India’s tour of England 2011 – Trent Bridge Test – shall we sing the lament now?

August 2, 2011

Four days of Test cricket.

Two and quarter days of fighting cricket. The remaining was trash. Add in some vaseline, Bell runout gate and all you get is a waste of time.

India’s 2nd innings was a joke. Laxman and Dravid perhaps were too frustrated and let the others do some of the cleaning. What did the others do? Sachin made another meaningless half century. Harbhajan forgot to feign injury while batting to score 40 odd. Dhoni and his ODI boys did the usual. There is no excuse for this.

One cannot blame the bowlers too much. They toiled hard on day 1 and on day 3 without support. Some of field settings at key times were the most defensive I’ve seen in a decade. It felt like we were back to the post-Azhar Sachin and second-innings-Azhar age. Granted, the bowlers caved at time, bowling outside off, wide, and making it easy for the batsmen to score. What was required was some unity and team spirit. There was nothing like that going on. Maybe that had to do with divisiveness on Bell run-out-gate.

Ganguly was right. This season will tell us just how good a captain Dhoni really is.

As after any drubbing, there are more questions than answers. But I don have one answer – India are losing this series.

I will eat crow if they level!

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India’s tour of England 2011 – Dravid’s first Test century at Lords

July 31, 2011

India’s tour of England 2011 – Dravid’s first Test century at Lords

Dravid’s journey began at this very ground. One could almost call it his home away from home (by his own high standards, Dravid has never done well at home). That summer day in 1996, a young lad with a lot of expectation in those eyes, set out, maybe not specifically in search of a hundred, but nevertheless burst onto the scene. That day, he fell short by a few days. This day, 15 years from then, he made it! A century at Lords, – the home of cricket. A man on wrong side of 30s, having almost nothing to prove to anyone- for many a great deeds he has done in the years that have passed- but always something to prove to himself, Dravid will find his name in the famed hall where it belongs, with other mighty warriors. The war is always the same, only the manner different.

Many fans and ardent followers will have a deep sense of satisfaction – for a gentleman of the game. God bless the man who has brought much happiness to India!


India’s tour of England 2011 – Why the tours of England are special

July 31, 2011

I’ve almost always had a rush of nostalgia when India is about to tour England. The green grass, blue skies, the contrast between the “Surf-excel-white” clouds and the tourquise blue of the sky, the picturesque grounds, the lovely breeze and the occasional sweater worn by the spectator adds an element of other worldly magic to the drama that is about to enfold. India’s tours of England have brought back some lovely memories that run back to the summer of’96. There are several such occasions – the World Cup 99, the tour of 2002 and the Nat West final to name a few. The tour of 2007 seems so fresh, I can recall many of details – Zaheer Khan and the jelly gate, Dravid’s tired captaincy, his struggle with runs, Wasin Jaffer’s lazy elegance, Dinesh Karthik’s rise to consistent 45-50 opener, Kumble’s century, Micheal Vaughn’s batting, Tendulkar’s struggles in the 90s, and what not.

Part of what makes this special is a rather mundane aspect – the time of play for the Indian viewer. You can come back from work, either on a high, or tired and drained of energy, and let your mind take on something completely different and to be engrossed in it. There are days when the cricket energizes you and days when it lets you lament.

Another tour is upon us. And this tour, as in 2007, is touted to be last of the greats of India’s batting – Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman. Thus the need to savor it is greater than ever before. One hopes that there is, somewhere in India, a kid who yearns to emulate their techniques and deeds!


Dravid’s gritty century at Sabina – India vs. WI – Test 1

June 23, 2011

When there’s a challenge up for grabs, trust a champion to take it. Dravid has built himself a reputation of being there when it means the most. In times when reputation and utility are being questioned, the legend delivered a solid knock to shut the critics for the umpteenth time in his career. This century was worth its weight in gold, and to top it, was fairly solid. The decline from 2007 seemed distant and the myriad batting issues solved. In India’s lead of 300 odd, Dravid’s contribution is almost 50%! The statistics auger well for India in this case. I will not say more now, only that: the Rock is back and will continue to rock.


India win NZ series 1-0

November 24, 2010

Yay!

Could have been a more convincing series victory, had the pitches been more conducive. Credit to NZ for a good batting display in the first two matches of the series. Pity that they got a few bad decisions in the Nagpur Test from umpire Nigel Long. Despite, that I still believe the URDS referral system in its present form won’t help. What will help is the way umpires like Taufel refer when they aren’t sure. There’s an element of self-respect/ego from the umpires that takes a beating while doing that, but when they do let that go a little bit, it buys them back a lot respect.

Positives for India from this series:

1. Gambhir showing signs of returning to form from a temporary slump. The ODI series and added responsibility as captain might help that further.

2. Man of the Match Dravid finds his lost touch and gets runs! There cannot be better news before the SA tour starts. Yes, the conditions will be different there, but one know what to expect from a veteran.

3. Pace battery charged up – Ishant seems in great form. If Zaheer returns, both of them on SA pitches can be a handful. Sreeshant has had a good comeback too.

Can’t wait for South Africa!


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!


Dravid Scores!

November 7, 2010

After what seemed like an eternity for a close Dravid follower, it was mainly relief to see a century coming from him.

I must clarify, that “see” meant “read on Cricinfo”. That was the case primarily because I couldn’t watch another failure from him. Add work to that, and there’s a compelling reason, but mostly the first. When I checked the score, I braced my mind to see the fall of the second wicket, but was pleasantly surprized almost each time, happy to see the 50 and satisfied to the see the 60 turn into 100 in very short time (by any standard). The attacking shots, and the late cuts that I caught on highlights, were very reassuring.

Fellow blogger SB, puts the feeling in perspective in a more emotional way, that I could have. Read that here, as SB talks Dravid once again.

There will be the naysayers this time also. Yes, it is the Kiwis, and yes, once can glare at the strike rate, but look what happened today and look at the strike rates of Tendulkar and Laxman, in the first innings. That will tell a story. Spin it the way you like!