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Muthukumar Ramamoorthy

It was another pleasant morning to the start of the day with overcast conditions that delayed the day’s play by 25 minutes. Just as I wrote yesterday, the Indians were almost there reaching the 450 figure. But for the late aggression shown by the home side, it was quite evident that 500 was gettable. The visiting side was expected to exploit the overcast conditions and run through the Indian line-up. However the captain cool Dhoni played sensibly along with Pujara for a 127 run stand for the 6th wicket.

It was Pujara who started off the aggression trying to hit over the long-on only to find the safe hands of Franklin. But he managed to go past the 150 mark with a terrific innings that lasted for almost 8 hours in total. The skipper continued to show the aggression and paid the price – failing to convert his 20th Test fifty to a 100. Thanks to a brisk and classy short innings from Ashwin who managed to time all his 5 boundaries into the gaps with immaculate precision.

The Kiwi bowlers did not make much of an impression with their performances. However Patel and Boult did manage to pick 4 and 3 wickets respectively. Patel’s bowling did give a hint of what was to later come with the Indian spinners bowling on a track that offered turn. The Indian dressing room must have been happy to put up a decent first innings total.

The NZ team would have thought of sticking on to their own free batting style which was obvious in the way McCullum played his shots. The Indian speedsters Zaheer and Umesh did bowl to their strength but did not help enough to give the Indian team the early breakthrough. It was no surprise from Dhoni in bringing on the spinners as early as in the 8th over of the innings. Ojha was brave enough to have flighted the ball and McCullum paid the price for his aggression by getting caught by Kohli at covers.

Williamson – the next man in who scored his Test century against India in his debut game got off to mark in style with a boundary. However Dhoni did not wait too much to bring in Ashwin, the other spinner. Be it ODI, T20 or Test, Dhoni always seems to have immense trust in his ace off-spinner, Ashwin. True to it, with excellent field placement, Ashwin began with a wonderful delivery to send back the other opener Guptil to the pavilion.

It was largely expected that the Kiwi captain who came in to bat next at no 4, would bat through saving his team. However it was another beauty from Ashwin that Taylor did edge it marginally to Kohli at backward short leg. It was 3rd consecutive catch by Kohli. Ashwin continued to bowl with his magicial skills turning the new ball. He was rewarded with the wicket of Flynn as well who was trapped infront of the wicket.

Ashwin & Ojha

The duo spun well to rip through the New Zealand top order batsman setting a possible Indian victory

When the 4th wicket fell with score just then had crossed 50, the Indian off-spinners looked more confident of reducing the visitors to the tail by the end of day’s play. However a little resistance was shown by the duo Williamson and the wicket-keeper batsman Wyk adding 44 runs for the 5th wicket partneship. When everything looked set at last for the Kiwis, Ojha came back to send back the set batsman Williamson.

At the stumps of day 2, the Kiwis are in real trouble with the Indian spinners reducing the Kiwi side to half already. The weather seems to be threatening; however Ashwin and Ojha are well set to finish the Test match favouring an Indian win much earlier! Let’s wait to see if they could restrict the visitors and make them follow-on!


Muthukumar Ramamoorthy

Ah! A Test match again for the Test match lovers of India. Strangely for the first time without the greats – Dravid and Laxman – the legends that guarded the Indian test middle order batting line up along with Tendulkar for more than one and half decades!

It was a wonderful day to start the tour in a beautiful ground. The little grass on the pitch that indicated more the monsson than any assistance to the Kiwi pacers, the all-green quick outfield and well built new-look Hyderabad ground was all a pleasure to watch with Dhoni winning the toss and electing to bat – a perfect wicket to bat on. A lot must have been discussed before the test match to identify the right player to be groomed in filling the no 3 and no 5 positions and also the playing XI also.

Looking at the wicket, it was right choice to have had the regular opening pair to open the innings. Sehwag and Gambhir did get off to a good start despite some trouble from the seamers. Both the seamers were initially giving enough trouble to the batsmen although both the openers did punish the odd loose ball with ease.

India’s indiscretion in getting out to poor strokes seemed an extension of the one-day series from Sri Lanka than that of early season rust. Gambhir started off with that and followed by his opening partner Sehwag who seemed to be set for another 100 in his own style. It was glad to see those ‘confident trademark Sehwag boundaries’ before he got out. That must have boosted the confidence in him and also the millions of fans who are desperately looking for a big score from him after sometime in Test Cricket.

Like me, most of us would have for sure expected what we saw when Gambhir walked back. The number 3 slot – the Dravid slot! Pujara came in as no surprise choice to bat at number 3. From the very first ball that he faced, it seemed obvious that he was sent and set to make it big today. With Pujara settling down slowly, it was anticipated a big stand between him and the little master Sachin would unfold. However to the disappointment of the nation, Sachin was undone by a beauty of a delivery that nipped back a bit to knock back his middle-stump.

Then came Kohli who is fast becoming Mr. Dependable and Mr. Flexible to bat at no.5. Kohli started off with his typical wristy shots. It was pleasure watching Kohli playing those forward drives with so much ease. It was a very well scripted 50 from the young man who could have easily converted and tasted his maiden Test hundred on Indian soil.

It was a perfect come back innings from Pujara which could potentially cement his place in Indian test team as No.3 batsman

With Kohli, Pujara carried on to bat unleashing all the shots as he raced from 50 to 100 at run a ball. For what we know him more as a strong on-side player, he showed his class in those back-foot guided punches, square cuts and cover drives on the off-side too. Pujara’s eloquence was as impressive as his temparament as he laced pretty drives and cuts that laced the green turf. With his maiden Test century in the very first match after returning to the international side after more than 18 months, definitely Pujara did justify his recall and played with his head to cement his place in the side – not just in the side but also the batting position for the near future at least.

Another debate in the team selection is the choice of Raina ahead of Badrinath / Rahane. Raina continued his poor form once again. It wasn’t the usual Kiwi side on the field with few dropped chances costing them dear. However Pujara was lucky to be still in with umpire denying a caught behind appeal. The Kiwi captain did make his spinner Patel sweat a lot who doesn’t seem to have succeeded enough except taking the wicket of out-of-form Raina. So with Dhoni looking solid in the crease, and with a well set determined Pujara, I am hoping for a 450 plus total on board although half the side is back in the pavilion.

The IPL5 2012 winner?

Posted: April 8, 2012 by muthumra in IPL
Tags: , ,

The battle for the IPL5 trophy has already begun!

With each team competing strongly, who is your favorite this time? Go ahead and vote for your team!!!


 Muthukumar Ramamoorthy

 7 August 2011


AT BIRMINGHAM

INDIA

Vs

ENGLAND

5

Head to head

5

0

Won

4

1

Draw

1

390
all out

Highest total in an innings

633 / 5 declared

92 all out

Lowest total in an innings

203
all out

122
by Sachin Tendulkar

Highest individual runs in an innings

214* by David Lloyd

6/58 by Chetan Sharma

Highest individual wickets in an innings

5/70 by Ian Botham

Some statistical highlights between India and England at Edgbaston over the years:

The great Vinoo Mankad was out hit-wicket at Edgbaston

  1. The last time these two teams played a test was at 1996 which England won
  2. Nasser Hussain scored his maiden test match century in this ground and won the man of the match award. (Rahul Dravid who was substituting before his debut that he played at Lords in the next test match held the catch offered by Hussain off the bowling of Javagal Srinath)
  3. Javagal Srinath scored his only half century (52 off 65 including 9 hits to the fence) of his career at England and top scored for the Indian batting line up. He batted at no.9. He also bowled his record spell at England in Tests picking up 4 wickets for 103 runs at this ground.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar scored his 9th century in Tests and his first at this ground. Incidentally that’s the only test he has played here thus far. Also interestingly, none apart from sSchin from the current Indian team touring this time has played before at this ground. Not even Rahul Dravid!
  5. In a bizarre dismissal, Vinoo Mankad’s was out hit-wicket when his hat fells on his wicket, England v India, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, July 6, 1974

Wu ji bi fan

Posted: August 3, 2011 by muthumra in Cricket, India in England 2011, Opinion
Tags: ,

 Muthukumar Ramamoorthy

 3 August 2011


“Wu ji bi fan”, says Jackie Chan to Jaden Smith in The Karate Kid after seeing Xiao Dre Parker practicing too much. It translates to “too much of anything isn’t good”.

Well, one must agree that the schedule of modern day cricket has been so packed that the calendars are booked so well in advance. It’s unimaginable as to how the players get to even think of a break with the kind of competition involved to retain their place in the XI, touring opportunities, money and fame – don’t they all hide their greatest demand “family”?

I don’t see any other country than India suffer from this busy schedule. Ahhh, how tough are we the fans and fanatic media here just cursing the team as soon they just lose a match or two.

Looking as of now on the ongoing Pataudi series with India could still do good to bounce back with its potential, it is really disgusting to see the vehement fans and the annoying media critics: Should Dhoni be sacked? Why an under performing Bhajji is in the XI on a swinging turf? Why not a backup opener? So many questions……

When will the schedule allow Indian teams with enough practice games to be best prepared?

Well, it is all obvious that the body language of any of our players don’t show to be as passionate as they were when they went to clinch the World Cup crown only few months ago. So do the fans. They were speaking high on the team’s flamboyance. But this is highly disgusting to see the perception and the reaction now otherwise.

One cannot forget the recent two loses are in a different form of game and the toughest style of the game – test cricket. For an ODI one day of mental prepardness might suffice well. Whereas test cricket is all about getting fit totally!!!

Worldcup ODI, IPL, WI tour with a T20, 5 ODIs and 3 Tests. It has become customary to have T20s also to have as part of the touring schedule as the boards involved know well that they would get the money. Exhausted!

There’s a lack of “prepardness” for test cricket because of the players’ commitments with various franchises, county clubs etc those all who could offer lucrative dollars. Unfortunately BCCI couldn’t blame their own players for this as IPL – the richest contemporary event in the world – is being conducted by themselves – a reason for the world hitting hard on the BCCI becoming the cricket’s economic giant.

Looking at the basic problem in the form of Indian players in the last two matches lost is the inadequate preparation – in the form of warm up games. Few players in the squad were involved in IPL, and others on WI tour, few opting to rest. But did they get to play enough to acclimatize to the local conditions? – No, definitely not.

Gone were those days that the touring team play at least three warm up games against the local teams in which either team evaluates/prepares the playing XI and the bench strength. Has it become more of a formality these days to have one warm up game?

Cricket by all means is a professional sport and not merely a commercial one. Warm up games might not generate revenue, but they ensure that the players are best prepared to put up a tough fight and ensure that each player has played enough to be playing to their fullest potential.

The packed schedules have reduced the number of local trophies and the games involved in it. The Dravids, The Laxmans and The Sachins of India have all grown and come up only playing enormous number of Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy etc not by playing IPL or ICL or any other domestic T20 leagues. It is high time for the BCCI to safeguard the morale (by not driving them for fancy money) and physical fitness (by not stressing them with back-to-back tourneys) of the players.

Consistent performance can keep the no. 1 spot with Team India but to consistently perform as a team it would require enough breaks, enough practice and age old days relaxed tour schedules. It’s also becoming a serious threat of utilizing the right bench strength. BCCI should think more about the once called India A, India B and India Seniors.

The right mix of bench strength should always be the focus, get the bench involved in more longer versions of the game that they don’t stress out and keep their physical and mental fitness and utilized (by rotating) at the right time. It could then be a real fight for each one in the squad to be in the XI. A healthy competition would prevail and the fans could always remain enthralled and feel proud about “Team India” – onus is on BCCI – time now for a strict change in the tournament planners – both at International and domestic circuit level.