Posts Tagged ‘India’


Shridhar Pandey

Only a couple of days away from the beginning of the Test series between India and England, I realize that I have never before looked forward to a Test series with such desperation as this one. There is more than one reason behind the excitement. Whatever the score-line might read at the end of four test matches, one can rest assured that both teams will have some interesting challenges coming their way. Though this series has been constantly billed as the “revenge” series, I believe that would not affect the teams much, for they have far bigger issues at hand to deal with.

As far as the English line-up is concerned, the return of Kevin Pietersen will surely boost the morale of the side but they cannot afford to get carried away. Of late their middle order mainstay Jonathan Trott has not been able to keep up to the high standards he has set for himself over the last couple of years. Injuries to Stuart Broad and Steven Finn have given them more reasons to worry about. Nonetheless, flamboyant KP is always a force to reckon with. If he can successfully put his frailties against slow left arm bowling behind him, the English supporters will be in for a delight.

Yuvraj and Pietersen make comebacks in to their sides and their form will be watched closely by fans and selectors. Pic: NDTV

To add to that, they have not yet gotten to taste the kind of spin bowling they are about to face in the upcoming Test matches. I would not bother myself going into the details of the reason behind that (that sure is worth another story in itself). But that does bring me to an over-hyped issue about the fragility of English batsmen against spin bowling. This is not the first time they are touring the sub-continent. Neither is this the best spin attack that India has had in the recent times. So give them a break. They know what they are doing. In case they aren’t, they better do!

The Indian outfit, on the other hand, will take on a serious opposition without Dravid and Laxman for the first time in years (no offence meant to the Kiwis). This series shall prove to be the litmus Test for the likes of Gambhir, Sehwag and Zaheer. Gambhir will have to prove that he is not just good for small innings and that he can go on to score some big runs as well. Sehwag will have to make his followers believe that he has not lost his touch while Zaheer’s fitness will be tested once again.

Pujara and Kohli showed promise in the series against New Zealand. If they continue their form into this series, England sure would get a run for their money. Yuvraj has given the selectors reason enough to select him for the no. 6 spot. For some reason, he has not been able to do justice to his talent. By now he should have been a permanent member of the Indian test line-up. Ashwin will be the one to watch out for. He has done extremely well in home conditions. He might prove to be the eyesore to most English batsmen.

Inclusion of Harbhajan in the squad renders the equation pretty interesting and open to speculations. It would be interesting to see if Dhoni leaves out Harbhajan from the playing eleven to include Ojha. If he doesn’t, it would be a huge injustice to poor Ojha who did very well in the New Zealand series. Dhoni himself has a few questions to answer as far as his batting goes. A batsman of his mettle batting at no. 7 is always a huge advantage to any side provided he is in good touch – or at least in the kind of form he is in the limited overs cricket.

Moving on to the last and certainly the most talked about issue of late – would Sachin Tendulkar announce retirement after this series or maybe after the series against Australia? All these speculations have gained some credibility after Sachin himself hinted that he cannot keep playing forever (contrary to what I had been thinking for the last 16 years). He has always been known to hit back hard whenever he has been criticized. Now is one such time. How well does he come back will be a key factor in determining how long he keeps playing from now on. Though there is still some part of me that believes he would keep playing till eternity!

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T20 Cricket: Give Credit Where It Is Due

Posted: September 29, 2012 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, World T20 2012
Tags: , , ,

Goutham Chakravarthi

All administrators I have met in Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan or otherwise – were much relieved when Afghanisthan gave India only a scare but nothing more. India’s fortunes in the tournament seems to have a direct impact on the success or failure of the tournament – read the 2007 and 2011 ICC World Cups respectively – according to a well placed administrator.

Compared to the ICC World Cups, the World T20s seem to hedge their investments better. A third of the tournament is spent playing games only when the rest of the world is sure of which eight will move on to the next round. And by the time eight becomes four, three-quarters of the tournament is done and the tournament is not a financial disaster anymore. One-day world cups with a bigger spread, either fall or rise with India’s fortunes.

The various T20 leagues that have mushroomed are seen to be deterrents to the other two forms of the game. The calendar is packed with these through the year and around the world. And, yes, corruption seems to walk hand-in-hand with these T20 leagues. Strong administration and policing will eventually decide the integrity of these leagues as will strong counseling of players by self, player associations and home boards. But corruption and greed in cricket cannot be restricted to the T20 timeline alone, for they have hampered the game for centuries.

But to its credit, T20 cricket has restored some parity in to cricket. Not long ago, it would be an exercise in patience to sit through a cricket match in India. The facilities and treatment of the fans in the grounds are among the poorest. Still, people paid vast monies to sit through the charade of concrete footsteps for seats, boundary placards for shade from scorching heat, thundering rains and bird-waste. And public toilets were, err, open dumps of waste.

T20 cricket has perhaps not changed all that, but it has changed things for the better. The game lasts shorter and the misery of the fan lasts shorter. Also, leagues and team owners seem to have taken the extra effort to improve the facilities to bring more people in even as they milk the money from the gate collection as cricket increasingly becomes a television sport. That said, the administrators still care more for the money than for spectator comfort, but it is much better than what it was this time a decade ago.

Women and children flock to T20 cricket and in it remains T20 cricket’s biggest triumph. Often Sunday cricket practices include a short game of 20 overs-a-side where the parents watch their wards perform in my part of the world. Perhaps the bigger leagues are dressed with better toppings – with music, refreshment, games and an evening out – of the simple game it is: fast, high adrenaline and short.

The connoisseur might smirk at it and call it names for it may not be a true test of one’s abilities. It is still a test of many abilities. It is still cricket. And runs and wickets matter as they do in other forms. And wins are wins.

The thrill of sixes and fours might not whet everybody’s appetite, but they are the skill necessitated in this format – perhaps like tie-break specialists in tennis where ones with greater serves felt at ease.

It is still perhaps the best vehicle to take cricket to a larger audience globally even as the top nations struggle to be competitive. Even with many leagues and various strategies, the game throws up more surprises than a Dan Brown paper back.

The many positives T20 cricket has brought into the game cannot be ignored.

It cannot be forgotten that it has also made the game more popular and more expressive for players and the paying public; perhaps more convenient also for all parties concerned (administrators inclusive).

While the administrators and players playing the game have as much responsibility in keeping the sanctity of the game, so do the scribes and television broadcasters that bring the game to the many million living rooms of the games fans. The fans decide what they like to watch – some like more colour and grandeur, others intrigue and soberness, and some others both. It becomes the duty of the custodians of the game to ensure the fans of the game are not left cheated in the end – selling the game to corrupt and selfish officials, players and bookies.

If cricket is as much about bonding between players, back slapping in encouragement, swinging to the fences in need of quick runs and knocking down timber in need of wickets, dancing in the streets after a victory or buying the team a round of drinks at the end of a good day’s work, T20 cricket is all that as well.

Give credit where it is due. T20 cricket is here to stay.

This is a published article in Island Cricket


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

One of the weird aspects of understanding cricket and captaincy is that by the time you’re mature enough to appreciate it, you have much less opportunity to do so. In particular, I was never a fan of Darren Sammy (who was?) – his inclusion in the West Indian squad, at all times, seemed more bemusing than watching Piyush Chawla get out of the Indian team bus today.

What seemed easier than trying to decipher the logic behind this was to merely acknowledge his role in fielding a team that has been through a lot of turbulence – I’d even read somewhere that Steve Waugh had called Darren Sammy to offer a few words of advice when he became captain. Was I too young / immature to acknowledge his role?

Gary says No!

Goutham and I had a chance to say hi to Garry Redman, a Barbadian living in the United Kingdom – we’d spotted him sitting a few rows away from where we were during the game between Ireland and Australia.

Gary was more than happy to answer a few questions that Goutham had with respect to a few critical issues from the West Indian team. To begin with, unsurprisingly, he names Chris Gayle as his pick for the Player of the Tournament award, and that he was here in Sri Lanka to “see the West Indies take this trophy home.”

When questioned on his views about Darren Sammy, he curtly replied: “He has taken Andre Russell’s place in the squad.” (more…)


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.