A GOOD SERIES IN PROSPECT

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, SPORTS | Tags: , , , , , |

 

The first one dayer of the Chappell-Hadlee series played at Napier went in favour of New Zealand. With this win, the Kiwis have ended the 12 match winning streak of the Aussies. The second match at Auckland will surely see the Aussies going all out to keep their standing intact.

New Zealand always have the habit of pulling out all stops when it comes to their trans-Tasman rivals and more so in their home conditions. It is true that the Kiwis are much more of a capable team in the shorter form of the game.The New Zealand team also has the advantage of playing at home on some of the smallest and sometimes very funny shaped cricket grounds.It is here that people like Brendon McCullum can make the ball sail over the ropes even with mishits and edges.

The Aussies will never take their opponents lightly since the last time round the Kiwis managed a 3-0 whitewash over their much celebrated opponents. But this time things are going to be tough for the Blackcaps since their skipper Daniel Vettori is doubtful for the second match and their influential allrounder Jacob Oram is out of the whole series.Oram has the ability to clear the longest boundaries and also bowl a rather heavy ball. Vettori is a world-class albeit an understated spinner who often does well against the Aussies.Also, the tactical acumen of Vettori is also invaluable.

In the first match, Scott Styris played a winning knock down the order. It is interesting to note here that Styris came into the team only at the last instance following the fitness problems of Vettori.He will want to do well in the remainder of the series.Ross Taylor has to continue his good touch with the bat.

The Aussies have to post a really big total and their bowlers need to keep the opposition batsmen in check. Ricky Ponting needs to come up with a brutal and a big innings to take his team to the shores of safety.

It is time the Aussies learnt to put their emotions under control. The sight of Mitchell Johnson having a verbal go at Styris was something unbecoming of a champion team.I wonder if the match referee would have stuck to the 60 percent fine if an Indian player were in place of Johnson!

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AN INTERESTING CHOICE

Posted on February 28, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, SPORTS | Tags: , , |

Waqar Younis has accepted the offer to coach the cricket team of Pakistan.It is learnt that Younis shall be with the team till the 2011 World Cup.There was speculation in the past about this but now Younis has himself confirmed the offer from the PCB and the subsequent acceptance.

There is nothing new in a former player becoming the coach but things are extremely complicated in Pakistan. Things between Younis and his bowling partner, Wasim Akram were less than cordial and this can divide the team into two groups, each owing allegiance to a great fast bowler.Add to this is the fact that former players like Javed Miandad and Sarfraz Nawaz are always happy to give their take on Pakistan cricket.

Waqar was a great bowler but this does not guarantee his success as a coach. It is not rare to find great players not having a good time as coaches. The players might not be as talented as the coach and the coach finds it difficult to make the players lift their game.Besides, Waqar does not have any coaching experience.

Even as the contract runs through the forthcoming World Cup, Pakistan can still spring surprises and have a new coach in place of Waqar

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a lOSS TO TEST CRICKET

Posted on February 23, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET | Tags: , , |

The lure of the IPL riches has made test cricket poorer with the speculation of Brett Lee likely to announce his retirement from test cricket.It was only a few months ago that Andrew Flintoff, an all-rounder of the highest class did the same.It is true that both of these players were battling injuries and more so the case with Flintoff

The present Australian team does not really miss Lee with many promising fast bowlers ready to wear the baggy green although the same cannot be said of the English test team without Flintoff.

Lee brought more than fast bowling to the team from down under. It was not uncommon to find Lee showing genuine appreciation for the exploits of the rivals.Even when he was on the receiving end, there was a smile for all to see.

There were doubts over his action when Brett Lee was first unleashed on the Indians but over the years, he silenced the critics.He played cricket the hard way without rubbing rivals the wrong way.That made Lee special.

In the past also, fast bowlers suffered injuries that led to changes in the bowling actions and a cut in the pace but with the likes of IPL offering easy cash, Lee and others have found an easy way out.The world of test cricket is a loser because of the chaddi (T20) cricket.

There are many memories associated with Lee on the cricket field.My most loved one is the straight drive from the bat of Sachin Tendulkar during the last Commonwealth Bank Series that thundered past the bowler to the boundary even before Lee could complete his follow through. Unlike the typical reaction from a fast bowler, Lee could afford a smile!

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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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NEW JAICHANDS AND MIR JAFARS

Posted on January 28, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET,SPORTS,IPL,IPL3, POLITICS | Tags: , , , , , , |

There was one thing that united the people of Pakistan,especially, the politicians and the armed forces of that country-India hating.The issue of Kashmir seemed to bring out the best out of a motley crowd that also includes professional gun slingers and ideologues.

But the non-inclusion of players from Pakistan in the recently concluded player auction, seems to have given something new to beat India with. Notwithstanding the explanations provided by the teamowners and the IPL supremo Lalit Modi, Pakistan went for the jugular. Sports bosses of Pakistan wanted India to apologise while the cricketers, past and present talked about a conspiracy. There was even a talk of Pakistan boycotting the Hockey World Cup to be hosted in Delhi in two weeks time.

A teamowner went on air about how highly the players from Pakistan were regarded for their abilities. He even professed for the need to have good relations between the two neighbouring countries.It is only in India that one can make such statements and also get away with them.

Initially, the government did not want to make any comments and rightly so put the ball in the courts of the IPL.But it seems the government and the powers felt some discomfort over the continuation of Track2 diplomacy with Pakistan and decided to clear the air.In an entirely unexpected and unjustified move, the Home Minister, P. Chidambaram ruled out any pressure from the side of the government behind the decision of excluding the players from Pakistan.He even made us alive to the fact Pakistan is currently the reigning T20 world champion and regretted the non-inclusion.

What was the Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna doing?

Why does not the hyper twitterer Shashi Tharoor come up with his own view on the whole episode?

India has the dubious history of having people like Mir Jafar and Jai Chand in the past but now they come in the form of the likes of Shah Rukh Khan.

Pardon me, if I sound jingoistic but there is very little logic behind the statements made by Shah Rukh Khan and Chidambaram.

Is there nothing more worthwhile for the Ministers to do?

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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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NO SURPRISE

Posted on January 21, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET,SPORTS,IPL,IPL3 | Tags: , , , , , |

The cat is out of the proverbial bag with the IPL supremo Lalit Modi saying in an interview to NDTV that there was a risk associated with Pakistan players. This comes as a surprise since Mr.Modi denied after the conclusion of the auction for the players that the BCCI had nothing to do with the decision of the team owners not to pick any of the 11 players from Pakistan who were available for purchase.

The full text of the interview is here:http://cricket.ndtv.com/storypage/ndtv/id/spoen20100126812/story20012010_185300.html

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SOUND BUSINESS + POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

Posted on January 19, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET,SPORTS,IPL,IPL3 | Tags: , , , |

The auctions for players for IPL3 took place today and the television ‘news’ channels having nothing more worthwhile to do, hammered on our heads, eyes and ears about the same.

By the time the auction ended, none of the 11 players from Pakistan was picked by any of the franchise.This incident dominated the evening and prime time news shows.

Some players from Pakistan called it a ‘conspiracy’ while others felt sorry for the Indians being unable to witness those talented players in action.Conspiracy because the Pakistan players would have been available for the entire IPL3.Pakistan is the defending T20 World Champions which would have made the players from that country a definite value addition to any team.

There are two reasons which I feel made the team owners develop cold feet when bidding for the Pakistan players.

In the first place, there is no certainty that players from across the border would have been available to play given that the government has never made it clear about the granting of visas.So like any shrewd businessman, the teams put the money where it was really worth and were not prepared to take any risk in the face of uncertainty.This is sound business.

Secondly, the team owners wanted to make a politically correct statement, even as the interest of the country comes next to self interest for them. In this atmosphere where jingoism rules the air, it might come in handy to keep clear from any future controversy.Looks like the team owners want a certificate of appreciation from the likes of Bal Thackeray.

This is a perfect case study where sound business and political correctness have successfully cleared the SWOT test.

So much for ‘chaddi’ (T20) cricket!.

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THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK

Posted on January 17, 2010. Filed under: POLITICS | Tags: , , , , , , |

In the aftermath of the allegedly racially motivated attacks on Indians down under, the Shiv Sena supremo has warned that cricket players from Australia would not be welcomed in India.

Shiv Sena as a political party is a spent force despite the arguments of its supporters. So is the case with Bal Thackeray.His nephew started a political party which seems to be the main cause for the coming back to power of Congress and its allies in the last Assembly elections in Maharashtra.Raj Thackeray the nephew of Bal Thackeray has put into use the tried and tested tools that originally created a base for Shiv Sena. So in a desperate bid to regain the glory days and be in the news, Bal Thackeray has issued this warning to the Australian cricketers.

The Shiv Sena is nothing new to these things and in the past when a tour of Pakistan was to start, a cricket pitch was damaged in Mumbai. It took many years for the team across the borders to play cricket on a bilateral basis.

The attacks whether racist or not, need to be condemned. There is a need to seek answers from the Australian government over these incidents.

But the warning from Bal Thackeray needs to taken with a lot of salt. He is someone who seems to be very concerned with the plight of the Indians in Australia. At the same time, he does always espouse the cause of the ‘Marathi Manoos’ at the expense of non Marathis in Maharashtra. Well, Mr.Thackeray, how can you justify the attacks on non-Marathis in Maharashtra when you lend sympathies to the Indians in Australia? It is a common fact that the Shiv Sena and the outfit floated by Raj Thackeray do argue that most of the ills faced by Maharashtra are due to the large influx of people from other states of India. A similar argument is also on cards from the Australians.

Originally it were the South Indians, especially the people from Tamil Nadu who faced the wrath of the Shiv Sena.Now, it is the turn of the people from the northern parts of the country-people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.It is the ultimate hypocrisy on part of the Shiv Sena to question the attacks on Indians abroad when Indians cannot move freely within their own country.

There are states in India where the purchase of property by ‘outsiders’-those coming from other states is prohibited by law. This is euphemistically carried out in the name of protecting the interests of the locals. This comes at a time when India and its leaders call for a level playing field in the context of international matters.

It is another matter altogether that in states like Assam the influx of foreign nationals has been going on with the active support of major political parties. A foreign national could secure all the credentials and went on to become a Member of the Parliament.

It is time that Mr.Thackeray should stop calling someone black when he is not at all different.

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