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 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!


India hanging by a thread in Mohali – Day 4

October 4, 2010

What a day of Test cricket it’s been. From Ishant’s bouncer’s and Zaheer’s yorkers to Hilfenhaus’s chin music, it’s a been a whirlwind of a day!

India ended the day at 55/4 needing another 161 runs to win the match. Gambhir got a shocker (some decisions have been seriously bizzare), Dravid threw his wicket away after taking 16 balls to get off the mark, and Sehwag soon followed suit. With VVS Laxman’s condition unknown, Australia may need only 5 more lower order wickets. I must say it’s odd that Dhoni sent Raina in when as a wicketkeeper batsman and captain Dhoni should have come out himself. Dhoni’s not been in great form. In fact, I can’t remember the last time he’s scored a decent 50. But this could have been an occasion.

On a day when India bagged a silver and bronze at the CWG, the cricket team’s fortunes at teetering by a thread. But that isn’t unusual, or is it? The accolades in other sport often comes when the cricket is floundering. Or are we just playing too much cricket? 😉


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!


India’s tour of SL – Test 3 – Day 3

August 5, 2010

Now this is what you call a Test. This is more exciting than adrenaline overdosed T20. The match is evenly poised now, esp, with Sehwag snatching both openers. Earlier in the day, the Indian middle order collapsed again. Raina played very well to get to his 62. I’m turning into a fan. If only he could do this well overseas. Laxman got his trademark half century, but one expected more of him. I don’t have high expectations for Dhoni the batsmen, so wasn’t exactly surprized by the proceedings. I just had a smug smile when he was dismissed for 15.

Mishra and Mithun batted brilliantly and showed more poise that the top order (minus Sehwag). I hope that SB is wrong when he says this might be the last of Mishra we see for sometime.

The first session will be crucial tomorrow. India need to pile on the pressure and get 2-3 wickets and wrap the SL innings quickly to get a result. I think this series deserves another result.


India’s tour of SL – Test 3 – Day 2

August 4, 2010

What are the chances of winning a toss 3 times in a row? Simple probability yields 12.5%. SL have managed that this time. If my memory serves me right, England won the toss 4 times in a row in 2005(?) Ashes. That a chance of 6.25%.

I would have said there needs be a built-in fairness mechanisms, but more often than not, such “fairness” mechanisms turn out to be disastrous. Given the state of affairs of cricket and the kind of folk that “administer” it, better to leave it as is.

Moving on.

Am I the only one bored of watching India playing catch up? At least the pitch isn’t dead this time. Maybe SL will get another result in their favor?

Sehwag is the only reason I’m watching the Indian batting. After Dravid, that is. If the team management is serious about its Test cricketers, they need to find ways to give their Test-only folks some match practice before heading out on tours. If not, we’re just wasting talent. But who listens to me? Pity to see Dravid go the way he did today. It was nice to see some good shots early on. The cricket is still there folks. Wonder if Laxman will do any better.

Hope Sehwag gets his 100 tomorrow. Maybe 200. Maybe even 300. Are we getting a little greedy here?


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.