Thursday, December 29, 2011

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses, Excuses, Excuses....

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There is only one way India knows how to win Test matches. That is to put runs on the board. With that their bowlers until recently, have used it as a pressure element along with their own skill and conditions to claim 20 wickets. 

This year, the runs have dried up. Consequently the losses have piled up. 5 in a row now; against competent opposition.

England was a wake up call. Except no one really woke up.

Analysts, bloggers, players, administrators and commentators have highlighted a myriad of excuses. IPL and World Cup fatigue, tail-end collapses, Dhoni's defensive captaincy, the non-performance of openers, inbility to finish the tail...

...everything but the obvious.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It will be up to Dhoni and Kohli

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From 214-6 in their first innings, Australia rallied to 333. India, in contrast, collapsed to 282 from the comfort of 214-4. Clearly, India's lower half of batting didn't pull their weight. Laxman, Kohli and Dhoni being the guilty parties. They were up against a very good pace bowling trio that exploited the conditions well. However, test batsmen are expected to muster up enough runs to keep their team in the hunt. At least one of these three should have scored 30 plus runs.

Ashwin continues to impress everyone. Ponting being the latest. It appears that Harbhajan's test career is effectively over. India's bowling has been extremely good, except for allowing the late rally by Siddle and co in the first innings. Unfortunately, that could be the difference in this test match.

India have yet to get the last two Australian wickets. Dravid's drop might come back to haunt India. Even though, Sehwag feels India can chase anything under 300, history doesn't agree. But this is a great opportunity for India's best batting line-up to re-write history.

Why is Michael Clarke delaying the declaration?

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Cricket statisticians the world over and especially Australian ones, have lashed out at Australian captain Michael Clarke for "delaying the declaration" against India in the ongoing Melbourne Test that will now go well into the 4th Day.

India have already done enough to earn an honorable loss at Melbourne,ensuring that the most illustrious batting lineup ever to play the game will once again have failed without inviting any criticism from their extremely satisfied customer base. In a year that Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid routinely failed to help their team cross the 300 mark away from home; the amount of adulation they still hold among Indian fans has product marketers perplexed. Performance, long thought of as an essential for any product to sustain sales in the market, may be "old school" thinking according to market analysts. Finding external factors to hide poor performance may be key. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zaheer & Sehwag Deliver

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If one makes enough predictions, he is likely to be right. I think I met that threshold. Ashwin and Yadav were key to India finishing Australia quickly. Both bowled much better than their test ages. Ashwin, especially, has been a wise bowler who is an ideal replacement for Kumble. He may or may not end up with as many wickets, but he certainly brings that cerebral element to the game.

Umesh Yadav is all heart. It was nice to see him let it rip. He did get pasted on a few occasions, but it was a blast watching him go. India's bowling has come to this game well prepared. For this, we must compliment Duncan Fletcher. Ishant has been bowling extremely well, although he's been somewhat unlucky not to get wickets.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In Dhoni I trust... (again)

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Perhaps its the hurt from past broken promises. 1985-86 certainly. Perhaps it is cricket's adopted truism that beating Australia in Australia is tough. Perhaps it is the step motherly treatment to Tests by India's seniors. Not sure what it is. But something is preventing me from being too optimistic about India's chances in Australia this time around.

As the Tests near, I search for reasons why India will lose. 

My rational mind says that this is indeed India's best chance to beat Australia in Australia but part of being an Indian fan through the late 70s leading up to the 2000s is to know that this is also Ponting's and Hussey's best chance to revive their Test careers and who else other than India to be the willing ally? 

My rational mind tells me that barring 1985-86 this is perhaps the mightiest batting side India has sent to Australia. Winning a Test Match and drawing the rest with even a half decent pace and spin combination, should be doable and more than enough. However, part of being an Indian fan is to know that its been quite a while since India has created an overnight bowling sensation. In Australia's gravest hour, surely India will oblige.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ashwin, Yadav Key to India's Fortunes

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Australia has put their cards on the table. They are struggling to string together a team that can be called their first eleven. Retaining Ponting and Hussey was a no-brainer given the underwhelming performance of Ponting's putative replacement, Usman Khawaja. Marcus North and Steve Smith's quick fizzle means that Hussey gets some more chances to get it right.

Ed Cowan and David Warner at the top of the order may seem a juicy proposition to Zaheer. However, our feeling is that this is just what the doctor ordered for Australia. These two might be the long term answer for Australia. Ed Cowan's style (I have not watched him) based on what's described seems to be sedate. Almost creeping up on you without making waves. Warner, clearly relishes the visibility, much like Sehwag and Hayden. A couple of tests against India will be a good way to kick-off a long term partnership at the top for Australia.

Monday, December 12, 2011

India in Australia - First Thoughts

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Australia has just lost a test to New Zealand by 7 runs. When a team loses by that kind of margin, it hurts not just it's pride but it's morale. Losing by a whisker often saps the spirit of teams. After Australia pulled out a tight victory against South Africa earlier this season, one would have thought that they would win this time too. Looks like Clarke and company have not quite begun the journey back up.

On the other hand, coach Wright seems to be doing the same wonders to the New Zealand side that he did with the Indian side a decade ago. Ross Taylor may not be Ganguly, but he sure is leading well. His players seem committed and he too, like Ganguly, seems to be finding his Bracewells and Brownlies. Ganguly found Harbhajan and Laxman and never looked back. New Zealand have always been the team of honest triers, but with Wright at the post and Taylor to lead, they may scale some heights here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dodda Ganesh on Standby for Australia

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Chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth, has indicated that when, not if, another Indian fast bowler reveals an injury or breaks down on the tour, seam bowler Dodda Ganesh will be chosen as a replacement. A veteran of 4 Test matches and 5 Test wickets is in prime form according to Srikkanth.

Srikkanth pointed out that of Dodda's 5 Test wickets 4 came in one Test and 2 of those were Carl Hooper; even as how that is a qualification to be selected ahead of Irfan Pathan was lost on the media gathered.

When asked where Irfan Khan Pathan ranked in the pipeline to be selected, Srikkanth said..."Irfan Khan who....that actor?"

Dilip Vengsarkar, reacting to the potential appointment of Ganseh Dodda,said that..."In my time at least we took Virendra Sehwag to Australia 4 years ago and did not play him. We gave ourselves a chance to do something bold before we settled for timid mediocrity..."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

400* Next

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For a whole minute, I thought Virendra Sehwag did not thank Sachin for his double hundred. Then I read the words which went something like..."When Sammy dropped me, I knew God must be with me"....So folks all is well.

It has always been Sehwag as a Test batsman that we have talked up more, here on this blog because Sehwag has never displayed any true appetite for and consistency in, his one day career. Very early in his career he burdened himself by candidly (amongst his team - according to John Wright's Indian Summers) talking about scoring a 200 in an ODI game but the LOI game was too complicated for him, it seemed to us. His LOI numbers are very oridinary compared to the devastation he has displayed in Tests; a handful of monstorous ODI and T20 knocks notwithstanding.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


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I am not exactly aware of Murali Kesavan, but in an article attributed to this presumably knowledgeable man, published at Cricinfo, he attempts to sound wise but ends up revealing his ignorance. That may be harsh; so lets just say he makes some questionable statements in a professorial tone; now a trademark of Harsha Bhogle.

Firstly he calls all of us who are in fact anticipating Sachin Tendulkar's 100th 100; as cricket illiterate; and then immediately reveals his own questionable literacy levels on the game, by flatly suggesting that making a Test match 100 is more difficult than making a ODI hundred because, in Tests the bowling side's best bowlers have no restriction on the overs that they can bowl. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Opinions On...Virat Kohli

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Saying that Virat Kohli is special is like saying Aishwarya Rai is beautiful.

Through the eighties and nineties, Indian batsmen were prone to panic and collapse in tight chase situations. Miandad had put a lasting wound on India with his last ball six.  India took a long slow road to completely exorcise that ghost. It started with Ganguly, Kaif, Yuvraj and Laxman and has now reached it's pinacle with Dhoni and Kohli. 

Kohli is special because rather than huff and puff his way in typical 80s, 90s Indian style, he just seems take the bull by the horns. Failure doesn't even seem to occur to him. To him more runs seems to be more opportunity to score runs and enjoys being the man. 

He is the culmination of India's efforts to find people that will not wilt till the last ball.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Opinions On...Samit Patel

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Totally, absolutely, vehemently profusely, and uncontrollablly inspired by Samit Patel, today I read the following statement to my wife. I had thought of calling a "press conference" but better sense prevailed.

"My biggest ambition is to be a good husband and a good father" I said. "I need to spend high volumes of time in our marriage to push my case for an occasional night out with friends. If I was selected for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus then I would miss several dinners and lunches at home and that won't help me at a time when I need to do everything I can to impress you"

"I have listened to the advice from people that I trust and it is clear that this decision is the right one to have made for domestic reasons. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus is an exciting enterprise and I would like to be involved in it in the future, but not to the detriment of my marital ambitions"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

India v Australia - An Early Preview

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India's World Cup win and easy Test matches against the West Indies, have helped mask their Test match vulnerability against quality opposition on challenging pitches. The popular sentiment has been that England was a one-off debacle, where they were unlucky with injuries.

The real Test will come in Australia.

The Numbers
Over the most recent 24 month period, India and Australia have had remarkably similar numbers. However, India has won the perception game with everyone. The general feeling is that Australia is a weakened side in trouble while largely everything is okay with India. India has walked away relatively scot free in delivering the same numbers with a far more experienced side.

Leaving head-to-head contests aside, both have not lost a series to anyone other than England. It is due to India's dominance over Australia in the head-to-head contests that allows it to enjoy a slight edge in the overall numbers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ojha and Ashwin: The New Arshad Ayub and Narendra Hirwani?

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For all the criticism from everyone; including this blog; over the nature of the Wankhede pitch, the Mumbai Test produced the most thrilling draws of all time. Why Test Cricket cannot be marketed and turned into a profitable venture is a mystery to me.

The emergence of R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha is heartening. However having seen Arshad Ayub and Narendra Hirwani deliver a similar performance (41 wickets in 3 Tests) against a much stronger New Zealand in 1988 and then fritter away their careers; I know we must all pause and see where the new spin pair stand a couple of years from now and how they perform away from India against quality opposition; before we can truly hail their arrivals. After all for spinners getting wickets in India and winning Test matches is not such big of a deal. L Sivaramakrishna, Narendra Hirwani, Rajesh Chauhan, all have done that. May be Ashwin and Ojha are different. Only time will tell.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

BCCI makes it just a number

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Sachin Tendulkar has a habit of downplaying his many achievements. Humility is ingrained in his psyche and this has taken him further than any other celebrity in India. His humility has helped him overcome his numerous dips in form and his failures as captain. He has maintained that he is just another member of the team.

Unfortunately, his refrain of ordinariness has not helped his fans reduce their expectations of him. They frequently expect miracles from him, expect him to score big in every situation and win test matches all by himself for India. That he has only occasionally met these high expectations is not his fault. But it has given a lot of grist to his critics.

We, on this blog, have started believing that Tendulkar himself is trying to live up to these lofty expectations instead of simply playing to true to his words of humility and being "just another team member". His unwillingness to tour West Indies as a preparatory step to England, while being ready to play IPL being our chief argument. The results were clear. Whereas Dravid showed up in England, ready and able to do his job, Tendulkar fell woefully short.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Test Cricket needs Don Draper

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What a Test match that was at Johannesburg! What a series!! While the cricket was not always at its best; the contest was compelling. Can you ever write off Australia? South Africa and its inability to win at home against meaningful opposition means that an already exciting Test match calendar has been turned, even more so, by this Test result.

Australia, go into their series against New Zealand and India with ranking points on their minds. They are most certainly not a balanced side to win consistently but in Cummins, Australia have the right spice to seduce India later in the Australian summer. Then with England facing a string of Test matches in the subcontinent, we suspect their reign at the top will be short lived

India v Australia now will be an even more exciting prospect than before. The winner, by the end of the next year may be eyeing the number 1 slot…again.  All in all for Test Cricket fans, its much to look forward to.

Australia and South Africa have just played a fantastic, competitive and gripping Test Series that was at least 1 Test too short. Yet one can safely deduce that in the short run, this is not going to get the fans back to watching the format and talk of the imminent demise of the format will continue to foster. And then there are the people who jump up and down calling matches like these as “advertisements for Test cricket”. Frankly they should stop doing so because Test Cricket’s promise has never been as flimsy as a tight finish. If Test Cricket’s market strategy were nail biting finishes, then T20 cricket will kill Test cricket every day of the week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Opinions On...Sachin

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After more than a quarter century of following Sachin Tendulkar, I am announcing my retirement from all forms of the game. I have arrived at this decision after careful thought but without consulting my friends and family. If I had consulted them, they would have thought I am nuts; which I probably am.

I know my time is up. My mind is not with Sachin's game any longer. I no longer switch on the Television even when I know that Sachin is batting and while I still switch off the television when Sachin gets out; I have to admit it more habit than instinct. There was a time when Sachin's batting helped soothe the pain of India's defeat. Today I crave for India to win without Sachin.

I am ready to move on to a newer India. An India which learns to win without Sachin; even if it loses a few in the process.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Time for the Next Gen

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In the Irani trophy in 1978, Dilip Vengsarkar smashed 151 against a bowling line-up that included Prasanna and Chandrashekar. Yet the selectors persisted in ignoring the obvious and named the spin quartet to tour Pakistan. Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad confirmed what Vengsarkar had already shown. The quartet was plundered in the test series. The Indian selectors missed a trick then and as a result the quartet had to retire under a cloud after a few more tests against a Packer-weakened West Indies. But they knew and the public knew that it was time.

India faces a similar challenge today. The batting stalwarts in the team deserve their places. Sachin, Dravid and Laxman routinely put in solid performances and make India a great test side. The recent clinical second innings batting performance against the West Indies showed what experience and skill is all about.

Yet something doesn't seem quite right with the Indian test team. It lacks a buzz, freshness and excitement that is the hallmark of good sides. Battle hardened as India's batsman are, England still steamrolled them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sachin's first Test that is one too many

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There is a lot India has to do in Test cricket just to stay in the same place; both figuratively and ranking-wise; starting with the home Test series against the West Indies.
The players may say all the right things when it comes to Test Cricket, but the priorities on display by everyone directly involved with the game, tell a different story. Except England, every country is managing Test cricket as if its a demising proposition. However, The most compelling cricket in recent weeks has been in the Test matches between Sri Lanka/Pakistan, Bangladesh/West Indies and to some extent between New Zealand/Zimbabwe. That of course is a matter of opinion. A matter of dwindling opinion, I might add.
So while the administrators are busy dressing up the game with new formats, chasing new money and new audiences, traditional cricket fans are starved for meaningful, contextual cricket. Since the 1983 World cup, there have been 7 more World Cups contested. 3 of them hosted by India. In the same period, West Indies have visited India only 3 times. Its lamentable. But as a fan, I will lap up whatever is on offer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

India and West Indies Take Baby Steps

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The next month will see the return of test cricket to India. India will have to make a new beginning with old batting stalwarts. With Sehwag, Tendulkar and Laxman fit and back in the side, India's batting looks impregnable at home.

We have held Kohli in high regard despite his bland entry into test cricket in the West Indies. Yuvraj may be a spent force, but his performance in the World Cup has earned him a reward, given his passion to play test cricket. This, definitely, will be his last chance to come good. The conditions are ripe with a home series against West Indies.

India are trying to re-tool their bowling attack (again). This time they are partnering Ishant with Varun Aaron or Umesh Yadav. I do believe Varun has the goods to succeed at the test level. However, it all depends on how he maintains his body and how he develops. His speed is definitely a plus and his performance in the last ODI against England was heart-warming. He seems fiery enough to justify being pitch-forked into the test team.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Future of Cricket

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It's not too much cricket. Its too much meaningless cricket
The administrators's greed for television dollars has finally achieved the impossible. The stadium going Indian cricket fan is now on the WWF (World Wildlife Federation) list of endangered species. According to current estimates the WWF  puts Indian stadium goers along with the tiger as a species "vulnerable to extintion". Only 3,200 of them remain.

When NEO cricket proudly touts a meaningless ODI series as a "revenge series"; it betrays the sensibilities of average cricket fans. Beating England in a ODI series and celebrating it as revenge for a 0-4 whitewash in a Test Series is like Jai, Veeru and Thakur plucking 5 strands of greying hair from Gabbar Singh's beard and calling it a revenge for wiping out Thakur's family.

When asked to comment on WWF's assessment of the possible extinction, BCCI preseident N Srinivasan said, "We are not aware of any such report. If WWF have a problem they should speak to us. Cricket is produced for TV not for stadium goers".

The BCCI is also set to announce at the next ICC meeting that like the DRS, playing cricket in stadiums should be optional. According to a new proposal, which Gavaskar, Shastri and Harsha Bhogle have called "visionary", cricket matches will be played in "state-of-the-art" television sudios, so that the TV producers, technicians, managers and executives have better control of the game.

"Giving TV producers, the right to dictate only itineraries is not enough. The way business works, leaders need end-to-end control. There is no room for romantic opinion where money is concerned", said Harsha Bhogle speaking at a television debate on the issue of "Conflict of Interest", sponsored by Anil Kumble, the RCB franchise and Tenvic.

Along with the optional stadium issue, the BCCI is also set to table many changes to the format of the game to better suit it to live coverage over Smart Phones, Tablet PC's and Twitter. Some of the suggested changes

  1. Do away with the 15 yard circle. It will now become the boundary line . It was Steve Job's dying wish that iPhones capture the market share for devices for watching cricket. He had said that cricket grounds need to be smaller to fit on iPhone screens. BCCI will now support this change as essential to securing investment from Apple. 
  2. Strategic breaks in T20 cricket should include batsmen making love to pole dancing cheer-leaders. This rule is to allow cricket to be broadcast on porn channels and websites like Playboy, Vivid and TEN. If a batsmen is injured a runner /substitute will not be permitted.
  3. Introduce a new format of cricket called. "Tip and Run". After having signed a multi-billion dollar deal with Twitter, their basic requirement was that there should only be as much action in the game as can be "tweeted" in 140 characters.
  4. To capture the "reality TV market" the BCCI has also suggested that powerplays in ODI cricket be determined by audience participation, where the captain has to either 'poll the internet audience' or 'phone a friend' to determine when to take the powerplay. Additionally the Big Brother franchise has secured the rights to place cameras in player dressing rooms, bathrooms, hotel rooms and lobbies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Storms in Teacups

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A few years ago, we lamented about the loss of characters from cricket when Flintoff was penalized for pedalo-gate. Until recently, I didn't really understand this desire by journalists and "elites" for squeaky clean sportsmen and now ex-cricketer administrators.

When I was a student in a college in India, many times I would be asked as to how I managed good grades "even though" I enjoyed an occasional drink. Well, maybe not occasional....but you get the point. For the life of me, I never understood the connection between good academic performance and alcohol. In many ways, I (along with a few others) were the outliers.

Many of those that posed that question were squeaky clean A-graders and teetotallers. My misfortunate was that this lot was the majority and they probably now constitute the profile of the majority of opinion-makers.

To bring a long introduction to a point....such a lot (people who have never run cricket or played competitively) is now (Sambit Bal included) questioning Anil Kumble's ethics in running a sports firm and being a sports official. Sports is meant for enjoyment. Sportsmen are entertainers. They need money to feed themselves. So Kumble's firm Tenvic manages a few of the players. Sports is not religion and does not need priests to run it.

In this world, many things are inter-connected. It's incredible that we manage to figure out these connections and try to drive Kumble out of office in Karnataka, just because Vinay Kumar was selected to the India team.

Shame on Sambit Bal and his ilk for such idiotic journalism. Even if Kumble were to have influenced team selection, why should we assume that he had anything but the team's welfare at heart? I wish someone like Kumble were around to manage Vinod Kambli and get him a few breaks. I wish someone like Kumble manages Irfan Pathan. And thank you Sambaran Banerjee for having a conflict of interest and recommending Saurav Ganguly.

In the end, all players are picked based on numbers, recommendation, gut-feel and several other factors. If numbers were the only parameter, then Vikram Rathore would have eclipsed Tendulkar's records by now. Selectors themselves are taking a leap of faith even when they pick proven performers because past performance is no guarantee of future success. Vinay Kumar has done most of the stuff required to merit selection.

We are now hell bent on driving characters like Flintoff, Symonds and Gayle out of cricket and soon we'll drive out administrators with characters like Kumble. Soon Sambit Bal and his ilk will want cricket to be run by tetotaller IIT PhDs only and want cricketers to play slowly so that no one gets hurt.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Rules: Batsmen can now change their sex at the crease

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The ICC have today announced new rules that require the fielding side; in the ICC's own words; "complete, total and upfront" transparency to the batsmen at the crease.

While so far, a polite "Left arm, over the wicket...sir" was enough of an indication for a batsman to deal with a delivery, the bowlers will now have to provide a complete "specification" of the upcoming delivery or deliveries. If the delivered ball does not meet the batsman's acceptance criteria, the ball will be deemed a "No Ball", the bowler will be reprimanded, and 25% of his match fees donated to the charity... of the batsman's choice. If the offense is repeated the bowler will be banned for life.

The specifications a bowler and his captain are now required to share with the umpire and the batsmen include, the direction of the turn, angle and linear deviation, which fingers will be used to release the ball, where the shiny side will be facing, the angle at which the seam will be held, whether the ball will be delivered at normal pace or will a "slower one" be attempted, whether the ball will be a yorker, the height the ball will rise after pitching, what the bowler had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the last 2 weeks, the bowler's blood pressure, kindergarten graduating grade, hobbies outside cricket, sexual orientation, favorite movie, movie actor, favorite sexual position, favorite dish, and allergies.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Opinions On...Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi

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The one-eyed Prince

India's youngest captain

But even with one good eye, he is bigger than Tiger Woods; at least in India

Ask Google..

Click to Enlarge

Monday, September 12, 2011

Future not bleak for India in ODIs

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In the run up to the World Cup and in the immediate aftermath of the victory, I was chuffed about India's bench strength. India seemed to be able to win matches despite some of their best players not playing games. They seemed to be able to cover for the stars when they were gone.

India unearthed some serious talent in Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan this way.

However, when I ran Statsguru to check India's record when Tendulkar, Gambhir, Sehwag, Yuvraj and Zaheer were all not playing, I found that India had won only one game out of five. India have always needed some of the big guns to deliver in the ODIs.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Naseer calls Indian team bus "An Ambulance"

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The latest comments by Naseer Hussain, while commentating on the abandoned first ODI has created a stir that is likely to put India's tour at risk. BCCI has threatened to call off the tour and some reports even indicate that a private Jet is on standby to take the Indian cricket team home. For those concerned about the health and safety of Indian patients....err....cricketers, the Jet is staffed with the world's best Sports doctors and hospital facilities.

After alleging earlier in the week that India had "3-4 very good fielders"; a comment that has no basis in facts; questions were raised as to whether Naseer Hussain was on the BCCI pay roll along with Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri. 

Any such suspicion was laid to rest by what happened today

Even before the dust had settled over the controversy over his "3-4 very good fielders" comments, Naseer Hussain has created another one by referring to the Indian Team Bus, as "An Ambulance". 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

India's Schedule for 2012

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Following heavy criticism and accusations of subjecting its players to in human work load, the BCCI has published a more humane schedule for the Indian National Cricket team. One that is designed to make cricket games involving India more competitive.

India tours Australia. 4 Tests, 2 T20 and a 5 match ODI series v/s the Maddington Village Second XI. Maddington Village is one of Perth’s fiercest cricket team made up mostly of retired club cricketers now suffering from age related arthritis.

Sponsors - BENGAY
4 weeks of rest and rehabilitation. BCCI to conduct free seminars on helping patients Indian cricketers deal with hearing loss, sore hands and weak intermittent eyesight.

Sponsors -  OIL OF OLAY (Age Defying Lotions)
IPL 6453 x 10^6 games in 12 weeks followed by 762 games of a quick eliminator style playoffs where a team has to lose just 67 games in a row to be eliminated.

Sponsors – Indian Economy, Political Parties, Film Industry, and ICC. For a complete list visit and type the name of any business
India hosts the Royal Pensioners Association from Wellington, New Zealand. Tour is organized and sponsored by the ‘Bucket List Foundation’ – A British  not-for-profit organization, that helps retired farmers fulfill their life-long ambition to play Test cricket for their country
Sachin and Roger’s Honeymoon
India in South Africa – Warm Up Games
5 T20s with Durban Girl’s High School Cricket Team
Full Series with South Africa
2 Tests
One off T20 International (Bishen Singh Bedi and Chandu Borde will make their T20 debuts)
7 ODIs

The games are optional for all. Full strength team is required for the Toss after which players are free to use the time to mend injuries (from warm up games), relax and call off matches if players are bored to force a result

Sponsors – Tourism Ministry of Dominica

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

(Pataudi Trophy) India: Marks out of -10

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has always talked about expectations. How his team is expected to win every time. He uses this to indicate the kind of pressure his team is always under. On the surface it makes me scratch my head trying to understand the motive behind repeatedly bringing up this perfectly rational expectation from fans. To expect their team; who have all the necessary funds at their disposal; to be the best in the world, is certainly not unreasonable.

Of course in reality what he means is the irrational behavior of fans when India lose. The heckling and even violence to players properties.

Quite surprisingly, India's non-compete attitude on this tour that ended in a humiliating clean-sweep of defeats has earned their board; the BCCI; the ire of fans and analysts alike.

The players have been spared.

So Mahendra Singh Dhoni was all this while wrong about what fans expect and by being calm and calculated in his dealings with the media he has protected his team from any criticism and made the BCCI look like the ugly villains; perhaps unintentionally.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fatigue, IPL, Preparation and other excuses

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Now India wants another warm-up game before the Boxing day test in Melbourne. This completely confuses me. On the one hand, we crib about too much cricket, then we want one more warm up game because cricketers have not had enough of the "right" kind of cricket. But warm-up games don't cause any mental fatigue as any athlete can tell you. I'm joking of course.

There is a very simple explanation for this. "You can take a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink." That's exactly what's going on with the Indian team. During the 80s and 90s it was inadequate pay, poor pitches, lack of fast bowlers, unimaginative board, lack of incentives, selectorial stupidity and player selfishness. Most of these issues have been tackled.

There are now better pitches, enough fast bowlers (although PK may not fully qualify), enough salaries and a good contract system, good domestic pay, incentives, selectorial consistency and a board that will fight for players (example Sydney) even if it is sometimes misguided.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where is Sunil Gavaskar when you really, really need him...

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The unanimous acknowledgement of England as the best Test side in the world was anticipated.

No one is pointing out that England lost a Test series in the West Indies. That the last time they beat India in India, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Since then they have beaten Australia in Australia not once but twice! They have not won in Sri Lanka in over a decade

This too was expected to be conveniently forgotten.

Suddenly when it comes to England, everyone sort of understands that the ICC ranking is based on the last 3 years of performance and on that count England's ascent is beyond debate.

However no such concession was given to India when they reached the top of the same rankings that England claim today. Every western leaning human and his/her dog, would jump to point out the exact same shortcomings in India's record that even England are not immune to and question India's legitimacy as the best Test side in the world.

India's number one ranking got legitimacy only when England realized that by beating India they could claim the spot for themselves.

Where is Sunil Gavaskar when you really, really need him. Surely his contract permits him to show a mirror to the people dancing around the English bandwagon....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

India's cricketers find worldwide support

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On the eve of India's Independence day, Amnesty International has called on World Leaders to intervene and call an end to what it alleges are atrocities carried out by Britain's cricketers against India's defenseless "Prisoners of Corporate Greed". Better known as the Indian cricket team. It further alleges that comments made by Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron; congratulating his cricketers; also implicates him in the atrocities and does not rule out urging the international community to press charges of Human Rights violations against the Prime Minister.

"We demand that India's tour of England be immediately called off. Britain has a responsibility to set an example when it comes to human rights but the way its cricketers are humiliating and degrading India's senior citizens and untrained young men, who have shown no intent of retaliation; Britain's human rights record will not withstand international scrutiny" said an Amnesty International spokesman for cricket related crimes against humanity.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A spectacular betrayal

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Its not about India losing.  Its not even about the 0-4 scoreline. The sense of betrayal I feel is beyond the hurt of losing. 

India have lost before and almost never I had to question their commitment or their intelligence. This time around I question both.

Their commitment to their national duties needs to be questioned. Immediately after the World Cup, they knew their next national duty was in the West Indies and England. There was more than enough time to prepare for the tours. The most prestigious tours in the context of cricket. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Defense of the New Order

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There has been a lot of hand wringing about India's status as the number one test team. India's poor (euphemism alert) performance in England has generated a great deal of commentary. The general refrain is as follows; Indian players put T20 (IPL, Champions League) above all else, BCCI is money-mad and therefore doesn't care about Indian cricket. Indian players are unfit and unprepared because of BCCI's callousness, especially with regards to the cricket calendar. India don't really deserve to be number one because they never really beat anyone good in a series away from home.

I would like to provide a contrarian view. Everyone including Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar have decided that the BCCI is to blame for India's poor showing in England. It's convenient because then you don't have to name names and can simply blame it on a boogeyman. I believe this is the most progressive board set up in my lifetime. The board has contracted several players. The board needs to put eleven 'qualified' players on the field at any given time. The board needs to provide a good support structure in the form of a coach, conditioning expert, mental strength consultants, masseuse, physical therapist etc. Plus, there is the NCA where any player can go back to school. All this has been done.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The London riots

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We @ Opinions are very concerned over the riots in London and the safety of our cricketers with word that the violence has spread to even Birmingham, the venue of 3rd Test of the ongoing Pataudi Trophy. With England a mere 20 wickets or 4-5 sessions of Indian batting resistance away from the number #1 ranking, conveniently our thoughts (and prayers) are reserved for the safety of our players and rankings seem such a flimsy thing to be worrying about.

And we are not alone.

At a press event scheduled to officially count down India's last remaining sessions as the World's best cricket team, BCCI President Shashank Manohar was asked a question on the actions the board is taking to ensure player safety. When a journalist mentioned "riots" the President jumped instantly..."Riots, what riots? The Champions League will go ahead as planned. These riots are illegal, we oppose them and we will get them banned. We have 40 days before the Champions League starts and we will ban all riots to ensure a smooth tournament"

India has a small chance

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The heading isn't misleading. I actually do believe India has a chance. Both England and India are missing some first choice players. In India's case, it's Zaheer and Harbhajan, whereas in England's case it's Trott and Tremlett.

It appears that the English reserves have stepped into the breach and filled the void admirably. Bresnan replaced Tremlett in style and England didn't miss a beat. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Sreesanth who replaced Zaheer. India become a completely different bowling unit in Zaheer's absence. Whereas, Zaheer leads from the front and the rest of the bowlers play subordinate roles, in his absence, India have hunted as a pack. In the second test, this aspect of the attack so evident in the West Indies was missing. The bowlers appeared to be somewhat rudderless.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Anderson rues a missed opportunity

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Jimmy Anderson who missed a golden opportunity to score a century in each innings against India in the recently concluded Test Match at Trent Bridge, has lashed out at team mate Greame Swann for his inability to support his quest for a rare; but in Anderson's words achievable feat; particularly against this Indian bowling attack.

For the record, no player in Test history has taken 5 wickets in a match and scored a century in each innings of the same Test. Not even Gary Sobers. Ian Botham and Jacques Kallis also never came close. But Anderson believes this series was the best chance for him to score a couple of Test centuries and be counted as one of England's greatest all-rounders. "There is something about this Indian bowling attack that makes me back the batsman in me. It's not like these guys are Mpofu, Utseya or Roubel Hossain...." said Anderson' neither with a twinkle in his eye nor his tongue anywhere near his cheek

In both innings of the recently concluded Trent Bridge Test, Greame Swann was unable to withstand the hostile Indian attack and fell while his partner felt he was nearing centuries in both innings. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Well Deserved Thrashing

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A well as India played in the months prior to the World Cup, ultimately leading to the World Cup win itself, they have badly let themselves down since then. A stirring series in South Africa where India tamed Steyn and Kallis and gave South Africa some back was followed by a World Cup run that seemed scripted by a fairy tale writer.

It's hard to believe it is the same team that's getting it's butt kicked by a rampaging England. The manner of defeat resembles abject capitulation as opposed to going down fighting. One can accept the excuse that India is not at full-strength, but to give up without much of a fight is demeaning to the game itself.

Indian fans can be forgiven for conjuring up images of Gavaskar's 221 at the Oval chasing 440-plus. I for one had hopes that one out of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman would play that kind of a knock and would remind the world that India was still number one, even if the team lost. I was totally unprepared for the team to lose inside of five days.

Spinning a spectacle - The Ian Bell run out

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Had India not run-out Ian Bell in the first place, only then it could be argued that India and their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had upheld the spirit of the game. As things stand, they did run him out, which they were entitled to within the laws of the game and then had a change of heart. Rahul Dravid terming it as the 'right thing to do'. Implying that running him out, in the first place, was the wrong thing to do.

To credit India with upholding the spirit of the game is thus wrong and misplaced. Only a naive eagerness to find some good in a team that has let themselves and their supporters down by showing the most scant regard for the trophy they are playing for, by turning up under prepared and unfit. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Broad's heroics won't count...

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It has taken Stuart Broad roughly 7 days of Test cricket to flatten India. If he can hold up his performance for the second half of this Test; the series can be safely labelled Broad's Pataudi Trophy. Of course it does not have the 'Botham's Ashes' feel to it, but it can be safely said that Stuart Broad has finally arrived. 

Rahul Dravid notwithstanding, a Sehwag-less Indian batting lineup is a pale shadow of the one that tamed England 4 years ago. When you start missing the solidity provided by the likes of Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer at the top of the order, you know you are in serious trouble. 

Even on the bowling side, without Zaheer Khan, this Indian bowling line-up can boss a side around for, say 40-45 overs, after which even a Greame Swann can start having designs of dominating a tiring attack groomed on a rigorous diet of 4 overs a day cricket.

Friday, July 29, 2011

India's #1 ranking has no business case

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The business case for India to hold on to their number one ranking expired on April 2nd 2011. From the moment Mahendra Singh Dhoni clubbed the six that gave India the World Cup, the business conditions changed. Being Number One in Test cricket was an investment with returns too meager to satisfy all stake holders.

The market decided that the best way to account for the 'fan capital' accumulated after India's nerve wracking chase in the finals and indeed their entire World Cup journey, was to spend it in reviving the faltering TV rankings of the fledgling Indian Premiere League.

And for the benefit of organizations in need of cash like Reliance, India Cements, UB Group, etc India mortgaged their number one ranking by settling for reduced performance from its champion Test side on tours of the West Indies and England. That these tours were a chance to emulate Ajit Wadekar's 1971 champion side, did not find a mention in discussions among even the most hard core of traditionalists. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This one didn't hurt as much

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The Lords test confirmed to me what I feared after Dominica. India are a team that plays to it's strengths and does well to hide it's weaknesses. This India isn't Kapil Dev's 1986 India or Steve Waugh's win-at-all-costs Australia or Clive Lloyds attack-relentlessly West Indies. This is not a criticism. It's simply a recognition of reality.

This India is not about winning and losing and letting the ranking take care of itself. It feels like for this Indian team managing the ranking is critical. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's press conference at the end of the Lords test was as much an exercise in excuse mongering than anything else that I have ever heard. It did his standing little good.

Batting in the fourth innings is never easy. It's in fact rare that a side facing 458 and more than a 100 overs can stave off defeat. However, it also appears that India were aware of this fact. In fact, they seem to have memorized these types of statistics. Therefore, while I saw gallant effort, I somehow didn't see bloody-mindedness. I didn't see the Sachin battling through back pain in Chennai or the Sachin batting with Prabhakar while scoring his maiden hundred. I didn't see VVS fighting tooth and nail at Sydney to restore some pride to a match already lost. I didn't see Dhoni from 2007 resolutely keeping away everything to instill confidence in the fans that he was not just a swashbuckler, but a man on a mission who had a decent head on his shoulders. Right from the moment Dravid fished foolishly outside off stump, it felt like India didn't believe they could save the match.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

India will need Plan 'C' to win

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For all its history, the Lord's cricket ground is yet to acknowledge present day greats Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. While it has room on its board for workmen-like performances from Praveen Kumar's or Shane Watson's, it had none for Rahul Dravid. Even a Ajit Agarkar has his name on the board.

But today, the famous ground took its opportunity and acknowledged Rahul Dravid's absolutely proper and Test Match Quality innings. It still has some time to acknowledge Sachin Tendulkar but that's for another day.

How many times, has a side faced the ignominy of facing the possibility of a follow on after their inability to bowl the opposition out; having invited them to take first strike? Well I am not sure about the all the instances, but this is the second time that it has happened to India against England. The last time too at Lord's. Remember Gooch scored something like 5.8 trillon runs and Kapil hoicked 4 successive sixes off Eddie Hemmings with Hirawni for company to avoid the follow-on?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Opinions On... Praveen Kumar

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Praveen Kumar is Madan Lal's Second Coming

For us children of the eighties, nothing is humbling and funnier than Maddi-pa running full speed and delivering a military medium pie. Humbling because he got many vital wickets and never ever gave it away. He never dropped any catches and never threw his wicket away playing ungainly shots. Here was a man that valued every second he spent on the cricket field and gave it his all. His utmost was military medium pies. If God had given him natural speed, he would have devastated the world.

Praveen Kumar reminds me of Madan Lal. He is all heart and a lot of guile. But his methods are old-fashioned and simple. Grunt work, effort and more effort. His bowling reminds me of Javed Miandad. Perhaps because I'm constantly subjected to the phrase "street-smart" in his context. But watching the first two days of this match and his bowling in his debut series in the West Indies, I have felt a strange sense of anticipation on every ball he bowls. This from a military medium bowler that doesn't even try to bowl any faster. Not since Kapil Dev, have I felt that way when an Indian bowler has bowled.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Its India v England's Belief

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The only time, I was confident about India winning an away series was in 1986 when a strong Indian line up took on an Australia in transition. That side on form and skill was almost as strong as this Dhoni led Indian side; perhaps a bit stronger given that Virendra Sehwag will be watching the Lords Test from the sidelines. 

Gavaskar and Srikanth to open; a middle order of Mohinder Amarnath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri; two decent spinners in Shivlal Yadav and L Sivaramakrishnan and the great Kapil Dev. 

That series ended in bitter disappointment for me when all Test matches were drawn; Adelaide because of a flat pitch; Melbourne due to rain and India's strange reluctance to get on with things and Sydney when India, in spite of the rain, almost bowled out Australia twice in day and half, but ran out of time. 26 years on, India has still not won a series in Australia. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

India lose Lords Test by 5 wickets

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As one of those that is still somewhat livid with how the Dominica Test ended with teams declaring a 'total strike', I am still not over the India - West Indies Test series and the English series is upon us.

I braved the rain and took a train ride from Borehamwood to Taunton to watch Day 2 of the tour game against Somerset and to be at the ground where Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Ian Botham and Joel Garner played their summer cricket, was humbling. There were more people than the turnout at all the 15 days of Test cricket in the West Indies combined and many of them had come just to see Sachin bat.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Big Bully BCCI or maybe not

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It appears that the BCCI has effectively browbeaten Sri Lanka and Darryl Harper into supporting it's stance on the DRS. This reminds me of a t-shirt that used to do the rounds when I was a kid. "Eat shit because a zillion flies can't be wrong".

All the worshippers of technology that jumped on the DRS bandwagon must now be puzzled as to why the universal truth that a computer "simulation" is smarter than human judgement is not everyone's version of the truth.

Sri Lanka made BCCI's case about the affordability of the technology. This claim was pooh-poohed by most that thought that the BCCI was an Ostrich. While I am not a huge supporter of BCCI's tactics, it appears in this case the board got bad press for no good reason.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Test Cricket is no longer intuitive

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For the times Test cricket is played in; for the competition that Test cricket finds itself facing; it's a far too nuanced game for its own good. Modern; and dare I say; rational; spectators demand the game be intuitive. There is a growing tendency among Test cricket lovers to disconnect from reality and hang on to those very nuances of Test cricket that are threatening to make the game irrelevant. Of course it was prudent for India to call off the chase at Dominica; question is why does Test cricket afford this option to a team. To walk off. To claim a 'no-result' when a result was inevitable. 

How long would sports like tennis, boxing, athletics, survive if participants are allowed to collectively decide and effectively strike in the middle of a contest?

The best scoreline that can capture the series concluded yesterday between India and the West Indies is 

T20: 1 Tests : 0 (Rahul and Laxman walk-off)

There are fines, bans and all sorts of tricks employed by the game's governing body to speed up the game. Its working too. In one of the sessions in the 3rd Test, I saw India bowling at the rate of 16.2 overs per hour. Perhaps they had one eye on the Lord's Test. Whatever the reason, the game had picked up pace. 

And what did they do with the time that was created over the first 4 days?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wimpy World Champs

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With 86 runs to get off 90 balls, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman walked off the ground. These were India's most experienced batsmen. These two were responsible for putting India into winning positions and winning numerous matches for India. But today, they walked off.

Time was when the West Indies with Greenidge in the lead chased over 300 in a day to eventually help deliver a "blackwash". India chased 347 on the last day to tie a test match. Several other such examples abound of champion teams having taken up the challenge to assert their superiority over their rivals. With this game, India has also given England a huge boost.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dhoni and his hotel room

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Regular people like you and me can’t even begin to comprehend, what a hotel room means to someone like a Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Captain of the world’s number one ranked Test team.

Captain of the reigning World Champions

Captain of the reigning IPL and Champions League title holders


The World’s 7th or 8th whatever that number is most marketable athlete in the world.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Roger is like family : Sachin

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Roger Federer has said that he dreams of a day when he can take time off from Wimbledon and spend time watching Sachin Tendulkar play live, meet with him and take pictures with the great man.

Sachin Tendulkar said, he is living Roger Federer's dream.

Usain Bolt too said that he dreams of watching Sachin Tendulkar play live. He could have realized his dream in his hometown of Jamaica but Sachin Tendulkar was spending quality time with Roger Federer; whom he considers "family".

It was only last year when Usain Bolt declined to participate in the Commonwealth games. Had he done so, he could have watched Sachin Tendulkar score a double hundred against Australia at Bangalore.

The same day Indian women ran one of the most inspired 4x400 race ever

See Also...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

India Ahead

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Instead of inflicting a beat down, India have just about nosed ahead. West Indies batting turned out to be worse than originally anticipated. Is this a result of not playing together enough or is this a result of constant turmoil? Either ways, the West Indies are pathetic.

India handed debuts to Kohli, Praveen Kumar and Mukund. Praveen Kumar with his canny variations and control came good and how. Ishant Sharma seems to have regained his test match form and is once again asking questions of batsmen. This is great news for India as it heads to England after this series. Praveen Kumar's burst gives India an option that it had not bargained for. In English conditions, Praveen could be a handful.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Tests Begin

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A depleted India and a struggling West Indies team gather to play India's first test match World Champions. The one day series showcased India's depth in ODIs. India didn't sweep the West Indies, but did enough to demonstrate that they were the reigning experts of the ODI art form.

The tests are an altogether different ball game as the cliche goes. India have a tough game on their hands at Sabina Park. Right off the bat, I would give West Indies the advantage in this test match. Test matches always offer an advantage to the home side. India will miss Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth in test matches. Both have the ability to gain surprise breakthroughs and make the batsmen think. Munaf and Ishant can be good, but they are not going to consistently put pressure on batsmen. Praveen Kumar could surprise us due to his street-smart bowling, but his lack of pace means that decent batsmen can play him out. The only thing that could work for Praveen and perhaps other Indian pacers is the assistance from the Sabina Park wicket.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1 Angry Board

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In 12 Angry men, Henry Fonda's character dissents on the sole basis that before the accused is sentenced to die, the least he deserves is a discussion amongst the jury of his peers. Eventually the lone  'not guilty' verdict, after an angry evening of arguments is responsible for a 11 others to overcome individual prejudices; in some cases; and change their own 'guilty' verdicts.

A Decision Stalled
India is the Henry Fonda of the cricket world where the system on trial is the DRS and India has taken a 'guilty' stance, just for the heck of it.

While in "12 Angry men", the dissenting character backed his vote by reasoned discussion of the events, India's dissent is backed by pathetic, off the cuff,  explanations like "human adulteration" in technology is unnecessary, technology should be fool proof before its adopted and some irrelevant observations like the Hot Spot being more reliable than the Snico-meter.

Friday, June 10, 2011

West Indian cricket is inconsequential

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Sachin Tendulkar will be skipping India's Test tour of the West Indies and spend time with his family instead.

Of course this news is not new but it still rankles.

A few years back, this event would have been inconceivable. Today it generates a muted response. A few raised eyebrows and then a quite resignation to the times we live in. It is now acceptable for one of the greatest players of all time to play for a private franchise and rest when his country will be trying to win a Test Series at the home of a side that was once the most feared and respected side of all time.

Its a reflection on many things. The decline of the West Indies; first and foremost.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ICC's New Rule

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In not-so-subtle moves the ICC is pursuing changes that are validating Ijaz Butt's claims that there are elements in the ICC conspiring the defraud Pakistan and its cricket.

First came the news that the ICC is going to stop the rotation policy that yields ICC presidents and then the news that ICC is seeking to curb government interference in the functioning of cricket boards.

If the ICC were trying to be subtle with these announcements (the next ICC President is due to be appointed from Pakistan / Bangladesh) and not mention Pakistan by name, wait till you hear the new announcement from the ICC.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

India-West Indies Preview

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India embark on yet another Carribbean tour without Sachin Tendulkar. The one day squad has a deep bench. When the regulars were unavailable, it was easy to find credible replacements. It's to India's credit that it has blooded a bench that can put a game face on anytime. However, the game plan for this time is going to be very different that what the first eleven would follow.

The routine that India has gotten into is that one of the top three always drops anchor and score big fifties or hundreds. Everyone else bats around them and scores the bulk of runs. In the world cup, Yuvraj Singh played a massive role and he balanced the team big time. The new look squad is going to rely on Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma or Suresh Raina to play that role. None of them by themselves can do what Yuvraj did. However, given that the West Indies too aren't a top notch team today, maybe they can pull it off.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cricket Professionals

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There has never been a better time to be an Indian cricketer. Annual contracts, a variety of formats to choose from and a board that's as capitalist (profit oriented) as they come. We have come a long way from an era where player power was meant to be squished with court cases. Vengsarkar couldn't write a column to generate a few extra bucks to ensure that his future was more secure.

The number of elite Indian cricketers has gone from four in my early days of watching cricket to at least 20 now. Gavaskar,Kapil Dev, Vengsarkar and Vishwanath were the only superstars. Compare that to today's situation where India can easily field at least two superb ODI teams. The number of opportunities for cricketers to show their wares has increased a thousand fold. Any domestic cricketer today who is a reasonable performer can expect recognition and visibility. Had poor KP Bhaskar played in this era, would he have been ignored?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Playing for Club is playing for Country

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At some point someone will realize that the same limited set of overworked players aren't going to be able to sustain our World Champion status in One Day Internationals, entertain us at IPL games and sustain our number one ranking in Tests.

We need a larger pool of players and we need players to specialize...not just as bowlers, batsmen and wicket keepers but specialize in formats too.

The alternative adopted by administrators the world over, which is largely push the players to make an illusionary club v country choice; is short sighted, self serving, mean, wicked and ultimately harmful to the game. Many talk about "a window"... but that too is a band-aid fix. India has a built-in IPL window and yet the next few weeks promises to unfold like a soap-opera starting with the Gautam Gambhir situation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The IPL Qualifier, Qadir on Qadir and Showing Cause

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First things first.... The IPL

Normally as most commentators would say; it doesn't matter how you get them; its the runs on the board that count.

Today the Chennai Super Kings disproved the theory.

If Gayle doesn't contribute then even a total of 175 can be chased. Perhaps its the way he gets those runs. Each time Gayle has got the runs the Royal Challengers from Bangalore have won and every time he hasn't they have lost. It almost does not matter what the others do.

Another reason Bangalore lost is because we @ Opinions are beginning to suspect that its not luck; its just that Mahendra Singh Dhoni might simply be "Un-lose-able". May be the games he does lose are the games he does not want to win.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

IPL playoffs explained

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Once the top 4 qualifiers for the playoffs are determined; how many games does it take to crown a winner.

3 is reasonable answer. But if its the IPL we are talking about; and indeed we are; then the answer is more like 6 games spread over 7 days.

Here is how it will work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

West Indies Revival

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Years ago when Walsh and Ambrose still played test cricket, Caribbean pride meant something. We are old enough to remember a time when a Joel Garner retirement for the West Indies meant the ability to replace him with a Patterson, Walsh or Bishop in quick succession and continue battering the opposition. None of us would have ventured to think that a military medium bowler would make the West Indies team, let alone captain them and win them a test match.

My fellow blogger has already pointed out the rarity of a bowling captain winning their teams test matches. It takes dedication, discipline and leadership. Darren Sammy may yet not be able to keep the flock together and instill pride in them to sustain their fighting ways. West Indies may not have yet risen from the ashes. But a test win against a credible Pakistani challenge is to be savored.

A Captain's Spell

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When Darren Sammy bowled West Indies to a win in the first Test against Pakistan; something about it felt special and rare. 

Yes, the West Indian last wicket pair showed some real pluck in adding those 48 runs that eventually was the difference between the 2 teams

Yes, Ravi Rampaul with his burst of top order wickets, pushed Pakistan to the brink before Darren Sammy finished them off.

Yes, Saeed Ajmal with 11/111, was perhaps the best bowler in the match.

But to us @ Opinions, this was Darren Sammy's Test and a pretty special one at that. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chris Gayle to plead not guilty to assault charges

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BANGALORE — The West Indian born opener of the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore intends to plead not guilty to assault charges after the violent treatment of Brett Lee and Jaidev Unadkat, his attorney said Sunday.

Chris Gayle was taken off his team bus at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium by officers from the Bangalore Police Department  about 10 minutes before it was to depart for the team hotel. He was turned over to police for questioning later in the afternoon, said Babban Bholenath, Bangalore Police Department spokesman. Chris Gayle, 31, was arrested at 2:15 a.m. IST Sunday on charges of a criminal batting act, attempted rape of the reputation of international bowlers and unlawful treatment of bowlers, and was awaiting arraignment, police said.

Opinions On...Darren Sammy

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It does not matter when the appointment actually took place or when the announcement was made. It was heard only today.

Today Darren Sammy became the captain of the West Indies cricket team.

Today, Darren Sammy became the first West Indian captain to take 5 wickets in the 4th innings and win a Test match...


how shall I say this....

Gary Sobers.

Quite surprisingly, Courtney Walsh never did it. So, next time you bump into him at St. Lucia and he says "I am Darren Sammy, captain of the West Indies cricket Team"... stand up and tip your hat.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

West Indies and Pakistan

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Back when I was in my college dorm in India, we used to joke about the food in the cafeteria. We contended that the cafeteria was like Doordarshan, the national TV channel. Every day we thought it could get no worse. Watching the West Indies administrators and players tango, I get the same feeling. They outdo themselves every day. Enough already!

What's clear is that West Indies have no where to go but up. And the first test match is proving that they are doing just that against Pakistan. West Indies have two experienced test match players to Paksitan's one. It appears that this alone is making the difference. In Sarwan and Chanderpaul, West Indies have a semblance of experience and stability. Despite Sammy's pedestrian performances, he appears to be a calm, non-controversial sorts that no one hates. The perfect compromise candidate.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

ICC to outlaw running

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The ICC today announced that they are seriously considering a proposal to do away with running. According to the proposal batsmen will not be allowed to run between the wickets "under any circumstances". 

The proposal also suggests that the non-striker should be provided adequate seating arrangements while he is at the non-striker's end. If the batsman taking strike is Rahul Dravid, then the non-striker should be allowed to order take out dinners, and stream entertainment on an attached digital screen.

For every shot that is not a 4 and a 6, there will be a predetermined number of runs added to the batsman's account based on where in the field the ball was stopped.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Opinions On... Saurav Ganguly

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His debut Test innings at Lords, where he scored a century was a comeback...sort of. He was clearly out of depth in that one ODI he played for India in Australia 4 years earlier. It was said that he refused to carry drinks and from what people could see on TV, could not bat nor run between the wickets.

He just didn't seem to belong.

If he would have been discarded for good, we wouldn't even have noticed it. But he persisted and 19 years later playing in his 4th IPL season he played an innings for Pune Warriors that had all the buzz of a debut.

That is Saurav Ganguly for you....