Posts Tagged ‘indian cricket’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

The game of cricket will be left poorer when the curtains are drawn on the Year 2012. It isn’t as much about the retirement of four of cricket’s greatest servants, as it is about the virtues they possessed.

Great sportsmen have seldom been vehement about how they want to retire. “I want to retire on a high,” some would say, with more than a hint of melodrama. Some retire placidly, with poise. Some are shown the door, mercilessly, in cultures where empathy ceases to exist. And some are slowly nudged towards the questions of their futures, with hope that the message is conveyed.

Towards the twilight of their careers, champions often find themselves living in a profoundly different world populated by fans-turned-critics, journalists with poison-laden ink pens and ‘advisors’ of a truculent variety. Insinuations fester while every act on the field is observed under a microscope, scrutinized and mock-obituaries written. After all, recent statistics will remain the principal standard by which players are judged.

In countries like India, where resources (in other words, talented players) aren’t limited, the question that lingers around asks if it is worth investing (again) in a successful past over a hopeful future. It has happened in sport – some even come out of retirement because they ‘miss’ the sport too much (I’m not talking about Pakistani cricketers here).

They miss the competitiveness, the adhesion. Paul Scholes, for one, went out on a high and was welcomed back with open arms when he decided to return to Old Trafford. I doubt if anyone from the Premier League can pass the ball with the pin-point accuracy that he possesses at his age. Michael Schumacher’s tale, on the other hand, paints a different picture. To say that his return was underwhelming isn’t harsh, although it wasn’t, in theory, a disaster.

On the other hand, when champions begin to get a sense of feel that they are the brick wall between a young talent and a regular place in the starting XI, the sensible ones make wise decisions. Cricketers continue to ply their trade in T20 leagues, and footballers move to the MLS or, in some cases, Australia. There is a sense that the advent of T20 cricket has caused a certain lassitude, that all is not over if one’s curtains in the international setup is closed. But this can’t be taken on face value.

Yes, solace can be gained from the fact that we’d still witness a Laxman or Dravid in IPL colors. Or a Tendulkar, more crucially, in whites. But when you start saving up for the things that money can’t buy, the memories that remain linger around long enough to make you miss it.

Beyond Men. Demi-Gods for most. © The Guardian, UK

And you end up waiting for the right antidote – in Dravid’s case, the emergence of Pujara (as premature as it may sound) acts as a safety net, while Kohli’s ODI exploits provide a layer of comfort given Tendulkar’s absence henceforth. In some cases, the void may never be filled – the pace department, for example. Or to an extent, even spin.

West Indies, and more recently, Australian cricket have found it a challenge to fill voids vacated by legends. Transition is never easy – some plan for it in advance, some realize it the day the inevitable strikes.  You could extend this to beyond sport.

Narayanamurthy’s exit from Infosys created a cataclysm what today is known as – well, still Infosys, but with an uncertain management structure and vision. Hewlett Packard isn’t the same ever since Mark Hurd was shown the door. Oracle was the beneficiary. And Larry Ellison never misses out an opportunity to laugh at those who’d sent him an early Christmas card.

After all, a player is most missed when, in his or her career, he or she had done something that had, or likely would have, a long-term effect on the sport he or she played. Jonty Rhodes revolutionized the art of fielding. David Beckham show-cased what could be done with a dead ball on a football field. Usain Bolt demonstrated that there’s more to two legs than we’d have ever imagined possible. And so on.

And when 2012 comes to a close, cricket fans will remember four men who’d continue to remain as the epitome of four different virtues: Dravid for his patience, Laxman for his sublimity, Ponting for his grit and Tendulkar for carrying the burden of a billion hopes.

As Justin Langer said: “He just spat the blood. And continued to field.”

A common virtue, one that is easily forgotten, relates to their deterrent attitudes towards the media prior to their retirements. Although most of us got the feeling that media pressure undid them, in truth, it didn’t. It is a virtue that took them through their highs and lows during their illustrated careers – to defeat the pens with their bats when it counted most. And to retire with a sense of pride with the focus on having represented their country meaning a lot more than any of the statistics that glorifies their careers.

Cricket may never get an opportunity, in the near future, to witness these virtues given how the game has changed dramatically over the last decade. Inventiveness is the new buzz-word, with batsmen attempting physics-defying shots against the poor bowlers of the modern era. And who knows what the future holds? Not many back in the early part of the 1900s, during the Industrial Revolution, would’ve perceived the Mobile Revolution of the 21st century.

But amidst all changes that happen, we will continue to remember what the four have done for cricket. Garfield Sobers is still spoken of today as the greatest all-rounder to have graced the game. Those who’d had the privilege of watching him play are never short of words when asked about his feats.

And as four legends walk away from the sport, so will we when asked about these greats in the future.

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Niranjan K

Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from ODI’s did not come as a surprise to me. After all, he has not been an active ODI player for quite some time now. But when I sit down and think about what we he achieved, my eyes fill with tears of pride. He has so made the format his own that now it’s possible to think if ODI’s itself is going to retire with him.

In a country that is obsessed with statistics more than performance, results more than playing a good game and individual performances celebrated above the team, he gave us reasons to do both.Talk about numbers while still amazed by the beauty of his batting, celebrate a victory while watching him talk about respecting his opponents and most of all, celebrate a Tendulkar century along with an Indian win. We explored the statistics to understand his genius. We read articles to understand his brilliance. In short, Sachin Tendulkar made an average Indian fan, better.

It is a monstrous task to compile ten of his best from a collection of over 18000 runs and 49 centuries over 400 matches. I am sure a lot of you would disagree with my list, thinking how did I miss this, how can I miss that types. The list that I have put down here are the ones that simply sprout out of my mind when I saw the news of his retirement from ODI’s. No research and no thinking over. The Sachin Tendulkar fan in me came up with it. I had combined a few performances in one, in a logical way to make room for others. It’s Sachin, how can I not?

10. He blasted 41 runs off 26 balls against Pakistan in the 3rd finals of Coca-Cola Silver Jubilee Independence Cup, a rollicking start (the score was 71 in 8.1 overs when he got out) that ensured India would chase down Pakistan’s 314 in near darknesss. Saurav Ganguly with 124, Robin Singh with 82 and Kanithkar’s invaluable 11 not out gave India the win with a ball to spare.

In action in the 3rd finals at Dhaka. © AFP

9. He was playing all sorts of role in the team when one day Sidhu woke up with a stiff neck in New Zealand and Azharuddin walked up to him and asked if he could open the batting. That offer changed the face of ODI’s forever. He blasted 82 off 49 against New Zealand and a superstar was born.

Cricket woke up to its greatest ODI batsman at Eden Park. © AFP

8. The great man has just lost his father and had to fly midway during the ’99 World Cup to perform the last duties. Most thought that his tournament was over, but the master came back and how! It may be against Kenya but his 140 not out in the match after his father’s passing was as important as any of his other. It showed how much he cared for his country. And he looked up at the skies as he got to a hundred, a sight that was to become commonplace on his getting to that landmark thereafter.

Looks up to the skies after an emotional hundred © AFP

7. He was in indifferent form going into the final of the CB series in 2008 against Australia. But he took the grand finale by a calculated storm that did not decimate the Aussies, but rather destroyed them steadily. The Aussies might have had a stronger chance of getting him out if he was in marauding form. But instead, he chose to play the Anchorman, piling on runs at a fair clip and guiding an inexperienced batting to the finish. Both the century in the first final and the 91 in the second was a master-class.

His first and only ODI hundred in Australia set-up a series win. © Getty Images

6. It may be India’s most embarrassing defeats, a forfeit, but still it was characterized as before and after Sachin. He made 65 out of the 125-8 that India managed in the world cup semifinal in ’96 before the hostile crowd at Eden Gardens stopped the match. It seems like the pitch had two layers, one for Sachin and the other for the rest of the batsmen. Such was the gulf in class.

India’s fortunes soared and sunk with Tendulkar in the ’96 world cup. Scenes at Eden Gardens as India sunk after a Tendulkar 65. © Santabanta

5. For all the great batting performances of the little genius, there is one over that showed how cool his temperament really is. That final over in the hero cup semifinal when he successfully defended 6 runs against SA is one of my earliest images of him, one that made me a worshipper of him. How can a top order batsman bowl a nerve wracking final over and win the match for India from a seemingly hopeless situation. I was very young and believed only god can do miracles. I wasn’t wrong.

When he defended 6 runs against a rampaging Brian MacMillan in the Hero Cup semi-finals. © AFP

4. It was a princess that waited for the right prince to come and conquer her. Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry came within sniffing distance of her. Sehwag was thought to be the man to marry it. But eventually, ODI’s first double century was captured by the king of them all against an attack that had Steyn, Morkel and Ntini, a handful on any track. It was an innings of textbook perfection and clinical precision. Sehwag eventually bettered it. But this is first love. Need I say more?

Incredibly, Tendulkar even became ODI’s first double hundred scorer. © GETTY IMAGES

3. This happened a few weeks before the 200. But fans were transported to decade before when Sachin single handedly won matches for India. Set a demanding 350 to win, he scored exactly half the runs and when he got out, so did India, just like the old times. But that 175 was so breathtaking that even left the Aussies dazzled.

Tendulkar had Australia at his mercy for much of his career. His 175 at Hyderabad was among his best knocks. © AFP

2. Perhaps no other team challenged Australia like how Saurav’s boys did in the last decade and perhaps no other player dominated them like how Sachin did in the decade before that. The 2 sandstorms that decimated Aussies in Sharjah ’98 is part of cricketing folklore now. You may find this an exaggeration but to me, those 2 innings made him a legend of ODI’s.

Without doubt his highest point as a batsman came on 22nd and 24th April 1998 with those innings for the ages at Sharjah against Australia. © AFP

1. For all the centuries and a double century, this is the innings that still gives me the goose bumps when I think about it. How did he do all that? Playing Pakistan in pressure, more so if it’s in a World cup, and even more if playing for the first time in years. This was no stage for mortals or good players. The stage was set for only one man and how well he played. That 98 in the 2003 World cup is my pick for the best innings by Sachin Tendulkar in 23years. One shot stood out. A back foot cover drive off Wasim Akram still leaves me speechless, even after watching it hundreds of times.

His 98 at Centurion versus Pakistan in World Cup 2003. He went on to bag the Player of the Series award. © AFP

He defined the format, pulled the crowds to it and single handedly changed, not just of India’s fortunes, but the future of the game itself. And we all grew up with him. We were school kids when Sachin was decimating attacks in the 90’s singlehandedly, so he was the superstar. When we went to college in the 2000’s a certain Mr. Ganguly so dynamically changed Indian Cricket that Tendulkar went from one and only superstar to the greatest batsman of the golden quartet. As we understood the game better, he became a legend.

Farewell Sachin Tendulkar, albeit from colored clothing. We hope to see plenty of you in the whites, playing that breath taking straight drive, that audacious upper cut, that finest of leg glances or that ever so wonderful back foot cover drive. As a God, please inform the other one that created you that we said Thanks. We can say that we grew up and lived in the same time as the God of Cricket. Who else can?


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!

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!!!


Sridhar Divakar

August 27 2011


It’s a pretty interesting time for selectors and coaches in India. Our Cricket Team which was considered World Champions in both formats of the game has just been dethroned from their No.1 status in Tests. Next milestone for the opposition will be to win the ODI series. A victory in this series will help them assuage their pain caused by the dramatic draw in the world cup. But getting back to the point that I started this article with, this really is an interesting time to be a coach or selector.

An angry press reacts in the extreme after the whitewash in England

A few months back, this team looked like a fantastic batting unit. It had the perfect blend of Experience and Youth. The bowling department seemed well stocked. The fielding standards too had reached levels never before expected from an Indian outfit.  It seemed that the national coach just couldn’t do any wrong and that the national selectors had finally picked the perfect team. Underneath the national level, was this matrix of myriad players, coaches, selectors, officials etc. who really felt as though they didn’t have much to contribute. They felt their current system had succeeded in creating a world champion team anyway.

Post this recent Test Series against England, or post what must have seemed like an eternity to the entire Indian outfit in England, every damn person(read coach, selector, columnist, player etc.) is talking or writing about the national team’s performance (or the lack of it!). The regional coaches and selectors have suddenly seen a silver lining through the dark English clouds. Overnight they have turned into these experts who always knew what was lacking in the Indian cricket system and what had to be done. It’s just that they were not given the chance.  The Tactic now – point fingers at any one of the millions of flaws that the Indian team displayed during their appalling performance. These critics, who seemed to be taking responsibility for Indian cricket success just a few months ago, seem to have cleverly shifted over to the side that is throwing criticism, now that the national side has given a dismal performance. And there is this resurgent media interest in finding out what exactly was the issue,  which has given them (critics)another shot at getting famous.

When times were good, no one seemed to have noticed flaws that, in any case, were inherent to the team

Funny!! Very funny indeed.  The point I make here is, if these people were so well aware and so concerned, where were they before the start of the series. A Zaheer Khan’s selection to the TEST squad was not debated before the start of the series in spite of him not having enough match practice. A certain Suresh Raina’s preparedness against the short ball was just not paid attention to after India’s World Cup victory. Yes he did play well in the West Indies. But those were different tracks. And he was playing against a shorter, comparatively inaccurate and slower set of bowlers. Where were the critics then? People were dying for Sehwag to return as if he has been blessed with the art of getting runs even after he was out. How else can you justify his selection to the team and the consequent silence of Indian cricket fans? All these men are supremely talented –no doubt. On their day, they can demoralize any attack in the world. But even the great Achilles practiced before a war. There is this certain mindset and this certain physical state that each player gets into before any important game. The Indians probably reached that state on the 3rd day of each test. And by that time, England was in command.

And now that the series is over, these millions of self prophesized experts slowly creep out in the open and bathe in the limelight of a vicious loss. Pretty sad picture for a country that breathes cricket. I am not saying that we should just sit back. No. This is definitely the time to act. But if only we had acted earlier. If only these realizations had dawned upon our selectors, coaches and players earlier. We would have had an outstanding series. And I feel cricket India owed this to fan – the simple aam aadmi whose craze fuels this game’s growth in this country.

It’s time to take advantage of the opportunity that this series drubbing has lent us. As an ardent fan of a game that has time and again shown what a great leveler it is,  I urge all you experts to come forth and draw up a plan, irrespective of which level you operate in in this country. Create a concrete development process, define selection and player fitness policies, improve the standards of pitches in india, pay close attention to sports medicine and nutrition of players. There are hundreds of things to be done. Instead of giving interviews and writing columns, please invest you time in such exciting endeavors. Be part of this exciting process of transformation. You know people are hearing you out. There is just so much you can achieve now.

At times I wonder why I gave up playing so early in life. I could at least have ended up as a coach or selector in some small club in some small town in India. And this would have been the time I would have been waiting for!

What an exciting time for selectors and coaches in India!!!