the whole day of the proceedings, like one would watch a limited over game.

When Tendulkar and Laxman came out to bat needing over 200 runs to score, it was easy to write India off, specially with the abysmal fourth innings record we have had. Apart from Adelaide 2003, and in the 2008 (Chennai?) Test, we haven’t chased and won a Test in the last decade. Year 2008 involved a blinding Sehwagian innings to setup the victory; Year 2003 was a long time ago; Dravid and Laxman were in their prime. Laxman proved that today, he still is! Battling pain and nerves, he batted like a champion that he is, scored a sedate century and saw India through. I must admit that while Laxman was batting, I was never worried that he might get out. So calm and assured was the stroke play that if one hadn’t known about the back spasm and didn’t see the runner, one wouldn’t know that there was something wrong. He played his classing “knock-the-outside-off-legside” stroke, only to score regularly and almost single handedly win it for India.

Special mention must also go to Suresh Raina. I must admit, I’m really turning into a fan. I’ve been very skeptical of his technique. It was a dream Test debut for him indeed. The true test will come in foreign conditions. If he can repeat this in either South Africa/England, he will cement his place and have usurped Yuvraj “very fat” Singh for good.

Congratulations, Laxman and India!


IPL 3: Cometh the monster

March 12, 2010

Today is the day. The Monster returns to India and we can hear the crass jingle. Controversies apart, despite my  ambivalence towards T20 and the IPL itself, I must admit that I am a bit excited.

Teams I will be supporting this year :

Kolkata Knight Riders – KKR – Wishing Dada and SRK some luck
Delhi Daredevils – DD – A team with Sehwag in it deserves to win
Bangalore Royal Challengers – RCB – Gotta like Kumble, Dravid, et all

Indifferent about:

Chennai Super Kings – CSK – Flat track bullies
Mumbai Indians – MI – Really, if they don’t make it to the top 4 this time, there is no excuse
Kings XI Punjab – (what’s their acronym really?) – Snore…

Batsmen I will be watching for:

Virender Sehwag – Viru, show us the Say-Wah!g
Sourav Ganguly – a true Dada fan will not lose an opportunity to scream DA-DA!
Mathew Hayden – Mongoose bat or not, he will be one to watch out for
Adam Gilchrist – Too many blistering innings to not watch this man
Rahul Dravid – A from-the-heart Dravid fan will always be rooting for RD!
Others – Greame Smith, Virat Kohli, Shane Warne, Sangakkara, Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, JP Duminy.. this list will grow!


Sachin 200 – A jewel but…

March 11, 2010

Ten years ago, most of us would have thought, if there was one person who could reach 200 in an ODI, it was Sachin. However, five years ago, most of us would have agreed that he may not get there. Yet, on the day that he did, Sachin was blistering! It was the 28th over when Sachin reached 100 and the commentator said, perhaps jokingly that maybe if he’d bat another 28, he’d get to 200. And when he did, we went berserk.

However, amid the deja vu,  there was something bothering.  Maybe if the media were a little less boasting of Tendulkar, if we did a little less counting of the 50s, the twelve thousand-th run, the nth “over the slip” shot, this would have meant more. For the many who are “uninitiated” in this mad counting, this phenomenal landmark was “just another one”. This landmark of Sachin’s will remain a jewel, but maybe instead of the crass glare, it could have been a
shimmering diamond.


India Win Compaq Cup

September 19, 2009

But could have almost lost it. Credit to Sri Lanka, the top 5 – barring Mahela – gave India a run for its money, and us bored fans something to bite nails about.

Quick thoughts on what went well:

1. Tendulkar: Need I say anything? What a sublime innings to count for his 44th ODI ton.

2. Dravid opening: Despite the fact that he didn’t score big, he with Tendulkar set the platform for the other to build on. After a long time, Dravs did not look nervous and didn’t elicit the “oh my god, is he going to be out now” feeling I’ve had almost every ball of some his innings last year and in late-2007.

3. Harbhajan: He and Tendulkar won the match for us.

What didn’t go well:

1. Do we have a pace bowling attack? Where are the bowlers? RP, Irfan, Nehra, all disappointed.

2. Butterfingers fielding: Dhoni, Yusuf, Nehra, Kohli et all dropping catches like hot potatoes. Pathetic 😦

There will be a lot of ground to cover for this team in the Champion’s Trophy. On current bowling and fielding form, they don’t belong in the semi finals. A berth there is almost as dicey as it used to be in the early 90s.