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Thursday, March 22, 2012

100dulkar - The Unconquered Emperor

All criticism, all discussions, all talks came to an end with Tendulkar's 100th international ton. The feat which no cricketer conquered in past and none will achieve in future. It was landmark which kept entire country in desperation for more than a year. Finally moment arrived and entire country enjoyed the moment with joy and felt relaxed barring few cricket experts and fans who criticised Tendulkar for the loss against Bangladesh which eventually resulted in India's exit from the Asia Cup.But let me tell you one thing 289 is not a small score to chase, if your bowlers don't bowl proper line and length than any target is achievable. Look at Pakistan which lost to India even after scoring 330. Whom to blame Mohammad Hafeez or Jamshed, who scored century in losing cause and put up opening partnership of more than 200 runs. If someone is not blaming Hafeez and Jamshed for Pakistan's loss than you don't have the right to blame Tendulkar as well, who has done something which is impossible to achieve.

When Tendulkar started his cricket nobody expected him to reach such heights, but this champion cricketer conquered the cricket world and now he is 'Unconquered Emperor' of cricket world. What makes Tendulkar so special. We all know he is genius with the bat but there are many players who were genius and were better than Tendulkar yet not achieved much.One such example is Vinod Kambli, the closest pal of the Master. Both Tendulkar and Kambli started their cricket together and Kambli was considered more talented than Tendulkar but we all know where Kambli is currently. Talent alone don't make champions it is constant focus, hardwork and dedication which makes champion and certainly Tendulkar don't lack any of these. 

These 22 years are like dream for the fans across the world especially for Indian fans who witnessed many great innings from a genius who is known as 'God of Cricket'. Tendulkar created end number of happy moments for Indians, for which Indians will be thankful to him forever. Cricketers came and gone but Tendulkar stood firm with his craftsmanship with his bat and spread the joy and that's what makes Tendulkar special. In these beautiful 22 years Tendulkar recieved lot of accolades but at the same faced equal criticism as well which I think is really disgusting. Man who has given so much to the country how can be criticised. But it happened and that is cruel reality. Tendulkar was blamed for losses as if he is the only player in the team responsible for the lossess. Always criticised that he is playing for his individual records and not playing in the interest of the team. Even after scoring epic ton he was blamed for the team's loss. But I believe it is really unjustice to the man who has done so much for the country. Each of his centuries which came in losing cause don't become less important because Master did his job but his other colleagues failed to perform their duties.

Remember cricket is a team game and one player can't change the fortunes, it is combined effort of 11 players which decides the results, so other 10 are also equally responsible. We must not forget that Tendulkar is our pride and we have to give him all the respect in the word and look towards his positive traits and approach and try to learn from it instead of criticising him without any reason. Tendulkar and Dravid are an institutions in themselves, both on-field and off-field. If Dravid is 'Wall' hard to get past than Tendulkar is 'Unconquered Emperor'.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rahul Dravid - The Master Technician

I don't have privilege of watching any of the Sunil Gavaskar's innings. Never watched Gundappa Vishwanath batting. Don't have any idea how Geoff Boycott and Vivian Richards batted as I never watched them batting. But I am lucky enough to watch Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Jacques Kallis and Virender Sehwag batting. All these stalwarts have class of their own and quite unique also in their way of batting. But one man who stands tall among all these stalwarts is Rahul Dravid, simply because of his great technique which made him one of the finest batsman of all time. Yet lost in aura of all greats. 

I can say one thing for sure, among all the batsmen I watched, I found Rahul Dravid far superior when it comes to technique. Tendulkar have all the records in the world, Kallis is great all-rounder, Sourav Ganguly finest Indian captain ever, Virender Sehwag the crusader, VVS Laxman the elegant right hander. But among all Rahul Dravid stands tall, yet always remained in shadow of all these greats and never got the credit for what he did for Indian cricket. He is player who holds the distinction of scoring highest runs in the test matches which India won. So he is easily the match winner. With the retirement of Rahul Dravid, Team India lost the biggest ever match-winner of all time. When he started his career he was labelled as test batsman but  with his sheer determination and dedication to the game, made him one of the finest ODI batsman as well who went on to score more than 10000 runs in ODIs as well, which is no mean achievement.

What makes Rahul Dravid, the champion? I think its his patience which  make him the champion. I have seen bowlers getting tired because of aggressive stroke-making of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, which is quite natural. But Rahul Dravid is unique. He weared down bowlers and made them  look vulnerable with his slow batting which was quipped with great technique. He never scored runs at rapid pace, yet he succeeded in murdering the bowling with his killer patience and cool temperament. There is more to Rahul Dravid, apart from is batting. His advices proved priceless for many cricketers of his era who came to him for tips. Ask Younis Khan, how Rahul Dravid's words helped him in coming out of lean patch. Ask West Indian Kirk Edwards, who scored century after talking to Dravid. Ask Rohit Sharma who learnt to put  price on his wicket after Rahul's advice. Ask Ricky Ponting whose career was saved after getting advice from Dravid and this list is endless. Cricketers across the globe one way or other way benefitted from Rahul Dravid. 

With the retirement of Rahul Dravid, an era has come to an end and it is impossible to replace someone like Rahul Dravid who did so much for Indian cricket and that too selflessly. Truly a great team-man and greater batsmen of all time. I rate him above Tendulkar when it comes to winning matches for India. Rahul is the encyclopedia of batting and any batsmen who wants to make it big in international cricket, must watch Rahul's batting videos. Even he is captaincy record is quite good and most of the matches India won abroad in his captaincy.Team India won series in West Indies, England and also won test match in South Africa. So truly a great captain as well.

I hope BCCI will use Rahul Dravid's experience for enhancing the quality of Indian cricket, so that we get many more great cricketers in future.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Senior vs Junior : The ugly game of Indian cricket

It all started in 2007, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni first time took over captaincy of T20 team. He insisted that seniors must remain out of the T20 format and that's why Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar opted not to play in T20 format and Virender Sehwag was also ignored on the ground of injury, later Sehwag himself claimed that he was fit enough to play but he was dropped. Senior vs Junior match commenced in 2007 itself and whatever we fans are witnessing is expansion of that little rift.

In 2008 K.Srikkanth became chairman of selectors and  Dhoni also took over test captaincy from Anil Kumble  in Australia. Same year IPL also started and in auction N.Srinivasan owned Chennai Super Kings bought Mahendra Singh Dhoni at record price. At that time N.Srinivasan was secretary of the BCCI and now he is President of the BCCI. Srikkanth also became brand ambassador for Chennai Super Kings and now these 3 guys (K.Srikkanth, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and N.Srinivasan) started misusing their powers. Moment Dhoni became captain of ODI and test team, he felt uneasiness because of presence of the seniors in the team. He already succeeded in keeping  them out of T20 team, but also wanted to keep these seniors out of the team from all the formats. His first victim became former India captain Sourav Ganguly who was in sub-lime form in 2008 and was playing best cricket of his life since his return to the team in 2006. But Ganguly's days were counting and finally he was forced to announce his retirement in 2008, because of the constant pressure from Chief Selector K. Srikkanth, Ms Dhoni and N.Srinivasan, Dhoni's constant statements opposing seniors, in media during that time created lot of furore and finally Sourav Ganguly announced his reitrement after Australia series.

Dhoni also achieved success in keeping Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman out of the ODI team labelling them slow movers but he and board had no guts to keep Sachin Tendulkar out of the side, so Sachin played ODIs regularly till World Cup last year. Somehow Dravid and Laxman were scoring runs consistently at test level so they were hard to be axed from the  test side, also Indian team failed to find able replacement of Sourav Ganguly in test matches which forced Dhoni to kept playing Dravid and Laxman. India tried all options but couldn't find Sourav's replacement for 3 years and finally Kohli replaced Ganguly in the team after shaky start to his career. But India still have to find able replacement of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar. But so far no one comes even close to these stalwarts among youngsters, so it is difficult to axe stalwarts like Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar atleast from the test side. But somehow Dhoni is not happy with the seniors and want young team whom he can control and that's why mediocre players like Raina still finding favour of Dhoni. 

So cat fight is on in the team and it is difficult to say whether Team India win the tri-series, down-under or not but one thing is sure Captain and team members throwing their dirty linens in public and BCCI is trying to wash these dirty linens. God help Indian cricket, which has lost its ground and reputation in world cricket.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Indian Cricket.....The Lost Giant

In 1989-90 season when India lost the series in New Zealand, Bishen Singh Bedi, then coach of the Indian team said that 'Throw this Indian team in Pacific Ocean'. These were very harsh words used by any Indian coach. Now 22 years later, after drubbing in England and Australia, I must say 'Throw This Indian team in Indian Ocean' but before that throw entire BCCI in Arabian Sea which is very near to the BCCI headquarters. 8 consecutive overseas defeats in the span of 7 months is really hard to digest and that too for the team which enjoyed No.1 ranking in test cricket for more than 2 years. Really fail to to understand this dismal turnaround in performance of this very talented team which is considered as best batting line-up in the world and 2 of the highest run-getters are part of this team.

There are 3 reasons for this dismal turnaround. No.1 Defensive Captaincy, No.2 Poor Team Selection and No.3 Too Much Cricket.

Many cricket fans did not agreed upon defensive captaincy of MS Dhoni when I raised this issue in this blog 1 and half years back.  Dhoni's defensive captaincy started 2 years back, but team was winning consistently so nobody bothered about it. But I must say, although Team India earned the No.1 ranking in test matches but never won series in England, Australia and South Africa in last 4 years. It means Team India won most of the matches at home. Many will say Indian team won in West Indies and New Zealand, but one must remember that both West Indies and New Zealand are way below in ranking and not considered quality side these days. So there is big question-mark on that No.1 ranking of Indian team. Indian team had a chance of winning more test matches in South Africa, England and Australia, if Dhoni had tried aggressive strategies instead he opened the field for opposition batsmen after putting them on mat and this happened in South Africa last year, it happened in England and it happened in Australia. Even in the series against West Indies(Home and Away) last year, Dhoni did same mistakes but fortunately we won the series. Dhoni's batting also affected because of the captaincy pressure and wicket-keeping  skills were never great.

Poor team selection is also one of the reason why Team India lost the plot. Last year Rajasthan won Ranji Trophy but none of the player from Rajasthan team got selected in Indian team. Fast bowler Pankaj Singh who is among top wicket-takers in domestic cricket this year and last year, completely ignored by the selectors. Pankaj Singh bowled is heart out  on slow-low pitches and played important part in Rajasthan team's glory. Instead bowlers like Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar who hails from South Zone played ahead of Pankaj Singh just because chief selector is from South Zone. Deepak Chahar had a wonderful debut season for Rajasthan last year, also ignored by selectors for England tour where he could have proved lethal because of his swing. But not selected. Varun Aaron warmed the bench on that entire England tour. Abhinav Mukund was clearly ignored after 2 failures. He started well in England with 49 run innings in his first test at Lord's but not persisted after second test, instead Sehwag was brought back, though he was not fit enough to play and result is in front of everybody. Suresh Raina was persisted even after repeated failures at test level ahead of talented players like Rahane and Rohit Sharma. If this is not enough selectors still not learnt from their mistakes and dropped Rahane from the Tri-Series down-under. Rahane spent close to one month with this team in Australia has come back home without playing a single test match on this tour. Ishant Sharma has done nothing except one good tour of West Indies, got selected for the tour down-under ahead of Irfan Pathan who is in  fantastic form and rhythm this domestic season not selected for test series down-under. So selection played pivotal role in debacle. This year also Rajasthan won the elite trophy and man who made it possible for Rajasthan are ignored once again. It is pure bias of the selectors towards players like Pankaj Singh and Rituraj Singh. There are many more examples but space is less.

Too much cricket is also one of the major reason for this debacle. Look at Indian team's cricket schedule of last year and half and one can easily understand the effect. Not a single month passed without cricket.

- Starting from Oct'10, India played Australia at home (2 Test Match and 3 ODIs). 
- Nov'10-Dec'10, New Zealand toured India (3 Test Matches and 5 ODIs). 
- Dec'10- Jan'11,  India toured South Africa( 3 test Matches - 5 ODIs). 
- Feb'11-Apr'11, World Cup ( 9 ODIs). 
- Apr'11-May'11, IPL (74 T20 Matches). 
- May'11-Jun'11, India toured West Indies (3 Test Matches and 5 ODIs). 
- Jun'11-Sept'11, India toured England (4 Test Matches and 5 ODIs). 
- Sep'11-Oct'11, Champions League T20. Oct'11, 
- England toured India (5 ODIs). Oct'11-Nov'11, 
- West Indies toured India (3 Test Matches and 5 ODIs). 
- Current : Dec'11-Feb'12, India touring Australia(4 Test Matches and Tri-Series(15 ODIs). 
- Future : March'11, Asia Cup.  April'11-May'11, IPL. 

So not a single month gone without cricket which involved Team India starting Oct'10. It is easy to question the performances, but one must understand this work-load which affected team India's performance. It is easy to blame legends like Sachin, Dravid and Laxman but one must not forget Sachin is playing best cricket of his life since 2007. Dravid has scored plenty of runs in last one year and has only one poor series down-under. Laxman failed only in 2 series in last decade. So it is not good to question the performance of these legends. Dip in performance bound to happen in one or 2 series if you play hell of the cricket non-stop for years.

I think if Indian cricket have to come on track then administrators and selectors have to take important decision regarding scheduling of the matches and series. They also have to look at rotation policy. Otherwise, Indian cricket will die soon. Moreover, now Pakistan coach, captain and administrators are making mockery of India team's debacle. Pakistan has won 8 test matches out of last 14 and lost just one. they also defeated No.1 ranked England recently. But one must not forget, those Pakistanis who are laughing at Indian cricket, have won matches  against teams like Zimbabwe, West Indies and  Bangladesh. They have beaten England recently on spin friendly tracks and everybody knows the weakness of English team. But Pakistan is taking revenge because their players are banned in IPL. But our administrators has also given them a chance to laugh at us. Indian Cricket has lost the ground in last few months and its upto the administrators to bring it back on track with some wise decisions.