Tag Archives: test cricket

A Historic Series Win for South Africa in Australia

30 Dec

It was just amazing to see the way the South African bowlers ran through the deep down under Australia to win the boxing day match at Melbourne and hence the series. With just one test remaining in Sydney next week, I would not be surprised if the South Africans go for the kill and win the series 3-0. This would also mean that South Africa can be the #1 team on the ICC rank table soon.

Everything is right about S.Africa

The only missing factor in this South African test side was Shaun Pollock who was magnificently replaced by Dale Steyn. The aggressive Smith lead from the front even in fourth innings’ and youngsters Duminy and De Villiers came in too good both with bat and exceptional fielding. And the rejuvenated team even inspired Jack Kallis as he was an unnaturally aggressive player through out this series. So bowling, batting (despite missing Prince) and fielding was exceptional and the team spirit (just like the current Indian test side) without too many old faces out there outplayed the oldies like Hayden, Symonds and an injured Lee.

What is going wrong with Australia?

Right from the top order, with Hayden failing, Australia is having troubles. Michael Clark played a couple of good knocks but the ever-reliable Mike Hussey was not in good form and that was the main difference. To make things worse, Australia recalled Symonds who looked overweight and out of touch. Looks like the Australians have not fixed their main problem for the Sydney test team selection as well except for sitting out Lee and Symonds. They really need to get rid of Hayden who is no teenager anymore!

Difference between India’s & South Africa’s outings down under

India could not win the series down under earlier this year. The main difference was captaincy. Anil Kumble may have been a match winner for years for India but he was not aggressive enough in Australia this year. This is the era of aggressive test captains (Ponting, Smith, Pietersen, Dhoni etc) and hence, if not for Kumble as the captain, I thought India could have won the series despite the controversies

Going forward, I strongly believe that Australia’s dominance is over and the top four test teams Australia, South Africa, India and England may now compete each other for the top spot.

Once again Kudos to Proteas!

Guardian’s World Test XI of the year!

29 Dec

Guardian has published its World Test XI. The Viv Marks‘ list this time does not contain a single Australian player!

Guardian’s World Test XI team

Graeme Smith
Virender Sehwag
Kevin Pietersen
Sachin Tendulkar
A B De Villiers
Andrew Flintoff
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Harbhajan Singh
Zaheer Khan
Ishant Sharma
Dale Steyn

While the XI looks more or less error free, I doubt whether Andrew Flintoff has done good enough for the year to figure in that list. Also, I would not include Harbhajan Singh there for he has not showcased any exceptional show this year. Probably the upcoming spinner from Sri Lanka, Ajantha Mendis would have been a better option? If not, why not include Mitchel Johnson to fill the bowlers slot? I mean, if no spinner qualifies, take the best four pace bowlers!

If not for the above minor issues, the World Test XI looks amazing! All of those great players in the modified list have been great performers! It’s really sad to see that not a single Australian is figuring in this list. Earlier, last week Peter Roebuck had picked his Test XI as well which figured only one Australian!

Read the related article here

India – England Series: What a boring test match @ Mohali!

27 Dec

Mohali is supposed to be the best pitch in India and it also boasts a state of the art stadium as well as support facilities. Unfortunately, all that cannot be good enough if a test match conducted there was not played for the full five days

The weather – not rain – was the culprit this time. There was not a single day of the 2nd test between India and England that has gone without a delayed start or an early stop. Essentially the match was played for only about 4 days if you count the number of overs played.

To top it all, some really negative game tactics by Mr. Dhoni led Indian team, put what could have been a decent finish into a terrible draw.

Though England conceded a 150 run lead in the first innings, the Indians wanted to play out the remaining time instead of leaving a good 60-70 overs on the last day for the Englishmen to try their luck. Instead of stepping up the gas and declaring with a set target of 325 or so, the typical Indian mindset played its tricks there. Dhoni seems to be no better than the other Indian captains, who invariably played for personal records – especially that of batsment – during possible draw matches.

Thought of the day: Instead of helping the batsment to achieve their personal milestones, why don’t the captains help their bowlers to achieve some milestones?

Chennai: December 15 2008 – A day to remember in Test Cricket

16 Dec

What a test match it was! I have not seen such a run chase in test matches in my whole life, that too in a Day 5 sub-continental pitch that’s damaged and causing uneven bounce. Yes, we are talking about the first test match between England and India in Chennai

As I mentioned in a previous post, Dhoni and his team at the moment looks unstoppable! Mainly due to the amount of positive energy that the captain himself brings in. And this is a super test combination despite Rahul Dravid’s failure at No.3.

Steps to a historic win!

  • Day 1: KP wins the toss and decides to bat on what looked like a super batting wicket. England puts a hundred run opening partnership in a display of controlled and patient batting. Eventually Strauss hits a century and England close day 1 at a reasonable 229/5
  • Day 2: Mat Prior takes England to 300+ and in reply the Indian top order collapses (37/3) with the debutant spinner Swann striking twice. England does exremely well to restrict India to 155/6
  • Day 3: Another day that belonged to England again! They get India all out for 241 taking a 75 runs lead. England puts another strong display in the second innings by finishing 172/3. Strauss again was the man!
  • Day 4: England progresses till lunch but collapses from 257/4 to 311/9 in a display of extremely defencive batting. KP declares with 29 overs remaining for the day and England failing to cross the psychological score of 400. India needs 387 to win with a day and 29 overs remaining! Indian openers walk in, as cool as ice! And it was calm before the storm. Even before KP realized whatever happened, India close their day 4 at 131/1 from just 29 overs! India’s fortunes changes for good! Sehwag scores 83 from just 68 balls!
  • Day 5: With just 256 runs required from 90 overs and a whole day, Sachin Tendulkar plays an innings of his life and takes India to the shore, very well helped by Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh! Nobody has ever seen Tendulkar playing such a patient and beautifully crafted innnigs in his whole career
  • India wins a historic test match with a sub-continent record run chase and fourth best run chase in the history of test cricket!

It’s unfortunate that despite back to back centuries from Andrew Strauss England ended up loosing. But nobody could have stopped a determined Sehwag who changed the course of the game in a matter of an hour and a half during the fag end of Day 4.

The BCCI Annual Contracts are out!

The BCCI’s annual contracts were announced at the right time soon after the famous test win and fittingly enough Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag etc got promoted to the next respective grades. People like Sreesanth who had attitude problems on top of injury and underperformers such as Wasim Jaffer and Robin Uthappa have been downgraded. By dropping Ramesh Pawar, Akash Chopra and Ajit Agarkar the BCCI has sent out a strong message that they are looking forward to the future. At the moment Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar are the only 30 plus players on the side.

The BCCI also showed appreciation towards some of the Under-19 world cup winners by offering them one-year contracts under Grade D.

International Test Teams For the Forthcoming Series

5 Dec

Champions League is gone and so are some one-dayers… So what? Some exciting test match series is in the offing – that too between the closest possible competitors in the current ICC rankings – i.e. No.1 Australia v/s No.2 South Africa, No.3 India v/s No.5 England and No.7 West Indies v/s No.8 New Zealand. It cannot be any better match, right?

Team Selection

Australia: Since it is a home affair for the Australians, they haven’t announced their squads yet. I doubt if they will think anything different in the batting department, especially the top order. In all probabilities Matthew Hayden will be still around. Since there is no match in Adelaide, I feel that Shane Watson might a chance in place of Nathan Hauritz, at least for the Perth encounter. And I hope to see Andrew Symonds fully recovered in this series.

South Africa: No surprises but as usual the spin department – that neither the South African selectors nor the captain himself ever cared about – is weak. They have two of them but both Paul Harris and Peterson are slow left arm orthodox spinners and hence no variety. And moreover, they may not have the skills that bowlers like Nikki Boje had. No changes in the batting department but where is Andre Nel in their famous pace battery? Did he get injured or something?? Nel and his aggression could have been handy in Australia.

The pre-series press encounters have started already and this time, for a change, between the coaches.

India: Yuvraj Singh coming back to the test side is the big news and RP Singh, who seems to be captain’s favorite, is out. The spin department looks versatile and with a lot of options. Pragyan Ojha gets a chance and Amit Mishra is retained as well. But I thought Piyush Chawla would have been a better choice with his batting abilities as well. Batting line up has not been changed except for the retired Ganguly. Rahul Dravid has been given more time and it is a sensible act. Another good decision is not to drop M. Vijay who showcased exceptional temperament in the series against Australia. If it was for the old selection panel, they would have probably dropped him by now. Badarinath, though not so convincing yet in the international arena, gets blessings from the selection committee chairman! The pace team looks good as well without any change. However, I wonder whatever happened to S.Sreesanth? Is he permanently out of the team due to his on and off field heroics or is it genuine injury and lack of match fitness? India’s test team looks really strong and versatile right now!

England: I doubt if England will do anything good in this test series mainly because of their batting line up. Except for Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Alistair Cook, their batting line up looks very weak. As for bowling, Panesar should add the required punch especially under the Indian conditions. Pace bowling would have been great if Ryan Sidebottom was in and Harmison was doing a good job. So Indian, especially under the Indian conditions, should be going for a kill in this series.

West Indies & New Zealand: Unfortunately both New Zealand and West Indies do not have quality batting line up to excel in test matches. The New Zealand team can be a good one day side but they need to figure out what it takes to build a test team. With some experienced players still around, the West Indian team may look better in the batting. But in the bowling department the New Zealand pacemen and Vettori together may do a better job than WI. This series still can be a close encounter – that between two under-prepared teams.

Looking forward to an exciting test season!