GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:CHETAN SHARMA-1987

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, INDIA, RELIANCE WORLD CUP 1987 | Tags: , , , , , , |

 

CHETAN

 

He is best remembered by my generation for that full toss that was whacked out of the ground at Sharjah by Miandad for an improbable win for Pakistan. That one ball overshadowed all the other important contributions mostly with the ball and on occasions with the bat from this player. Weeks after the incident at Sharjah, this man had a great part in the famous series win by India in England in the test matches. In the very first test, this player took India to the doorstep of a win with splendid bowling.

I am talking about Chetan Sharma, who was small in stature but had a big heart. He was a member of the Indian team that won the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket in Australia in 1985.Sharma played the finals in place of the ill Roger Binny.

Chetan Sharma also a few times was capable of making runs with the bat in the one-dayers even once when promoted up in the batting order during the Nehru Cup. But my abiding memory was the hat-trick achieved by him during the Reliance World Cup in 1987.

India played New Zealand at Nagpur and the visitors batted first. None of the Kiwi batsmen could play a long innings and a modest target awaited India. Rutherford, Ian Smith and Ewen Chatfield were dismissed by Chetan Sharma in successive deliveries for a hat trick. All the three were clean bowled.

But the efforts of Chetan Sharma were completely overshadowed by the batting of Sunil Gavaskar and Srikkanth with the former getting his only century in limited overs. Even earlier, the superlative batting of Dilip Vengsarkar on the tour to England relegated the efforts of Chetan Sharma into the background.

Luckily, things like match-fixing and spot-fixing were not around during the last ball full toss incident at Sharjah, otherwise, Chetan Sharma would have been hounded for all the wrong reasons. Even the government of the day would not have hesitated to constitute an enquiry committee to find the truth!

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:STEPHEN FLEMING-2003

Posted on February 14, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003 | Tags: , , , |

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He came on to the international scene as an unknown and surprisingly, was made the captain of the team. He was tall and lanky and unlike many left handers, did not show much grace at the crease. But with the passage of time, he showed tremendous application as a batsman. If I remember correctly, Fleming decided to open the innings in the test matches on a tour to Sri Lanka and went on to make a double hundred.However, it is as a captain that he showed great skill and at times plotted the downfall of much more accomplished teams and opposing players.I remember a series played in Australia where he employed a specific field for Damien Martyn and the batsman got out playing the same shot on more than one occasion.

I am talking about Stephen Fleming. It was not an easy task to lead the New Zealand who did not possess any great players after the retirements of the likes of Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe. It is to the credit of Fleming that at times the Kiwis made a mockery of their standing in the international arena. The battles with the traditional rivals the Aussies were always something to look forward to even when the Kiwis were beaten.

The 1992 World Cup with Martin Crowe at the helm saw New Zealand make the best use of the home conditions with the team going all the way to the semi-finals. But in the later editions, the team could not make much of a progress despite the sterling performances of a few individual players.

Few gave a chance to the team led by Fleming in the 2003 edition of the ICC World Cup. But one innings from Fleming showed his intelligence much to the chagrin of the home team, South Africa at Johannesburg.

The Proteas were under great pressure after the narrow loss to the West Indies. They had to win in order to have any chance of going forward in the tournament. The team led by Shaun Pollock scored 306 with Gibbs scoring 143. All the bowlers suffered including the likes of Shane Bond and the normally reliable Daniel Vettori.

The target of 307 was always going to be something of a mountain for the Kiwis to climb. But then there was always a possibility of rain intervening and the DL method deciding the outcome of the match. This was kept in my mind by Fleming and he went on to play shots. Always the Kiwis were ahead of the required runs and when the rains came and put a halt to the proceedings, the Kiwis got home comfortably. The home team was caught unawares about the score they had to defend and let Fleming to call the shots.

Stephen Fleming made 134 in only 132 balls and controlled the chase beautifully. Testing my memory I recall one incident where the ball ricocheted off the bat of Fleming following a throw from a South African fielder. Normally, the batsmen don’t run but Fleming calmly took the runs on offer.It might have been unsportsmanlike, though not illegal but it just shows the determination of Fleming to win.This innings was called the ‘innings of a lifetime’.

I have read somewhere that Fleming was a student of Economics and that is how probably he mastered the technique of getting the best out of his team with limited resources. It is all the more satisfying since yours truly also is a student of Economics

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:GEOFF ALLOTT-1999

Posted on February 6, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, CRICKET WORLD CUP 1999, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011 | Tags: , , , , , |

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With the ICC Cricket World Cup only a few days away, most of the news and sports channels are making us ‘relive’ the past action. There are highlights, sidelights and also the visions from the experts.

In between the not-so-busy schedule of mine, I find time to remote through the different channels and a couple of days ago, I happened to stumble upon the match between India and New Zealand in the World Cup of 1999 in England. Geoff Allott the left-arm fast from New Zealand took advantage of the conditions and had Saurav Ganguly in a great deal of discomfort and finally yorked the batsman out.

Allott had a great World Cup with 20 wickets in the competition but that was not enough for his team. Shane Warne also took the same number of wickets in that tournament. Against Australia and Pakistan the finalists of the World Cup, Allott took 4 wickets each. Cricket as a team game can be very cruel in that great individual performances do not get the attention they deserve in view of the team’s lack of success.

Allott could not take his career to greater levels due to persistent injuries and finally in 2010, he decided to call it a day.

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:SHANE BOND-2003

Posted on February 6, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011 | Tags: , , , , |

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The name with the surname Bond always has a special ring to it having grown up on a number of films showing the adventures of the super spy created by Ian Fleming.So when someone with the same surname came on to the cricket field, there was a natural curiosity.What made it even more interesting was the fact that this gentleman was a fast bowler.

I am talking about Shane Bond, a real life policeman who was armed with the cricket ball licensed to end the stay of the opposing batsmen at the crease. Bond was a pace bowler in the real sense of the term; the adjectives like medium-fast or fast-medium did not apply to him, he was a fast bowler.But unlike other fast bowlers, Bond did never use his mouth on the field.Those qualities made him more endearing for me.

Like most from New Zealand, Shane Bond relished playing against the traditional rivals, the Australians. There have been a few occasions when the famed Australian line-up was battered into submission by Bond.

The Indian team which toured New Zealand before the ICC World Cup of 2003 in South Africa found it almost impossible to counter the pace bowlers of the home team led by Bond on green and drop down wickets.

But for me, the best that Bond bowled was in the 2003 ICC World Cup versus Australia at Port Elizabeth. The first four batsmen consisting the likes of Gilchrist, Hayden, Ponting and Martyn in batting order all fell to the pace of Bond. Hogg and Ian Harvey also became the victims of genuine pace coupled with bounce and movement. The scoreboard read 7 wickets down for only 84 runs and Bond’s figures read 6 for 23.That day, Bond was unplayable.

Once Bond finished with his spell, things became cooler and the Aussies recovered thanks to the efforts of Bevan and Bichel.That speaks volumes of the impact of Bond. The Aussies with a much greater dept in their bowling could successfully defend a small score.

Recurrent injuries put Bond more in the confines of the surgeon’s table and less on the cricket field. After a while in the T20 circus, Bond called it a day.

Sadly, this Bond did not have a victorious ending as is the case with the other Bond.

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GREAT PERFORMANCES IN THE WORLD CUP:DAVID HOUGHTON-1987

Posted on January 31, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011 | Tags: , , , , , |

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I did not watch the Prudential Cricket World Cup of 1983. My father watched the match live and he provided the report. Of course, there were the newspapers.

For me and my brothers, the Reliance World Cup of 1987 was truly the first one. It was only the World Cup that prompted my parents to accede to out demand for a colour tv at home. With the cable connection, it was time to sit back and enjoy.

While the World Cup was going on, I had to accompany my mother to Hyderabad to pay a visit to my grandmother. My uncle did not and still does not have a high opinion of cricket and also the followers of the game. But the day before the match featuring New Zealand and Zimbabwe at the Lal Bahadur Stadium, he wanted to know if I needed a ticket to watch the match live. With two teams that were not expected to put up a good show, I declined the offer and instead preferred to watch the match on the tv. Even after all these years, I still regret the decision for the match featured on the best innings ever played in the World Cup.

New Zealand batted first and put up a good score for in those days even an asking rate of 5 runs per over seemed to be a tough task provided the bowling attack was decent. Snedden made a half-century and Martin Crowe batted like only he could.

Zimbabwe was not expected to do much. My only interest was to follow the progress of Kevin Curran. He was one of the bowlers to wreak havoc on the Indians in the previous World Cup and Curran was rated one of the good allrounders in the English county circuit.

Zimbabwe lost wickets early with not many runs on the scoreboard. The match seemed to be going in one direction-New Zealand. But one man-David Houghton had a different idea. In the company of Iain Butchart, Houghton took his team very close to the target. The end for Houghton and his team came when Martin Crowe came up with the catch of the World Cup.

Houghton played every shot and it was really incredible stuff. The ball kept going to and over the boundary.

It was a truly remarkable innings and once again I regret having missed out on that.

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A WIN AT LAST

Posted on December 27, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, T20 | Tags: , , |

In the first T20 match at Eden Park,the hosts New Zealand had an easy five wicket win over Pakistan.

Pakistan started well with Afridi hitting the ball well.But once the openers departed,the visitors floundered.Tom Southee took five wickets that included a hat-trick.The umpire gave Umar Akmal out in front when there was a big inside edge.

Ross Taylor who disappointed in India, took his team home.But it was Martin Guptill who shone for the home team in the batting department.

Looks like the familiar home conditions have brought the spark back into the Kiwis. Or is the victory due the appointment of John Wright as the Coach?

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Protected: WIN AT LAST

Posted on December 26, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

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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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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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