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.

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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.


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…


Cricket Quickies: from Vengsarkar to Yuvraj and Younis

November 16, 2008

Yes, I promise to keep this short, for I’ve been rambling too much and I’m short of time but not of enthusiasm.

While channel surfing today, I caught a special on India’s tour of Australia in 1986 – an ODI at the MCG. Sunil Gavaskar was batting with a somber looking South India, whom I correctly guessed to be our very own Chika. While Chika’s simple style (at least of what I’ve seen in this innings) was catching indeed, what surprised me more was Dilip Vengsarkar. I’ve only known this man for the unkind words he’s had to say of Dravid. Today I got to the see the batting talent (among other things) that got him to the place from which he barbed. What struck me most in his expansive use of the crease, the sort of which reminds me of some 20-20 batsmen of late. The disregard for the stump guard that Vengsarkar displayed in this innings seemed very contemporary and is certainly not something I would have attributed to the batsmen from that age. Another thing that surprised me is that the next generation – Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Co – did not seem to have this disregard for the stump guard, but in fact meticulously guarded it and in effect seem perhaps rather orthodox given such precedents. If you’re thinking I’ve watched only one innings from the 80s and that my observations are off-base, do enlighten me.

Meanwhile, “flat-pitch-bully” Yuvraj slammed an impressive century at Rajkot and the cricket site are abuzz with polls of whether Yuvi should make it to the Test middle order. Strangely 72% of cricketnext visitors seemed to think so, while 52% of cricinfo visitors seem to think not! Strange isn’t it? I’d be interested in knowing the age groups of the folks to who’ve voted and their vote. In case you’re wondering, I voted against, on both the sites. 🙂

Another thought struck me today while watching parts of Pak vs. WI clash today. While I’ve labeled most of India’s recent ODI matches as boring, I found this one to be the contrary. I was not yawning, or absently glaring, waving my hands unconsciously when a four was hit, but was actually watching. There was class in Younis’s batting today (Ten Sports interrupted this with the ICL). There were elements from the ’90s batting, wristy flicks and “towards the ground” shots reserved in Indian cricket only to Tests nowadays. Call me old fashioned, but this was good ‘old cricket, without the fracas. May it live long!


Why Ganguly?

September 17, 2008

I cannot help but ask. Why? Why Ganguly? Is it because something had to be done? Someone had to go? Some stop gap arrangement needed to be made to smother the screaming for including young talent? Or is it Peter Roebuck? We’ve reacted to Chappell’s remark on Sehwag before the tour of Australia late last year. So is that the new mantra to selection – listening to the Aussies? But now Ponting is questioning Ganguly’s omission. What do we do now?

The bigger question is this. Is Sourav not even good enough for the Irani Trophy. Well, the condescending talk from some of the “unnamed” selectors does make it seem that way. But then, I have another question. Why Jaffer? What has Jaffer done between his disastrous run in Australia earlier this year and now, to justify an inclusion to the dress rehearsal for the upcoming Aussie series. Or was he an automatic selection given that we are playing Australia at home or because Jaffer plays for Mumbai?

Turning our attention back to Dada, if you asked me, I could argue both sides: for and against the exclusion of Sourav Ganguly from the Irani Trophy squad. The argument against is jaded, so I’ll pass on that. Why does a Ganguly fan think this exclusion is good for him? Because it will wake up the lion in him – thought I’m not sure how many times he needs to prove his worth. Honestly, if he gets selected for the series against Australia, which he should, it will only have helped to have the lion (or should I say tiger) in Ganguly to be awake and growling. But one wonders, how long will he fight this sort of battle?

On the Kirsten/Kumble’s hand in this, I think the media has again sensationalized the story. I suspect it had more to do with Kirsten than Kumble. But maybe that’s just me, for I’ve never hid my dislike for Kirsten.

So why was it Ganguly? There are times like this when being a team man counts for more than anything else; when just that fact that you’ve tried as hard as you could have counts to your advantage. There is something about Ganguly that makes you think he took a situation casually. Maybe it’s his persona. Perhaps it is way he projects the facts. Maybe it is deju-vu from the old “I-don’t’want-to-play-the-new-ball” tactic. This is when you feel a little sad, that someone so gifted has thrown it away, almost arrogantly, like the straight sixes Sourav hits. This is why, I think, Dravid escaped the axe. If Dravid wasn’t the team man that we know him to be, even Kumble could not have saved him. But all isn’t well for Dravid either, for he scored two, yes, 2, in the Buchi Babu tournament in the match against Tripura. For once, I don’t think that’s very good news and feel a bit more apprehensive about this than I have before. If Dravid makes it past Irani, past Ausralia, he will have a good run for a year or so. If not, well yikes! God save Dravid and India.

Most of all this selection for the Irani Trophy seemed to me like the populist union budged this year. It tries to make everyone happy: the senior fans sans the Ganguly fans and the young aspirants. But the inconsistencies are glaring and it has been so through the years. Dravid was dropped from the ODI squad 3 matches after a brilliant match-winning 92 in Bristol. Yuvraj was persisted with after several failures for over a year, not more than 2 innings over 50. But that is Indian cricket for you!


Mendis propells Sri Lanka to lift Asia Cup 2008

July 8, 2008

Ajantha Mendis was the reason for me to watch the Asia Cup final. Though I wished the result went the other way, it was an interesting cricket match to see, unlike several other matches in same tournament and the recently concluded Kitply Cup; also a good lesson learned for the Indian batting line-up and Dhoni.

To me, death-by-spin was bound to happen to this Indian batting line up. While Q states here that Mendis ran through a line-up known as the best players of spin, I say that while that is historically true, it isn’t of this batting line up. This Indian line up with “I-don’t-play-spin” Yuvraj and inexperienced youth like Rohit Sharma and Uthappa, who in my opinion lack soundness in technique that has thus far embodied Indian batting, is far from deserving of the “best players of spin” tag. Historically, India earned the tag because the batsmen had a chance to play against the some of best spinners. That is no longer the case. Other than Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, there isn’t too much of interesting stuff in India’s spin closet. And no, Piyush Chawla, though seemingly effective, has a long way to go.

As for Yuvraj, if I were captain, I wouldn’t know what to do with him. He’s doubtless got talent, but I’m of the opinion that you can’t play spin, you don’t belong in the middle order. Perhaps he can open the innings – something that if I recall correctly, he has reservations about. Even better would be to pack him off to play Ranji – and he isn’t the only one who should be going. So much for a guy who’s upset over not making to a Test XI.

Meanwhile, our “anti-Ganguly-Dravid” friend Ottayan (I took the liberty of branding you that, Ott) suggests that this web around the batting line up is likely to heighten voices “clamoring for Ganguly and Dravid” in the ODIs. Yes, Ott, it might do just that. Though I must say you surprised me with your comment as  “..itself is not a bad thing”. Guarded though it was, it was defense for “the Arms”, as Soulberry calls them. Yes, Ottayan, I will resume my own clamoring though I have done that time and again. 🙂 Thank you for egging me on.

Honestly, if were allowed to pick only two seniors, they would be Tendulkar and Dravid, who will play at the cost of Yuvraj and Sharma(?), at #4 and #3 respectively.

So what of Dhoni’s captaincy in the final? Well there isn’t much one can do if you pick Uthappa in place of a bowler. RP Singh has been off color and Irfan Pathan seems lost. These are folk, who along with Rohit Sharma (who I have lost patience with) that I will drop. The youngsters need seasoning and there is nothing like good hard Ranji for that.

Going back to Mendis, a star is truly born. He still has to a lot to prove, but judging by what we’ve seen so far, he augurs well for Sri Lankan cricket and for spin bowling.

This will make India’s upcoming tour of Sri Lankan more watchable. Mendis or not, I was interested in the ODI series for the Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid against Murali foremost and umpire-challenging second. But the ODI series is now spiced up with Mendis being a definte inclusion. If he is picked for Test, then all the merier.

Bring it on! I can’t wait for this tour!