Friday, November 30, 2007

Wasim Jaffer hits a beautiful century!

Update: Jaffer went on to hit a magnificient double century (yet another one to his name after the one in WI) - proves that he scores bigwhen he scores! Made a case for his picture to be put up on this site ;-) so here goes: A young Bandra Boy Wasim Jaffer making his Ranji runs in tonnes...

The way that Jaffer is currently playing (he is 131* as I write this) is quite there_is_no_other_word_for_it beautiful!

I could only see glimpses of the way he played and thought that he was batting effortlessly and some of the shots he played were simply beautiful! Not savage, not boring, but well paced and sublime - a treat to watch! One just hopes that he continues in this vein to complete at least a double century if not more.

If only he was consistent like this in his career, it would have taken him to greater heights and me to being a prouder Mumbaikar!

Way to go, Wasim! You bat this way and I might even be inclined to send you Down Under ;-)

Curious Case of Kartik!

Dinesh Kartik continues to baffle the team, selection committee and an average Indian cricket fan.

Not long ago, he was the toast of nation when he outscored everyone on the English tour - In fact, he was the leading run scorer for India in Test Matches this year! Not Rahul Dravid, Not Sachin Tendulkar, and not Sourav Ganguly. It was Dinesh Kartik who led Indian batting in test matches till this Pakistan tour.

Suddenly, at home, he is struggling to find the runs that came so easily to him on foreign pitches! He has failed in 3 innings as an opener against Pakistan (the third failure came today morning). Not only that, Jaffer is suddenly batting well and so is Gambhir. And almost everyone has forgotten Kartik's superb batting in England and is baying for his blood.

The other day, on the radio program after Kotla victory, a caller called in to ask what is Dinesh Kartik doing in the team!!! And the so-called 'experts' replied that 'Murali Karthik' is not in form and deserves to go!! I almost braked the car in disbelief. Radio experts apart, everyone is talking about how he should go. People are talking about how Jaffer and Gambhir should go on the Australian tour.

I think that Kartik should be persisted with. He is one person who gives his 100% and he has batted well in English conditions, although he is not clicking at home. Mostly we have had cases where a batsman makes double and triple hundreds at home and fails badly on foreign pitches. We had many such cases like Raman, Jaffer, Kambli etc. Jaffer himself was a big failure when he toured Australia last time. And believe me, he was technically as sound with the bat last time as he is today.

I would want to take Kartik and Gambhir to Australia more than Jaffer.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coach Gary Kirsten?

BCCI throws yet another googly at the cricketing world!

Of all the people in the world, BCCI is supposedly paying Gary Kirsten the same amount that they allegedly paid Greg Chapell!

Why Gary Kirsten? As per his profle on Cricinfo, the coaching stint he has had so far is this: "After retiring, he spent some time with the Warriors as a consultant batting coach and, in 2006, set up his own academy in Cape Town".

Sorry, but logic gets stumped at this googly from BCCI.

Don't get me wrong, he is one of the finest batsmen to have batted for South Africa - his averages in both forms of the game are a testimony to his abilities and I respect him for that.
But coaching? Isn't it supposed to be a different ball game altogether? The skills required are simply different. If you have to go for a player, at least go for a former captain with a long stint at captaincy, those skills might overlap a little. But basically why not go for someone who is a proven successful coach in any form of the game?

Either BCCI is proving what my friend Sanjeev calls them - "Board of Corrupt Comedians of India" or else I am Big Moose from the Archie comics. D-uh!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shielding The Tail

In the First Test against Pakistan, Misbah showed the benefits of shielding tail enders by taking wonderful singles off the last ball and Pakistan lasted much longer due to this approach by Misbah. I have seen this ability in a lot of players worldwide like Bevan, Cullinan, Steve Waugh, Pieterson etc.

However, the Indians lack this ability or attitude or god-knows-what but it seems like a common sense to me. Time and again, continuously over last 4 -5 decades, the Indian batsmen have not shielded their tail enders and India has lost the cause. Be it Gavaskar, Kapil, Sachin, Rahul, Sourav or any other main batsman. They always exposed the tail instead of shielding and Indian innings always ended with a batsman stranded alone. This time too, while playing a wonderfully stoic knock, VVS rotated the strike and exposed the tailenders and the Indian team lost the plot and could manage only a lead of 45 runs leaving VVS stranded.

This is where a coach (?) , Captain and mature batsman like VVS should have understood the gravity and importance of a first innings lead on a crumbling Kotla wicket and shielded the tail by hook or crook.

Indo-Pak ODI Series

Couldn't write much about the Indo-Pak ODI Series, but here are the positives for India that I saw from the 3-2 win:

1) Dhoni has done well as a ODI captain and also as a player - real test will come in Australia but I think he would pass the test
2) Yuvraj is the shining star for India in ODIs - he was by far the best Indian batsman on display
3) Sachin is back! :-)
4) Rohit Sharma looks very very promising - should be taken down under for the next tour!
5) R P Singh should be persisted with - continues to impress me.

From Pakistan's perspective:
1) Sohail tanvir was impressive
2) Shoaib as usual is a treat to watch for the eyes
3) Misbah looks like Pakistani Yuvraj - Superb!
4) Mohd Yousuf and Younis Khan will be pillars for Pakistan middle orfder for a couple of years along with Misbah
5) Young openers like Salman, Yaseer etc. should be persisted by Pakistan

Overall a nice fitting series, although both sides showed a tendency to throw in the towel early - That fighting / killing / winning spirit was missed a bit.

Over to real cricket- Test Matches now - First one is underway already!

Chokers No More!

South Africa will be glad to shed the chokers tag finally!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Test Team

My playing test team against Pakistan:

1 Dinesh Karthik
2 Gautam Gambhir
3 Rahul Dravid
4 Sachin Tendulkar
5 Yuvraj Singh
6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni
7 Anil Kumble
8 Murali Kartik
9 Zaheer Khan
10 Irfan Pathan
11 RP Singh
12th man: S Sreesanth

Observation 1: There is no Ganguly/ Laxman.
Reason: Time to phase out certain players due to age and to give new skilled players a chance. No point in keeping them as 12th man since they cant move swiftly in the field if services of a 12th man are required.

Observation 2: There are 5 bowlers in the playing eleven.
Reason: Need to take 20 wickets to win a test match.

Observation 3: No Sehwag / Bhajji / Jaffer
Reason: Would have liked to play Sehwag, but sorry no place. As for Bhajji, I still do not have faith in him. Jaffer would probably be a good bet in domestic conditions, but with Gambhir in form and deserving a chance, I'd go with Gambhir.