Posts Tagged ‘Bopara’

Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan
12 September, 2011

It is hard to decide whether to laugh or frown after witnessing the scenes at The Lord’s on Sunday. While the result was clearly unexpected, the belligerence within was revealing through the body language of players from both camps, during different instances.

Dhoni’s frustration is understandable – the battle has gone bonkers with every route to success having brick walls with loaded artillery. Once again, the D/L method proved as hard to comprehend as The Grand Unified Theory, and as ruthless as terrorists as both camps underwent nervy moments when the rain gods intervened towards the end. A neutral, whole heartedly would state that a tie was a fair result. Not before both camps showed their reluctance to enter the field when the numbers were inclined to their side.

Quantitatively, India got off to a good start by weathering the new ball in order to prevent a repeat of what happened at The Oval. Qualitatively though, Rahane’s rather slow start to his innings witnessed moments of lunatic madness as he tried to whack the leather out of the white ball as frustration seeped in. Rahane would have completed an entire team’s innings had he been playing baseball instead of cricket.

Parthiv, at the other end, dismissed anything that was short of length by quickly shifting his weight on to the back foot and pulling the ball with confidence. Both the openers had luck on their side and trudged along at close to five-an-over. While the numbers seemed convincing, the approach, especially from Rahane, wasn’t. He’d have done well to learn from this innings on how to approach the game when shots keep finding the fielders.

Raina and Dhoni unleashed the pyrotechnics to get India up to 280

Another miniature collapse, following the dismissal of Dravid and Kohli almost immediately after one and other, saw the Indian skipper work on rebuilding the innings once again. With Raina, heart in sleeve, hoping to become a part of the reconstruction, a solid partnership was built to suitably daunt the English attack.

The run rate during the last ten overs headed towards the stratosphere, as over a hundred runs were gathered in a passage of play that helped India reach a more-than-respectable total of 280. It seemed as though the world had absorbed a lesson on Indian resolve, a characteristic that had made them world champions a few months ago.

The English reply was an unpredictable scatter of method and madness. Only Ian Bell’s fifty stood out amongst the top four batsmen, after the openers had departed in search of quick runs. Ravi Bopara, one of the heroes from The Oval, played an innings of undoubted steadfastness by building valuable partnerships with Bell, Bresnan and Swann. Signs of sloppiness on the field from the Indians were vivid once again with RP Singh being the culprit for a chance that he left begging at long on. Another instance of a frustrated Jadeja’s overthrow, way off radar, would surely have brought a smile on to the face of Steve Harmison, who definitely needed chaffing after publicly expressing his disgust over Durham CC when they had released his brother Ben.

At 173-5, bearing in mind Broad’s injury, the game seemed India’s to lose, with less than fifteen overs remaining. However, Bopara played intelligent cricket – strokes that demonstrated the work put in by a man who is clearly trying to cement a place in the current English setup. He targeted gaps, and slow fielders, to convert ones into twos and keep the rate ticking. The consequences of the Indian bowlers’ inability to walk through the lower order batsmen may become more apparent once the series is over, but England, no doubt, have enjoyed their role in the melodrama of lower order batting.

Ravi Bopara played a crucial innings for the second time in two games this series.

When rain intervened, the story had two parts to it: one, when the Indians were on the driving seat, and another, after another over, when the Englishmen took charge. With the score at 242, when the second spell of heavier rain hit the city, it seemed as though that England had clinched the game with the demanded D/L score at that juncture reading 240. Earlier, the Indians had a brief advantage but the spell of rain vanished by the time the teams could leave the ground.

But play resumed, much to the delight of the sport, to witness a spell of wickets falling in quick succession. Bopara departed by holing out to deep mid-wicket for a well constructed 96, but rain played spoil-sport again and used the D/L tenets do declare that the game was tied with England, at that time, further requiring 11 runs from 7 balls with a couple of wickets in hand. D/L doesn’t take into account the case of injured players who can’t bat.

Just like how an organization’s balance sheet doesn’t capture the true costs and risks of business activities, The Lord’s scorecard did likewise. The verdict would simply pose that England clinched the series with India yet to record a victory this summer. As the focus shifts to Cardiff, there is still no ballast to raise any hopes within the Indian camp.


Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket – The CouchExpert

September, 2011

India’s battle with England this summer, thus far, has hardly possessed any dramatic interest. In the past, when Indian cricket had been through plenty of such phases, there would always be an instance of one player whose image would bring to mind a personal battle of absolute resolve. The truth, however in this series, is more prosaic; while there were a few performances that had glimpses of excellence, the overall picture, though, was seemingly fogged.

With absolutely nothing to lose henceforth, it would make sense for India to adopt Admiral Farragut’s ‘damn the torpedoes’ approach during the Battle of Mobile Bay. The influx of youth has helped the unit remove scarred egos, with Rahane’s good run of form being a huge positive. He has looked comfortable for someone who’s just arrived in to International Cricket. Coupled with Parthiv’s blitzkriegs at the top of the order, there have been plenty of positives to derive from the approach.

While some of the players handled the English attack with grace, the overall result has been the same – odd emotional moments in a failing quest that few people are taking seriously. The seriousness debate could have half a point – there were always going to be questions about the crowd that otherwise would have been generated had injuries not affected the celebrity stars.

The success of Rahane would surely give young Aaron a boost in confidence. He must be handed his debut soon.

Despite various signs that indicate a depleted level of interest, thanks more to the weather than the lack of stars, the battle might not be joined until the reverse fixtures commence in India later this year. But what can currently generate interest is to expose some of the young stars and offer a glimpse of what the future has in store for Indian cricket. The failure, to say hand a debut to young Varun Aaron would end up demonstrating the chronic weakness of Indian selection.

It is easy to forget that change in fortunes can still fetch silverware for the Indians this series. The Indian cricket fan’s substantive liability is to forget the opportunities that still lie ahead when times are bad – he becomes besotted with pessimism. The response so far from the team has been forceful, but grossly inadequate.

England, on the other hand has lost its One Day talisman with Irish roots to injury. Morgan’s injury could prove a blessing in disguise for ex outcast Ravi Bopara, who is trying is hardest to cement a place in a side which once struggled to pick a squad on credit alone. It is strange to observe how a chunk of past memories are formatted when times change for the good.

England must ride on this wave while it still lasts, and their current opponents are prime examples of what dark times can do. With a bunch of youngsters being given a fair run this series, Dernbach and Stokes have opportunities to pose additional headaches to the English selectors.

Bopara will slot in to fill the injured Morgan's place in the England XI

Alastair Cook’s doubted limited over skills were put to rest with the innings at Southampton, additionally backed by a few good performances in the same format against the Sri Lankans prior to the Indian series. His success has set a predicate that Cook, as a batsman, can now be relied on in the shorter formats of the game and practically, on incommodious leadership issues, if they may exist, along the way to definitive deal.

The trouble is, success will not always walk into the hands of the Englishmen. If England’s new found aggression is about ruthlessly wiping out enemies, as they’ve demonstrated in the recent past, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for even Captain Cook to take a leaf out of Admiral Farragut’s book: Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead! Weather permitting, of course.

 Goutham Chakravarthi

 3 September 2011

It is a slightly bizarre moment in the tour for both India and England. England have looked utterly dominant thus far and there is little that Indian have done to get the spirits up of any of their fans for the ODIs. But a lot is at stake – that England finally want to showcase that they give One Day cricket its due and India are serious enough to impose themselves in a format they really thrive in. India even went to the extent of trying out their ODI combination in the Old Trafford T20 game.

It will be interesting to see how India approach their batting poweplay

Both sides have issues to address. England’s batting order is always a concern with Cook and Trott in the top 3 and Bell at 5. While Trott has been the backbone of this side with consistent performances in the ODIs in Australia, world cup and earlier in the summer in England, Bell’s position is suspect at 5. In an ideal world, Bell would bat in the top 3 in the ODIs. At 5, he bats too low down the order to have the same impact that he can have at the top of the order. It also puts immense pressure on Morgan to anchor the middle order and also act as the finisher. Bopara at 6 is trying to become the finisher for England. While he has the power game to be more effective than Bell, England is still trying to fit 5 batsmen in the top 6 who all are best fit to bat in the top 3! A long batting order might help, but better management of personnel will help them evolve into a better batting unit that they can become.

India’s issues have been with bating collapses. They are clearly terrified of the batting powerplay and have no convincing method of countering it of late. They messed it up many a time in the world cup and in the recently concluded series in West Indies. While they largely won the world cup on the back of Zaheer Khan and their top 7, their batting collapses left a lot to be desired. The wickets might suit the Englishmen, and like Sri Lanka found out earlier in the summer, it might be hard work for their batsmen too outside of Lord’s and The Oval.

The series might hinge on the bowling form of the English seamers. Dernbach’s match winning performance at Old Trafford on Wednesday might mean one of Samit Patel or Graeme Swann will miss out. Patel’s batting might weigh in his favour, in which case Raina and Jadeja will be relieved.

Cook, Bell and Trott batting at numbers 1, 5 and 3 respectively might not work for England

On the other hand, Indiawill in all likelihood open with Tendulkar and Dravid and approach it the traditional way – keep the wickets in tact during the first 15 overs and capitalize in the last 15. The form of Dravid and Tendulkar will be crucial for India as their young batsmen have not shown the needed technique to survive the new ball. They will be at their dangerous best when the start is solid and there are not many catching men around when the stroke makers come in to bat. Knowing the limitations of this batting side, it will be a surprise if England opt to go with anything less than 4 seamers.

Indian bowling will be tested in the death overs. Both Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel rely on change of pace and cutters in the end overs. Wickets early will be the key for the Indian bowlers as well as the depth in bowling is negligent. Jadeja is largely a restrictive bowler and Ashwinor Mishra are not consistent yet at the top level. It will be interesting to see if they throw in Varun Aaron and give him the new ball. England can’t have seen much of him, and if it comes off, it will be gamble worth it.

There is enough to look forward to. Hopefully, it will be well contested.

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, The CouchExpert

17 August 2011


Let us be honest with ourselves here: any attempt to get the competitive mood a little testier than it was prior to the Edgbaston-induced euphoria might be challenging. The margin of dominance might seem to have alleviated the competitive juices that would have existed before statistics played devil’s advocate – but far from all that, England will target a whitewash. With their openers back in form, the solitary glitch of the series up and until Birmingham was resolved in style.

As painful as Cook’s drab innings was, it is hard to argue that he might have ended up playing the role that was expected of him. For the spectator though, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility seemed to govern his innings that day when, at one point of time, the value of every additional run scored decreased, at least virtually, as his individual score piled on.

Nevertheless, England’s neoclassical revival couldn’t have hoped for anything more concrete. The nation’s persistent expectations were finally in congruence with their team’s performances in the middle. And the icing on the cake was to add to the former World Number One’s bundle of misery by ostensibly portraying the visitors’ woes as voluminous and grave as unpaid taxes in India.

Tremlett will definitely miss out due to injury, while Anderson's situation isn't entirely clear yet

The combination of a prospective whitewash and a battered Indian morale could well tempt Flower & co. from fielding their best XI at the Oval. Graham Onions is likely to return if the suspected injury of Anderson stops him from taking any part on Thursday. Tremlett isn’t fit yet, therefore Bresnan, riding on that wonderful form of his, will look to stay in phase with the momentum.

Bopara’s return placed him in the footnote of a scorecard with monumental numbers, an image that would only appear more blurred when he reads newspapers that highlight James Taylor’s great run of late. The Leicestershire wonder kid scored yet another hundred against the visiting Sri Lankan – A team, and is piling runs at the rate at which Cook was doing over the winter.

Bopara, in all likelihood, will be given another run at the Oval to cash in on runs against an attack that seems far from convincing. Some might argue that it would appear a bit premature for Taylor to be given a go now, but keeping a young in-form batsman waiting in the wings for too long has its own set of unpleasant consequences – one which even Ravi Bopara experienced at an earlier stage of his career.

And to imagine the prospect of throwing young Taylor in to a steaming cauldron somewhere within the subcontinent in conditions unfamiliar to him may not be the ideal start to envision. Flower is probably already thinking of this – the thought being hidden somewhere in his mind amidst a collage of numbers that read 4 and 0.

While it is easy to overstate this need, substantive as it might appear, the bigger picture of the Oval being a battlefield that will house the war between a bruised ego and new-found arrogance must not be forgotten. England cannot, and will not, look to hand India the advantage with a lackluster approach knowing that a 4-0 drubbing would lead the Indian media to frantically dig the graves of culprits before the start of the ODI series. This would, consequently, hand England another advantage going ahead.

Having climbed to the top with promising signs of a new era and a mentally tougher unit, the ghosts of England’s past have vanished for good. Hyperbolic as this statement might allegedly sound, only a strong performance – redolent of the visitors’ era under Gary Kirsten – might tilt the scales otherwise.

Preview Edgbaston: Perspective England

Posted: August 9, 2011 by thecognitivenomad in Cricket, India in England 2011
Tags: , ,

 Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, CouchExpert

9 August 2011

We have just received reports from various reliable sources in England that Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower do not plan to pay a visit to the Indian dressing room ahead of the toss at Edgbaston tomorrow. This means, it is entirely at Dhoni’s liberty to call either side of the coin as it is flipped on Wednesday.

In what would turn out to be a crucial call, as that coin is flipped in the air, adjacent to a wicket which is believed to posses grass with a density comparable to that of the rest of the field, Strauss would probably hope to get this one right. He has called the right shots so far this series, probably barring the Bell incident, and he might hope to get his side of the coin right, a lone facet that blemishes what otherwise has been a dream run for Strauss & co.

The media, and public, obsession surrounding the Trent Bridge controversies – a subset of which majorly includes the recall of Ian Bell and debates over the DRS – must recede in interest if the focus needs to be shifted to two very good games of cricket that are left in this series. Messrs Nasser Hussain and Ravi Shastri have certainly had enough time to polish their high-minded credentials.

The recall of Ian Bell, and perennial discussions over the spirit of the game turned out to be the cricketing world’s classic media bang-sizzle. But cricket goes on, conveniently at the moment.

And England enter this arena with a wicket which, in the past, spat venom poisonous enough to dock points of Warwickshire due to its poor and relentless nature when a few batsmen from opponents Worcestershire hobbled of injured,  their sky-high confidence will hope to wound the Indians’ morale. After all, they are just one win away from reaching pole position in the ICC Test Rankings, a metric that has recently undergone a lot of shuffle in other categories.

The batting forms of Cook & Strauss are still of major concern to England

The only worry for England would be the form of their openers, one that hasn’t changed since the last time I wrote a preview for a game this series. Cook has probably worked with Graham Gooch harder than he’s ever done before, even if it meant running with six bricks, and Strauss might have consulted Andy Flower for reasons other than visiting the dressing rooms of their opponents. But there is no hiding the fact that England’s concerns largely linger around the starts required from their southpaws at the top of the order.

The absence of Jonathon Trott, due to an injury he picked up during the test at Nottingham, witnesses the return of Ravi Bopara who has been in wilderness since his debacle of an Ashes back in 2009. His decision to snub an offer from the IPL, one for which he received lavish media attention and praise, seemed decisively incomplete when Morgan got the nod of him ahead of the Sri Lanka series.

Bopara’s return appeared to be unthinkable when one gauged the forms of Trott and Bell in the middle order, but with Morgan being the long standing target of test match temperament, there was always going to be an opportunity for Bopara to pounce at.

Bopara returns after a two year wilderness following a poor 2009 Ashes

That he replaces Trott now, due to injury, is not how the script would have seemed. Bell’s form will mean that he will slot in at three, and Bopara will likely play at 5, ahead of Morgan. Bopara’s medium paced seamers, additionally, are bound to come in handy on a green wicket.

England’s dominance in this series owes largely to their pace bowlers and the lower order batting. The wicket-keeping/batting department is one that expands the bridge between England and India, a reflection of the Indian skipper’s poor run of form both from behind, and in front of the wickets. And Matt Prior’s brilliance.

Additionally, the performance of Tim Bresnan, who slotted in for the injured Chris Tremlett, made many wonder why he wasn’t in England’s scheme of a playing XI selection at Lord’s. England’s tryst with replacement players shining instantaneously is one that they have carried since their Ashes victory down under.

On what beckons to be a decisive test match, one that would topple the charts at the top of the rankings, England will enter Birmingham with intent to kill, while India will look to strike back to protect their position at the top. India’s share of injury problems might give England the upper hand, but to assume that this test would be a walkover might be crudely misleading.

The prevailing view is that England will not withdraw and recline on a 2-0 lead. A 3-0 lead might tempt England to try their next generation of wannabe superstars – the pack being lead by Leicestershire’s young batsman James Taylor, and Durham’s all-rounder Ben Stokes. Unlike a lot of the other teams, the world hasn’t seen young English talent in the international arena. This presents as an opportunity to sort that out, and could well be playing in Andy Flower’s mind of late.

If that is a prospect appealing enough, their pacers should continue to hold the key that can unlock the trove to hand them the Number One status.  Their batting should continue to post enough runs to ensure that the bowlers have a sufficient margin of safety.

But hopefully, what shouldn’t continue are talks over what happened at Trent Bridge.