Tag Archives: indian cricket

Border Gavaskar Trophy series review – One hell of a performance by the Indians :)

12 Nov

For the last one and half months, cricket fans around the world got to see one of the best test series ever involving two great test playing nations. The Border – Gavaskar Series 2008 was exciting not just because the Indian won the series 2-0, but it also put an end to Australia’s dominance in World cricket. More importantly, India seems to have combined high energy, great motivation levels, team combination and the urge to perform under its new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten.

Turning Points and deciding factors

According to me, the folowing were the turning points of this series that took things in India’s favour.

  • Excellent opening stands in almost all tests by Sehwag-Gambhir as well as Sehwag-Vijay combo
  • The partnership between Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, in the drawn Bangalore test, when Australia was on top. India managed to save the first match, just like the rain hit first test in the 2003 series down under, where the draw inspired the things to come
  • Kumble sitting out in the second test at Mohali, Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking the reigns and inspiring the team to a win. Dada proved why he’s a fighter yet again! Amit Mishra, the debutant, ran through the Aussies lineup with a Fiver in the first innings. An allround bowling performance in the second innings proved too much for the Australians
  • The Delhi test will only be remembered for batting feast and Kumble’s retirement. I personally thought that he should not have played that match but gracefully retire when Dhoni showcased his leadership skills!
  • Fab 4 one last time together, in the fourth test, proved too much for the Australians after a Dhoni led team decisively beat the Australians. Ponting’s decision to continue with his part timers to escape a match ban cost him the test and the series!
  • The ‘lucky’ Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni winning all his tosses meant that there was no stopping for India. Toss is a real decider in the Indian conditions, so…

What was the difference between the sides?

Barring the injured Anil Kumble and out of form Rahul Dravid, it was really an excellent series show by Team India. India’s bowling attack was versatile and almost all the time pinging for wickets. Batsmen and all-rounders backed up each other and performed as a team. Dhoni’s leadership by example was a treat to watch and so was the spirit within. The only improvement area, perhaps, is the ground and slip fielding.

Australia on the other hand were marred by their poor team selection, especially in the bowling department. Their speedsters could not reverse swing the SG balls and their spinners were not causing any major challenge to the Indian batsmen. Australia’s major batsmen really did not click nor were they consistent. This added additional headache to the bowlers.

Ponting’s captaincy was below par as well and he even showed his personal grudge against own team mates on and off the ground.

Learnings

Phasing out the old warhorses one by one and inducting the right people at the right time is something India is doing great and it is really working (at least within India). Australia on the other hand is still struggling in the bowling department after improper succession plans once McGrath and Warne were out.

Another learning is that the Australian team right now is just like any other team and they can be beaten by anybody. They may regroup and try to attack the way they used to do, but the skills do not seem to be the same anymore.

Two stalwarts going out

And for the stalwarts – Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly – that are going out, I will be dedicating separate posts soon…

When do they learn to bow out gracefully?

15 Oct

Last week Sourav Ganguly made some controversial statements at the press complaining of bad treatment by the selectors and criticizing about the lack of planning! Yesterday, Anil Kumble, in his news paper column, lashed out at the Indian media for speculating about his retirement and shoulder injury.

These two stalwarts have certainly contributed heavily to Indian cricket in the past. Now the time has come for them to retire gracefully. Instead of calling it a day with pride, they are not able to come to terms with the fact that all their fame and steady income will be suddenly stopped now! And this is the curse of not only the Indian cricket but all other professions and careers in India as well. Even our politicians and actors just won’t quit until defeated in the poll or kicked out!

The game of Cricket is changing really fast! The focus now is shifting to packed Twenty 20 leagues and club cricket. There has been a time when the cricketers had careers lasting up to 18 or 20 years but that won’t be case any longer. Kumble and Ganguly should be happy that they could play for India for such a long time, create a few records and even captain the Indian team! What else is left to prove for them?

‘Just retire gracefully’ and ‘stop blabbering in the press!’ Remember, you are still playing for India and if you want your contributions to be remembered for ever, stop creating unwanted controversies!

PS:- If Kumble doesn’t realize yet, he was so pathetic in the first test match and hasn’t been having a good time for the past few matches as well. Another thing, the next test in the Ind-Aus series is being played at Mohali which is a fast pitch. Ideally, India should have played three pacers and a spinner there and Kumble’s presence would make the team selection for this test very interesting! I hope they don’t loose out in this match due to imbalance in bowling attack.

BCCI flexes its muscles again!

18 Jul

BCCI has barred VVS Laxman and Piyush Chawla from playing for English counties Nottinghamshire and Hampshire respectively – all because some players from their side are joining the rebel ICL league.

I am not sure if BCCI and its money power is crossing limits. If the English Cricket Board does not have any problem here why should BCCI poke their nose into what the counties might decide? In fact, it’s not just the above two counties, but it seems around 15 counties have their players signed up with ICL!

While VVS Laxman – as an experienced campaigner – would not mind loosing a county stint, the youngster, Piyush Chawla, is loosing a golden chance to play under English conditions. Chawla so far has not got enough international exposure under testing conditions and will be really feeling bad about this whole politics.

Another Twenty20 league!

The English Cricket Board has just announced their Twenty20 championship league that will be starting in 2010. The majority of the league teams will be from English first division counties and only two teams will be participating from outside England. One of them is tipped to be the IPL champions from India.

If all test playing countries start their own annual Twenty20 championship events, I am sure ICC can soon wind up majority of the Test and ODI schedules! And I am really sad that IPL instigated this kind of a trend mainly driven by monetary aspects than feel for cricket.

I am not against the Twenty20 game, in fact I like the shorter version if these championships do not last for more than say 12 or 15 days! If a single event last for 40 or 45 days and 4 or 5 nations start having their own T20 leagues you can imagine what will happen to ‘real cricket’!

Indian test squad for the tour to Sri Lanka

8 Jul

The Indian team for the test series in Sri Lank has been announced! There are no real surprises after the ODI captain and wicket keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted out of this tour due to the need for some good rest.

The inclusion of Pragyan Ojha and Rohit Sharma into the test squad is the right move. Both of them definitely have shown much more maturity than their age demand and have been professional in their approaches. Ojha could also use this opportunity to play with an experienced spin legend like Anil Kumble. Rohit Sharma, I feel, has nothing more to learn to qualify for the test team but just need to learn to stay at the crease a little longer.

Yuvraj Singh’s omission is a very good message to youngsters that ‘performing in patches’ will not help anybody to be part of the test team. I always thought Yuvi doesn’t have what it takes to play test matches and extremely low on temperament to play longer. He is a poor player against spin bowling and Sri Lanka has some great spinners around right now.

In the pace bowling department, I thought Manpreet Gony could have been given a chance ahead of Munaf Patel as the latter has the history of getting injured or loosing confidence half way through test series, more often than not. Gony is a better batsman and fielder as well. Probably, the selectors are over worried about the fact that Sreesanth is not available for this tour to open along with Zaheer and Ishant Sharma has been looking a little bit different of late as compared to his form in Australia last year. The decision not to consider Irfan Pathan for the sub-continent wickets sounds reasonable as well.

Now that the team is selected, the team think-tank needs to do a couple of things to get the results right and also to nurture the youngsters for the future. As a basic rule probably they should allow only three out of the big five (Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Sehwag) to play in any match together. Otherwise, the youngsters will not get any chance to perform along with the experienced ones. I hope that Gary Kirsten and Anil Kumble will give some thought to plan towards the future. Also the big six (with Kumble) should realize that time has come for them to rotate and slowly retire over a period of one to one and half years.

Dhoni opts out
Dhoni’s decision to opt out of this test series sounds more like a ‘forced’ supporting act to his statements earlier in the press. While players definitely need some break and probably have rotation policy what they have to cut down is the number of one-dayers and Twenty 20 matches. Hope he gets some good rest and greater number of endorsements during his much needed break from test matches. Or is it a silent protest against the selectors for not considering him for the test captaincy of an aging team?

Home tigers roar again!

19 Apr

The third and final test between India and South Africa will be remembered for all wrong reasons. Due to IPL hype, most players mind was already with the Twenty20 format. But what hurt the true fans the most was the under-prepared pitch in Kanpur. In fact, after seeing the match I recalled the similar experience cricket fans (and the touring team) had after the final test match in Mumbai when Australia toured India in 2004.

In both cases, the home team was trailing the series and had to save their faces. The easiest way to do that is to prepare a dust bowl or an uneven pitch that has no bounce on which our bajjis and bondas will thrive – and they did exactly that this time around as well.

South Africans getting all out for 120 in the second innings tell the story. The case was even worse with Australians in 2004 where they could score only 90 odd runs chasing a mere 107. In both cases, the ‘turbanator’ fetched India the win, which probably even he himself would not like to take credit for.

What I don’t understand is the mindset of people behind such decisions in order to win a match at any cost. During Ganguly’s captaincy there has been reports that he had almost always influenced the curators of grounds in India to prepare pitches that match the team composition. While other teams must be doing the same thing, they never ever came out with unplayable pitches.

If this situation continues, top teams around the world will be touring India only to make advertisement revenue and not with the intention of doing any good to test cricket. I guess, BCCI doesn’t want to do anything about test pitches as they are busy cashing in One-dayers and Twenty20s and the business is running pretty well already.