Archive for the ‘Australia in Sri Lanka 2011’ Category


Bini Sathyan

They came in fast. They charged in furious. They delivered in precision. And they never stopped coming. We fell in a heap. The story repeated. The fall continued. Again and again. The pace battery of Australia assumed the proportions of a battering ram and the battering continued unabated. Until The God fell from his pedestal and was brought down to earth. Until the wall cracked and crumbled. Until the legends lost their greatness and fell from glory. The big guns were silenced. And Indian cricket lay in tatters.

Another series whitewash. The fall from grace that started in England was completed with another similar script in Australia. From the first innings of the first test to the last innings of the last test, the Indian story was the just the same. Repetitive and boring. The story scripted by Clarke & Co. failed to generate thrills because the storyline seemed too predictable. Four venues. Four matches. Four failures. Same players. Same story copied and pasted. Only the duration changed.

Billed as the Agneepath series, with India considered the favourites and Australia the underdogs, Clarke & Co. made sure that the Indians faced the heat rather than them. At the beginning of the series, there was a talk that the Australian camp had a few problems in the batting department. Irregular openers, an out of form middle-order and a captain fighting to gain the respect of his team. Whereas India was a team which had the two greatest run scorers of all times, an opener who could end the game before it all actually began, a very special batsman who took a special liking to Australian bowling and a captain considered to be the shrewdest of cricketing brains around. The four tests that followed resulted in busting many myths about the various sentiments about some India’s all time greats.

Their faces tell the story. © Getty Images

More than the defeats the manner in which it was brought upon them was saddening. In all the series that preceded this, even though the series was lost, the Indian team always put up a tough fight and it was remembered for the valiant effort than the defeat. And at times they were brilliant enough to turn the tables on the invincible team of the times and that is what made these men legends. So when the first test ended in four days, there was still hope that they would put up a fight in the next. But that turned out to be a bigger shocker when it ended in four days again with the Indian team refusing to put up a fight. The third one was the most humiliating when they could not fight for more than two and a half days. Australia should have invited Bangladesh rather. They would have done better.

Retirement calls started for the ageing brigade. But though not valiant enough on the field, they shamelessly fought on off it. When the young guns continued their wait for ever to be blooded, the greats continued to hold on to selfish motives. Little did they realize that other legends before them had moved on to bring them in.  Little did these guys seem to care about a series white wash. The hope was that the billions back home would be pacified with that one ton even if they went down 4-0.

After three failures, luck had it that the captain was banned. A new captain and a new keeper could change the fortunes of the team. Expectations were that the maverick Sehwag would surprise with his unorthodox ways. Since the series was lost after trying the same tricks in the first three tests, the fourth one could have been taken up for experimentation. Two spinners could have been brought forth. May be Ojha could have replaced Ishant. Kohli could have been sent to open the innings or brought in at no.3. A new opener like Rohit could have replaced Gambhir. Sehwag could have come lower down the order. But it was not to be. He stuck to the conservative and traditional thinking of the think tank. Same field placings. Same mistakes. Same body language. Batting collapse. Some catches dropped. Another record for the Clarke-Ponting pair. The agony continued. Retirement calls grew louder.

The experts analyzed that the Indian greats have outlived their sell by date and could not survive in the swinging conditions in England. And the pacy pitches in Australia. Come Adelaide. It was a batting beauty. A much better batting display was expected from India. Australia’s 600 runs in the first innings gave the Indians the much needed hope. But then Siddle’s riddle caught them unawares. He made the batting pitch look like a lively track. The way he bowled, the Indian’s had no answers again. This test would also have ended in four days had it not been for Clarke’s concern that India could bat them out of the game. But he failed to understand that the Indian cricketers were spineless and had lost all interest for a fight after all the battering they received. Clarke tried to show some sympathy to the Indian batsmen by withdrawing his quick guns and giving them an opportunity to play a game they are experts in. May be the Australians were concerned about the dipping revenues as the first three tests did not last five days. But Lyon proved to be trickier than they expected. The web was spun and the plot only got murkier. He accounted for Sehwag, Sachin and Laxman all great players of spin bowling. And to add insult to injury, Clarke then put all his fielders around the night watchman! Such was the state of the famed Indian batting.

Virat Kohli’s performance was the only blessing that India had. He fought well and used his chances to declare that he is India’s batting mainstay in the future. Ravichandran Ashwin and Umesh also proved that they have it in them to excel in the big stage. Saha too has shown that he is a fighter. They need to cement their places through consistent performance and constant improvements. There are many more spinners, pacers and batsmen waiting in the ranks to grab their opportunities which are sadly not coming by. They will have to bide their time till the big guns call it a day. Or they will have to keep waiting till the selectors realise that the future of Indian cricket lies not in record holders whose glorious days are past but in youngsters who can bring back those glorious days for the country.

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Goutham Chakravarthi

HUMOUR/FANTASY

Two hundred years from now, Ed Cowan will be recalled as the game’s greatest batsman, ahead of everyone else. That’s if all video tapes of his batting ceases to exist and only the written text remained. Ed Cowan is the epitome of Conflict of Interest syndrome as being the game’s best active batsman-writer. He is his own critique!

He is a regular guy – un-Australian in every way – slightly round, slow between the wickets and a boring batsman who yells “no run” every time he puts bat to ball. And he is a writer on top of all this.

Numbers and angles to prove his perfect method

Cowan made all of 14 when the stumps were drawn for lunch. Healy on the Channel 9 box was fast asleep and called him the greatest bore in the history of all Boxing Day tests. Cowan sat by a serving of pasta, and readied his headline for the next day. It read Greatest Boxing Day Debut Ever. Then he went out to bat again.

He left deliveries on length, on line, on bounce, on angle, on just about anything. He ran between the wickets at the speed of a Laxman. In between all that he played a couple of strokes when he was bored. In Cowan’s words, he wrote of it himself thus:

It was the most assured performance of a debutante in front of a Boxing Day crowd of over 70,000 people. Finally an Australian batsman played the first session of a Test as it ought to be played in over 25 years. He got his foot to the pitch of the ball while driving – once he got his foot so far down he was able to convert a Umesh Yadav bouncer into a full toss – and bent his knees and elbows at right angles giving Euclid and Pythogoras cricket’s equivalent of the right angle on a platter. His concentration was unflappable – even when Yadav said “you are gonna get out by I am”, he barely bothered to correct his language – and technique tighter than skin-tight pants

Even the legendary statistician Mohandas Menon was impressed as Cowan gave him mind numbing numbers to crunch. He noted that Cowan tapped his bat on the ground a record 1921 times, 300 more than Alastair Cook during his marathon knock of 293 earlier in the year. Menon also noted the symmetry in Cowan’s batting. He said:

Cowan is a statistician’s delight. Symmetry to his batting is poetic. He gets down on one knee to drive and makes the perfect angle with his body and ground. He makes a perfect rhobus with his lower body and his knees and elbows bend in perfect right angles. He has given Test cricket its most perfect cover drives in history. A perfect cover-drive will henceforth be known as a Cowan Drive.

Having revolutionized cricket with its most perfect drives ever, Cowan is all set to become the first person to compose his article whilst batting during the second innings. You will see Cowan write and re-write his piece waiting for the right words to form the perfect Cowan Drive. Channel 9 will set-up a panel to debate Cowan’s claims to be the greatest player-writers of the modern game.

Cowan was unavailable to comment on the matter as he is busy writing his autobiography that is to be released at the end of the first Test.


 Srikrishnan Chandrasekaran

 10 August 2011


Australia will be under some amount of pressure after they lost their two match T20 series against Sri Lanka. Even though T20 is more full fledged action wherein any body can take over the game from any given point, the close finish on the 2nd match gives the home team an edge over Australia in the forthcoming ODI series.

Ajantha Mendis, who picked up 6 wickets in the match, has been included in the SL side for the ODI and Australia can hope to see a lot of this maverick spinner for the remainder of this tour. He has not been part of World Cup Final and didn’t play much in England. Mendis has got lot of variety and has given lot of trouble to Indian players when they visited SL last in 2008. Teams have learnt to play him much better over the years, but he will still be a handful for the younger Australian batsmen touring Sri Lanka for the first time.

Mesmerising Ajantha Mendis could take Sri Lanka to no.1 ODI ranking by the end of the series

The 50 over match require a fair amount of bowling and batting skills to win over the opposition. This series  will really of close contest as the fight between No. 1 and No. 2 in ODI cricket rankings. Both the team has got a good mix of experienced and young players. The challenge for Australia is how they can tackle against the spin attack of SL. Australia will focus towards winning the series to retain their No.1 spot on the other hand SL will look towards winning the series and moving on to No. 1 spot.

Players to watch out on the series from AUS:

Batting: Ponting, Watson and Hussey.

These 3 are real match winners and SL should come up with a different tactics to handle them. Ponting has scored over 1450 runs against SL, but has scored only 334 runs in the last 11 ODIs over the last 12 months period with 1 century.

Bowling: Lee, Bollinger. Bollinger

Players to watch oout on the series from SL:

Batting: Sangakkara, Dilshan, Chandimal.

Dilshan plays really well against pace bowling and Sangakkara is a real accomplished player who might turn the series for Sri Lanka with his bat.

Bowling: Mendis, Lakmal, Randiv. Mendis will most likey man of the series. Randiv and Lakmal  have bowled decently in the last series, and will hope to come up good in this home series.

Even though the sides have more of equal strength, Sri Lanka has an edge over Australia as it is their home series. Best wishes to both the teams and expecting a decent show from both the teams


 Srikrishnan Chandrasekaran

 9 August 2011


Zimbabwe has pulled off a remarkable come back into test cricket with a win over Bangladesh on their one-off test match series in Zimbabwe. This is a significant achievement for Zimbabwe as they have not played much test cricket at the international level for several years.

Brendan Taylor led Zimbabwe to a winning return to Test cricket.

The coachwof Zimbabwe has invested lot of time and hard work to form a team which has not played much cricket on International front to form a winning team. The two teams on show comprised of lot of young players and it was really good to see them played the test match that was well contested over five days.

As the current trend is for players is to opt to play for shorter formats of Cricket, this match will teach a lesson to the other cricket playing nation about the true value of test cricket. The match had total runs of 1100-plus, 35 wickets, 2 centuries, 2 four wicket hauls which were good good signs between 2 lowest level test playing nation and that their players had it in them to put performances required in the longest format.

Zimbabwe has shown great level of patience and character as the Bangladesh team contains lot of spinners who had really done great work in ODIs and Test cricket against the Asian Countries. Bangladesh will be disappointed that they could’t pull off a victory as was expected of them and they will feel disappointed. The home team has lot of reasons to enjoy and this will really accelerate the momentum for Zimbabwe in cricket arena. Declaration at the right time from the captain and three wickets at the end of day 4 which really set-up the Zimbabwe win.

Let’s hope they can build on it and go back to the heady days of being able to compete with the best which they did not so long ago.