Posts Tagged ‘Sreesanth’

Prasad Moyarath

An Australian tour always provided an ultimate test of character for any cricketer and remained a tough frontier to conquer for any team. The pace and bounce of the Australian pitches combined with its bigger boundaries intimidated the batsmen from the subcontinent to such an extent that a big innings in Australia is epitomised as his ability to play quality fast bowling. Off-spinners struggling, fast bowlers bowling a wrong length, fielders struggling with their throw from the boundary, wicket-keepers fumbling are all common problems faced by the teams from the subcontinent in Australia. The Australian media are well known for their attack on opposition captain and almost all sub-continental teams have had some bitter experience in the past.

Yet another Australian tour is round the corner for the Indian cricket team. Indian selectors have announced a 17 member squad for the four test series which looks strong and well balanced in paper. But for any cricket connoisseur, this team does not inspire any confidence. Though this team has a set of talented youngsters and established stars, the way this team has been groomed as a unit and its preparation for this tough tour has raised the eyebrows of many. Having followed many Indian tours of Australia particularly the last two in 2003-04 and 2007-08, this team for me, does not look strong enough to conquer Australia even with their new look side.

Sreesanth and Harbhajan are known to get under the skin of the Aussies. They might be missed. © The Indian Express

India drew the series 1-1 in 2003-04 and lost 2-1 in 2007-08. Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Zaheer who were part of those two tours are still there in this team. Dhoni toured Australia in 2007-08. Team with 6 experienced players should have an upper hand against a new look Australian squad. But a look at the performances of the 6 Indian experienced stars makes me jittery. Zaheer is coming out of an injury. Though Sehwag has scored a few half centuries after his come back, his performances have not been convincing. But Sehwag is unpredictable and can fire any time and India’s performance in Australia depends to a great extent on the innings he plays there. Dravid has been in great form and should continue his dream run in Australia. The whole nation is waiting for a century from Tendulkar and this expectation seems to affect the great master. Despite his big knocks in India, Tendulkar does not look to be in a good rhythm. Laxman has always produced some wonderful performances against Australians, but age seems to have caught up with him. His feet are not moving like in his younger days and with his slow reflexes, he can be a burden on the field in Australia. Dhoni has a dubious batting record outside the sub continent and his keeping has also not lived up to the expectations recently. Australians are well known for their meticulous planning and they are sure to exploit the above weaknesses of Indian stars.

It will be the first test series in Australia for Gambhir (though he impressed in the one-day series there back in 2008). Kohli is yet to cement his place in the test squad and his weakness against short pitched balls which became evident in West Indies will be exploited by Australians. He needs to display how he has rectified this short coming. Rahane and Rohit Sharma are yet to make their debut in test cricket and don’t expect to play any part in the test team unless any of the batsmen gets injured. Only one among the two spinners will play in 3 test matches except in Sydney. Praveen Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron will relish the conditions and it is up to them to make their presence felt. Saha will be a mere passenger unless Dhoni gets injured. India needs to play Umesh and Varun in all the test matches and knowing the leadership style of Dhoni, it looks a distant dream.

What is lacking in this “strong” team compared to the previous tours? To be honest, this Indian team lacks characters, those who have the guts to fight it out in the middle and those who can inspire others with their cameo. India will surely miss players like Saurav Ganguly, Sreesanth and Harbhajan. It is not that these players should be included in this squad, but this team lacks “something” which these players have which will help them fight against all odds.

What could have been done to improve India’s chances? The West Indian tour to India ahead of this Australian tour is a big blunder. The flat pitches here did not help the cause either. The Indian selectors and the team management never bothered to groom the players. Rohit Sharma was identified as a test batsman very late and the captain did not have the courage to play him in place of an established star even after winning the series. Same is the case with Rahane. The Indian selectors have still not identified the players to replace the 3 greats. They should have played Rahane and Rohit by resting Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman in rotation. Now it is suicidal to blood these batsmen in trying conditions in Australia in case of a crisis. Parthiv Patel as a reserve keeper would have solved the batsmen’s injury worries considering his experience in Australia. Why the selectors don’t consider him as a batsman despite some crucial knocks against Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar is still a mystery. By denying a chance for Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron to bowl in tandem in Mumbai, the Indian team management missed a golden opportunity to groom a new fast bowling pair. With a captain who wants the Indian test pitches to assist spinners from the first day onwards, this was not unexpected.

The years 2003 and 2007 left the Indian cricket lovers broken hearted due to the Boxing Day test matches in Melbourne. The year 2011 seems to end in the same note. Unless the Indian openers give a sound start and our team management gives up their defensive thinking and our new fast bowlers rip through the Australian batting line up, this Indian team don’t seem capable of presenting a happy 2012 to its fans. Good Luck Dhoni and team.


 Goutham Chakravarthi

 16 August 2011

Ian Botham has slammed the ICC for not giving England a fair opportunity to win the four match series 5-0. His request to let India bat twice again on the 4th and 5th days on a crumbling Edgbaston pitch so that England could showcase their supremacy over the highly overrated Indian batting line-up. ECB had sold any number of non-refundable tickets for the last day. He quibbled, “This Indian side is only interested in IPL cricket and the razzmatazz associated with it. The partying and cheer leaders can be very tempting! But ECB should rub their faces in the mud when they can so that I can walk with my head held high!”

Ravi “Tracer Bullet” Shastri accused Ian Botham of being jealous for not being involved in the IPL. He said, “Instead, we could have had 5 IPL games on the 4th and 5th days as skippers of Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Daredevils, Pune Warriors, Mumbai Indians were around. It would have proved only Indian teams can win IPL matches even in England and England cannot stomach that fact and India would still be world no. 1”. Sunil Gavaskar, nodded in approval even as the editor of the Outlook magazine was stealthily eavesdropping on the conversation in a Scooby Doo disguise but wearing his ID nonetheless.

Cook is to be rechristened as “Sir Mulish” by the Queen

ESPNStar, the Indian broadcaster of the India-England series, has sued Alastair Cook for a severe dip in their television ratings and their studies revealed that grown men preferred to watch soaps over cricket who have refused to switch the channel back on to cricket even a week later fearing that he would be leaving deliveries bowled by M.S. Dhoni whilst still batting on 401 after 70 hours at the batting crease.  They have sued his mentor, Graham Gooch, and his hair-transplant consultant who is rumored to be a distant cousin of Geoffrey Boycott for implanting these ethics into Gooch, and by extension, to Cook.

Indian fans who have travelled to England have been seen scampering at Kings Cross in the hope to find the platform 9¾ to escape to the magic world of Harry Potter. They were seen frantically performing the memory charm ‘Obliviate’ on each other in a vain attempt to erase the memories of Cook. ESPNStar has warned that another innings of Cook on similar lines at The Oval would further weaken the economics as they already have no advertisers or viewers till the time there is Cook.

BCCI has warned the cricket world of there being a great depression should Cook continue to be allowed to play any cricket at all. They have challenged Cook to settle scores with Praveen Kumar in a wrestling bout followed by a sweating contest with Rahul Dravid. Cook has agreed to the challenge but only after he is done with his batting practice that commenced 10 mins after the 3rd Test ended on Saturday afternoon. Two bowling machined have limped off with hamstring and shoulder injuries, but Cook’s practice shows no signs of abating.

Praveen Kumar is warming up to settle scores with Cook in a wrestling bout

On Sunday, with the Indian Embassy appealing to the Queen, the matter was forced into Scotland Yard’s hands. They have hired the services of the Indian minister and former cricketer Sidhu and former England captain Nasser “Jealous” Hussain to provide pitch-side distraction for Cook in his practice. Sidhu has apparently not let Hussain utter, “I have been paid to provide my opinion,” in 18 hours of Cook’s batting practice so far. With bowling machines worn out and all net bowlers doing their shoulders, Scotland Yard’s private detectives were seen plotting their strategy against Cook.

They hired the services of George and Fred Weasley who ran-up to bowl to Cook and cleverly disguised the use of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes’ new trick of developing five arms on the delivery stride and bowling them over-arm, under-arm, side-arm, a Shoaib chuck and a Sreesanth beamer simultaneously against Cook only for Cook to defend, block, leave, sway and duck at the same time to the five deliveries. The mesmerized Weasley twins were last heard arguing with J.K. Rowling that Harry Potter should now be rechristened Harry Cook.

The Queen has decided to take the matter in her own hands and it has been decided that Alastair Cook will be given knighthood on Thursday so as to ensure that he doesn’t play in The Oval test after the BCCI accused ECB for not playing in the spirit of the game. ECB, it is understood from our sources, have sent out a massive search for bowlers who specialize in bowling long hops and leg-stump half-volleys in order to restore interest among Indian batsmen and Indian spectators.

Not even the magic tricks of the Weasley twins could get Cook out.

The Queen has urged that normalcy be restored in cricket. She urged, “Alastair Cook henceforth will be known by the name Sir Mulish for his insane ability to resist a Sreesanth half-volley after two days of batting when he can see even the smallest of craters on the moon even in broad day light.” Sreesanth complained that he never felt this bad even when he was slapped. And Warne ended-up sending text messages to all nurses in the whole of England to beat boredom. All the while, Sir Geoffrey Boycott was seen admiring Cook and blowing kisses at him.

ESPNStar, meanwhile, has resorted to desperate measures to keep the Indian interest alive in the series. BCCI has arm-twisted ICC to decide the result of the final Test through online voting and text messaging. Viewers will be asked to vote on the following:

BCCI is working with PCB to see if they can spot-fix the Test last summer where Cook scored his career saving hundred. They are talking to have the umpire change his mind and give him out against Mohammed Aamir when Cook was on 2 so that England would drop him retrospectively and his Ashes and Edgbaston exploits be deemed void.

 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.

Prasad Moyarath


18 January 2011

“Horses for Courses” is an oft-repeated excuse offered by the Indian cricket selectors to pacify the soaring public demand for the non-inclusion of a particular player. By announcing a 15 member squad for the 2011 World Cup with no major surprises, the selectors have divided the public opinion there by alleviating the need for this excuse. But not all are convinced that this is the best possible squad to reclaim the World Cup. Though this squad looks perfect on paper, the ground reality is that the few debated positions can turn disastrous for the team.

In Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Kohli, Dhoni, Raina and Yusuf Pathan, the selectors have picked the best 8 one day batsmen available. Harbhajan, Zaheer and Praveen Kumar are automatic choices as the best 3 one day bowlers. Ifs and Buts come up for the next four places. The ICC World Cup rules, the playing venues and the match timings become vital for considering players to fill these slots.

Though the World Cup is going to be held in India, Bangladesh and Srilanka, the ICC rules don’t permit the participating nations to replace players without ICC’s permission. Also if a player is replaced, he will be out for the entire tournament. This makes it mandatory for each team to have a replacement player for each position to meet a crisis. This exposes a vital flaw in the Indian team selection. Though there are enough days between matches, if Dhoni is to get injured and doesn’t recover in time for the next match, the current Indian team doesn’t have a specialist reserve wicket-keeper. If Dhoni can recover from that injury in a few days’ time, asking ICC for his replacement then will make India lose Dhoni for the rest of the tournament. In form Parthiv Patel would not only serve as a reserve wicket-keeper to meet such contingency but also as a reserve batsman. Indian selection panel’s conclusion that a reserve wicket-keeper is not needed for a World Cup in India lacks vision.

All the Indian matches are Day/Nighters. This World Cup is being held in February and early March and in the Day/Night matches, dew is going to play a major role in the second innings. Spinners won’t be able to grip the ball properly in dew conditions and this makes the selection of more spinners useless. Sehwag, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Raina and Pathan can bowl part time spin and India doesn’t need an additional off spinner. This questions the inclusion of R.Ashwin. Though Ojha is a good left arm spinner, the fact that India doesn’t have a wrist spinner compels the inclusion of Piyush Chawla. Also Chawla is a better batsman compared to Ojha.

Now we need to look at the selection of 2 pacers from Munaf, Sreesanth and Nehra. Munaf’s recent performance in South Africa and his ability to bowl tight overs in the middle makes him an automatic choice. Nehra has lost his pace and swing and is not the bowler he used to be ever since his comeback. Sreesanth is in outstanding form and his pace and swing will turn out to be an asset for the team under lights. By selecting the out of form Nehra ahead of the in form Sreesanth, the Indian selectors have committed another blunder.

No reserve wicket-keeper, an additional spinner who may never play and an out-of-form pacer who can turn out to be a burden for the team, the Indian cricket team for the 2011 World Cup is definitely not the best available as claimed by K.Srikkanth.