TEST CRICKET

iNDIA DOWN & OUT

Posted on December 17, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , |

It is only the second day and India is already down in the dumps in the first test at Centurion. It is interesting that more than half of the first day’s play could not be possible due to the rain and wet outfield.

The home team has taken a lead of over 200 runs going into the third day with eight more batsmen still to come to crease. The openers Smith and Peterson gave a solid start and both scored half-centuries. The fast bowlers could not make any impression and it was Harbhajan Singh who got the two wickets to fall on the day.

Then it was the Kallis and Amla show all the way as they have put together more than 200 runs and still they are at the crease. Dhoni tried different bowlers including Sachin and Raina but with no success.

This match takes my memory back to the Kingsmead test many years ago when Allan Donald and company destroyed the Indian batting. The tourists were bowled out for less than 100 and the home team put up a big score.

Then came perhaps one of the greatest innings ever played by Sachin Tendulkar. In the company of Azharuddin, Sachin murdered the South Africans and there were runs all over the ground. It looked like a highlights package as Azharuddin also scored the runs at a very brisk pace. The partnership ended only when there was a run out and after that a great catch took the match to South Africa.

In many ways, this match is similar to the times when Sachin was the only Indian batsman to score runs against difficult bowling and mostly in the second innings. But in the final analysis, India lost the match. I really hope that Sachin does not get to his 50th hundred in that way.

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ADVANTAGE AUSTRALIA

Posted on December 17, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, TEST CRICKET, THE ASHES |

 

The home team seems to have turned the test match in its favour in Perth. After being dismissed for 268, the visitors seemed to be in a strong position. But Mitchell Johnson wrote a superb script for himself and his team.

In the first innings, Johnson scored a half-century and that perhaps could have boosted his confidence with the ball. The helpful wicket at Perth did the rest and there were times when the left-armer looked unplayable. The same bowler struggled to put the ball in the right place in the Brisbane test. In the English first innings, he took six wickets. Johnson was picked for this test and there was a lot of answering the selectors had to do to justify his selection.

Ponting failed once again but the win in this test match may bring runs from the Australian skipper in the rest of the series. That is something of a bad sign for the English.

Steve Waugh commented that Ricky Ponting would leave international cricket if he were to be dropped from the captaincy. Waugh was an acknowledged master at the art of ‘mental disintegration’. This might have inspired the Aussie bowlers to rise up to the occasion.

For the first time in the series, the Australian commentators had something to gloat about the superior abilities of the home team. Everyone seemed to have removed from their memories the bad showing in the first two test matches.

England can only bank on a miracle to save this match.

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ON THE BACKFOOT

Posted on December 16, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, SEHWAG, SOUTH AFRICA, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , , |

The worst fears have come true with the Indian batsmen unable to handle the fast bowlers at the Super Sports Park in Centurion.

Sehwag carried a lot of hopes but he played a shot that went straight into the hands of the waiting fielder.One expert called it ‘an irrational shot’.But I say it is due to the planning that South Africa had done for the batsman.

Gambhir, though an extremely capable batsman, is still untested when it comes to facing genuine fast bowling on pacy wickets.He had a harrowing time before giving the edge to the slip fielder.Dravid went past Brian Lara in the all time list of runs scored in test matches but could not last long.

Sachin looked in form before falling.Laxman was beaten by the pace and the movement.The less said is better about Suresh Raina. It is a wonder how many more opportunities should be given to the left-hander to prove himself.

Harbhajan showed his improved prowess as a batsman and that is something of a danger for in recent times, he bowls more like a part-timer.

There is of course, Dhoni still at the crease.My feeling is that he shall remain not out which would boost his average by a very small margin but has no import in the context of the match.

The weathermen have predicted some thundershowers on the fourth and the fifth days.That may give some hope for a draw if only the match goes that far.

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INTRIGUING CONTEST ON THE CARDS

Posted on December 15, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, TEST CRICKET, THE ASHES | Tags: , , , , |

It is not very often that Australia trails behind in a test series and more so in the Ashes at home.It was more than two decades ago that this happened and the Ashes went all the way to England.

The last time the English went to the land down under, they were wiped clean, losing all the five matches.But now things are different with the home lacking the firepower in both the batting and the bowling departments to crush their traditional rivals.

It is true that the home team was regarded as not too strong going into the Ashes but after two test matches, the edge lies with the English.Of course, only a fool would be courageous enough the write-off the Aussies.

In a selection policy that is best practiced in the sub-continent, Cricket Australia has been busy in picking and dropping players.Add to this is the public clamour building up for the comeback of Shane Warne.

As a neutral, I would still love to see the Ashes being taken to England

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A LOT AT STAKE

Posted on December 15, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , |

It is the time that the Indian team stood up to the challenge of playing real fast bowlers on wickets that have pace and bounce.

South Africa has never been a delightful experience for the Indians with the exception of the T20 World Cup, the 2003 World Cup and sterling individual performances.

With the tag of No.1 the Indian cricket team has a lot to prove.The lacklustre showing against the New Zealand at home in the test series should be a cruel pointer.I do not want to sound like a pessimist or a Jaywant Lele, but something tells me that this series could be a make or break for the team and a lot of players.

The news of Zaheer Khan and Shreesanth being doubtful for the first test could not have come at a more inopportune time.The spinners, the less said the better for they could not answer the questions posed by the batsmen from New Zealand.Surely, the likes of Kallis and Co. are much more accomplished and have the entries in the record books to justify this.

In the batting department, everything comes down to the seniors led by the gentleman named Sachin Tendulkar. It would be a photographer’s delight to watch Raina face the fast bowlers.

Historically, India have not done well in the opening test of a series at home as well as on foreign soil.So a wrong foot in the first test could make things extremely complicated in the series.The sad losses in the first two test matches in the last tour of Australia could not prevent India from saving the series even with that famous win in Perth.

The captaincy of Dhoni and his famed ‘midas touch’-largely a myth will be put under tremendous pressure.

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CHANGE OF ROLES?

Posted on November 15, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, IPL, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , |

For the second innings in a row, Harbhajan Singh managed to upstage his more legendary teammates and scored a century.Harbhajan took four wickets in the first innings but could not make much of an impression on the New Zealand batsmen so far in the second innings.

Since announcing his arrival into the big league of test matches with a bang in Sri Lanka, Suresh Raina has failed to back his supporters. Even when he scored a half-century against the Australians, Raina looked extremely suspect when it came to the fast and rising balls. If one remembers correctly, Raina offered not so pleasant pictures when facing the short balls even in the IPL. What is worse is the fact that Raina tries a big shot and gets out as he did in the first innings of the Hyderabad test.But interestingly, Raina got the wicket of Ryder.

So is Harbhajan the new batsman and Raina the new off-spinner in the Indian team?

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WHAT A 100

Posted on November 10, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

 

In the just completed test at Motera in Ahmedabad, India managed to stave off an embarassing defeat to lowly ranked New Zealand thanks to the efforts of     V V S Laxman and Harbhajan Singh.

Laxman once again showed everyone in very clear terms why he is really ‘very very special’.This statement is fast becoming a cliche thanks to the exploits of Laxman in the recent matches against Sri Lanka and Australia.

While Laxman’s abilities and credentials cannot be questioned, Harbhajan Singh demonstrated his attitude and brought up his maiden 100 in first class cricket when it really mattered most.Not to forget the half century in the first innings in the same match.

With the 100, Harbhajan joined 3 other Indians who scored their maiden first class 100 in test matches.One of them is the great Kapil Dev.Predictably, after the match, some managed to ‘unearth’ a new all-rounder in Indian cricket. Mercifully, no one has the gall to draw comparisons between Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh!Of course, Sunil Gavaskar wants the selectors to make a batsman make way for another bowler in the wake of the 100 from Harbhajan.

Even as praises are showered on the batting efforts of Harbhajan, we have ignored the most important contribution that the off-spinner has to bring to his team. It is a matter of concern that while Harbhajan’s batting has improved, his bowling has gone into downhill. It is a worry that Australia and New Zealand managed to score in excess of 400 runs in the first innings of the previous three test matches in India.The primary role of Harbhajan is to take wickets although runs from his bat are also welcome.

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aN ORIGINAL

Posted on April 18, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, SEHWAG, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , |

It is difficult to make oneself count when one of your teammates goes by the name of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Ever since the Mumbai maestro made his debut in 1989, all cricketing superlatives seem to head in one direction-Mumbai.

Great cricketers like Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and V V S Laxman could have made the headlines consistently, but for the exploits of Sachin. All of these have been match winners, though.

But,one man though has carried a bigger burden. Virendra Sehwag was called a ‘Sachin Clone’ and even today some one called him the protégé of Sachin. The commentators might shamelessly argue that such labeling is some sort of a compliment without recognizing the full import of the contributions made by the ‘Nawab of Nazafgarh’ to the success of Indian cricket in recent times. These epithets, I believe are just an indication of a pretty blinkered view of the world.Sachin is without doubt a great player but that does not make Virendra Sehwag an ordinary player.

Sehwag was and even now accused of having a bad technique for a proper batsman.A number of commentators take pride in pointing out the flaws in his technique when the batsman is out for a small score.But then how have the runs continued to flow from his bat?

Sehwag was also accused during the Chappell era of possessing a spirit detrimental to the interests of the Indian team and the Delhi batsman was left out of the team for a while. This also went against Sehwag as far as the captaincy was concerned.It is a testimony of his temperament that he weathered all these storms and made a smashing comeback into the team.

Even during the last trip to Australia Sehwag could not find a place in the test team and when given the opportunity, he batted for a long time in ensuring the safety of his team.

Few players have batted in the way that Sehwag does in the longer version of the game over a long period of time.In the Multan test, Sehwag hit a six to go to the triple hundred mark. Sehwag is incidentally the only batsman after Donald Bradman to go past the 290 mark in a test innings on three occasions.

Wisden named Virendra Sehwag as the Leading Cricketer in the World for the Year for the second year running.

Surely, this is not a bad recognition for some clone or a poor imitation having very few qualities of the original and in this case the copy sometimes seems to shine brighter than the original.

It is difficult to make oneself count when one of your teammates goes by the name of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Ever since the Mumbai maestro made his debut in 1989, all cricketing superlatives seem to head in one direction-Mumbai.

Great cricketers like Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and V V S Laxman could have made the headlines consistently, but for the exploits of Sachin. All of these have been match winners, though.

But,one man though has carried a bigger burden. Virendra Sehwag was called a ‘Sachin Clone’ and even today some one called him the protégé of Sachin. The commentators might shamelessly argue that such labeling is some sort of a compliment without recognizing the full import of the contributions made by the ‘Nawab of Nazafgarh’ to the success of Indian cricket in recent times. These epithets, I believe are just an indication of a pretty blinkered view of the world.Sachin is without doubt a great player but that does not make Virendra Sehwag an ordinary player.

Sehwag was and even now accused of having a bad technique for a proper batsman.A number of commentators take pride in pointing out the flaws in his technique when the batsman is out for a small score.But then how have the runs continued to flow from his bat?

Sehwag was also accused during the Chappell era of possessing a spirit detrimental to the interests of the Indian team and the Delhi batsman was left out of the team for a while. This also went against Sehwag as far as the captaincy was concerned.It is a testimony of his temperament that he weathered all these storms and made a smashing comeback into the team.

Even during the last trip to Australia Sehwag could not find a place in the test team and when given the opportunity, he batted for a long time in ensuring the safety of his team.

Few players have batted in the way that Sehwag does in the longer version of the game over a long period of time.In the Multan test, Sehwag hit a six to go to the triple hundred mark. Sehwag is incidentally the only batsman after Donald Bradman to go past the 290 mark in a test innings on three occasions.

Wisden named Virendra Sehwag as the Leading Cricketer in the World for the Year for the second year running.

Surely, this is not a bad recognition for some clone or a poor imitation having very few qualities of the original and in this case the copy sometimes seems to shine brighter than the original.

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SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

Posted on February 14, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , |

When Ian Chappell expressed his doubts over the standing of India as the best test playing nation in the long run, there was widespread disbelief. Motives were attributed to Chappelli and the familiar white vs. black debate got started all over again especially among the followers of the game in India who are more addicted to the chaddi cricket(T20).

In his analysis, Chappell talks about the bowling and the batting talents that are required to sustain the No.1 ranking over a period of time.

The first test between India and South Africa exposed brutally the chinks that were visible to most real followers of Indian cricket.In the absence of Dravid and Laxman, the batting resembled a bunch of weekend cricketers against a professional outfit, barring the knocks of Sachin and Sehwag.Forget what Dhoni might had to say after the trashing on swing bowling-conventional or otherwise, the fact remains that the batsmen were just not equipped to deal with the likes of Steyn. It is true that most teams now look very ordinary when facing good bowling, particularly of the faster variety.The most successful batsmen of his generation, Ricky Ponting made to look ragged by Kiemar Roach.

Laxman talked about the lack of bench strength in the spin department.The Nagpur loss showed how true the concerns of Laxman were. The premier spinner in the team Harbhajan Singh just did not have a clue on spin while Amit Mishra spun a few balls in his first spell on the first day. That the Indian batsmen struggled to find their feet against Paul Harris is another story.

THe selection of the team made one pull out hair in dismay. Why was Saha in the team as a batsman when Manish Pandey and Virat Kohli had better credentials to offer?

It is often said that one needs to run faster to stay at the present position. The INdian team just could barely walk and going by the happenings in the second test, it is very difficult for the team to stay at the top.

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IS A WIN POSSIBLE?

Posted on January 21, 2010. Filed under: BANGLADESH, CRICKET, INDIA, SEHWAG, SPORTS, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , |

India have managed to take 7 wickets of Bangladesh and the home team need another 200 runs to secure the first ever win against India in test matches.That is highly improbable and it is no exaggeration to say that it would be impossible. But what is interesting is that whether the Indian bowlers would be able to get the remaining 3 wickets.

In the first innings, the lower order batsmen of Bangladesh put up a brave fight and almost equaled the Indian effort when more than half of the team was back in the pavilion with few runs.

There is no better opportunity for the beleaguered Indian bowlers to get a win even when it is against Bangladesh.

Hope the standing in captain Sehwag does not regret calling Bangladesh an ordinary team before the start of the test.

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