Tag Archives: test series

Test Cricket Round Up This Week & Forthcoming Series

2 Dec

This week witnessed a couple of one-sided test series deciders – Australia v/s New Zealand and South Africa v/s Bangladesh – and an one-sided ODI series between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Australia got a chance to come out of their blemishes in India and won the test series against New Zealand 2-0. Even in the batsman friendly Adelaide Oval, the Kiwis could not do much due to the ‘Lee’thal bowling by the Aussies! The paceman seems to be back on track, for the time being. Australia’s bowling performance was very good overall, with Johnson doing a good job again. I particularly liked the balance that Nathan Hauritz brings to the team.

South Africa trashed a clueless Bangladesh by an innings in both test matches. South Africa’s flat pitch bullies and permanent-centurions-against-Bangladesh, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Neil McKenzie did extremely well as usual (I count Ashwell Prince in a different league). To make things worse for Bangladeshis, their key spinner, Abdur Razzak (though he didn’t play the test series) has been banned from international cricket due to a wrong action! As I mentioned sometime ago, I still wonder whether Bangladesh deserves to play test cricket!

As for the one-dayers, Sri Lanka white washed Zimbabwe 5-0 while all matches were low scoring – some due to cut-short matches. Not a single match, even when Sri Lanka batted first, did not last for 50 overs and there was not a single score above 200!. This ODI series overall was pathetic, even for the Lankans.

Despite the huge loss in the ODI series, Zimbabwe cricket board seems to be putting a lot of weight around them as they declined Kenya’s plea for an alerady announced bilateral series citing ‘busy schedule’. That was the biggest joke ever as Zimbabwe’s cricket calendar is almost empty for the next two-three months!

ICC Test Rankings

India’s temporary rise to the second spot was short-lived as South Africa, retained that position again. New Zealand fell to a pathetic 8th spot and looks like their newly appointed coach has got a lot to do in the forth coming West Indies tour.

Upcoming Series

The most exciting thing that is awaiting test cricket lovers is not exactly the India-England Series. South Africa is touring Australia this Christmas and I am sure that we will receive a great Christmas and New Year feast this time! Though, Australia is not going through the best of their forms, I expect the Kangaroos to win the series 2-0 or 2-1.

Hail Test Cricket!

Australia – New Zealand test series – 1st Test Review

25 Nov

We had an exceptional test match at the Gabba, Brisbane that highlighted the bowling performances mainly, by both the teams. Barring Michael Clarke and Simon Katich in the first and second innings respectively there were not any great batting performances. Good to see that Michael Clarke is getting more and more ready to take over the reigns where as the always sidelined and soft spoken Katich is suddenly everything of Australia’s top order with Hayden and Ponting miseries continuing.

New Zealand’s Lazy approach after initial spurt

Time and again this has happened. I thought, New Zeland got out of this mode after Vettori started showing more and more fighting spirit and pouring in more inspiration. But none of the New Zealand batsmen showed the intend to stay longer and infact, they lost the match on second day itself. After restricting Australia to a mere 214 in the first innings, they should have taken a vital 40-50 runs lead in the first innings. Had the game spread into the whole of 4th day, things could have been different.

Pace Bowling…

This is the first time I am seeing the teenager Kiwi, Thimothy Southee bowling! In fact, after seeing him ripping through Aussies’ top order in the first innings, I thought a new star is born for NZ. Anyways, Chris Martin is getting a little older. The Martin-Southee-O’Brien pace combo looks good though the main difference between the New Zealand pace team and other test playing nations pace battery is that NZ doesn’t have a quality left hand pace bowler. Nevertheless, this is one of their finest attacks in years.

I guess we are talking too much about the NZ bowling here. Australian bowling attack seems to have regrouped very well after they fell apart in the dead pitches of India.

Hayden and Ponting

Both these old stalwarts failed miserably again. Ponting is also finding it difficult to cope with his low over-rates yet again. According to me the main problem here are two:

1. Not having a quality spin bowler who could bowl 20 or 25 overs in two or three spells every day. The all-pace attack usually consumes more time.
2. Too many left-right hand combinations in the opposition team.

It is high time the Australian think tank did something about this issue. This can also prove to be bad for the opposition team as their momentum is sometimes lost due to Ponting overdoing stuff on the field.

Despite the victory, the Australian team is not the same again and I am predicting that their downside is yet to be seen (along side the recession that the world is witnessing right now)

Tail Piece: The media seems to be too much obsessed with what Andrew Symonds is doing on a daily basis. I guess, it’s time to leave the talented all rounder alone so that he gets back on track as early as possible.

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…

Border – Gavaskar series is back!

23 Sep

Australian cricket team has just landed in India. I am sure the Indian fans are looking forward to the event, still remembering the 2001 series. Some of the stalwarts from that memorable series is still with the Indian team where as Australia has a much more changed outlook.

Very Very Special series

When it comes to a series against Australia the name that comes to an Indian fan’s mind is not that of Tendulkar or Dravid! It is all about Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman who relishes the Australian bowling attack – does not matter whether it is spin or pace. This time around, age has caught up with him but the fans are still looking forward to witness yet another Very Very Special inning. Fitness and whether permitting, Laxman will be completing his 100th test in this series as he has now 96 test caps and it is a 4-test match series.

After VVS it’s all about Dravid and Bajji and I sincerely hope that Kumble along with Bajji will do some magic this time around. And more importantly, this could be one of the last two or three series for Kumble and he MUST give some opportunity for budding spinners as well. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if they play three spinners in at least two matches in this series.

As Tendulkar is not present, there will be additional headache for Dravid. Hopefully a younger batsman (not Yuvraj) will also get a chance to prove his worth. India’s ODI captain, returning to the test squad, will also use this opportunity to improve his test form as well as gain some learning to take over reigns from Kumble soon.

The Australian Team

Compared to the Indian team, the aussies have an inexperienced but a tougher team. The youngsters on the side must be looking forward to a great opportunity to play in India which Steve Waugh called the Final Frontier. Althogh, the jinx was broken in the last visit, playing in the sub-continent is still not an easy thing for the Aussies. Ponting would love to find some form in India during this series and Michael Clarke will have a great apprenticeship as he prepares to take over the captaincy in another two years!

There are also three youngsters, on the side, whom I haven’t heard about before… Hope the debutant quickies Peter Siddle and (the tall) Doug Bollinger along with the oldie debutant spinner Bryce McGain will duly support Lee, Johnson, Clark and Watson in their respective departments. Jason Krejza is the new allrounder and that makes almost 25% of the team inexperienced. Though the bowling department has a very good representation, the batting looks pretty week for Australia. With Ponting never finding form in India, Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey will have an enhance role to play and hopefully Phil Jacques, Simon Catich and Shane Watson will find some form against the Indian spin attack.

I only hope that no dust bowls will be prepared by the groundmen this time. Of course, the venues are picked in a balancing act with Mohali/Nagpur offering some bounce and Delhi/Bangalore are pancake flat pitches made for Bajji and Kumble.

Anyways, looking forward to see a wonderful test match series…

Lankan tigers roar!

28 Jul

The first test match between India and Sri Lanka has been something that I was looking forward to due to the changes in umpiring rules. Though it was exciting to see that a couple of umpiring decisions were taken after referrals to third umpire, the whole match was pretty boring with the clueless Indians succumbing to a superior side that was brimming with confidence, skills and professionalism.

Ajanta Mendis, after his heroics in the Asia cup, led by the wizard of spin, gave no chance to the Indians to even put together a decent fight. If you consider the rain affected time, the Lankans managed to beat the Indian in roughly three days, a feat that Australia has been doing for a while.

Momentum favored Lanka

Following their Asia cup win, the Lankans really managed to maintain the momentum. The good thing with them was that the majority of their one-day players also figure in the test team and hence the momentum clearly favored them. The decision to debut Mendis was a great one and the youngster did not disappoint the selectors, his captain and his country men. The Indians on the other hand have been fielding a bunch of middle-aged men that have been lacking match practice and athleticism for a while now.

The Twenty20 hangover

The Indians (and their cricket body) are also not really getting out of their T20 mode yet. Though the side claimed to have the best test batsmen combination on earth, that was only on paper. Moreover, they lacked a game plan against the best spinning side in the world! There have been complaints that the placid pitch did not add to the spirit of the game, but that was only a lame excuse and the batting collapse cannot be forgiven.

In the meanwhile, the Indian cricket think tank is busy taking on ICL and the English Cricket board in order to secure more money via the T20 format for the future as well. They are also helping out Pakistan’s cause to make sure that the Champions trophy is played in the neighbor country. Among all these high profile agenda items, test cricket seems to be taking the backseat. The Sri Lankan board at the same time is reiterating the fact that they have a clear plan for the test cricket. Arjuna Ranatunga even made a statement that the Sri Lankan players should quit IPL 2009 in order to take part in the England tour completely. I liked that attitude of the Lankans.

I hope that in the coming matches, the Indians would regroup and adapt. As I mentioned in the last post, the ideal thing to do was not to play all five or six old men together but rest one at a time and rotate them with youngsters. The case is the same with the spin bowlers as well (even if it would mean that Kumble has to rest in a match). If not, the Indians can expect a 0-2 or even 0-3 loss at the hands of the Lankans.