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"