Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Eng v/s India, Trent Bridge 2007, Day 5 preview

What a glorious day of cricket we had yesterday? Michael Vaughan's fine century was a treat to watch. Always in position, never troubled and in control.

He took the attack to Kumble early on, knowing that Kumble was the danger man. Kumble also didn't help his own cause by forgetting his radar in the dressing room, but Vaughan never allowed Kumble to settle into the rhythm that could have become deadly.

Sreesanth forgot he was playing international cricket today. Or maybe, he just borrowed a leaf from the Aussies. He saw he was not doing well, and thought he might just go ahead and rattle the English. I may be guessing, but it that's what Sreesanth thought, then he did well. A beamer (he did apologise instantaneously), but I wasn't convinced that it was completely unintentional. And that front foot no ball by more than a metre. Just one ball prior, he had bowled from behind the stumps. What a character? Indian cricket does need characters like him. It will also help if he can occasionally bowl like the way he did in SA.

I was also glad to see the younger ones celebrating. Dinesh Karthik and Dhoni were happy for each other and were celebrating together. Matt Prior to please watch the replays and keep quiet for the rest of the Indian innings tomorrow.

One thing I noticed since the Lords Test is that India have come back from a bad session. And they have come back in style. They did it again yesterday. A break, the second new ball and ZK was breathing fire. Saurav may have got some fire into the Indian team, and Rahul Dravid seems to have built some steel. Typical of his own batting stlye. Though his own captaincy skills leaves much to be desired, at least this team is fighting back. No dropping shoulders; no going through the motions. They are willing to stick it out and fight for each other. That's a good sign.

Another 60+ runs to win today with 10 wickets in hand. Hope the Indians don't come out thinking that the match is over. For the English are going to have one last shot and they will come at the Indians with everything that they've got. After all, had it not been for weather, they too would have won the previous Test.

England may be No 2 and India at no. 6 in the ICC Test rankings, but this series proved that these teams are evenly balanced. Which means, there is really nothing to differentiate between the teams ranked no 2 through no 6. Which is good for Test cricket. For, one of these teams need to take on Australia. Someone needs the firepower and the steel and the fire and the aggro to topple Australia. India has all of them; so does SA, Pak and England in different percentages. Its only a matter of time before one of these teams get it right.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Trent Bridge 2007 Eng V/s India Day 4 preview

The Indian batsmen grunted and puffed and huffed their way to a decent lead of 280+ runs. In the end, the two decisions against Ganguly and Sachin will be talked about for ages.

For a team loaded with aging batting superstars, they really did well to reach that score. Sure, luck also played a major part, but you needed luck to make the most of the circumstances yesterday. To the batsmen's credit, they hung in there even when the going was tough.

Got to feel for Sidebottom. He bowled exceedingly well without due reward. He did get Dhoni out later in the day, but it was too less and too late.

We need someone to bowl like Sidebottom today. Keep pegging away from one end. Anil Kumble has done this for so many years now and he will be expected to bowl long spells. There are 3 left arm fast bowlers in this match and Anil Kumble should choose the end from where he can use the footmarks to his advantage.

Kumble will have to do the bulk of the bowling today. And the rest will have to support him by not giving away easy runs. An intriguing match and hopefully the rain should stay away.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

England v/s India Trent Bridge 2007 1st days play

After a very delayed start due to a poor outfield, play finally started 4 hours late. Indian bowlers were on the button. They bowled fast, got movement and hit the right lines and right lengths. Except for Sreesanth who was trying too hard, everybody did a decent job. In the 55 overs possible, England has already lost 7 wickets. But before we rejoice in this, my mind goes back to a test in Durban against the SA, which the current bowling coaches of both teams will remember well.

Venkatesh Prasad got 10 wickets in the match, 5 wickets in each innings. SA, batting first, were bowled out for 235 runs (Vekatesh Prasad got figures of 5/60) , India replied with 100 all out. In the 2nd essay, SA scored 259 all out (Venkatesh Prasad's figures read 5/93). India's chase of the target of 395 runs ended a score of 66 all out.

And that Indian batting lineup had Saurav, Sachin, Azhar and Dravid. The complete score card is available at http://content-ind.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63736.html

BTW, Alan Donald had figures of 5/40 and 4/14 in the above match.

So, let's keep the champagne for a little later.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Tribute to Dr Kalam

This is from one of my dear friends and I reproduce his mail in full...

From: Asif Saifuddin Golwala

Email: asifgolwala@hotmail.com

Mobile: +97150 4508731 (Dubai)

Tribute to Sir A.P.J. Kalam. President of India 2002-2007.

Sir, you have re-written the glory of being the president of the largest democracy in the world; you have restored its lost significance which was considered merely a 'ceremonial post' by lending it credence and meaning through your humble character. In spite of your monumental achievements in the science's you have retained the humility expected exclusively to be residing in a man of god. Never have the children of our country looked upon any member of Indian politic as they have upon your majesty. Though I ask forgiveness to mention the word politic in your benign repertoire. Your name shall never be inscribed in gold nor shall you be stunted in a wax museum; for such banalities were never part of your persona and than; gold could perish and wax shall melt; but your name nonetheless, shall be etched in the minds of every child you bestowed your eyes upon and in every heart you touched with your benevolent actions. It is a great honour bestowed upon the future citizens of this country by you for you have decided to impart your understanding and education in the great universities of this land by being a teacher to those starving for knowledge. The institutions where you will teach shall have to be rechristened as temples of knowledge where you shall be the high priest and where you shall be the messiah of every god who has sought every mortal to be what you are! Amen!

We thank you for dedicating precious years of your life being our president and we thank you for reminding us that humility can be exercised at every level of society and we thank you for reminding us how inconsequential is material wealth without the wealth of knowledge, love and humanity.



From an England Fan's point of view

I had been wondering for the last couple of days about the English fan's reaction to the Lords Test 2007. Here's what I would have been thinking if I had brought the same emotions towards the English side as I have towards the Indian team

Day 1: 2 fifties and none could convert them into a century. Despite Andrew Strauss' let-off, we finished well behind thanks to the inability of our top batsmen to convert good starts into a really big one. BTW, Tremlett's inclusion ahead of Broad is baffling. Didn't Broad trouble the Indians in the tour game? With his confidence on a high, this was the right time to blood Broad.

Day 2: Pieterson and Collingwood are obviously overrated. Here, you had a nice cushion from where at least 500 was the minimum expected; our batting line-up just crumbled. Mercifully, our bowlers did a decent job and have got England back into the reckoning.

Day 3: A lead of almost 100; well it was time for our batsmen to rub it in. If the weather holds, and if our batsmen perform to their potential, we should have a good game in our hands.

Day 4: A target of 380 is a good 45-50 runs less than what was expected. But with time running out and the possibility of weather disrupting proceedings tomorrow, the English batsmen should have stepped on the accelerated in the first session itself; maybe after the first half-an-hour or 40 minutes. If weather has a say in the proceedings, our batsmen have just not given our bowlers sufficient time.

Day 5: Our team just didn't factor in the weather. The sight of Vaughan and Monty bowling in the end with the ball just 4-5 overs old was sickening. There was no need to take the new ball with Monty bowling so well. With the clouds looming, it was obvious that the new ball bowlers wouldn't get to bowl more than a couple of overs each. Despite this, Monty almost got the last mail, but the Indian batsman got the benefit of doubt.

Overall, its time KP buckled down and seriously considered his value to the team. KP's century yet again failed to win England this match. If KP has to be considered amongst the greatest batsmen along with other players of this era, he has to shoulder some more responsibility and take this England team to another plan. He has to start winning matches for his country.

:-) :-). Aren't the England team lucky they do not have fans / supporters like the Indians. In fact, one of the newspapers the next day proclaimed that the "England team were robbed of a deserving win.." by the weather and the umpires.


Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Some uncomfortable questions

The Lords test ended in a draw. Well, to be frank, India escaped with a draw. Indians from across the globe were doing the rain-dance and praying for rain. Lord Varun obliged.

Looking back at the test, it would be easy to say that Karthik's costly drop proved the difference. But that would put un-necessary blame on the young lad's door.

The blame has to be squarely laid on the seniors. The big 4 managed a high score of 40 in 2 innings. Juniors like Karthik, Jaffer and Dhoni put their hands up.

There was much talk about bowlers winning matches and that our bowlers need to take 20 wickets. Rookie bowlers Sreesanth and RP Singh bowled brilliantly in their first trip. Our bowlers got those 20 wickets for less than 575 runs.

Its high time we looked at the big 4 and started asking some questions. And its outrageous that some senior ex-cricketers recommend that at least some of these players should be around till the 2011 world cup. When the young guns are delivering and the big guns are silent, its better to go ahead with some more young guns. At least you are assured that these people have a stomach for a fight and will not go down tamely.

Hope the selectors are listening. I know its not easy to drop the seniors, there's lot of sponsorship money riding on them. Companies who have spent crores on these superstars wouls want to ensure that these players stay on the team and put in their token presence, so that they can squeeze maximum returns out of every advertising rupee that has been spent. But unless, we can take such touch decisions, I'm afraid Indian cricket will continue to be in the doldrums.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Interesting day ahead - Lords Test Eng v/s India 2007

India needs less than 250 runs to get. England needs 7 wickets. A full day's play may be possible if weather doesn't play spoilsport.

India doesn't need to bother about the target. 25o runs / day is an at-par score for most teams in
Test Cricket, today. The main worry for India is that Rahul Dravid is already back in the hut. Sachin's wicket may not that much of a worry for Indian fans, as most people do not expect him to perform in crunch situations.

Sachin and Karthik were positive yesterday, and if they continue batting the same vein, we are in for a glorious day of cricket.

This Indian team has shown character in coming back from behind. Till now, it has been our bowlers who have been at the forefront of the fightback. Its time our much vaunted batting lineup, especially the big stars, show some character. Sachin and Rahul are already back in the pavilion. Its upto Saurav, Laxman (ironically, both need to prove a point or two to the selectors and the fans) and the two wicket keeper batsmen to join the party.

P.S. When critics were pointing to India's dismal win record as proof that Sachin needed to win some Tests for India, the "experts" were saying that its the bowlers who need to take 20 wickets; its the bowlers who win matches.

In South Africa, in West Indies and in Australia, our bowlers have consistently been taking the 20 wickets. Someone needs to urgently "wake up" at least now.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Game evenly poised at the end of Day 2 of Lords Test England v/s India

Intriguing Test Match so far. After the butterflies were all laid to rest, after the storm passed over, after the ground was dried, the bowlers came with purpose and discipline. Once the new ball was taken, (one go0d decision by Rahul Dravid), R P Singh got the night watchman. Immediately, R P Singh was taken out of the attack (another good decision) and what fun Zaheer and Sreesanth had. Zaheer bowled the right line, while Sreesanth got the length & line right. The results were there for all to see. The difference between the lines & the lengths bowled on the 1st and 2nd days was so evident. Who is responsible for this? Did Rahul have a tough talk with all the bowlers? Or, was it Venkatesh Prasad (the bowling coach) who impressed upon the young bowlers the need to maintain a specific line and length in these conditions.

When the Indians came to bat, the English bowlers took a leaf from the Indian bowlers. They, being familiar with the home conditions, hit the right lengths straight away. Except for Tremlett, who was playing his 1st Test. Tremlett bowled well, and if he gets his length right, he will start asking a lot of questions. There is still a lot of bowling to do in this Test.

It looks like the teams are evenly balanced. Let's see who blinks first. Hopefully, Ganguly's injury yesterday is only minor and would not effect his batting.

India will bat last and the English have a bowler by the name of Monty Panesar. On a last day pitch, Monty will get turn off the bowler's foot marks. And except for Ganguly, none of the Indian batsmen, especially Tendulkar, have faced Left arm slow bowlers with any conviction. Remember Ashley Giles, Nicky Boje and many others.

3 more days to go, and we have a cracking test on our hands. Ganguly, Laxman and Dhoni can take the match away from the English; while Anderson, Sidebottom, Tremlett and Monty can do it for the British. The key for Indians will be to manage a lead of at least 50 runs and then bowl out the English for 250 or less. England on the other hand will look at getting the rest of the Indians cheap, maybe within 300, and then bat out the rest of today and a major portion of tomorrow and set India a target of 350 in 4 sessions.

Either way, its going to be fun. We may have a great finish on our hands.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Indian Cricket


This is my first blog and the first thing that comes to mind to write about is cricket. Indian cricket.

Over 4 days, India failed to force a win against Sussex. Wonder how they will fare against a full strength English Team. on the last day, they had 15 odd overs to get 3 wickets. And India had Sreesanth, R P Singh, Ranadeep Bose, Anil Kumble besides other part time bowlers. Couldn't prise out the 3 wickets. In fact Anil Kumble had 2 full overs at their no 11. No Luck.

I have a feeling we are going to be hugely disappointed by the end of this series. England are on a high after beating WI. Rahul has to bat as well as he batted the last time he was here. And others have to play as per their career averages. And that is going to be tough against the moving & seaming ball.

More on this later as the tour progresses.