Cricket Shastra


The Ball Stops Here

SA win the 1st day of 1st Test

Notes from the day one of the India-SA 1st Test at Chepauk, Chennai…

  • India needs to re-think the four-bowler strategy, especially in the Indian sub-continent where the pitches are generally conducive to batting. But to accommodate the fifth bowler, whom do you drop? The only route I could think for this is to take Karthik in the team instead of Dhoni (God knows he needs a break, he has been the busiest cricketer in the world – give him a break for a test or two, get him back fully fit and refreshed), drop Jaffer or Sehwag (for no fault on their part), make Karthik open, and get Pathan in as a bowling all-rounder.
  • I know Sreesanth is a quality bowler when he gets into rhythm, but the problem is his rhythm lasts for 3 balls, and the fourth ball would generally be seen crashing in the hoardings. He reminds me of another Indian fast bowler of the present era: Ajit Agarkar – of the six balls in his over 4 would beat the batsmen, the other two would beat the fielders.
  • RP Singh was not at all incisive, and Zaheer Khan was sorely missed. Ishant Sharma has to prove himself in the Indian subcontinent before we miss him 🙂
  • And why was the Indian fielding so pathetic? I did not expect Dhoni to drop a catch that he would have generally taken with his eyes shut…

Filed under: Match Review, Reviews, ,

Match 5 – India Vs SL Review

We can go on and on, saying that rain spoiled the game for us and set it up for the Lankans, but the fact of the matter is, that SL played better cricket on the day and we were beaten comprehensively.

India’s batting performance was good, except for a couple of wasted starts and unnecessary run outs. The biggest worry right now, would be … without a doubt .. the form of Yuvraj Singh. He seems to be finding it very difficult to spend any time at the crease. I don’t think he would be able to keep his place in the team with his present form for too long. I think that presently he is too bothered about his place in the team, thanks to the long row of young batsmen waiting to fill in his shoes .. and I think that is the reason he is playing the matches even though he is not fully fit. His knee injury wont get any better by playing matches, specially with the kind of schedule the team has. Ravi Shastri hit the right note, when he said that it would be better for him to go out of the team, spend some 6 moths for rehab and then come back a stronger and fitter player .. than stay in the team, and keep performing poorly. On a positive note, I think Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma could well be the find of the tour for this Indian Team. Ishant has been pushed into the role of the new ball bowler with the likes of Zaheer Khan and RP Singh returning home with injuries and he has responded in an excellent fashion. But I think we should take time with this youngster. He might do pretty well on this tour, but will he be able to keep up his pace in the hot sweaty conditions and the flat tracks in India .. that remains to be seen. It is important that we don’t make him all high and mighty based on this tour and then brand him a terrible selection when he fails to preform on the flat tracks.
On the other hand, it is easier to make a judgement on the batsmen like Rohit Sharma. With the sort of technique that he has, I see no reason why he can not perform on all sorts of wickets and on all sorts of conditions. He always seems to be having a lot of time while playing his shots .. its a sort of relaxed approach, even while facing the fiercest or wiliest bowlers in the world cricket. His Six off Murlitharan was probably the shot of the match. Only a player who reads the bowler well can play that sort of a shot and reading Murli so well is an achievement in itself.
As for the Lankan innings, they were always in cruise mode .. specially after the blistering start they got .. thanks to Jayasurya. Wine gets better with age .. so do Test Batsmen .. but Jayasurya retired from Test Cricket to prolong his one day career and still is one of the most feared batsmen around. His approach to batting isn’t always so pretty to watch .. but is always effective. He might not have the defensive technique of a Dravid or a Attapattu .. but who needs defense when you are Jayasurya. Entertaining , is the word that comes to my mind.
In the post match conference, Jayawardhene said that SL would have won even if the match wasn’t rain shortened. I hate to agree with him, but really … that seems more probable than an Indian win.
The win in this game has opened up the competition, thanks mainly to the the surprise Indian win on Sunday. A win for any of the two playing teams in the next game would put them at the top of the table and leave the loser of the game at the bottom. India will continue to be on second place, unless the match is a tie or a wash out. Been a long time since we had a good tri series in Australia. This series might just be dose of life that Cricket needs, specially these days when tempers all over the world are flaring at the drop of a hat and people are starting to think that money is what keeps cricket running, and not a case of cricket keeping the money coming.

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Haladhar Das

While the rain played spoilsport at Brisbane, and promising to do so in Sydney too, a ray of sunshine broke through.

I just read about Haladhar Das, a wicketkeeper-batsman from very humble roots (he hails from a small village in Orissa) and cannot help but think why were the nineties so bleak in terms of quality wicketkeepers who could just bat a bit. Right now we have no dearth for quality wicketkeeper-batsman – Dhoni being the numero uno, Karthik pushed his way into the Indian Team just on the basis of his batting (and also out of it currently only because of his batting, anyways I think he deserves more chances), and remember Parthiv Patel (yeah the one to whom Steve Waugh retorted in the last Australian tour that he has been playing cricket even before Patel was born) – he has been scoring prolifically in the domestic arena (had he been scoring such runs few years back, Dhoni would have found it very difficult to break into the Indian team); and now Haladhar Das. Where were the wicketkeepr-batsmen in the late nineties and early years of present decade? Anyways because of that problem, at least India found one of its premier batsmen – Dravid saved his ODI career owing to the same problems.

I’ll be surely following the career of Haladhar Das and hope he gives Dhoni, Karthik, Patel some sleepless nights, and the Indian Team a happy dilemma to be in.

Filed under: Cricketers,

Mid Innings Indian inning review

From 83 for 4 to 267 for 4 !!
Not bad at all .. I would say. Quite a fantastic recovery from India.
Lets focus on the positives first. Gambhir has started finding his feet in the international arena ever since his wonderful batting exploits at the top of the order during the T20 World Cup. He can now be put down as a reliable Number 3 player for India, at least in the 50 over version. This has more to do with the lack of options present, than with his talent. Among the present pool of batsmen India has, no one is more suited for this role than him (I am counting out Rahul Dravid, as he probably will find it tough to find way back into the ODI team .. whatever be the result of this series). The onus is on Gambhir to take his role seriously and deliver in crunch matches. Even Today, he almost threw away his wicket while on 10 and had Sangakara not grassed that chance, the scoreboard might have read a lot different.
I have always had doubts about Dhoni’s ability to bat in tough conditions. He always seems to be able to bat in only two modes, either overly aggressive or overly defensive. I am yet to see a aggresive defense or a defensive aggression from this chap. He just seems like he wants to hang in there when the conditions are tough, even if he gets bad balls. At other times, he seems like he wants to get the match over at the earliest, and starts banging every ball out of the park. But I was pleasantly surprised today with his batting. His innings was a fine example of how to build one’s innings. After the couple of quick dismissals, one due to an umpiring horror and the other due to outright stupidity from the batsman, his calmness brought some method in the madness that was prevailing in the middle.
Together, the two understated batsmen fought off the chances of mid innings collapse. By the time the allotted quota of overs were bowled, one of them had helped himself to a truly deserving century and other one had played a wonderfully paced captain’s innings. For quite some time, I had thought that this inning would also go the same way as the one against Australia. But these two displayed great skills in keeping the good balls out and swatting others for boundaries , especially towards the end of the innings.
Now its time to get on with the negatives. Yuvi was the one player who was supposed to make the batting order strong. But he always had problems playing quality spin bowlers. He can swat them for a couple of boundaries, but he definitely can’t bat consistently well against them. Today too, Murli had him bamboozled. It wasn’t so much about the quality of the shot that he played, but about how easily Murli had foxed him. Remember the Manoj Tiwary dismissal against Brett Lee ? Bouncer, bouncer , bouncer and then out of nowhere, a yorker length delivery. With Yuvi batting, Murli bowled three flat fast-ish deliveries on his stumps and gave the next one some air. Yuvi was enticed into the drive and ended up giving a catch at slip. I don’t think there is any prettier site for a bowler than to see his plan work out against one of the top batsmen in the opposition team.
I do feel sorry for Rohit Sharma though .. He had batted so well against Australia the other day that Ian Chappell had said “I think India have found the ideal replacement for Sachin when he retires, for the number 4 test spot”. The cover driving, the square drives and the lethal cuts were all excellent, but its yet to be seen if he is able to keep scoring his runs when bowlers around the world have worked him out. Right now, he seems to be too intent to cut deliveries. May be that is something that teams can exploit in the future, if he does go on to play for a long time. Today he got a very poor decision from the umpire, but he will have his chances in the series.
Sachin and Sehwag were good at the top of the batting order. I just hope Sachin notches up at least a couple more centuries on this tour. Its not too tough, considering the sort of form he is in.

Update : Match canceled due to Rain 😦 .. Both Teams share 2 points each.

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Find of the Series

No, I am not talking about Ishant Sharma. Granted that he is without a doubt a very promising fast bowler, but I am talking about the “Find of the Series” in context of the TV viewers – namely us. I am talking about the commentator – Michael Slater.

If the matches are being telecast on DD, generally I watch the match on mute preferring not to listen to the pathetic Hindi commentary. But Star, ESPN do have an amazing army of commentators with Harsha Bhogle in command. When Harsha Bhogle is the one on mike, sometimes the comments get more interesting than the actual cricket being played. Another favourite is Michael Holding dead-panning the one-liners. This tour of Australia has unearthed Michael Slater – with his amazing wit, and his recounts of the recent events concerning the current players, he is on the way to become my favourite commentator.

His observations on the cricket are amazing, but better than that is his ever present sense of humour. Yesterday during the first match of the CB series, Sachin had just pulled a ball for three and Michael Slater gave an analysis of why it was a very difficult shot to play considering that SRT is short. I don’t remember exactly how but his conversation with Gavaskar veered from the technique of a short guy to the hair styles of Dhoni and Bracken, and somehow relating both of them – the hair and the technique of the short batsmen. Whenever Slater is paired with Harsha Bhogle, you are in for a treat.

I was never a fan of Michal Slater – the batsman, but I have become an ardent fan of Michael Slater – the commentator.

Filed under: Commentators,

MelBurned T20

While I am writing this post, Indian team is trying to avoid the bowl out in this only T20 match in India. 50/6 thats what the scoreboard is saying right now.

There is no need to know the outcome of the match (though I will update that soon) as it is going to be very obvious. The thing is that me and lots of my friends have already thought of something like this, a complete slaughter of Indian team by Aussies. But that was more for the ODIs, this will happen so early nobody would have thought.

While, I have lost the strength to watch the TV, I am still reading the cricinfo commentary and this is what that is written there… “”Plenty of you calling for Tendulkar and Ganguly. It’s a bit too late for that, I’m afraid”. Yup, too late to do anything for this match, but I am sure the selectors can still do something to save the upcoming ODIs.

The thing is that Indian team still needs its seniors, and we still don’t have replacement for the Big Threes, espeically in Australian conditions. So, while the God is already out there for ODIs (Thank Heavens), but please bring back the Maharaja as the Yuvraj’s of India still need a little bit more polishing to show their actual shine.

Filed under: cricket, Match Review, Reviews, , , , ,

Money Talks ?? Really ??

From the onset, the only thing that disturbed me about the Bhajji saga was the fact that Mike Proctor had weighed Clarke’s , Ponting’s and Hayden’s words heavier against that of Sachin’s. You can say that I feel this way because we all hold Sachin in such high esteem, but I wonder if it would be any different if it was the Prime Minister of India. Was it only the numbers that mattered and nothing else. What happened to the dignity and the commanding respect of the person making the statement.
I will not make judgments about Aussie Players behaviors, but I will still repeat what I said in the last post – I am a person who believes in what he sees. The fact that they are aggressive would be an understatement. Ponting claims that the general behavior has improved since 2003, after multiple charges were leveled against them, and the team did some soul searching. I don’t know if any of the Aussie players (barring Gilchrist, Lee and Hussey) would make it to my list of the most honest cricketers ever. The general impression they give is that of bullies. The fact that they have won so many matches probably makes them think that they are invincible. But there is another facet to that fact, which is, that they are the most hated cricket team in the world. All teams in the world have a couple of loud mouths, or at least out sourced journalists, who do the same job. In the current Indian team, I can think of Sreesanth as one such person, who likes to get under the skin of his opponents by his not-so-gentlemanly manners. The Pakistanis have a couple such players too, Ditto for South Africa with Nel and for England with Matt Prior. But amongst Aussie players, point to me one player (again barring Gilchrist and Lee and Hussey) who generates respect. Ponting has a history of misbehavior related incidents, McGrath lost all my respect the day he decided that sledging at Sarwan was the only way to get his wicket (WI went on to chase the World record 418 in fourth Innings, in that test match) and Steve Waugh, for all his voluntary social service in India, is the father of the so called “mental disintegration” technique , others are best not even mentioned.
I think the only thing bothering Australian Players is the fact that they have again lost to one team that they were supposed to walk over, and fart in the face of , at Perth. No one told them that some where, some one changed the script of the match and that India would show them how to shake hands and show humility, even after winning a match at ,supposedly, the fastest pitch in the world. Humility, for Aussies, definitely does not come easy.
Anyway, it was time to let bygones be bygones. All was over, except one little matter of a pending appeal of racism charges against Harbhajan Singh. I still don’t understand on what basis was the decision made by Mike Proctor. Why are the Australians so pissed off at the fact that Indians had the balls to show solidarity to their team mate , by threatening to call off the tour. Won’t Aussies do the same for their own players. Oh Yes .. I am sorry .. they won’t, because somewhere deep within, they know that a skin related jibe is something that an Australian would resort to, to “get under the skin” of opponents.
To an Indian, being called a racist, would seem hilarious at first and then may be stupid. How can a colored person utter a racist remark against another one, and that too by calling him a monkey. We all came from monkeys .. didn’t we ?
I think Australians are just bad losers. The fact that they have lost to the same team at all the wrong times has not gone down well with them. The fact that Harbhajan has gotten Ponting out multiple times in the Test Series, and oh .. celebrated that by rolling on the ground , definitely hasn’t gone down well with them. The fact that Indians had defeated them at the one place that was supposed to be a walk over for the home team .. has rubbed salt into old wounds.
Apparently CA and BCCI had brokered a deal, to reduce the charges against Harbhajan, to make sure that the tour goes on. I don’t know if it was only financial constraints that decide such things. I would assume that the Aussie Cricket Bosses know their players best and know what all they would resort to , to go one-up on the field. Its all sugar coated as “Gamesmanship” and “mental disintegration” and “chit chat” .. but when someone gives one back, that is not acceptable to the Aussies.
Symonds, after the hearing ->
“I can’t believe this is happening.”
“I am telling you the truth. That’s what I always do.”
“I know what I heard. You know I am a team player.”
I find it hard to understand, if Aussies really understood what Bhajji said. As we mentioned some time back, the utterance, in all probability, was only “Teri Maa ki” .. the Aussie equivalent of “Bastard”. If we take the Indian connotation of the word, probably Brad Hogg too should have been suspended for 3 matches, if that is what Aussies claim should have happened for Bhajji. If Indians had the decency to drop such matters, shouldn’t the Aussies also show some signs of being sensible humans and drop such matters on the field.
Plus, what I definitely do not understand is, what has a team player (Refer to Symo’s lines above) got to do with being honest. I think Steve Waugh was a great team player, but can you really call him honest.
Australians allege that money was a major factor in deciding the fate of Harbhajan Singh during the hearing. Apparently there was a charted plane waiting for the Indian team had the verdict gone against them. The Indian team has vehemently denied any such thing, Aussies insist that this was indeed the case. That very much sums up the controversies in the series for me ..

Lets just hope that once all the dust has settled on this matter, the Sydney Test would be remembered not for the glaring umpiring mistakes, or the stubbornness of Ponting in asking Ganguly to leave by signalling him out, or all the catches claimed that never really happened or all the catches not given, that actually did happen … but for the tight finish and the enthralling Centuries from Sachin and Laxman and the fact that a team had gone on to clinch its record 16th consecutive win in spite of being faced with heavy criticism and scrutiny.

Harsha Bhogle’s view on the whole issue in an Aussie news paper -> here
The last few lines are the best !!
More related news from Aussies’ media point of View -> here

Filed under: Controversies, , , , ,

Gavaskar-Border Series 07-08

So the 2007-08 India-Australia Test Series ended yesterday, with the Australians winning it 2-1; I would never say fair-and-square, a couple of decisions here and there, and the result could have been any of 1-1, or 1-2 in India’s favour. Let’s have a look back on the series.

Underprepared @ Melbourne
This is the only way I can summarize Indian Team’s performance at MCG. The bowlers did a commendable job of restricting Aussies to around 350 in both the innings. Zaheer Khan bowled the ball of the match to rattle Ponting’s stumps, and Kumble was exemplary. Although the batsmen let India down. Only SRT, VVS and SG were able to make decent contributions, rest of the batsmen were just giving bowling and fielding practice to the Australians. RD lost many of his fans with the atrociously slow batting – he scored a sum-total of 21 runs after facing 257 balls.

Umpiring Chaos @ Sydney
The Cricket lost focus in Sydney, and the Umpires were in the full glare of the international media. India put up a valiant fight while playing against the 11 Aussies, and the three umpires. The Lady Luck had long deserted India in this match, and Australia emerged winners. This test-match was one which turned on a single decision. SRT, VVS, SG again did well, RD redeemed himself a bit and the lower order Indian batsmen could have given proper batting lessons to MSD and YS. Kumble was again the standout bowler, RP too reaped rewards. Ishant Sharma replaced the injured Zaheer, and was unlucky not to have wickets against his name. And then there was the Bhajji Saga.

Trial by Pace @ Perth
It was supposed to be an already won match for the Aussies. Shaun Tait was supposed to run through the Indian batting lineup. What happened was that the Indian pacers understood the pitch better – they bowled up, let the bouncy pitch do its wonders, and to finish off they swung the ball late: it was trial by pace for the Aussies. The result – a comprehensive Indian victory. Ishant Sharma was the standout bowler, and he would be always be remembered for that spell to Ponting. RD, SRT, VVS were yet again the batting pillars, and believe it or not the other major contributors were RP and Pathan. Sehwag made a comeback at the expense of YS and did not disappoint, but his best was yet to come. It was a complete all-round display from the Indian team, and one of the sweetest victories ever.

Flat Pitch and Flat Match @ Adelaide
India batted hard – scored 500+, Australia batted harder – scored 550+, India batted again – the story ends. A pitch that was expected to crack 3rd day onwards was still a batting paradise on the 5th day. SRT was the batting mainstay in first innings, VS & VVS helped themselves to fifties and Kumble and Bhajji rubbed salt into the Aussie wounds by putting together a century partnership. No bowler – apart from a brief spell from Ishant – was penetrative on a flat pitch. Sehwag showed why he is valued so highly by the players by getting a huge century in the second innings that eliminated any chances of an Aussie win. This was one of the best Sehwag innings I have ever seen, just for the amount of control he was in.

Takeaways from the Series

  • You just cannot ignore the 1st generation Indian batsmen. 90% of the work was done by SRT, VVS, RD, SG. The 2nd generation players – YS, MSD, WJ still have to develop the technique to play in Australia.
  • Fast bowlers must be singing, “We all fall down”. Before the series Sreesanth, Munaf were injured. Zaheer, RP joined the injured list during the series. But still the Indian fast bowlers walked away with accolades. Ishant is surely the find of the series, and Pathan has regained his swing and the pace.
  • Kumble is still India’s best bowler. The last match where he was not fully fit (he had some shoulder problem), the Indian attack rarely looked menacing.
  • MSD was unnoticed behind the stumps, which is good for a wicketkeeper, but I just hope he plays his shots while batting. It is never pretty seeing him trying to grind the opposition.
  • SRT is GOD!

Filed under: Reviews, Series Review, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lets bow to the Don

Sachin Tendulkar, as he has done a zillion times already in his career, proved once again that god does exist – in Him.

What we saw at Adelaide Oval was no mean achievement. Here was a guy – under pressure from the selectors, considering others younger than him were being dumped from the One Day Squad like heavy vessels from a sinking ship. And yet, he walked off at the end of the day with his head held high, having just reached a personal milestone – A Century at Don’s home ground.
There will still be doubters, those who think that he is a burden to the cricket team and those who think that it’s only his stature that saves him from being dumped. But the present lot of selectors have shown scant regard for reputations, and quite rightly so. It would have been oh-so-easy for him to intimidate any bowler on earth,
Sachin’s 100 at Adelaide
make a stroke filled 50 and then depart having done enough to secure himself a berth for the next tour. But here is a man, who is now ready to take his rightful place amongst the cricketing greats, not just by bulldozing the opponents, but by grinding them to the ground. He had shown the temperament to stay in the middle in England where people said that he was too slow and he had shown the will to dominate the bowlers in Sydney and Melbourne. In Adelaide, it was more of a measured response to a tricky situation. At the moment when Sachin’s partnership with Laxman started, India were evenly poised. They had two recognized batsmen at the crease, but a wicket then could change things very quickly. It was even more important that these two stuck around, because in Perth, Indians had shown tendency to go back to the pavilion in pairs.

Laxman is no doubt the go-to man whenever India is in trouble. He is one man who has literally fished India out of trouble a zillion of times, but a lot of his efforts have been lost in the effervescence of those who could hit the ball over the boundary 6 times in an over. And make no mistake, Laxman is no Wall .. he isn’t the person who would block incessantly. He makes his presence felt through timely, silken strokes on the leg side but it is his off drives that don’t get the same attention they should. I am sure his off drives would feel like a neglected child in the presence of his leg side play, but the fact is .. that on the whole, Laxman offers the variety and stability in the lower middle order that most teams in the world would kill for.
But, lets not deviate our attention from the man of the moment. Laxman’s day would come, but its not this day .. the day belonged to Sachin Tendulkar.
I read here that Bradman had once said of his innings of 254 was his best because every shot went exactly where he wanted it to. Sachin echoed the same words and to do that against supposedly the best bowling attack in the world in their home ground must be something really really special, so what even if he is the best batsman in the world.
A Second innings failure at Adelaide would again see the doubters and critics emerging, like the worms come out in rainy seasons. But I still believe in what I see and when I see Sachin, I sense a calmness about his batting that says that in spite of all odds .. I will fight on. There is not an iota of doubt in my mind that the day Sachin chooses to retire, he will leave a huge void in Indian Cricket, one that will take a couple of generations to fill. People will come in and play the one day innings in the same slam-dunk style, that fans and admirers will look and admire and say “This is what Sachin played like”. There will be others who will be compared to him, and yet .. in spite of all these comparisons .. no one will reach close to the amount of faith and respect this one man has generated in Indian Cricket .. no one man will inspire more people to take up Cricket like Sachin has and most definitely no one man will stand up the same way for India and say “I am not done yet”.
Lets take our hats off and Bow .. To the new Don.

Filed under: Cricketers,

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