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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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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FULL FORCE GAYLE

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

My apologies to Van Morrison for using the title of his song and misspelling it.

Chris Gayle showed everyone once again his ability with the bat. It is not the number of runs that are important, but the way is which the runs are scored makes for a great game of cricket. The same can be stated of Sehwag. Despite the question marks over their technique and temperament, these two are only four batsmen to score triple hundreds twice in test cricket.

It is sad that Gayle has to play alongside far ordinary colleagues in the team from the West Indies. If he would have been part of a different and a stronger team, greater recognition would surely have followed.

Sometime ago the commitment of Gayle to test cricket was questioned following his confession of greater love for T20. But then that has not prevented his from scoring 333 runs at Galle. There is another interesting thing that I find common between Gayle and Sehwag. Both can strike the ball hard over long distances and yet they have accomplished more in the longer version of the game. Since Sehwag is in the company of really good players in his team, his knocks often turn out to be match winning ones. On the other hand, Gayle has to remain on the losing side. There is Shahid Afridi who has achieved a lot in the short and the shortest format of the game, without doing much of any substance in test cricket.

Looks like with the burden of captaincy gone and with no need to give politically correct statements, Gayle has discovered new ways to liberate his soul. No longer does his batting is tied with the word ‘responsibility’.

The longer form of the game which is not exactly in the pink of health, needs players like Gayle and Sehwag. More importantly, there is a place for characters and players with attitude like Gayle. Otherwise, test cricket would become boring.

I cannot desist myself from using some lines from the song of Van Morrison even though the same praises somebody else.

Like a full force gale

I was lifted up again

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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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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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