Stodgy India save Napier Test

April 1, 2009

What a couple of days of Test cricket. Nowadays, it’s more satisfying to see a team save a match while chasing a mammoth total than it is to see a match with a result.

This was the occasion to show grit, and it was very satisfying to the hyped Indian batting line-up live up to their statistics. While Sehwag threw away an opportunity to show his captaincy prowess and give Dhoni some competition, Gambhir has taken a huge stride forward in his Test career. It will be sometime before we can truly bank on such innings from him for it takes more than just a few gritty innings to be called the Wall, even if it is Wall version 2. That said, credit needs to be given where it is due. He’s definitely a class apart from the other youngsters, Yuvraj included. Way to go Gambhir! I will not call you just a dumb slogger riding on form anymore.

Speaking of thrown away opportunities, add Dinesh Karthik to the list: his wicket keeping, from what I saw, left a lot to be desired. Looks like all of Dhoni’s competitors (for captaincy and keeping) have either given up or have no hope or intention. On to Yuvraj “I’m either a Prince or a rabbit” Singh. I think it is about time we replace him at Test level with some other promising talent. Where is Vijay who debuted against Australia? Now that would be a talent to nurture for the future.

Our good old Dravid once again did the job that only he does best, except this time, it was cut short by an umpiring error. Fellow blogger Soulberry has also ranted about this evil that cricketing has been plagued with of late. The newly elite Ian Gould has robbed us of what could have been another golden Dravid innings. Like Soulberry says, with such a sweetly timed six that one would wonder why there weren’t many more of those in his Test career. For the nth time, Dravid’s defence was serene and sublime. Brush me aside for being a fan-girl, but this innings of Dravs was definitely special. And some of us wanted him to retire. To me he looks good for another three years. I cannot stop marveling at the patience and grit. Go Draivd, you rock! Moving on, VVS and Sachin were vintage adding to the job that needed completion; nothing less.

So we think we battled it out. But not everyone agrees. This article by Kiwi journalist Paul Lewis had me thinking, and bit offended. True, we did in the past produced dust bowls in India, thanks to our internal pan-BCCI squabbles, we’ve often offered a green top to a side with exceptional fast bowlers. If there is a doubt on the ability of this Indian line up, which I think is probably the best one to deal with the green top on windy conditions (only I would replace Yuvraj with either a promising youngster like Vijay, or with good old fiesty Sourav) in over two decades. So, give us the green top and challenge us. Then we shall see who has conquered.


Dravid reaches record Test Catches

March 18, 2009

Rahul “Jammy Wall Monk” Dravid equaled another record today on Day 1 of the Hamilton Test. Some of thought he wouldn’t get there didn’t we?

The record for highest number of catches in Test Cricket will now be shared between Rahul Dravid and Mark Waugh. Yes, that’s an Indian for a fielding record.

Truly happy for Dravs and Indian cricket for this will be something to the coming generations to keep in mind.

Rock on, Dravid. It doesn’t matter that some people think you should retire. Rock it in your own monkish, wall-ish ways!

To catch my thoughts on today’s play on BCC!.


Warne’s take: Sehwag, Tendulkar and the Fortress

December 3, 2008

For once, I agree with some of what Warne has had to say. This bit on Sehwag woke me up from my blogging lull and other energy-draining, spirit-dampening stuff that’s been bogging me down of late. Here’s a thrilling bit on our very own Viru.

Virender Sehwag was facing Pakistan’s medium-fast bowler Abdul Razzaq, who was reverse-swinging the ball, and the way the Indian handled him is narrated in an interesting story in Australia’s legendary spinner Shane Warne’s just released book.

“Sehwag came up to (his batting mate Jeremy) Snape and said: ‘We must lose this ball. I have a plan’. Next over he whacked the ball clean out of the ground, forcing umpires to pick another from the box that would obviously not reverse straight away. To which Sehwag said: ‘We are alright for one hour.’ Smart I say.

That’s amazing! Maybe it’s only amazing to stupid spectator me. Here’s a dimension to cricket that I didn’t think batsmen had. Perhaps not too many people have it. Perhaps that’s also why there’s only one Virender Sehwag.

As to be expected, Warne is all fan-girlish about Tendulkar. Perhaps that has more to do with the way Tendulkar has played Warne than Tendulkar the batsman.

It’s not too interesting that Warnie rates Dravid among the best for many Aussies respect Dravs. He could very well have been called the Fortress, not just a Wall, says Warnie. You’d have to break thru the Wall to see the God (or get the guy at the other end). Ah nostalgia!

I’m now itching to buy that book.


India lose series 1-2: Musings on the Fab Four

August 11, 2008

I must first forewarn you that this is not an organized collection of thoughts. It’s a largely an emotional response to the series thrown away and hope lost of seeing the Fab-four in action together.

After a day and of half of holding on to the fine ray of hope, nearly living on the edge, the most logical result has shown its face. I’m sure fellow blogger Soulberry shares in my fatigue. Soulberry, you seriously raised my hopes with your stats on the Dravid-Laxman partnership. They looked promising, esp, Dravid, but I guess it just wasn’t to be. This goes to prove you cannot win a Test match with 4 injured players, especially if it includes your strike pace bowler. A few overs of Ishant could have made for a different story, but many will feel that he could only have delayed the inevitable.

It was a rather hyped series given the sub-continental flavor. As an Indian cricket fan, it is a sad day not because this is just another series loss, but because, I think we might have seen the last of the Fab-four playing together. Not because that should be the case, but because I think that will. Indian fans and the BCCI have been known for their knee-jerk reactions to everything: World Cup exits, victories and umpiring errors alike. I expect that one of the four places will now go to a junior and as SP predicted, I suspect that it will be Ganguly, but honestly, I think it should be Tendulkar. Either way, some of us, fans of the Fab-four, need to brace ourselves for some brutal ones to come.

While the rational side of me says it is only fair that one of these places go to a junior, a part of me also fears the selectors will pick the wrong senior to replace and give his place to a wrong junior. The selectors might pick a teenager who scored in the IPL 20, the likes of Rohit Sharma. We need to pick from our regional circles, a player who has scored well. Doesn’t matter if he is 30. The Gangulys and the Dravids, the two who have probably lasted the longest in the history of the game (apart from Tendulkar, of course) came in their late twenties, after being seasoned by good old Ranji. At the moment, the only batsman deserving of a Test call up is Badrinath, but I think Rohit will get it earlier and fail. That said, some of the senior folk could use some domestic match practice as well.

Galle victory notwithstanding, we lost the series in the first Test: mostly psychologically. There was pressure on the seniors from Asia-cup-fame Mendis, the fans, the press, the media, and I suspect the BCCI. Did the Fab-four lose this series for us? Yes and No.

Yes, they did contribute significantly to the loss. Let’s start at the top with “the God” shall we. Tendulkar seemed impatient and arrogant, more inclined to get his record that to play to a responsible innings. Nothing else explains the dismissal in the first innings of the First Test. Then Ganguly. Nothing seemed to be wrong with him, impatience and fear got the better of him. Dravid, seemed disturbingly out of form in the first Test. Batting seemed to invoke horrors in a man who nicknamed the Wall. There was one innings in which he was himself: the second innings of the decider Test and this is the only good sign for us among the Fab four. Laxman seemed solid in the first innings of the First Test, fell like a bunny 5 times, and resurrected himself to some extend in the second innings of the Third Test.

Yes, they lost it for us as Dravid, who has for long been the backbone of the batting did not find form until the second innings of the 3rd Test. We need the Wall to keep building the fortress to allow the other batsmen to build. There is just no replacement for the role that Dravid has played.

Yes, they lost it for us, as this is the first time in which they were all not scoring throughout the series.

But, no, it isn’t just them. Our bowler’s did not step up either. Other the Ishant, nobody looked like taking any wickets. Our wicketkeepers or wicketkeeper-batsmen, as we wrongly call them were pathetic with both their responsibilities. Kumble, surprizingly didn’t look like taking wickets. Our fielders lacked initiative, yes the young ones too. Last but not the least, there was the largely inconsistent and partisan referral system. A collective failure in performance and spirit caused us this series and takes us only further from that coveted #1 Test team position.

Having said all about the Fab-four, while they have been stellar in many ways, they have also been largely inconsistent through their illustrious careers. It would be hard to find a series in which all of them collectively consistently and consequtively scored heavily. It has been their class and showmanship with the bat that has earned them this tag. The again, winning Test matches isn’t about of collective centuries, it is about everybody doing their part and doing so well. This time, they failed to produce that face-saving century that they needed, or half century each, Lax and Dravs excluding (though I’m not sure that will save them from the selectors who will want to keep Tendulkar) . Also, more often than not, they have been bothered by a bowler on debut. Bret Lee, Chris Tremlet and Sohail Tanvir come to mind. Ajantha Mendis now joins this list. It will be interesting to see which way he goes.

The selectors have a many tough decisions now with the Aussies coming to town. Do you judge the seniors on one bad series? Do you put the mentally pressurized seniors on the spot with an ultimatum in the series against the Aussies? Or do you throw the younsters to the wolves? Do you give seniors match practice in Ranji or rest?

As RS rightly points out, the only one to gain from this is Dhoni. It’s a stroke of tactical masterclass from him to skip this Test series. I now predict a Sri Lankan ODI series washout by 4-1 or 5-0. Then will the same questions be asked of Dhoni’s boys? Let us see.