Posts Tagged ‘Broad’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

16 September 2011

Had it not been for image, power and charisma, Indian cricket’s state of affairs would be contracting even more than it has over this English summer. By not turning up for the ICC awards ceremony in London, deliberate or not, the force of the critics’ arguments have carried on in to the abyss.

The indications, thus far, are that Team India is unwilling to acknowledge mistakes on its part. The focus on their absence might have temporarily found some of the underperformers’ relief from being a part of obscure passages in tabloids, but the road away from London towards Wales will finally put an end to what has been nothing short of a disastrous series for India.

The Indians will certainly be hoping that crossing the English border would hopefully see a turn in their fortunes as batting stalwart Rahul Dravid, under strange circumstances, gets ready to wear the Indian blue outfit for the last time in his limited-overs career. That Graeme Swann had to openly admit that seeing Dravid for the last time would make the bowlers around the world heave a sigh of relief is a testament to his wonderful, illustrious career.

Rahul Dravid will bow out of the ODI arena at Sophia Gardens on Friday

Dravid has been the most perfect iteration of the textbook approach candidate. At various instances, during an era ruled by the hard hitters and shorter formats, a serene eye would squint as it witnessed Dravid attempt an odd slog, so unnatural of him, in the middle: open-chested, sweat-laded shirt, high elbowed, and ramrod straight – he could have so easily been the strict disciplinarian amidst pampered souls, lost in a world ruled by chaos.

The next-gen fan seems to have a primal need for watching the ball travel high and afar; cricket has become the modern day equivalent of The Epic of Gilgamesh. It is common wisdom among great cricketers that there are preconditions for attaining success at the very highest level – they key factor being mastering the basics. It is a trait that even fetched two of England’s top three batsmen, batting-order wise, highest honours during the ICC Awards ceremony in London a few days ago. The icing on the cake for both Cook and Trott would be to send the visitors back home without a win all summer.

History-making is rarely free, and the Englishmen are on a roll with the momentum backing them as they approach Cardiff. Broad’s injury would definitely deprive them of their star performer this summer, but the manner in which the replacements have slotted in and performed would give Andy Flower little headache.

India’s addiction to picking youngsters on tours outside the subcontinent and not giving them a run is very much like American addiction to Oil. Why Varun Aaron hasn’t been given a look in yet is a question that beats most of us. If they thought he was ready before he boarded the flight to London, one can’t seem to concretize on a reason why he wouldn’t be ready now. Even if Cardiff were to script a remitting horror story so reflective of this summer, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to witness what this youngster has in store.

Plenty of words have been written, both supportive and critical of the visiting team on and off the field. A victory in Cardiff wouldn’t alter the writing on the wall to an extent that the scars will heal effortlessly. But certainly, a win over the current World Number One would offer some credibility to a unit that has appeared as dry as dates with a loyal fan base slowly swallowing the bitter seed that they never would have imagined to have germinated after a memorable world cup win earlier this year.

As the curtains are about to close on a series that has been haplessly one-sided, a war hero from the victimized camp will slowly, and humbly, walk away from the arena in which he has amassed over 10000 runs at an average close to 40. As he bows out, so will an integral part of the art of classical batsmanship, from the shorter format of the game!


Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, The CouchExpert

22 August 2011

 

There is a growing sense that our best days as a Test Cricket Superpower are behind us, and that England, currently is in the driver’s seat to ride on this throne for the foreseeable future. A sense of anguish seems to dominate any conversation that runs around India’s future in Test Cricket – the consequence of a whitewash whose coffin was nailed at The Oval.

There is, of course, some truth to this concern. Even Real Madrid’s 5-0 loss to Barcelona last December wouldn’t have had enough quantity of remorse to outweigh that suffered by the Indians lately. If at all anything was common, it was that both the Los Galacticos and Indians succumbed to the presence of sheer class amongst their opponents, coupled with bad errors of judgment intrinsically.

England dominated the series with the aura of a historical superpower that has never been colonized. The script of the fourth test could’ve well been written before the first ball was bowled at the Kia Oval, but what was heartening to see from the Indians, for a change, was resistance of some sort. Dravid’s defiance had thrown seeds of hope in to the Indian dressing room, two of which managed to last through a session without having its wicket thrown away.

The media-frenzy of a Tendulkar milestone that dominated headlines preceding this series is likely to continue until it is reached

Tendulkar’s near-repeat of his World Cup Semi Final innings against Pakistan, one filled with numerous chances that the opposition failed to grasp hold of, and Mishra’s battling (and splendid) innings – one that had to have had the other ‘batsmen’ hang their heads in shame- saw India through their first session without losing a wicket. Mishra’s guts, and temperament, are now widely endorsed with a large section of the Indian public willing to forgive him for lack of ideas while bowling – only to tout him to contention for the number six slot as a batsman.

That it had to end this way for the Indians was a certainty. A curious selection towards the end of the series had depicted a thought, or even a belief, that the Indians were as adept in conference rooms, where selections were made, as their players had been on the green wickets of England. Indeed, the uncontrolled fall of morale, confidence and the exposure of weaknesses and inability overshadowed all imaginable pretenses – not least helped by the fall of seven wickets for a paltry twenty odd runs to bring this series to a close.

Some of India’s most exciting one-day players were victims of the English soil’s greenish vengeance. Less gullible but no less feeble were the bowlers who ran out of ideas at the rate at which gas-guzzling SUVs drink fuel. Predictable responses to events of such drastic inconvenience hovered around packed calendars and lack of preparation – but lack of application, barring Rahul Dravid, stood out among the key culprits. England played brilliantly well, no doubt, but was made to look even better by the hapless Indians at various instances during this series.

England’s progressive rise in performance of their players, with Swann completing the cycle with his dominant performance in the second innings of the final test, picking up six, pretty much summarizes their state of confidence. A few of the statistics from the recent past – backed by innings victories and large integers – plant a scary proposition to the rest of the world: they’re right on top, and there seems to be no roads that descend anywhere near the British Isles.

It may now appear ironic that Man of the Series Stuart Broad was a doubtful starter at Lords, owing to his unimpressive form leading up to the series

Broad’s consistent lengths throughout the series, ones that would have made even the best of the long-jumpers proud, and high scoring cameos with the bat earned him the Man of the Series award, one for which there existed many a contestant from the English dressing room. Dravid, from the other dressing room, was parsecs ahead of any other Indian in terms of achievements this series. That, in itself, is a reflection of how the series eventually panned out.

Most of the Indian players, subsequently, will have to bite the bullets once the post-mortem verdicts are out; not that most of these facts aren’t known anyway. Some of their ‘shorter-format’ skill sets have probed in and out like Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Apart from the self-inflicting damage that it has caused to most of them, more than anything else, it has left a billion sullen faces staring at this plight back home.

On the contrary, the Englishmen have found themselves a bed of roses to recline on – their tale to reach the top of the rankings, followed by a whitewash of the previously reigning champions, couldn’t have had a better script in the making. The quality of their quests henceforth will decide whether they build their fortresses across the globe in sand or stone. They have had a remarkable time stamping their intentions, but the real game of governing unconquered territories is about to begin this winter.


Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, CouchExpert

1 August 2011


During times when an Indian fan walks along that thin line which separates faith from hope, most often observed when the team isn’t doing well as it is capable of, the common fan’s sword and the journalist’s pen come together to diminish that metonymic adage of the pen being mightier than the sword.

Much of it emanates from the status of virtual invincibility India had attained after topping the ICC Rankings in Test Cricket, only to be followed by the euphoria of being crowned World Champions. In a continent where today’s superstars run the risk of being relegated to the status of forgotten heroes if they fail, sometimes even if just once, immortality would appear an easier wish to attain than consistency. The packed schedules do not favour either.

And along this thin line, the Indian fans started their walk on Day 4 of the Trent Bridge test when they were left to rue with harsh memories of momentum and advantage escaping their grips, at various instances during this test, to hand England a clear sight of victory within the horizon.

In a test where Dhoni’s tradition of shrewd leadership seemed subdued, the scars left by Bell, Prior and Bresnan, by the time England’s second innings came to an end were painful, and India’s morale, gaunt. The Indian skipper’s faith enabled him to appreciate the bowlers who attempted to make the most of the conditions, but it didn’t force him to lay a trap to dismantle the English batting cheaply, even when he’d possessed the upper hand at times.

Bresnan's outstanding all round contribution has given the English selectors a pleasant headache ahead of the 3rd test at Birmingham

This clearly is at the heart of what is disturbing about an Indian fan’s faith at this moment of predicament: it doesn’t worry him enough; neither does it drive him to have second thoughts before lamenting over the captain’s lack of ideas when the England tail wagged once again, as he watched Bresnan and Broad scoring at a rate of more than 6 an over. Third man, once again, bore the greater share of the Wagon Wheel.

Talks of India having to restrict England to a score not in excess of 300, prior to the start of their second innings, seemed imminently laughable as the lead stretched to 477 – leaving India five sessions to battle through. A more than decent outfit was made to look hapless by England’s lower order batting.

Tim Bresnan was unlucky to miss out on a deserved hundred, but he did enough to place the English selectors in a spot of bother as they were left pondering over the moves to be made once Tremlett returns for the third test.

When the Indians came out to bat, it looked as though they were batting in a different wicket to the one in which the third innings of the match had come to a conclusion. Batting through five sessions was never going to be an option and the result clearly seemed to have only one way about it.

Excepting Tendulkar, none of the Indian top seven crossed single digits. At no point of time during this test did the Indians look like a champion outfit – barring the session on Day One where Dravid and Laxman negotiated through tricky spells of seam bowling.

Bresnan’s breezing spell that fetched him four wickets (and the selectors, additional aspirins – for the good) in his total of a five-for was complemented by Anderson removing his man, Tendulkar, yet again, for 56. Like MS Dhoni earlier, Tendulkar shouldered arms to one that nicked back in and was ruled out leg before.

Local hero Broad picked up the Man of the Match after amassing 108 runs and 8 wickets

The ruthlessness of the Englishmen resembled that of Nottingham’s popular folk figure, Robin Hood, while the Indian unit was made to resemble the deceitful sheriff, almost as though the visitors had stolen the sport’s supremacy from the land of its founders. Man-of-the-Match Stuart Broad, whose looks bear more resemblance to Maid Marian than the legendary outlaw, contributed both with bat and ball to lead the yeomen’s charge in conquering Trent Bridge. Bounce and seam, instead of bows and arrows, helped England take an unassailable 2-0 lead.

India’s reconstruction will be as symbolically important as Duncan Fletcher’s role in reshaping a side that probably hasn’t been on morale as low as what it is experiencing now. But the margin of victory – both an exact and significant barometer of English dominance – will linger in their minds for a long time to come.

As for England, the opportunity to top the ICC Test Rankings is a mere win away. Who’d have thought a couple of years ago that this would be a likely proposition? Even among the most optimistic of optimists, this would have seemed a far-fetched ambition, having witnessed what English cricket had been through.

Well done England, you deserve to be 2-0 ahead.


 Goutham Chakravarthi

 30 July 2011


A green pitch and an overcast day covered with wet clouds greeted the two sides at the toss which both captains didn’t want to lose for it wasn’t the pitch even Dr. W.G. Grace would stick his thumb into and say, ‘A hundred for me lads’. With injuries plaguing his team and with an unsettled batting order, Dhoni was relieved to win his second toss in a row and insert England.

Sreesanth made a fine come back by picking three English top-order wickets

It can be difficult to assess bowling performances in helpful conditions. Largely, Praveen Kumar settled into a good line and swung it both ways with magical control. Ishant, buoyed by his performance in the second innings of the Lord’s test, galloped to the wickets and hurled tough questions at the English openers. Between Praveen Kumar, Kevin Pietersen and Marias Erasmus, they ensured the news channels got enough fodder for the evening bulletin. Tantalizing cricket was played where fortunes oscillated between bat and ball when stumps were drawn for lunch.

The afternoon session warmed many Indian hearts as their bowlers ripped through the English middle order with great skill and discipline. They could have got more as the bowling had the batsmen in a fix: batsmen were drawn to play away from the body with the bat aslant from the swing of the ball. The pitch offered the ball more than what the bowler offered the ball when hurled to the pitch, and as a result, a tough and fine middle order was left to lick its wounds for the second time in successive innings. Sreesanth, his omission from the first test and his late swing, was debated at length in the Sky commentary box.

The test erupted into life in the final session with two free spirited locals deciding to take the attack to the enemy camp. A dumbstruck opposition recoiled and let the game drift. In a most entertaining hour post tea, Swann and Broad smashed a hitherto impressive Indian attack to smithereens. And till the maverick Praveen Kumar got one to spit on Swann and almost broke his left hand, the show looked impressive to carry on for a while longer. Broad continued in his merry way in producing a sparkling half-century in front of his home crowd, an innings that could prove to be vital in the final analysis of the match if England manage to sneak ahead with a lead after the completion of the Indian first innings.

Dravid and Laxman, key to India overhauling England’s 221, survived a testing spell of skillful bowling from Broad and Anderson. They showed their skill in encountering a difficult pitch with movement and unpredictable bounce. They took body blows and survived close shaves. Lucky as they were, they showed how to survive on this wicket. They, with Tendulkar, will be crucial for India’s chances now in this Test.

England will fancy their chances on the second morning.