Posts Tagged ‘Virender Sehwag’


Shridhar Pandey

The Indian team has many reasons to be proud of the victory over England in the first Test at Ahmedabad. After all, this would be termed as their first legitimate victory post the consecutive 0-4 setbacks in England and Australia. This win clearly showed that the English were the second best team to India in almost every facet of the game over the last 5 five days.  Their skills and strategies to play in the sub-continent needs serious re-thinking. Without overruling the fact that England can bounce back from this situation, they will have to look ahead in a very optimistic manner – without being over ambitious of course.

India clearly had a hero in both batting and bowling departments – Pujara and Ojha respectively.  Ojha was clearly ahead of any other bowler in the match – yes, even better than Swann. Bowling tight lines has always been his strength. What he also did well in this match was tossing the ball up almost every time the skipper threw the ball into his hands, therefore bagging those many wickets in both innings. His successful stint with the ball also more than made up for Ashwin’s rare failure in Indian conditions.

Pujara is impressive on and off the field. Pic: The Hindu

I like Pujara more after every match. His knocks in both innings were flawless – if I might say so. He gave glimpses of both Dravid and Laxman at times. His forward defence is almost as solid as The Wall. The way he comes down the track to play the wristy drives toward on-side against spinners sure reminds me of VVS. Yet, it would be quite premature to compare him with those batting stalwarts.  But keen observes would have already started looking at a future prospect in the dressing room like they had done when two youngsters in Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly made their debut at Lord’s more than 16 years ago. The thing about Pujara that stood out (and he admitted that himself too) was the price he put on his wicket; he seldom played a shot in the air. That reminds me of another batsman who did well in the match but got out playing a needless shot in the air – Virender Sehwag.

Sehwag’s run-a-ball century in the first innings was a trademark Sehwag knock though he was a little slow early on. He must have breathed a sigh of relief after that. I would have loved to see him return to the dressing room unbeaten though in the second innings.  Yuvraj Singh played a wonderful innings before being dismissed cheaply off a full-toss from Samit Patel. That innings did show some resolve and was a clear indication of the man’s pedigree.

Another player that impressed was Umesh Yadav. The lad bowled his heart out on a pitch that hardly had anything in it for the seamers. He looks a promising young fast bowler (yes, you read that right – fast bowler!). He also extracts some reverse swing from the old ball that makes him a really deadly customer to deal with. Zaheer Khan, though not among a lot of wickets, looked like 100 per cent after a long time. The way he set up Nick Compton before dismissing him in the second innings speaks volumes about his ability with the ball.

MS Dhoni again failed to make any difference with the bat. It won’t be long before India would need his service in that area as well. Kohli was partly unlucky in the first innings, with the ball that got him out coming out of the rough area of pitch but looked good in second. Sachin Tendulkar got out quickly after he looked like being in a positive frame of mind – obvious from the two convincing boundaries in that small innings.

Despite the lost affair, England still have some hope to draw from the match. Spare a thought for the captain, Cook and their most successful spinner Swann. Alistair Cook’s century would certainly be rated among the top by a visiting batsman in this country. Swann strengthened his claim for the best off-spinner in the world at the moment. Matt Prior would have a lot of positives to take from the fact that he outshone his Indian counterpart in at least one area – that is no mean feat!

In all, India would be more than happy with their performance and would like to keep the momentum going with few improvements in a couple of areas. The English side, on the other hand, would like to learn a lot of lessons on how to play in the subcontinent from their Indian counterparts. For them there is certainly a ray of hope at the far end of the tunnel; but only the upcoming matches would decide whether that is of an incoming train or thanks to a stag with a torch in his hand!

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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!


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.


Bini Sathyan

The post match ceremony of the 3rd India-Australia test which was scheduled for the evening of the last day of the Test was advanced and took place in the afternoon of the third day’s play. This was due to the sudden and sad demise of Indian cricket due to old age and certain other factors which have come up in the post mortem report.

Even though this was an expected event, things took a sudden turn and impact of the fall from grace was colossal that everything around collapsed and was buried in the blink of an eye in a hot summer afternoon in Perth. The rot that set in at Edgbaston from which time Indian cricket has been living on the edge was finally set to rest in Perth. Skinned alive and left half dead, Indian cricket was bludgeoned and put to death at the WACA. Buried under 22 yards of soil 6 feet down under heaped with shame and disgrace. A black day for Indian cricket.

The chief architect of the collapse and who remained stone cold throughout the turn of events, Dhoni, looked like a man giving a funeral speech at the post match ceremony, even though he did not go on to give a speech per se. He wished that the team had more time to adapt to the harsh conditions of pace and bounce in the fast Australian pitches. Wonder what the team was doing when it reached Australia to get used to these conditions well in advance?

This team of veterans who had built their legendary reputation in Australia and against Australia was still trying to find their feet in the third test. Will they be able to adjust to the conditions if they play a dozen Tests more in the continent? Then BCCI should think of extending the series and in future should keep sufficient number of Tests in the series. This is necessary for getting beaten black and blue in the first few, learning in the next few and giving it back in the last few, that is if they survive to do it.

Clarke, the full grown pup that has matured into a leader and revived his team by leading the fight back from the front, in his speech made it clear what his team’s priorities are. To be the team to beat. To become number one in all three formats. With priorities clearly defined, the Australian cricket board and the team know their direction. And going by their history, they will pick up the right men to execute their plans. BCCI on the other hand is planning for the next IPL. So it is very obvious on the priorities of both the boards. When Clarke says they want to become no.1, he and Cricket Australia means business. BCCI also means business. Only that their businesses are different.

Australia have not just won the series but may have also put an end to a few careers. © Getty Images

It was a shameless and spineless display by the Indian batsmen again barring the determined Kohli this time. The Test was supposed to last 5 days but the Indian batting could not last 5 sessions. The responses and reflexes of the once great batting legends who are in their twilight years seem to have slowed down. The grit and determination to fight it out when they had their backs to the wall has disappeared. Their fighting capabilities would have put lions to shame. Now they are a shame to the nation. The legendary wars that they fought, the lonely battles they waged are all folklore. They scripted legends in time and now its time they write their own epitaphs.

The Indian batsmen made the same mistakes again and again. Their attitude seemed to be casual and careless and was evident in the captain’s batting. The Australians have done their homework well. They planned well and executed clinically. They have found that there is a hole in the wall and they have made it to look bigger. They have created records for Dravid to be the player who was bowled out the most number of times and Sachin the player who was out LBW the most number of times. Their nemesis Laxman has lost his magical touch. Sehwag failed to trouble them. Gauti and Dhoni always made sure that they self-destructed. The tailenders have brought back their old habits of batting is not my responsibility. The lack of application in a team is well evident from the way the tailenders bat. The spirit to fight and the determination to overcome is clearly absent in this team.

And the Australians made the most of the mistakes of the Indian batsmen. The pace brigade of Starc, Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Harris bowled consistently and was ruthless till they saw the back of the last batsman and made sure that the burial was complete. If this was war, then the Indian team has no comeback. Luckily this is a game.

The one man from Australia who simply blew away the game in a session is the pocket dynamite, David Warner who is known as the bull amongst his mates. And boy, what a charge he has made. This charging bull simply ran away with the honors before the amazing Umesh struck at will. The two balls that went through the gates of Ponting and Cowan, a right hander and a left hander, are more than enough to see the quality of his bowling. And Virat Kohli’s performance with the bat has shown the talented fighter in him. These two are definitely part of the future. Other than these positives that India can take away from the match, this Test is better forgotten.

It is time for the most experienced batting greats of India to exit before it is too late. They have to go. The earlier, the better for Indian cricket. Greats become true legends when they exit gracefully and gloriously. If they hang on till they fall from grace and are no longer needed, they become a laughing stock. The legends should be treated with respect. So it is high time the they think about a decent exit.

Maybe it is time for the selectors to think differently. Or the selectors themselves should go if they are not brave enough to think beyond the veterans. The greats might play well and hit a couple of centuries more in the flat Indian pitches or in favourable conditions. In that way they still have a future. But if we are going to persist with them, Indian cricket’s future is bleak. We need to think about the unfriendly pitches in England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and the future tours to be played here. Pick up young players who can and send them to survive these harsh conditions. Baptize them with fire. Put them to the lions. Let the fittest survive and we will get a team to beat. The resurrection of Indian cricket lies in the tough decisions that will be taken after the Australian series or may be even before.


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.