India’s tour of England 2011 – Trent Bridge Test – an Ad for Test Cricket

July 31, 2011

The Trent Bridge Test has been a great advertisement for Test Cricket. From the packed stands to the quality pitches, the game has provided entertainment to all. Granted, it has been a low scoring match, but has had all other ingredients that an engrossing Test match need.

The English collapse and recovery, Broad’s hat rick , Laxman’s art, Dravid’s colossal century, Yuvraj’s comeback,  the Indian collapse all interspersed with a bit of Indian tadka – the Praveen Kumar rant and the Sreesanth antics.  A word must be said on the umpiring – while Erasmus has been inconsistent, Asad Rauf has been so accurate, its almost inhuman.

Day 3 will be key. So will Ishant. This day will decide who the winner of the Test will be, for this most certainly will not be Draw.

Cheers to Test Cricket! It is alive and kicking!

 


Pujara in, Yuvraj out for Test against Aus

September 21, 2010

Finally the call has been answered. Pujara gets what he has been long due. I’m personally happy that Pujara made it without Dravid losing out – some were expecting that. Hope he gets into the playing XI and makes his mark.

Yuvraj on the other hand, deserves the ouster. The temperment has been off color and that added to his current form and fitness woes and other weaknesses, esp against spin must have played a role in the selector’s decision. While I have my reservations with some of Cheeka’s methods, this team is decent and there wasn’t a need for major amends (apart from Yuvraj). In the back on my mind, there is a slight bit of feeling for Yuvraj – it is the ODIs and T20 that have gone bad for him. The last 2 test innings weren’t too bad; but unfortunately, that ‘s how things work.


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!


T20 World Cup 2010: India crumbling 90-s style

May 7, 2010

The super eights are here. SA managed to not choke yesturday against NZ (allright, I’m being a bit harsh). But India have other plans.

For the teens of this age who may not have watched India in the 90s need not worry. There’s a 90-s style collapse going on. Vijay walks in hits a few, and leave. Ditto for Gambhir. Then Raina. Yuvraj gets another duck, carrying his spotless IPL (fix?) form.

I have been skeptic about this Indian batting line up for some time; which is also reason why I didn’t rave about India’s victory over SA in the first stage of the tournament. I don’t see batting stability or experience apart from Gambhir (Dhoni doesn’t count for me, neither does out-of-form Yuvi). As I write this, Dhoni has already fallen. Jadeja? Who is this Jadeja (deja vu – another 90s reminder) What is Ravindra Jadeja doing? Is he in as a fielder? After the dropped catches today, perhaps we need a new term for his place in the side.

Is the bowling better?

India are 40/5. They will need more than miracle to win this one.

Looking forward to a 90-s style excuse for loosing this one.

PS: I will eat crow (and my words) if India win this!

End of 90-s style rant.

PPS: Apparently there’s another fan of the old fashioned batsmen on cricinfo. “Umair: “It’s clear no lessons have been learned from last year’s disastrous England World Cup — the young Indian bats, weaned on the flat tracks of the IPL, cannot cope with fast, short-pitched bowling on livelier tracks. Just as SA has kept faith with Kallis and Smith; and Australia with Hussey, India should have included some older players with better technique. The fact that a Dravid isn’t going to have a 200 SR in an IPL match doesn’t mean he wouldn’t add value on pitches like the ones in England last year or this one.”

Yes, Dravid should have been there and that’s not just the Dravid-fan in me.


India’s tour of New Zealand 2009: the Nitpicks

April 13, 2009

Allright folks, the party’s over. The players are headed to join their IPL teams. That means time for us to nitpick India’s tour of New Zealand.

Nitpick #1: The pitches. Ok, well, just the Basin pitch. It wasn’t typical Basin at all. That was perhaps the most disappointing feature of the tour of New Zealand. While the 02-03 tour was replete with ridiculously unbattable pitches, which embarrassed even the host batsmen, the pitches we saw here were mostly batsmen friendly. There was no shocker pitch, denying us of an opportunity of ruing an Indian batting collapse.

Nitpick#2: Ishant Sharma’s inability to use the breeze and Munaf’s to bag more wickets. Yes, this is a bit harsh. Ishant received some harsh ones from the umpires, but didn’t live up to the expectations in terms of wickets. There were some exceptional spells and there were some ordinary ones, thereby cause for some thought. Munaf’s bowling was fair. To me, he lived up to the standard of a “filling-up-the-overs” bowler, but not to that of a third seamer. The third seamer needs to consistently pick up wickets. Bowling in Tests isn’t only about economy. You can’t win matches with an economy of 2-odd, as beautiful as it might seem.

Nitpick #3: VVS Laxman and Sehwag’s inconsistency. Again, this is harsh and almost atrocious that Laxman and “careless” Sehwag are being blamed for the same thing, but there is more to this. VVS is expected to deliver. When he scores 30 we get upset because he’s capable of 40-60 every innings. Laxman’s scores read 30, DNB, 76, 124*, 4 and  61. That’s 295 @ 73.75 avg. Not something we should be grumbling about, but the issues are with the 30 and the 4. The 124 was priceless and came in a time when India needed it most. Sehwag on the other hand, truly disappointed. His scores read 24, DNB, 34, 22, 48, and 12. That’s 140 @ 28. Makes one wonder if it’s the same man who hits triple centuries at will. Sehwag played a classic innings at Galle. We all know he’s capable. It’s just about that application. We’re not asking him to turn into a Wall.

Nitpick #4: Yuvraj Singh – fielding and batting. Seriously what is he doing in a Test team, especially, a touring Test team. I see the logic in keeping him for the home series, but not on tours. He had his chance in Australia – a change which involved a needless shuffling in batting order to “acomodate” him. His fielding has also been below par this series. If you ask me, I’ll swap Murali Vijay for Yuvraj in overseas Tests. It will be worthy investment.

Nitpick #5: Dravid not making a century. Ok, this is more of a  nitpick. Dravid was the third highest run getter of the series with 314 runs @ 62.8. Given that this came in the wake of a year long run drought, it’s great. That he couldn’t turn the 83 in the first Test into a century giving it up to an uncharecteristic shot was very disappointing. Also disappointing was the dismissal for 35 at Wellington after all the hard work.

Nitpick #6: Collective lack on initiative at Wellington on Days 4 and 5 deprived us of a 2-0 victory. Should we have declared earlier? Maybe 20-30 runs earlier, not too much earlier. But the question as to whether we could have got those wickets in that time is another question altogether. Honestly, I’m fairly happy with 1-0 victory, maybe that’s the conservative Indian in me speaking. Just would have been nicer, that’s all. That’s why this is #6 and not #1.

Nitpick #7: Sehwag’s captaincy. After all the experience, we expected better from him didn’t we. This isn’t about the way he batted in that Test, though that would also count for “inappropriate” from a captain. There was something missing when he captained – maybe he know he’ll forever be 2nd choice. That X-factor that Dhoni brings was missing. Sehwag’s definitely got it. He just needs to find it.
it.

Nitpicks done. Do weigh in with yours.


The Arrogant Boys Get a Slap – India vs. NZ T20

February 25, 2009

No, I’m not a NZ supporter in case you were wondering. But today’s T20 match between India and New Zealand at Christchurch could make many an Indian supporter emote in such a way.

It’s nothing but arrogance and over-confidence that many Indian batsmen displayed today. While there is some leeway to be given since this was a T20 and that success or failure in T20 doesn’t tell you much, many questions- old ones which were asked when an uninteresting Indian side landed in South Africa for the first T20 World Cup – come to mind. I will excuse Sehwag, for he plays the same way whether it is a Test, ODI or T20, and has been doing so from his debut. Just the same arrogance throughout, which comes with skill and a load of runs to back it. As for the other folk – Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dhoni and the Pathans – the true test begins now. Can Gambhir adjust to the NZ conditions? Can Yuvraj/Dhoni bat when the pitch isn’t flat and the opposition isn’t England or a meek Sri Lanka? Raina escaped today and played a decent innings. I would have bet (for an expensive lunch at a fancy restaurant) when Raina came to the crease that he wouldn’t last 2 overs. He proved me wrong and fortunately for me I don’t owe anyone a fancy lunch. 🙂 Harbhajan is becoming a very sensible batsman – maybe the IPL ban did the trick. I hope I didn’t speak too early on this.

The Indian bowling seemed fairly decent. It would have been hard to defend a total of 160 odd on a small ground. The score only gave us a chance.

What is most heartening about this match is that it gives us feeling that this series might be fun, not as one sided as some of the hype-inspired folk prophesied. Take it from me people, there will be failures, batting failures. The better batsmen will gain and the great, prevail. The bowlers might end up better than the batsman (given the quality of batsmen we have on tour).

Meanwhile, somebody called Manoj Tiwary might be pondering if his debut in T20 against Australia wasn’t so bad after all.

Well played, New Zealand!


Clock ticks to selection: who will get Ganguly’s spot?

December 3, 2008

While there’s a bit of sadness that Dada won’t be playing, there’s some thrill in wondering who will get his place.

Cheeka gushed about Yuvraj after his centuries again England in the ODIs. But there are other people too, folks. Fellow bloggers Scorpy and Soulberry have been raving about Cheteshwar Pujara (whose idol is apparently Dravid) and then there’s Murali Vijay who made people take notice with his performances against Australia in the series gone by.

To choose between two good batsmen, one who has got 3 back to back triple-centuries (if memory serves me right) in Ranji and another solid batsman has got to be hard. I’d pick Pujara, for if you don’t pick him now, you’ll end up selecting him when he’s out of form. It would be sad for Murali Vijay to miss out, but if there’s any fairness in the system, he will get his place in due course.

Meanwhile, our friend Dravid who’s been digging it out in the domestic circles has got some runs. The scores read 38, 50+, 50+, and 83 in the last four innings, which is decent but still wary.

Hoping for Pujara…