Posts Tagged ‘Shaun Marsh’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

Siege warfare has been their stock in trade. For Australia, this series was a case of truth being stranger than fiction – in the good sense. Consistency across four tests reaped benefits earlier not thought-of, and it certainly wasn’t a case of a chain being as strong as its weakest link when a few individuals failed to step up to the occasion. Not a single test seemed likely to enter the fifth day, with the exception of the final one that might have not lasted so long had Australia enforced a follow on.

The worst thing about India’s 4-0 whitewash down under was the inevitability of it. That a large set of the players looked withdrawn and out-of-sync (every time the cameras focused on them) didn’t help the cause either. Astronomical numbers gathered over years of batting is what constituted the middle order, but there was little evidence to suggest that this was the barometer by which their performance was being gauged.

As unpopular as this view will probably be, the proverbial rant surrounding why Rohit hasn’t played a Test yet will continue for some time to come. After all, when wickets fall at intervals so short that the same old advertisements are shoehorned every five minutes (in some cases, ironically featuring the stars that are on the field – or ones who had just lost their wicket), little can be said in defense of their numbers, irrespective of how large they are.  They are statistical quirks, no more, and cringe-worthy.

How meekly the Australians made a team of eleven Indians capitulate throughout the series ranks alongside General Friedrich Paulus’ surrender at Stalingrad in 1943.  Never before had a German Field Marshall surrendered to enemy forces. And the Indian fans’ displeasure is as much as that, if not more, experienced by Adolf Hitler back then. The Australians have dominated the series with an air of perfection that would have made Michelangelo knock of the Sistine Chapel ceiling on a Sunday afternoon to target a work of art likewise.

Playing a Test in Australia is never a pleasant experience – precisely why it is so fervently anticipated. The IPL might have forged opportunistic alliances between these two nations (among many others), but nothing further seems to have transpired. The Indians’ only comforting presence in the Australian dressing room would be that of Shaun Marsh, whose IPL image contrasts that which he has built during this series, albeit the formats being grossly different. Marsh is an unlikely candidate to catch the plane to the Caribbean, come this April. He has cut a lonely figure, resembling a Greek window-shopper unable to buy runs.

Australia’s biggest gain over the series (apart from unearthing/refining an outstanding pace attack) has been the resurgence of Clarke as both a batsman and skipper. For some, Clarke’s Midas touch could’ve come as a greater shock than American Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns. Just as it seemed during the build up that Clarke’s perceived image would receive boo-eliciting responses to every remark he makes, given how unpopular he was among certain sections of the public, the response couldn’t have been more timely and stronger. That he had Ponting by his side all along the course of this series is a tribute to how the two of them have responded to immense pressure.

Now who is more subservient of the two? © Sportsbanter

Premonitions over their roles and future in the Australian setup have finally been buried. With Brad Hogg making a comeback at 40, it would be hard to stop a rampaging Ponting from continuing to play on until he experiences another lean patch like he did in 2011. As will Mike Hussey fancy his chances in hanging around the International setup for some time to come – given how the influx of promising youngsters hasn’t quite worked out the way that the selectors might have anticipated. It would require a Marsh-esque run with a virgin willow for either of these two batsmen to have their performances under intense scrutiny once again.

Haddin’s forgettable patch has rightfully seen him relegated, as much as claims may state that he was rested. At 35, it seems that his path henceforth is a foregone conclusion. The absence (injury) of Paine brings in a whiff of fresh air via Matthew Wade, a youngster who has shown potential to dazzle crowds with his reassuringly simplistic approach to the game – more reassuring than Mickey Arthur’s claims that Haddin is on the right track for Ashes 2013. In truth, Haddin was only marginally better than being hopeless.

Wade’s outing in International Cricket has been much anticipated

Wade, on the other hand, will be in action as early as tomorrow when the two teams face off against each other in the first T20I at Sydney. He’ll feature alongside a few veterans, a few new names, a quirky Marsh and his younger brother Mitch (possibly), under the leadership of George Bailey after Cameron White’s inconsistent form relegated him into oblivion.

Australia sits at a disappointing fifth in the ICC T20I Rankings. A new stadium, a new home outfit; the Aussie fans will hope that it is the same old result though.


Goutham Chakravarthi

There is nothing wrong with this Indian team. That is if you believe in the theory that bowlers who bowl with a straight arm actually bowl with a 360-degree bend.

It was another day of what has now become the norm with the Indian team. Catches were dropped and the batting collapsed. And Clarke finds himself where Dhoni was not so long ago: his juggling of bowlers as mesmerizing as that of juggler in a circus and is easily among the three best batsmen on the world on current form. It is a far cry from not so long ago where he seemed desperate to want to earn the respect of the fans and his questions over his lifestyle.

Lyon accounted for the wickets of Sehwag, Tendulkar and Laxman. © Getty Images

On another day, Haddin would be accused of being selfish in not going for quick runs closing in on a declaration, but winning teams can afford to carry some struggling players. But not for long and Clarke’s angry declaration just minutes past lunch might have passed on that message to Haddin. If Haddin were Indian, he would have been accused of looking after his average.

Sehwag’s innings bespoke of a man trying to chase down an impossible target. But it lacked conviction. Sehwag at his best keeps out good deliveries and goes after the rest. Here, he was lucky, initially, and ultra-aggressive when he eventually skied a waist-high full-toss to get out. India needed to bat five sessions to save the Test. And the skipper didn’t show the determination he did four years ago at the same venue to do just that.

Tendulkar’s series has nose dived post Sydney. His dismissals have become tamer and today, Lyon ensured Tendulkar’s last series in Australia wasn’t going to be as profitable as his previous four tours there. And by the time a Laxman flick brought about his downfall, Lyon had proved that he had the game and the temperament to succeed. And his captain set good catching fields for him to look for wickets all the while.

And as Kohli ran himself out at the fag end of the day, India’s misery on the field seems all but over.

A young Rafael Nadal believed his uncle and coach Toni Nadal had super powers and that he could even bring in the rain as he wished. Toni promised that he would bring in the rains should Nadal look like losing. Once playing in an age group tournament, after struggling initially against a boy much older than he, Nadal seemed to get the hang of it when it started to drizzle. Nadal walked up to Toni and said that he could stop the rain because he felt confident that would beat the older boy and did just that.

May be, India’s best option is to see if they could borrow Toni for a day.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy finds itself back in Australian shores once again. It has been over a decade since this series was won so convincingly, although fingers will point/will continue to point at India’s incompetency. The indignation in the visitor’s camp hasn’t seen a single day of untroubled repose yet. Which is why the essence of the Adelaide Test will lie more on Australia’s battle with themselves than anything else around.

The 3-0 score line is only a number that highlights the success achieved thus far, not an acknowledgment of the goals set themselves. The Australians have settled for the mere truth:  a few individual performances has overshadowed many meager stats from players who, now, find themselves at cross roads of their career – given that a few of their names don’t automatically find their ways into Arthur’s Playing XI when given a fully fit pool to select from.

Shaun Marsh and Brad Haddin, the same names that propped up during the build up to Perth, have done little to boost their credentials to get them away from the relegation shortlist.  They’re going to have to find themselves away from a lean patch that increasingly resembles Greece’s financial muscle. Perceptions that people have about their abilities (lesser empirical in the case of Haddin, given that at 35, ability isn’t what one is judged by) doesn’t seem to match the statistical reality required to warrant a place in the national side.

Combine the perception of a mid-thirties age bracket with a very lean form with both bat and gloves, and it leaves Brad Haddin beatable, something that even he has acknowledged publicly. The scanners over his performance are worth having, and the only way to put an end to his debacle is to address his uncertainty over shot selection.

Haddin looks most likely amongst the Australians to get the axe post-series

With Clarke appearing to be a leader further to the right of Genghis Khan, the Adelaide Test would prove more important to a few individuals in the Australian team than to those in the visiting camp attempting to grab a consolation victory. Australia’s rebuilding phase has created avenues for talent to sneak in to, and only the bowlers seem to have answered the call of duty thus far. Ed Cowan’s performance, from the batting unit, hasn’t done his reputation any harm – although whether he’d be in the reckoning for a place in the Top 3 is subject to further debate.

Reports of a hard, dry surface ‘favoring’ the visitors (not in the literal sense) will matter little to Nathan Lyon who returns to the side on the same ground where he served as a groundsman not too long ago. No better time, and venue, to justify the faith shown in him by the selectors.

4-0 looms.


Goutham Chakravarthi

It is remarkable how the Australian openers resemble Aakash Chopra and Virender Sehwag from 2003-04. Both pairs made of  a dasher and a blunter each. Running between the wickets being the stand out feature. And both middle orders benefited. Australia lost 10 wickets for 155 runs today, but the double century opening stand is essentially the difference in runs between the two sides’ first innings totals.

Talks of Cowan being a short-term solution at the top now needs to be revisited. Like in Melbourne, he left well and played to his strengths. His batting is constructed on good temperament and judgement, not too dissimilar to the construction of his prose. He complements Warner well and they seem to be a good pair at the top with their contrasting methods.

Umesh Yadav's maiden five-wicket haul in Tests. © Getty Images

It will be silly of the selectors to replace Cowan with Watson when the all-rounder is cricket fit. While the number at which he should bat should he move out of the opening slot has been a never ending debate, he might fit in at three should he have to sacrifice his bowling in order to prolong his playing days. Marsh has been flashy, but looks most likely to drop of out favour when Watson returns.

While it does not automatically guarantees success for the pair in England in the Ashes, they seem to have the tools to succeed and deserve to be given a long rope.

While the batting options might be in slight for the selectors, their fast bowling stocks seem to be ripe. While Harris has a remarkable record in the few Tests he has played, it is the emergence of Starc with his pace, movement and bounce that caught the eye on Saturday. Blessed with natural bounce, he seems to be destined to join Pattinson and Cummins and lead Australia’s attack for many years to come. And, given his composure and ability with the bat, Australia’s lower-order has the needed extra padding given the sporadic form of its middle-order.

In contrast, the Indian openers can’t seem to get off the blocks at all through this series. Nor has the middle-order looked capable. Australia’s bowling has been good and has created collective pressure. Patience and the game of attrition which defined this batting for a decade have deserted them for over a year now. Five years ago, this side would scrap, fight and find a way past the initial trouble and eventually break the bowlers’ spirits by batting well for long. Keeping good sides out on the field for five sessions and more is how India broke good Australian sides of the past, now seem hard pressed to bat for half hour without losing a wicket.

It has been remarkable how mentally unclear the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir and Laxman have been this series. All tough and proud individuals, but they seem to be battling more than just the opposition. Sehwag has been patchy and unconvincing throughout the series while Gambhir and Laxman have been busy nicking to the various slips. On good days, they leave well outside the off-stump, but not this series.

It is regrettable that after a day of good fightback by the Indian bowlers, that only the follies of the Indian batting are being debated. After a poor showing at the SCG, the bowlers have bounced back well. Umesh Yadav  rediscovered his MCG rhythm and ran through the top-order after the marathon opening stand to bring India back into a contest that seemed to be headed the SCG way. Australia struggled to cope with Zaheer’s mastery and Umesh’s pace. After a poor first day, Ishant and Vinay came back well to chip in with wickets.

Virat Kohli’s composure at the crease has been the high point of India’s insofar dismal batting display this Test. A big innings for him here will give him the confidence to blossom into a good Test batsman that he is capable of becoming. While day three of this Test in all probability will be the last day of this Test, India will hope that it will also be a day where Kohli takes his first strides in to hopefully a long Test career as India looks to the future without the comfort of the big names in its batting order.

When this Test is done and dusted, it is time India looked to the future. As Kohli and Umesh have shown, they are neither short on talent or ability.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

December 26, 2011

When Ed Cowan confessed that he’d purchased a ticket quite some time ago to attend the Boxing Day test as a spectator along with a friend, it was hard to conceive how things could dramatically change within a short span of time as he led the Australian batting to top score with 68 on a day where the Indians came out on top for most periods. The hallmark of his innings revolved around his ability to leave as many balls as he could, and put away the bad ones in style. As much as Ian Chappell wishes that Cowan was 21 and not 29, he certainly isn’t old enough to be taken away from the reckoning.

That said, Cowan faced something of a thankless task up on assuming duties in the middle. His solidity at one end predated the Warner assault, although the real challenge of resisting to drive in an Autobahn as against negotiating Mumbai peak-hour traffic required immense mental strength and application. Cowan displayed the maturity of a traditional opening batsman willing to occupy the crease for long periods.

Cowan’s patience at the top of the order is what Australia need © Resources3 News

With Warner falling prey to a bouncer from Umesh Yadav, a similar delivery that he’d dispatched for six over mid wicket during Yadav’s previous over, Marsh came in and left without troubling the scorers after spooning a catch to Virat Kohli at backward point. Yadav possessed the pace and aggression to have a go at the batsmen without fear, although he ended up being expensive by conceding a few runs too many with short deliveries.

Ponting entered the MCG amidst clouded doubts amongst many who felt that he’d possibly be playing his final Boxing Day test. Any reservations over his form were quickly put to rest as he seized the initiative after being hit on the helmet early by a steeping delivery from Yadav – just the kind of incident that would trigger his competitive juices.

The scales seemed to be tilting towards Australia’s favor with both Cowan and Ponting looking strong out in the middle. Ponting’s trademark pulls were on display as he dismissed short deliveries from Zaheer and Umesh Yadav. But it was the young bowler from Vidarbha who had the last laugh when he had Ponting caught at second slip by VVS Laxman. However, signs of Ponting getting back to form will not be a welcome thought in the Indian dressing room.

Yadav’s three wickets came at an expensive economy rate, but in hindsight, his aggressive approach had more positives than negatives at store. It took him a while to understand that the policies of bowling short on a rather spongy wicket was lopsided against him – and the possible returns for that approach being rather modest – that it wasn’t worth sticking to it.

The experience of Zaheer Khan came in handy as he quickly removed Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey in successive deliveries. It was the breakthrough India needed when Australia seemed to be coasting along with Cowan firm at one end. The momentum suddenly seemed to assure that India would quickly wipe out the lower order.

The significance of Zaheer’s crucial breakthroughs won’t decide who wins or loses. Rather, the test would focus around his durability in contradicting the legitimate barometer of popular belief that he may not last through the series, given how stiff he occasionally appeared at times. Ishant, at the other end, looked confident and intermittently dangerous although he was unlucky on a few occasions.

India might have well scoffed at DRS as a legalistic nuisance but certainly the stance didn’t help when Brad Haddin was caught plumb in front to Zaheer, only for Marias Erasmus to decide otherwise. Given that both Ed Cowan and Michael Hussey would have survived had the DRS been in place, the decision’s impact wouldn’t have been frowned at too seriously. Hussey finds himself in a similar position as he did back during the 2009 Ashes in England when he was battling to save his place in the test side and nothing short of a repeat of his innings at The Oval back then would cushion his place for the rest of the series.

Despite their batting misgivings, Australia shrugged off the second new ball late evening as they looked favorably gearing towards a total in excess of three hundred. Siddle’s temperament was commendable, as was his intention to get to the non-striker’s end by nudging quick singles. Startling signs of discontent arose through the Indian fielding unit as the seventh wicket partnership crossed fifty runs.

Despite claiming safeguard towards the end of the day, the Australians would feel that they certainly missed out on capitalizing the start provided by Cowan, Ponting and Warner. With the wicket more likely to offer pace and bounce during the subsequent days, they’ll look to gather as much as they can given that the Indians will be chasing a fourth innings target.