Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Beating Australia in a pressure game like this one where Indian bowlers simply outperformed the Aussie Batsmen was simply mind blowing! And what can one say about Yuvraj? He has been outstanding in last couple of games and one can only hope that he continues his form at least for one more match!
One of the commentators said the other day that the moment when India won the bowl outs, they were probably destined to win this WC against all odds. I don't know about destiny, but these boys have surely played their hearts out - all the games that India has won in this series have been fighting wins - unlike Pakistan who have won handsomely at times. So this has been a fighting series for India while an inconsistent one for Pakistan.
I am goign to pray and hope for a historic victory finish for Team India in this World Cup.
Friday, September 21, 2007
OK, I know it is really foolish to predict anything in Twenty20 but I am going to stick my neck out and predict that the finals might be played between arch rivals Australia and New Zealand.
I would love to see India vs Pak in the finals and I hope for the same but I do not have the confidence in both these teams to beat their opponents in semis. Australia have learnt from their mistakes and Kiwis are in rocking form too.
Pakistan, being unpredictable anyways, are more so in Twenty20. India, on the other hand, have played out of their skins in the last two matches, and it might just be a tad too much to expect them to continue their fighting form anymore in the tournament against Aussies.
But as they say, "उम्मीद पे दुनिया कायम है !"
If the match against England was a fighting one for India to stay in the tournament, yesterday's match against SA was an awesome display of spirit, skill and attitude displayed by Team India.
Rohit Sharma saved the day for India along with MSD - I thought MSD should have come up the order after the collapse instead of sending in a newcomer to face the bullets - but Rohit fared really well and MSD also supported him eventually.
Another observation on MSD is that he is not a risk taking captain - he persists with the tried and tested methods - Even though Joginder was hit in the earlier match, he did not try to change him to give it to Sehwag or Yuvraj in that match. Similarly in yesterday's match Bhajji was hit for 15 runs and he did not try to change things - he persisted and luckily for him, the bowlers delivered. So far, he has not been seen thinking out of box. But these are early days and one hopes that he will improve with time.
One feels sorry for Smith and his team who almost had the cup in their pockets till yesterday - they had played superb cricket throughout the tournament. But this is a cruel game and a great leveller - Lankans and Proteas have learnt it the hard way in this tournament.
RP Singh was my star of the day - superb penetrative bowling by him is what wan the match for India. Pathan was accurate and impressive. Someone needs to talk to Sreesanth and teach him how not to bowl so many wides!!! India also fielded well and catch by Kartik was super too!
The semis are lined up nicely now and the there is a great chance to finals between arch rivals - India and Pakistan OR Australia and NZ. It might as well be India vs NZ and Aus vs Pak in the finals and either ways we haev some great cricket coming up.
Will Indians continue their fighting momentum in the semis against Aussies or will the Aussies steamroll them like they did with another in-form team - Sri Lanka? We will wait and watch!
Like the advertisement of McDonald's says, "I'm Loving It"!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
It had happened only once in the history of international cricket in all these years (Shastri's was in domestic First Class Cricket) , and suddenly, in 2007, it has happened twice already. Something tells me that this feat is not going to be as rare as it was till today.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
- As expected, Dhoni is declared the Captain - My disapproval nod and best wishes.
- It is always good to have Pathan back.
- I am not so happy to have Bhajji back in the team. But it will ensure that Powar will not be complacent.
- I would have liked to see Sehwag in the team. Home series is always good to get someone important back in form.
- While all the batsman have picked themselves up naturally, it is sad to see the young Rohit Sharma replaced for the series.
- I am glad that Agarkar has been dropped - I just hope that this time it is for good.
Rahul Dravid's resignation after the English tour has opened a can of worms in Indian Cricket.
These worms come in different shapes and sizes, some of them are called as 'reasons', some called as 'impacts' and some are called as 'perennial problems in Indian Cricket'.
Each of these categories automatically calls for an intense, passionate discussion at lunch tables in offices, chowrahas, naakaas and panwallahs all across India.
I think it is better to put some things in perspective before analysing the root causes and preparing for impacts.
- Rahul Dravid was never a great captain.
- His captaincy was unimaginative at times and un-aggressive all the times.
- He was opposite of captains like Graeme Smith and Ricky Ponting who play only to win.
- Rahul was given this position in circumstances best forgotten.
- At the end, captain is as good or bad as the team.
Now I can start my analysis of the situation at hand.
The reasons for Rahul's resignation are best known to him and those close to him. His public statement is that the reasons are personal, and the public should respect the same. The talk of his timing being so un-patriotic on the verge of important tour and all that is bull-shit and people are talking as if he has left the tour mid-way and returned back like someone we all know did. He has completed the tour which started when chips were down, got a series victory and a ODI series loss and then came back and resigned. He did not resign mid-way in the tour, he did not trigger any rumours to such an effect while the tour was going on and he certainly ensured that there was no leakage and no bad blood like in the case of Chappel-Ganguly feud.
His resignation has to be taken by the public and more importantly by BCCI in the right spirit and they need to move on as they have rightly done so far.
About the impact, well a team certainly needs a captain and preferably a coach. The candidates for whom captaincy is up for grabs are supposed to be Tendulkar and Dhoni. Kumble has said that he will be honoured if it is offered to him as well. Ganguly's name came up for discussion and public debates too.
Let us take the candidates one by one.
1) Sachin Tendulkar: Certainly the most experienced batsman in the world today. With acute cricketing mind, he should be able to have the best of strategies in all conditions. With the richness of skill and experience he will also have the respect of the remaining 10 members of the side. However, he has failed as a captain and also has shown to be a fragile batsman while handling pressures of captaincy. Not only that, a captain needs a lot of other skills than cricketing ones. He needs to be a leader. He needs to lead from front. He needs to be bold, to be positive and to motivate the others in the team to outperform themselves. Sadly, I do not see these qualities in Sachin. I would not recommend Sachin's name as a captain. We have had too many captains who have not been aggressive and we certainly should not repeat the mistakes we did once. Not recommended.
2) MS Dhoni: The most exciting batsman of Indian cricket team today - he has also shown a balanced head on his strong shoulders. He has also shown cricketing acumen while batting and keeping. However, he is still quite young and has not seen the troughs in a waveform when it comes to one's form. Like Pathan, Sehwag etc. who rode high on public wave when their forms were on the crests of a waveform, Dhoni too is today touted as the next captain. Sehwag was even made a Vice Captain once. I think that Dhoni is still too raw and yet not as mature as we would want to have for someone who will lead India. He is yet to gain the respect that the famed trio have in the team. I doubt whether he will have it in him to tame the trio as and when required or to take tough decisions regarding their batting slots etc. Twenty20 is a different ball game and he should retain that captaincy since he is India's first Twenty20 captain (almost) and he will get the respect in this form of the game from seniors, but I doubt what and how they will treat him when he tries to lead them in tests and ODIs. Not recommended.
3) Anil Kumble: Extremely talented, a war-horse, a 200% committed cricketer who tries and tries and tries and tries till he can. Again not a motivator, not a leader and certainly not aggressive. Not recommended.
4) Sourav Ganguly: Post-Chappell saga, we see a different Ganguly now a days - a much more mature senior person who thinks before he talks now - someone who has probably lost a touch of his flamboyancy off the field and gained a lot of it on the field. Has always gelled well with Dravid and off late jelling well with Sachin too. Certainly has it in him to lead a side. The most aggressive Indian Captain till date. Back in form. More mature. My choice for Captain is Dada - Yes, in both forms of the game.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
While cynics will scoff at it for being completely against the spirit of the natural cricket game, it brings to viewers great excitement, quicker matches and lovely shots - cricketing or not.
Apart from the fast pace and zest on the ground to get moving, the game also brings to fore a few extra characteristics other than cricketing skills - it brings to fore skills like character, playing under pressure, thinking out of the box and thinking superfast. It brings about a speed to the game one sees so rarely while watching the leisurely test cricket.
It requires a complete different set of characteristic really and that is what makes it different and exciting.
It makes heroes of players normally ignored in the comparatively longer versions of the game, it brings in a difference to the normal game and is obviously raw, but will soon gain ground.
I think that with changing times, one needs to appreciate a younger breed of talent, bring in changes which make the game popular and more watchable.
It has been fun so far, with the likes of Gayle, Jayasuriya, Gibbs and Pieterson setting the tournament on fire. While it makes bowlers suffer many ignominious moments, the very focus of the game is on batsmen. Bowlers can take a heart that there are test matches still being played.
We shall enjoy the game, in whatever way the bat and the ball fight with each other!
Thursday, September 6, 2007
In the six matches so far, his scores have been as follows: 17, 99, 8, 55, 71 and 91.
Apart from these individual scores, he is second highest scorer from both sides so far with an impressive average of 57.33 and a strike rate of 88.20!!! If these are not enough, he also missed out on a couple of centuries in the 3 match ODI series against SA played earlier.
His form can be measured by his scores as above, but to watch his spirit, passion and his attitude, one has to watch any one of the last 3 ODIs to see him back to his batting during those glorious days.
Simply Superb Sachin! Go ahead and make the finals on Saturday the crowning glory of your scintillating series so far!
All we can say is - "Lage Raho Sachinbhai"!!!
First the Indian bowlers struck gold by taking early wickets, then Owais Shah, Pieterson and debutant Luke Wright spoiled their party by some truly wonderful batting. Especially Dimitri Mascarenhas's delightful batting in the last over for 5 consecutive sixes was straight from one of those 'Believe it or not' series. Experts even commented that this last over could easily cost India the match!
I love Dimitri Mascarenhas for the sheer joy he brings to the viewers - what clean hitting! - He reminds me of Ricardo Powell of WI who sadly went into oblivion as fast as the balls he hit for sixes! (Readers would not be surprised to know that Dimitri was brought up in Australia.)
Chasing 317 in a do-or-die match was never going to be easy, especially for poor chasers like India.
It needed a herculean effort from everyone who could pitch in - and as the stakes were high, the already high expectations from Sachin-Sourav-Rahul sky rocketed. And did they fulfil the expectations? Boy, they did and did it in style! Sachin and Sourav batted superbly, timed the ball perfectly and hit cleanly. Especially Sachin was a treat to watch with ferocious cuts and pulls and dabs and crisp drives and big hits. Sourav being Sourav delighted the viewers and supporters by dancing down to hit Broad out of the ground - Both gave India a start that made 316 easily gettable.
But as it often happens in Bollywood movies and Indian run chases, when the going is good, it turns on its head against the run of the play. Both Sourav and Sachin got out back to back after giving India a tremendous start and then Dravid came and went and so did Yuvraj- suddenly it was the great Indian saver this English summer - Dhoni and the dashing Uthappa at the crease trying to keep Indian hopes alive by making a match of it. Most of Indian supported would have lost their hopes by now and switched off their television sets.
Dhoni was not on top of his form, but was doing his best to keep fighting. But the young Robin Uthappa had something else in his mind. He literally played Robin Hood and robbed the English victory from their hands playing an intelligent innings. It was a display of tremendous character, never-say-die spirit and intelligent and clean batting by the 21 year old. Not once did he flinch, and in fact, in the last ball of the second last over, he hit the ball where he could have taken two, but showed super maturity and took only one to retain strike for the all important last over! I have a feeling here that no other Indian batsman - how-so-ever senior or talented, would have done what Uthappa did. He shouldered the responsibility thrust on him by the situation and what a cool head he has on those able shoulders! The scoop and then the off drive - he clearly outplayed the English think tank on the field and brought India a wonderful victory to get them back in the series!
Robin Uthappa, take a bow!
Monday, September 3, 2007
Sachin was back to his 2nd ODI mode and he blasted the opposition bowlers all over the ground. It is always a treat to watch him in his elements. Ganguly played the perfect foil(though I wonder sometimes whether it is a necessity to play foil or just a cultural habit of Indian cricket) and also hit some wonderful strokes. Gambhir was good too and Yuvraj was ruthless after being lucky not to be given out when on 25. Dravid and Dhoni were scintillating and helped India reach a formidable 324.
The Indian bowlers started off well but the fielders started as miserably as the series has been for them. Senior pros dropped regulation catches, newcomers fumbled in stopping the ball and most importantly, the team dropped 3 sitters !!! Now, it is cardinal mistake if you drop a single sitter, but this time they were saved by 2 factors: Total Runs scored by India and M/s Duckworth and Lewis. A third factor was a combination of good bowling by Ganguly (made me wonder why was the ball not given to Yuvraj as well to bowl some slow medium pacers) and excellent work behind the stumps by Dhoni.
About England, Collingwood was awesome and led from front yesterday. Had it not been for rains and D&L, who knows what the results might have been.
Overall, Indians have managed to keep the series alive. With two more games to go, it sure makes for some interesting cricket.