Sunday, November 25, 2007

India, down under

Great Oz summer coming up with India starting on boxing day test match. Already there are talks about India's batting might taking on the void created in Australian bowling attack. With ever cunning McGrath and Warne retired, it would be interesting to see how Indian batting handles the attack. We will have to wait and see...

The more things change

In theory the arrival of a strong batting side like India should signal imminent danger for Ponting's winning ratio. However, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman are fading stars rather than rising ones and Ponting has the ideal weapon to challenge slowing reflexes - pace.

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India look all set to win at Delhi.

[photo courtesy:]
A great day of cricket with India now almost certain to win the first test in Delhi. Its been already been an exhilarating contest. Day 4 started with Pakistan in the driver's seat but great bowling by Zaheer (to be more precise, very disciplined) brought India back into the game, just too quickly. Pakistan batsman on the other hand lacked application and intensity coming in on 4th day. Coach has to tell them that test match is won by playing good cricket session on session and day on day. Pakistan seemed to relax and loose focus after couple of sessions of good cricket.
[photo courtesy:]
Ganguly surprised everyone in this match but again he is a fighter and loads of experience. I was not too surprised by his contribution. By the time Pakistan finished their innings, the target for India looked comfortable. But previous run chases at kotla suggested that it is going to take huge effort to be able to win the match and more so live up to the expectations from a great batting lineup. Despite a brilliant (after a long time I have seen) performance by Shoaib Akhtar, India is sitting pretty. Ganguly and Jaffar played excellent and positive cricket with Sachin looking comfortable. First match provided a great entertainment which was evident by crowd's presence, just goes to show how the next two matches will be played.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Best of Test cricket...

Cricinfo - A tale of missed chances Annotated

The article discusses an interesting aspect of the test match - Loosing advantage. Day 4 of the test will start with Pakistan in driver's seat. Having a lead of more than 150 and Misbah at the crease, Pakistan needs another 100 runs to put Indians almost out of the game.
If the article holds true for the remaining of the test match, Pakistan would soon loose the advantage and India will be left with 230 odd runs to chase in the last innings. That would be a huge task for India but a perfect platform for Indian batsman to script a memorable victory. Be it Sachin, Saurav or Dhoni, a match winning innings will be the one to remember for a long time. I still think Pakistan has a better bowling attack and they can win the test match if they can put that score on board.

Seeing the match and the wicket's behavior, I think, this wicket is the best to test a batsman's or a bowler's character. The one who has great patience will surely win the battle. I am sure Pakistan will be able to do that in their bowling, I am not sure about India's batting. Pressure and a grave requirement of patience is a danger sign for India. No need to analyze batting order or capabilities of great batting lineup, this is the time to show some charater. I would love to see this test match go down the wire. There is nothing like seeing a re-play of Chennai classic. Come on India!

Monday, November 19, 2007

One of the very best..

Australians won yet another test match (14 in a row). Nobody expected wonders from SL. But there were questions around Australia's bowling attack that had a void created by departures of McGrath and Warne. To a certain extent it did get exposed but SL was not the team to exploit it. Well except one man - Kumar Sangakkara. I have not seen such a great knock by a sub-continent player in a long long time in Australia. In his blog some time back he did mention that bounce is not his problem and should not be for the team. He proved himself by playing amazing innings of 192 but rest of the team struggled to make a mark against Australian attack. Some glimpses of brilliance from seasoned batters like Marvan and Mahilla but that you can expect from greats in any series, any time.
Talking about Australian bowling, I think chinks have begun to emerge in this Aussie lineup. MacGill was a disappointing show and while Stuart Clark was very very economical, he is the slowest in the pace attack and sometimes tend to take things easy (he did against Lasith Malinga. He does not have a grit of a fast bowler. People are going to clobber him if he continues to bowl like this. He certainly did not have to same hunger as it was against England and South Africa, recently. Johnson had a good start but he too showed signs of fatigue in final innings when the bowlers struggled to keep Sangakkara in check and take last 2 wickets. You would expect McGrath or Warne to finish it off in no time. Johnson has a long way to go and has to learn art of swinging both ways. Get some tips from Akram boy.
Having said all this, it is a great time for India to tour down under and win a series. They have to lift there bowling and they are in contention. My two cents, just choke the flow of runs and you will get Oz wickets. Its just plain and simple.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One who enjoys the game

Yuvraj Singh walks back after being caught in the deep Annotated

Yuvraj Singh walks back after being caught in the deep, India v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, Kanpur, November 11, 2007
Yuvraj seems to be in his prime form. He is bowling ok, batting superb and fielding excellent right now. Most importanty, he seems to enjoy being in the field a lot. He is total control of his game. Just to see where he is in his career -
Yuvraj's record
My favorite video on you tube-

Sri Lanka punched by Lee

Cricinfo - Lee spearheads a big Australia win Annotated

Brett Lee helped Australia beat not only Sri Lanka but also the unpredictable Brisbane weather as the hosts rattled out the last five wickets between rain breaks on the final day. Lee claimed 4 for 86 to confirm Australia's 1-0 lead ahead of the second Test in the two-match series, which starts in Hobart on Friday.

To me, secret of winning a test match is first innings lead and bowling that can dismiss the opponents twice. Well that is hell lot of a task but then we are talking about Test sides. They should be able to do it. Well Srilanka never looked to be doing any one of these at Gabba. Their batsman lacked that supreme touch and their bowling was let down by lack luster Dilhara and poor fielding.

Mallinga's exclusion over Dilhara was a blunder I guess. He would have enjoyed the conditions. Dilhara's performance was a disaster. He had no clue how to bowl and never settled in. Murali was let down by lack luster performances from other bowlers. Teams have to understand the importance of pressure from both the bowling ends. By the time, SL lost their openers in the second innings, it was all south from there.

Brett Lee was amazing and is now a standard on how to bowl fast but disciplined. This wicket was not super fast yet he bowled with aggression and immaculate line and length. Any bowler going down under should take some lesson from Lee's performance. You have to bowl long spells of tight line. Only that is what can trouble aussies. You have to choke the flow of runs. And don't fool your selves by bowling short balls at them. Just an occasional and well directed bouncer can do the trick. Waist height won't give you results.

SL's next game is in Bellerive Oval, which is a fantastic venue to watch a game of cricket. I hope they will not get disheartened too much and think of the fact that most teams meet the same result when they come to Australia. They should look forward to play aggressive cricket to win the match and level series. A 2 match series has a big advantage. Even a 2-0 result won't look too bad.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Test cricket back in Australia - SL vs AUS

I have been watching SL bowling to Australia. I have to say they are not following the basics.
Fast bowlers are not using the bounce and Murali is bowling occasional short balls. The very basic thing to do against Australia is to choke the flow of runs. Dilhara is too too expensive. Very interesting analysis going on with the Jaywardena's missed chance against Phill Jaques. But the real battle is going on between Ponting and Murali. Murali should look to bowl even slower. It might be a good idea to try Jayasuriya to slow things further.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

At last a world cup!

India did great in this tournament. They beat Pakistan twice, Australia, South Africa, England. This is a very impressive victory path!
Cricinfo - India seal a final-over thriller Annotated

India lift the ICC World Twenty20 trophy at the end of a thrilling final against Pakistan, India v Pakistan, ICC World Twenty20 final, Johannesburg, September 24, 2007

India lift the ICC World Twenty20 trophy at the end of a thrilling final against Pakistan

India celebrate victory at the end of the ICC World Twenty20 final, Johannesburg, September 24, 2007

India celebrate victory at the end of the ICC World Twenty20 final

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Andrew Flintoff and Yuvraj Singh make their peace after the game

Hand shakes finally.

Well Yuvraj can smile it off but Flintoff is going to remember this forever. Don't mess with a fighter.

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6 sixes in 6 balls. Only Yuvi can do it.

The Times of India: Breaking news, views, reviews, cricket from across India.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Great Innings by great master!

Master Class InningsEngland got a taste of old Sachin. Most of these players have not seen, old glory sachin, hitting every bowler. Now they know and this series is one to remember. Sadly, last one for Sachin, in England..


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Brian Lara retires

Today, 21st April 2007, Brian Charles Lara is playing his last match at international level. If you don't know what he has done in his career then better look at this record. BC Lara was one of the greatest entertainers of modern era. Lot of things were spoken against him and also blamed for WI poor performance. For me he remained the best batsman for modern era. A true fighter and capable of winning matches for the country. A true legend. Thank You Brian Lara.

Nobody could pack so much drama, meaning in every shot of cricket. Consequently nobody could so illuminate the point that this is a sport of such independent events, of an infinite number of worlds.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

East or West, Australia is the best

South Africa's honeymoon at Number 1 spot in ODI rankings did not last long, as the Aussies continued their surge towards Number 1 and beyond. They now have 24 straight wins in the World Cups. This shows where this team stands and how far other teams are. Australia seems to be the team with extra ordinary men. One of them is Ricky Ponting. Normally a front-foot player who likes to hit on the rise and when the ball is coming on nicely. The other day against England, the pitch was not at all suitable for his kind of play but they way he played, clearly showed his amazing concentration and focus. There was only one thing on his mind - to win. They way Aussie top order is playing, is almost a concern that lower order batsman aren't getting enough runs or time to spend on the pitch. May be we will see some changes in batting order later on. Coming to English performance, I think they lost the game when they slowed down (a little too much) in the middle of the innings(After Bell got out). Australia played the 3rd power play to the greatest advantage. Tait bowled great and did not give chance to the new batsman. Another unsung hero for this side has been Brad Hogg. His spin is creating problems to the batsman. He has performed well and have taken crucial wickets. Against England, he troubled Flintoff a lot and ultimately taking his wicket. There are still exploitable holes in Aussie bowling attack which were almost exposed by England but such is the beauty of this team that they know best how to come back into the game, No matter how bad is the situation. SA have to work hard against West Indies in order to avoid pressure situation later on. WI needs to win all 3 matches to be in contention for Semis. NZ and SL are well poised at this moment.

Australia regain top ODI ranking

Ricky Ponting led his side back into top spot with a win over England
© Getty Images
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Friday, April 6, 2007

A peaceful day with happy ending.

The most eagerly awaited day after India's dismal performance in World Cup had just gone by. A peaceful day on all accounts means that it was business as usual at BCCI camp and the hype was all about Media's obsession with Indian cricket. In the past few days, almost every cricket lover would have developed an opinion on Cricket India's future and very few people would have predicted events the way they happened today. Rahul Dravid retains captaincy , Greg Chappell offered a different role, Ravi Shastri's name as future Indian coach. All in all, happy ending for everybody. Personally, none of the above decisions are too bad. These may not be too optimistic but again, nobody had a lot of time to think. A hasty decision would have been a bigger disaster.

Rahul is a good captain because he can lead the team by example but BCCI should start grooming a younger leader to replace him in near future. Greg Chappell being involved in NCA is also not a bad move, though it depends on his decision to accept the offer or not. I would suggest a team working with him in tandem to put things in place. If this does not happen then I think we will loose on a lot of initiatives that were started by Greg. Last but not the lease, Ravi Shastri as the national coach. I like Ravi Shastri as a person and have seen him play also. He was not a great player of fast bowling but a good one for Spin (whacked Shane Warne on his debut). Coaching is a different ball game but I think BCCI is now willing to create a team of experts for batting bowling and fielding and Shastri being in charge of that team. I think definition of "Team Manager" is going to be changed now. But that is for near future. Team should start practicing for Bangla tour. What a time for Indo-Bangla cricket clash!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

An honest Start and I am not worried about results.

We all know Indian cricket is the richest in the world. Our players are highest paid and board enjoys everything from a government like stature and paid trips to the whole cricketing world. What Indian cricket lacked was, this type of concerted effort. Zee Group annouced an idea about Indian Cricket League. Subhash Chandra who heads the group talk about his brain child.

Subhash Chandra, who heads the Essel Group, owners of the Zee brand, has announced a breakaway cricket series called the Indian Cricket League (ICL). The Essel Group will invest Rs 100 crore (US$ 23 million approx) in the project, which will run parallel to the leagues and tournaments of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The ICL will have six teams with two Indian internationals, four overseas players and eight juniors in each side. At the end of the third year, there will be 16 teams in the ICL.
This is the way to go and an honest beginning at a small level was required. The main idea is to create a pool of talent and not earn money by making national side play enormous amount of cricket.
To achieve its objectives, Zee plans to set up cricket academies equipped with state-of-the-art facilities across the country. Sports medicine would be introduced to ensure players' fitness and a full-fledged record maintained of their behaviour pattern, diet-plan and game statistics. The group will also appoint talent scouts in all 35 states to hunt for young players to play in the ICL.
Professionals at all levels of the game is the only way out. Like we do a job and get paid based on our performance and experience, the same should be applied to the whole institution. I won't be surprised to see people coming in voluntarily to support the cause. I urge former cricketers like Kapil, Sunny, Ravi Shastri to come forward and contribute. It is lot easier to write columns and talk on shows than to actually do it on the field. I think they owe this much to mother India.
The finer points of ICL:
- 6 teams or clubs to play in the opening year
- Talks on with BCCI for gaining access to stadiums
- Executive Board of the league under installation
- Pool of referees and umpires to be created
- Rules committee to form regulations for ICL
- Ombudsman to look into grievances of players
- League to begin with Twenty20 format and move to ODI format
- League to be a joint venture between Essel Group and ILFS Group
- Each team to have a mentor, media manager, psychologist, physio
- Prize money for the winner- US$ 1 million
- League teams to compete with teams internationally
- Number of teams to be increased from 6 to 16 in three years

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sri Lanka is the team to beat!

Last week Ricky Ponting announced that New Zealand is the team to beat in this tournament and I agree with him. After India's exit, they are my favourites. Today I got an e-mail from my friend who is an ardent follower of the game and my good buddy. He said his favourites are Sri Lankans and finished his e-mail by "Come on Sanath". Well Sanath and Sri Lanka as a team, both proved that they are the guys to look forward to. When they advanced to Super 8's from Group B after winning all their matches, I thought they were not tested well enough and their real test would come in later rounds. Watching them play today against West Indies was a joy. This team is playing good cricket. Today they lost early wickets against a spirited opening spell but kept their cool. They stuck to a definite plan and the execution was perfect. They crossed 300 run mark with a last ball 6. This shows how good they have become and each player is playing to the potential. Sanath's century proved that he is still Sri Lanka's number 1 batsman. Middle order is rock solid and attacking attitude is scaring the opponents. Now once you cross 300 on a big ground and have a balanced bowling attack, half of the job is done. Sri Lanka bowled excellent and even though their main bowler Murali was expensive, other bowlers annihilated the windies batting. Only Chanderpaul played with some authority and played some great shots against Muttia Muralitharan. Sri Lanka is looking like a rock solid team with a very balanced side. They are brilliant in the fielding department and so many times we have seen that better fielding sides often win the match. They have a good pace attack spear headed by Vaas who has given them the break through in every match. Malinga is the leading wicket taker in the tournament and Dilhara Fernando is playing a role of a good support bowler. I think only Australia is having a similar attack. May be the advantage with SL is Muralitharan who on his day can rattle a team so easily. This team is going to reach semis for sure and they are the real threat for both Australia and New Zealand.
Sanath Jayasuriya looks skywards after reaching his century, West Indies v Sri Lanka, Super Eights, Guyana, April 1, 2007

Sanath Jayasuriya looks skywards after reaching his century, West Indies v Sri Lanka, Super Eights, Guyana, April 1, 2007

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Friday, March 30, 2007

On Kumble's retirement.

Jumbo's retirement is not a surprise and was expected for a some time now. The most destructive bowler after Kapil Dev had a killer fighting spirit and he will always be remembered for that. I remember his great spell of 6/12 against West Indies in Titan Cup in Calcutta. The figures remained unbeaten for a long long time. He went on to become second bowler in the history to take 10 wickets in an innings. He is the first in modern era. That day at ferozshah kotla was the most amazing day for Indian Bowing history.
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MOVING AHEAD: Anil Kumble announced his retirement in Bangalore.

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Sachin should retire or not?

A good article by Ian Chappell has sparked the controversial discussion about sachin's retirement. But this discussion is getting one sided now with most of the people voting for the little master to retire. Its clear that Sachin, to some extent has lost his touch and if people still want to see his odd century in months, they are not doing cricket of India any good. As Chappell rightly pointed that this has to do with lots of injuries that he suffered and with the amount of cricket India play, he is going to suffer a lot more. I simply hate the idea to selectively make him play in so called "important" series and rest him for others. We have already seen in the world cup, Minnows are getting dangerous and are catching up with the game. Lets not get into Lara-Sachin comparison. Lara is a great player and will remain so. Sachin is by no means any less. Coming to Sachin's retirement, I think its time for him to say goodbye. I would say, he should leave One Day cricket and take a long rest and think about his future. If he still feels, he has energy and hunger for the game, he can continue with Test cricket for some more time. The point is, after the recent World Cup disaster for India, harsh steps are expected to be in place. There will be more emphasis for a younger and fitter team. The focus is going to be 2011 world cup in the sub-continent. We would want to build on players who are most likely to play in 2011 and not on players who are in for a short term. I don't think Sachin will play for that long so why not keep him aside from day 1. The same implies to other players also like Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, Sehwag, Agarkar and Harbhajan . They are good players but are not going to solve our future problems. But the experience of these cricketers is too crucial to loose like this. I think if India has to advance in the game, these extremely talented cricketers should be involved at some level or the other. I think a new system has to evolve. I don't mind having a hard look at Australia's excellent factory of producing brilliant players!

Tendulkar should consider quitting

Look into that mirror, Sachin

Time to retire for Sachin Tendulkar? Ian Chappell thinks so
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hayden has done it again - 2 in 2

Back to Back Centuries against tough teams in the world cup shows the class of a batsman and if have an opener like him then not only your win is certain but the opposition's morale is battered in the beginning itself. Then chances of recovery become None. Against WI, Hayden proved that he is any team's nightmare. He scored more than 150 runs and made sure that Australia posts a big score. His game is so complete that it is really difficult to bowl at him and if he is in form, he is impossible. His raw power and great technique is second to none in this world cup. Smaller grounds are making things easy for him. Australians are playing great cricket and it was evident in their bowling. They want to crush the opposition. If they continue to play like this, it will be 3 in 3 (World Cups) for them (a record they only can break).
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History made by Malinga - 4 in 4

South Africa nearly saved an embarrassment after losing 4 wickets in 4 balls but in the end saving the match against Sri Lanka. The required runs were scored of a miscued shot by number 11 batsman. But the winner of the day was Malinga. What an amazing bowler he is. He is surely in the class of Shoab Akhtar, Bond and Brett lee who are asked by the captains to bowl fast, very fast. They all are a class apart. Malinga almost saved the day for Sri Lanka but in the end, it was proved that they were always 20-30 runs short . I think run out of Chamara Silva turned the game. Captain Jayawardene went on to speak freely to the press that they didn't deserve to win. Thats a big statement and hopefully taken by the players in the positive sense. This Lankan side is talented indeed but they have to make sure that they make some runs at the top. They should not always put pressure on middle order. It worked against poor bowling side like India but won't work against others in Super 8's. I still think they will reach the semi finals.
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Lasith Malinga's four wickets in four balls couldn't prevent South Africa winning in Guyana but reduced their margin of victory to one wicket © AFP

South Africa survive Malinga menace

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Australians are masters of the game!

What went wrong with India?? We missed Mandira Bedi's(lady) luck Looking right now at the way Aussies are batting against SA, I wonder what India lacks or has problem with? Well it is not only lack of passion or ageing team or poor captaincy or bad coach? Naaahh...Indians lack technique too. The game has changed so much and teams like Australia have adapted to it very well and now they are the pioneers. Mind you Australia was not the team to bring about the change of 100 runs in 15 overs. They didn't start this with openers like Mark greatbatch, Jayasuriya, Kallu or even Sachin tendulkar. Still they are able to adjust to that kind of game and produced openers like hayden and adam gilcrist. They did not stop there (where most others). Australia took the game to a new level where Players like Ponting coming at number 3 is even more dangerous. They had players like beven who had an average in 60's or 50's and a marvelous finisher, still had to retire to give way to youngsters. India is nowhere near the new level of the game. It needs major overhaul. On a laughing note, why not a fixed retirement age for cricketers?? 30 .. may be.
Michael Clarke launches a straight six during his bellegerent knock, Australia v South Africa, Group A, St Kitts, March 24, 2007

Michael Clarke launches a straight six during his bellegerent knock, Australia v South Africa, Group A, St Kitts, March 24, 2007

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