Sunday Apr 13, 2008

India wins Kanpur test in style

Finally after following Indian SA test series every night (PST), I got something to cheer about which will make my time worth it. Kudos to Team India, the stand-in captain MS Dhoni and former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly for bringing cheers among Indian fans all over the world by wrapping up the third test inside three days, the crafty spinners being the architects of the win.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, spin is always going to be India's strength and the South Africans should be grateful to the curators of the first two tests (not taking any credit from their performance in this series though). The way in which wickets fell like ninepins yesterday was a treat to watch and after a long time one could witness classical Indian spin bowling similar to those of mid 90's where India were invincible at home.

Not sure whether Dhoni is a magician or tactician, right from the word go he puzzled both SA batsmen and Indian fans by opening the attack with Harbhajan, keeping run flow in check, bringing Ishant sharma briefly and surprising Mark Boucher, the next over replacing him again with a spinner, etc, etc, one really needs to know how his mind works, but after seeing the results its just a case of intuitive thinking towards the shortest path to victory :)

Sourav Ganguly played an innings of his lifetime and his innings is comparable to Dravid's effort in the final test in Jamaica in the Carribean series in 2006, both resulting in victories, hope the former captain brings more accolades to himself and the team in future. Harbhajan is back to his best on home soil and the way he shouldered responsibility in the absence of Anil is commendable.

In concluding, this is a hard fought series, both teams got a chance to know about their strengths and weaknesses, as mentioned by commentators about pitches in India, have green surface for domestic matches and a turning track for making Team India win!

Thursday Apr 10, 2008

Cricket: The Importance of Spin and Turning tracks for Team India

Today, just like any other sleepless Indian fan after the capitulation in Ahmedabad, I was reading what the curator has for Kanpur test. I was taken aback by this comment in Cricinfo .

"A genuine sporting track, as Ahmedabad was, will definitely not suit India, given the form their pace bowlers are in. Being 1-0 down in the series, they can't afford a Chennai-like sleeping beauty either. As a result they have put all their eggs in the spin basket, perhaps the only basket they had."

It's very hard to understand why the eggs were not in spin basket in Chennai and Ahmedabad and it's not that we can't win on sporting wickets, the Perth test against Australia would have answered that convincingly with India being the First Asian team to win in Australia's favorite backyard, especially after the Sydney test row, what more, the series win in England after 21 years is also a sufficient proof.

But the real question to be answered is: What Kind of Wickets should India produce for any home series?

Have turning tracks before it gets too late, the real test of skill for any visiting team is to win matches in conditions familiar to the home team and that's what will make the series interesting for them and I am sure that quality teams like SA and Australia would be embracing such challenges rather than complaining about turning tracks.

There is nothing wrong in producing favorable tracks if you want to attract crowd who expect the home team to prevail over the opposition, also its the same case for India when they visit SA or Australia or England where a seaming, bouncy or swinging track always greets them and they should be upto the challenge.

Wednesday Mar 05, 2008

Dhoni: The inspirational captain

Finally India won something in Australia thanks to the young and energetic side led by MS Dhoni, as before every series there were lot of critics questioning the controversial sacking of former Indian captains Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, but Dhoni's men vindicated everything by lifting the trophy against all odds. The pensive mood of the Australian camp says it all!

There were lots of gains for India from this series which would do a world of good for the team, the greatest finds being the talented youngster Rohit Sharma, rookie (can we call them anymore?) pacers Ishant Sharma and Pravin Kumar, more than anything is the maturing captain in MS Dhoni. What more inspired by youngsters, sachin started to play as if he is still 17 years old, giving India an explosive start only he is capable of. These things coupled with the fact that the Under 19 team lifted the World Cup means Indian Cricket is really in Cloud Nine.

Now it remains to be seen whether the former captains would ever get a recall in the ODI squad as players (BTW there were lot of Under 19 players in queue as well), therefore the best thing for them is to learn the fact that their only stronghold is their test place, which nobody can replace for the time being (atleast as long our test captain is Anil Kumble :)).

Thursday Apr 26, 2007

Cricket: World Cup Failure and Academy Exchange

I was reading the column Majola hits out at South Africa's 'mental strength'. One of the valuable takeaways was the proposal for academy exchange program between India, Pakistan and SA.

"This will enable us to send a squad of spinners to the subcontinent for specialist coaching and for selected batsmen to learn to play spin in those conditions. Pakistan and India will then be able to use their bowlers and batsmen to train in our quicker conditions."

I believe in one way the defeat of India, Pakistan and South Africa is a blessing in disguise, otherwise the thinktank would not have got a chance to dig deep into the problem and come up with creative solutions like this. These ideas when implemented sincerely will definitely help these nations to build a better side not only for the next World cup, but can also improve their abysmal overseas record in non-friendly pitches.

Wednesday Apr 04, 2007

Greg Chappell and Indian Team

It was a kind of parting Greg Chappell would have never dreamt about nor the Indian players or the BCCI. I believe Greg did the right thing in resigning the job.

When players of sorts like Sachin or Anil Kumble express their displeasure for the coach, it's not wise to hang on. One of the interesting fact is Sachin was so focussed on Greg Chappell's remark against the seniors rather than commenting on his future. I am not saying that he should retire (it's hard to get another Sachin BTW), but a player of caliber like Sachin should not have made such a comment at a wrong time.

Anyway, Greg will be remembered for some of the best moments he had with the team like the series win in West Indies after a span of 35 years, record number of consecutive chases, etc.

Finally what is more worrying is the catastrophic changes which will be triggered if a sub-continent team gets eliminated from a World Cup, it virtually changes everything from a player level to the administration level (as if a new Government is formed after the elections!), which should not be the case. It's high time the storm stops its devastation and things get settled in for India so that the new season can kick off in a positive spirit.

Sunday Apr 01, 2007

Prediction: World Cup Semifinalists, Finalists and Winners

I will make a rough prediction on the teams which I expect to make it to the semis in this World cup.

Semifinalists:

Australia
New Zealand
South Africa
England

Finalists: Australia vs England (One day Ashes ?)

Winner: England?

Although people may have different opinions on this, for me England has it in them to lift the Cup (Did any team won the VB Series in Australia beating them 2 - 0 for the past 10 years?). England's win also will also be emotional because they lost three WC finals and as the country which introduced Cricket to the world and made many good cricketers (I mean foreign cricketers) through English county contracts, its time for us to back England to win the cup. I agree it will be a herculean task and needs a miracle of sorts for that to happen, but they can do it. Moreover since India is already out of the WC, its easy for me to expect England to win.

What if England does not make it? In this case I expect either NewZealand or South Africa to make it. Let this World cup be a maiden title for someone.

Friday Mar 30, 2007

Indian Cricket: The future

After the debacle at the World cup, the crestfallen cricketers arrived home and there were talks of who should retire, the next captain, coach etc. For me the answers are simple.

Retirement: Why should the present Cricketers retire if we don't have good replacements?

Coach: Greg Chappell should be retained. Changing the coach doesn't mean change of fortunes (the best example is Indian Hockey, BCCI be wary of it), instead Greg should be given more freedom in team selection, preparation of pitches, inducting young talent in the team, etc.

Captain: Rahul Dravid, though a good batsman is not as impressive as Captain as Sourav. But that doesn't mean he is not a good captain. Therefore Rahul Dravid should only be the Indian Test captain and for ODIs India needs an young and energetic leader like Yuvraj.

What next? Focus on winning the 20-20 World cup in South Africa in September.

Sunday Mar 18, 2007

Welcome again to subcontinent's Insane passion for cricket.

This is what my cousin Mani has to say after India and Pak's painful defeats....

Its amazing to see how quickly things can change with one failure once again. Now everyone in India and Pakistan with sword in the hand ready to sack everyone who represented their respective countries in the World Cup.

Undoubtedly its a great achievement from Ireland. But does that by any stretch of imagination will mean Irish are better than Pakis in cricket? Same goes with the victory of Bangladesh over India. Because tomorrow if India loses to Srilanka, whatever that happens now to Pakistan, will happen to Indian team also.

Every former cricketer and critic will write all sorts of things and reasons. But frankly, Just take a pause and think from head and not heart, is it Inzamam or Rahul the reason for this despair? I certainly feel they are not.

I personally very strongly feel the format is the issue. Undoubtedly this format of pooling few teams and then super eights is a significant improvement over the past. But World cup after World cup this has proved its own weakness also. Zimbabwe entered with 4 points to Supersixes in 1999 and Kenya to Semis in 2003 due to countries rejecting to play cricket in some places due to security concerns. In the name of new format we missed some nice aspects of old World cup formats.

In one of the discussions with my cousins much much prior to World cup, this topic came up. That time my cousin was saying just one bad day with Bangladesh can ruin India's chances, which happened exactly as he feared. Hez not soothsayer, but his worry proved right. The reason why I said this now, just after World cup format has relevance.

Let me explain, had we included this nice supersix/eight concepts along with 2 matches with each team in the league phase, this anamoly could have been avoided. In earlier days till 1987 that was the case, we used to play 2 games with everyone in the pool. Had this been the case now, I am 100% confident that Pakistan would have bounced back, and probably we may not have lost Bob Woolmer. In a Hypothetical case if they lost both games again to Ireland well and good, they deserve to be thrown off.

If in the series following after the World cup, if Pakistan wins one such against Aussises all these people will diametrically take opposite direction and everyone will be singing hymn of their cricketers. Till then let everyone bash their heroes for the moment as anyways crowns are waiting there to beautify them again!!!.

Welcome again to subcontinent's Insane passion for cricket.

Mani

Friday Feb 16, 2007

Aussies slump ....

How rarely can one see such a scorecard. Aus vs NZ, Feb 16 1007
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