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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Defensive strategies of captain Dhoni not helping Team India

Once again Team India started the series on a losing note on foreign soil. Australia won the test quite  easily at Melbourne and Team India is sulking in exile, so are the fans. What a pity, on a part of the team which was No.1 test team in the world few months ago and remain No.1 for more than 2 years but suddenly England tour happened and all those fake imagination of Indian fans washed away as Indian team was white-washed by England. With defeat in Melbourne Indian team lost 5 test matches in a row, now on foreign soil. Captain who was proud on his record of not losing any test series in last 3 years, now suddenly under grief of losing 5 test matches on foreign soil, But I think captain Dhoni have to blame himself for this debacle rather than giving any excuses about batting bowling or fielding. I believe its a case of poor defensive strategy and nothing more than that.

When Dhoni made his debut on International scene in 2004 , he made his reputation of aggressor but over the years he lost his aggression and became to defensive. Especially, after becoming captain, sudden change happened in his batting and captaincy approach. From hard-hitting Dhoni to nudger and pusher, this is quite extra-ordinary transformation. Dhoni's batting transformation affected his captaincy as well and he has become too defensive in his strategy and field placings. Although India have done well under his captaincy but I must say India lost many opportunities in new last few years where they could have easily won the series or match but lost it because of the defensive tactics of captain Dhoni. Latest example is Melbourne test, where India failed to seize the advantage twice in a match. Once Australia was reeling at 214-6 but Dhoni allowed the Australia's lower-order batsmen to get past 300 run mark by setting defensive field. In second innings Australia were 27 for 4 at one stage but Dhoni opened field for Hussey and Ponting and allowed them to pick singles easily which reduced the pressure on Aussies and that 115 run partnership proved too costly for India. Not only that, even last wicket added more than 40 runs for Australia in same innings as Dhoni allowed them to do so. Hence, India lost the game.

I must say India bowled really well in Melbourne but Dhoni's defensive field placing didn't sync well with Indian bowling and robbed the chance of winning the first test match of the series. This year in Edgbaston test match, Ishant Sharma had taken 3 wickets in 16 deliveries. England had slipped to 62 for 5 . India were back in the match. There was even an outside chance of the winning it. Suddenly there was a competitive atmosphere. England went into lunch with a knot in their stomachs. India chewed with a renewed sense of vigour. But Dhoni again failed to seize the advantage and din't gave bal to Ishant after lunch who tormented England innings before lunch. Matt Prior and Stuart Broad took full advantage of this move and got out of the tangle by scoring easy runs off Praveen Kumar who looked completely exhausted in his spell. Normal service was resumed by the end of second session as England fought back to take charge of the match. 

Poor strategy of Dhoni cost India a test win. Similar tactics, Dhoni also applied last year in South Africa and lost the test match. We have also seen how opposition tail hurts Team India regularly. Actually opposition tail wags not because of India's poor bowling, it is because of poor strategy and field placings by captain Dhoni. We saw that in home series against West indies where West Indian top-order scalped quite easily by our bowlers but their lower- order batsmen made life difficult for Indian bowlers only because of defensive field placings.

I believe Dhoni must talk to Sourav Ganguly, who always played and captained aggressively throughout his career. This will help Dhoni big time in understanding the mechanism of seizing the advantageous moments of the match. Dhoni's poor form with the bat in test matches is also a cause of concern for Team India. his batting form has dipped badly in test matches which is not a good sign.

To Dhoni's advantage, Sourav Ganguly is in Australia on a commentary assignment, so he can easily approach Sourav and immediately renew his magic touch.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Will Team India break the jinx down under : Preview - Agneepath Series

Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath!
9 tours, 36 test matches and only 5 wins, is the history of Team India down under. It can be considered worst performance for the country which produced legends like Gavaskar, Mankad duo, Amarnath duo, Tiger Pataudi, Kapil Dev, Mohd. Azharuddin, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag. Above all, in last 9 tours Team India failed to win series as well, in Australia. As a cricket fan I really fail to understand why we were not able to win a single series down under so far inspite of having players, who are considered as legends, kings and gods of cricket. Its really sad for the fans of this country that they witnessed only series loss and draws down under in last 60 years. There are individual performances which really kept alive the interests of Indian fans but in terms of team performance it is really a sad state of affair for the country where cricket is considered as religion.

Michael Clarke vs Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Again Team India is on tour, down under, stage is set, all tickets for the Boxing Day test  match which begins on 26th December, at famous Melbourne Cricket Ground has been sold out in advance. One last time legends like Tendulkars, Dravids and Laxmans will go at Aussies and Indian fans hoping that this time team will not return empty handed. There is reason behind this hope is that Aussies are not the best test side in the world today as they used to be couple of years back and it will  going to be easy to beat the depleted Aussies. But I must say, it will not going to be easy for Team India to win the series this time round as well, no matter how vulnerable Aussies are currently. Aussies don't have the brilliance of Waugh Duo, Gilchrist, Langer, Hayden, McGrath, Warne and Brett Lee but they have the players who will certainly upset this Indian side and main reason for this,  is poor team selection by Indian selectors. India already looks more vulnerable than Aussies atleast in bowling department as their two main bowlers in Ishant and Zaheer are not 100% fit, moreover, they have very poor back-ups in Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar who are not test class bowlers. So Indian bowling is weak and to win the test match you have to pick 20 wickets. If any of the bowler breaks down mid-way, in the test match then it will certainly not help the cause of Indian team. So onus of bowling more is on the shoulders of young Ashwin and Yadav who will be playing their second test series of their career and that too on the soil of Australia.

Ishant Sharma
Selectors have done big mistake by not picking Irfan Pathan and Ashok Dinda ahead of Mithun and Vinay Kumar. Both Dinda and Irfan are in superb form and picking up wickets consistently in domestic tournament in India but I think selectors have already decided the fate of Team India and if fans are thinking that India will win the series this time then I think this is a day dream, because this will not going to happen. Conditions will be tough and Austrlians will come hard at Indian team. Mindgames have been already started from the Australian side and the way Aussies are preparing and targetting Indian players off the field is the indication of what will happen on the field where Aussies will try and dominate the Indian side. Only hope for India, is from its world famous batting line-up which boasts of Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman who are capable of winning the test matches  but they also need back-up from the bowlers which is not in existence at the moment. Only fully-fit and in-form bowler is Umesh Yadav in pace department and Ashwin in spin apart from these two rest of the bowlers are not fully fit or they are not in great form.

Rohit Sharma
I believe Team India must play Rohit Sharma ahead of Virat Kohli because Rohit has better technique compared to Virat and will do wonders but I know this will not going to happen as team india will go with Virat Kohli and I am 100% sure that he will fail. This is also a very important series for Tendulkar, will be remembered for long time if Tendulkar get to his epic ton because wait has become too long and fans can't wait anymore. This series will also test the cpatain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaincy, he will be under immense pressure during this series because of drubbing in England where first time Dhoni lost the test series as a captain. This will going to be a acid test for Dhoni and Fletcher.

Warner, Cutting, Starc and Pattinson
As far as Aussies are considered they do have the problems in plenty, but they have the advantage of playing in home conditions and their batting line-up will face mediocre bowling attack so they are in poor position, but in better condition than Team india. I am damn sure Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey will get back among the runs as both are class act and as they say 'Form is temporary and Class is permanent'. So there will be no surprise, if Ricky and Hussey  score big runs in this series. After departure of Simon Katich it looked like Australia don't have any opener but they found Warner and with the return of Shaun Marsh they have pretty good opening pair. It is good that Aussie selectors dropped Phil Hughes who failed to impress anybody but I think dropping Usman Khwaja is bit harsh, to the guy who is considered as promising youngster. Aussies have good bowling line-up now, even though they don't have Johnson and Watson in their line-up. They have some in-form bowlers like Pattinson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle who are capable of bowling in excess of 90 MHP speeds, will prove dangerous on bouncy wickets for any opposition in the world. So Aussies are in advantageous position going into the series and India has damaged their chances of winning by picking up the unfit bowlers which will going to hurt India big time.

So less than 48 hours remaining for this  'Agneepath Series' and Indian fans will certainly wake up at 5.00 AM to watch all the action from down under in a hope that Team India starts the seires with a winning note and finally win the series and end the drought but Indian selectors and team management are not serious enough to win this series.Will india  be able to hit, knockout punch on boxing day? My guess is as good as any other cricket fan.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Selection of injured players continues in Indian cricket.

Disaster of England tour is still fresh in the minds of Indian cricket lovers but I think Srikkanth led selection committee and BCCI have forgotten that disastrous tour of England and that's why they again repeated the mistake by sending injured Ishant Sharma on the all important tour of down under. How often we see injured player travels with the team and enjoy the paid holiday from BCCI. Zaheer khan returned from the tour of England after bowling just 2 overs in the  test match at Lords. Zaheer failed to complete the tour down under twice in the past and this time also scene is not that great as well.

It is good that Harbhajan is not selected for this tour otherwise one more injured player had travelled with the team. Recently it is revealed that Harbhajan is carrying the shin injury for long time and he will going to miss out entire Ranji season for Punjab. Actually BCCI don't have any plan in place to control the injuries to its key players. Cricket fan can understand that injuries cannot be controlled but BCCI can atleast take an initiative that injured player don't board the plane for the important tour. But that is also not happening. Every player try hard to get selected despite injuries and eventually fan suffers due to  below par performance of the team.I think time has come to punish the players who hide their injuries and make themselves available for selection. Recently Anil Kumble resigned from the post of Chairman-National Cricket Academy because  board didn't accepted his injury management programme. So it is clear that BCCI is not serious about injury management. Not accepting Kumble's word is disaster because Kumble is legend and he hhas played cricket at highest levels and knows all about injuries that hampers the player's career.

Even after getting to know that Ishant is not fully fit, he has been not replaced and board allowed him to continue on the tour. What happen, if Ishant play first test in Melbourne and breaks down after one or two over? Just like he broke down and  left the ground in Canberra practice match where he just bowled 5.3 overs and for rest of the match he was sitting in dressing room with his troubled ankle. Even team manager Shivlal Yadav also lied to the media and fans, stating that Ishant was supposed to bowl only six overs. What kind of excuse is this? I remember, when Greg Chappell was hooted by the Indian fans he showed his middle finger which created lot of anger among fans, but the BCCI, Vice-President Rajiv Shukla gave senseless statement in favour of Greg Chappell that finger of Chappell had some pain and he was trying to cure his finger by raising it. Such senseless statements are regular from BCCI officials and selectors in defence of their acts. If we hear some senseless statement from K.Srikkanth about Ishant's injury, we will not get surprised at all, because we Indian fans are ready for such senseless statements.

When India returned from England this summer, selectors clearly said that they will pick up only fit players for the next tour but they again repeated their mistake and picked up injured player like Ishant Sharma for the series against West Indies where Ishant performed below par and picked up just 9 wickets in 3 test matches. Everybody knew Ishant picked up ankle injury on that England tour, yet selectors selected him.Selectors still had that chance to test the Ishant Sharma ahead of all important Australia tour by asking him to play in Ranji game during ODI series between West Indies and India but selectors failed to do so and that's why injured Sharma is on that tour. Now Indian bowling looks hopeless as there is question mark on Zaheer's fitness as well and only solace India have in bowling is new pace sensation Umesh Yadav. Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar failed to impress in the first practice game at Canberra. I think Ishant must be recalled and Irfan Pathan must replace him immediately as latter is in good form and rythm while former is injured and don't look good to complete the tour.

In the decade of 90s, injured players were easily got selected for the matches because of their good relations with then physio Dr. Ali Irani who always recommended injured players for selection just on the basis of relationship and that's why he was fired from the job and foreign physios took over but trend still continues and injured players are still finding place in the team and in-form players are ignored. I am not at all hopeful of India doing well down under this summer as well, where they failed to win single test series in past and this is just because of wrong selection. I hope BCCI wake-up before its too late.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Master, Disciple and Double Ton

It was Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 when 'GOD of Cricket' Sachin Tendulkar created world record, hitting first double ton in One-Day Internationals against mighty South Africans at Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. No player in the history of ODI format achieved this feat before Master. It is unique club of double ton where Master ruled for almost 19 months but finally his record broken by his disciple Virender Sehwag on Thursday, 8th December, 2011 against depleted West Indian side at Indore co-incidently again in the state of Madhya Pradesh. 'Nawab of Nazafgarh' joined 'GOD of Cricket' in this unique club of double ton in ODI format. 

Well lot has been said about these two amazing records but everyone forgot that after hitting 200 Tendulkar clearly said in one of his interview that only one man can break this record and that is Virender Sehawg. How true Master was in that interview. That's why Sachin Tendulkar is known as 'GOD' because god knows everything well in advance. Now I must say, it is unfair to compare both the innings but I feel Master's inning was much better as he played that innings against world's best bowling attack of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. That innings of Master was chance less while Viru was dropped twice. Master remained not out but Viru got out.  I must say  Master's innings was artistic and all his strokes looked beautiful. Viru played the brutal innings where he butchered and muscled the West Indian attack. It was completely different innings by Viru.

After this innings of Virender Sehwag, entire media started calling him GOD but I believe it is unfair to compare Viru with Sachin Tendulkar because both have different approach to the batting and this unnecessary comparison definitely put additional pressure on Viru. No doubt Viru is master class and he is biggest entertainer in modern cricket and I can vouch nobody will ever match Virender Sehwag in batting, the way he bats nobody today or even in future will bat like him. He simply kills the bowler and their bowling skills on his day. it is impossible to break majority of Sachin's record while it is impossible to bat like Virender Sehwag and that too consistently. Look at Viru's record. When he started his career everybody labelled him batsmen of limited overs game, but over the period, he is more successful in in longer format of the game. His record in test matches is awesome. Every cricket pundit criticised his lack of footwork and technique, but he proved every cricket pundit wrong as he has scored close to 8000 runs in test matches so far with an outstanding average of 53. while in ODIs he crossed 8000 runs recently. He has scored more than 16000 runs in international cricket and in all these, he had hit 37 hundreds which is no mean achievement for a player who relies purely on hand-eye co-ordination.

Talking about Viru, I must say Virender Sehwag always admitted that he is disciple of Sachin Tendulkar, tries to learn from Sachin Tendulkar and I believe he is absolutely correct because Sehwag tries to copy Tendulkar everytime he bats and succeeds most of the time, so Sehwag is real disciple of Tendulkar and thats why he is succeeded in breaking Tendulkar's unique record. Now what else lies ahead, I believe now Tendulkar will certainly look to score another double ton in ODI, i am saying this because knowing Sachin Tendulkar for so many years, he always likes competition and take unique challenges and achieve them. 

So Nobody will be surprised, if Sachin Tendulkar go on and break Viru's record. Difficult but certainly not impossible for a man who has scored 99 hundreds in International cricket. I must say no one else will achieve the feat of scoring double ton in ODI and this privilege will remain with Master and Disciple only, for very long time.

Lastly if 'Tendulkar is GOD of Cricket' then 'Sehwag is Yamraj for the bowlers'.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Team India finally met with an accident.

After escaping two very near accidents, Team India finally met with an accident at Motera. Luck is one such thing which don't remain with you forever and that's what happen with Virender Sehwag and his team. Team India managed to win first two ODIs where luck played important part but finally luck went to the West Indies camp leaving India in all sorts of trouble. There is no surprise because this loss, expected by fans after the performances in first two ODIs. But one man who survive through these accidents is Rohit Sharma, who stood tall in all three games and helped Indian team in winning two games  and almost the 3rd one, had he got little support from one of the top-order batsman. As they say cricket is a team game and each and every player have to contribute,  if team wants to win. Rohit Sharma looked too classy in his three outings and I feel he deserves the place in test eleven ahead of Virat Kohli. Rohit Sharma is far more talented than any other youngster and this reflects in the way he approached this series.

Indian team must blame themselves for this loss because players like Sehwag and Gambhir missed the practice session ahead of this all important ODI and that lack of practice reflected in their performances where captain and his best friend scored duck. Winning combination also tampered with and Abhimanyu Mithun included at the last moment because Chief Selector K.Srikkanth wanted Abhimanyu Mithun to play this ODI, so tampering with winning combination is also one of the factor. 

Now West indies have tasted the blood and they will come hard in next two ODIs, so Team India have to play out of their skins to win this ODI  series but all depends on how well our top-order performs. I believe Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are ideal as an opening pair and with Australia tour near, they have to start opening together to build the rapport and momentum between them ahead of all important tour. Parthiv has done nothing substantial with the bat so far in the series, so he should be batting in lower order. 

Ideal No.3 is Virat Kohli and I think Rahane deserves to be in the team in place of out-of-form Suresh Raina who looked completely off-colour in his international stints in last few months. Ravi Rampaul is one man who haunted India badly in last 2 ODIS and Indian team have to find  out the ways to tackle this Rampaul factor. Sunil Narine who made his debut  for West indies looked quite impressive. He will definitely trouble Indian batsmen in coming matches, so Indian batsmen have to adopt simple policy of attacking this mystery bowler, if Indian batsmen play him defensively then he will definitely do lot of damage in coming matches.

Now two ODIs remained and selectors have included Irfan Pathan in the team who is in sublime form this Ranji season. Pathan has picked up 21 wickets at an average of 14 in 4 games, he played so far which includes 3 consecutive 5 wicket hauls. But I must say he is unfortunate to become the victim of selection bias as after performing so well in domestic cricket he is not selected for Australia tour. instead Abhimanyu Mithun got the nod ahead of him because Mithun hails from south zone and Chief Selector is also from south zone. So its a clear bias because Mithun has done nothing for Karnataka team this season. But since he hails from south and that went in his favour.

Team India have to work hard in remaining 2 ODIs if they want to win the series. If India lose this series and top-order batsmen continue to fail then team will go to Australia without any confidence which will affect their performance in Australia as well where they failed to win single test series so far.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vangipurappu Venkat Sai Laxman - God of Crisis for Indian Cricket

281 V/s Aussies, 2001
If Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is God of Cricket then I must say Vangipurappu Venkat Sai Laxman is God of Crisis. This Stylish Hyderabadi  has added lot of glory to Indian Cricket by his ability to play in crisis situation and turn the games in favour of India. Who can forget his epic 281 at Eden Gardens. Team was on the doorstep of losing that test match in 2001 after follow-on but this Stylish Hyderabadi turned the match in India's favour with fine stroke play and beautiful wrist work and won the match for India and gave the confidence of winning the series as well. But I  must tell you it was not easy for Laxman at the start of his career. No player comes close to him in using the wrist while playing and that is his great asset and makes him elegant and stylish.

96 V/s Proteas, 2010 
He was on the domestic scene since early 90s but never selected because that time team was having some good players in its rank. Likes of Azhar, Manjrekar, Tendulkar, Dravid, Sidhu, Ganguly, Kambli. So it was difficult for the selectors to accommodate 'Very Very Special' Laxman in that star studded batting line-up. But finally he got his due in 1996-97 season when he made his test debut against South Africa at home. Even in this first test match, when India was in trouble, when they lost 4 wickets for just 82 in second innings, it was Laxman who bailed them out of the trouble by scoring gritty half-century in that second innings and did fantastic partnership with Kumble and helped India eventually to win that test match by 64 runs. So, Wristy VVS Laxman is the crisis man for Team India since his debut. It is unforutnate that he did not participated in single World-cup ever since his debut and after spending more than a decade in International cricket though he was more talented then many other cricketers who played for the country and played in World Cup. He never featured in ODI team consistently which I feel is loss to the Team India. But he never complained about that and did his job to the perfection for the team. 

91 V/s Kiwis, 2010
Intial 3-4 years, he was in-and out of the team but not because of poor performance but due to changes in his batting-order. He was never allowed to settle on the one spot. He opened for India and he batted on almost all the spots for India when required and that too without hesitation or questions and when it comes to drop somebody from the team then sword was always hanging on his head and was dropped many times. Come 2001, credit goes to Sourav Ganguly who insisted selectors to include VVS Laxman in the team after Laxman's good show in domestic cricket and rest is history. After 2001 Laxman became integral part of this Indian batting line-up and never looked back since then. He played some fabulous innings for Team India and always played crucial role in team's success in India or Overseas. The way he bats, he looks like a painter who is painting green canvas with his silken strokes. His bat turns into brush and runs becomes the creation. I believe if he played in top-order then he also owned more than 30 centuries but he often played down the order and mostly with the tailenders which reduced his centuries to just 17 which is not a true reflection of his talent.
103* V/s Sri Lanka, 2010
Looking at Laxman's contribution  in Indian cricket and his ability to play crucial innings in crisis times makes him greatest batmsen of all-time. If we look at second innings batting of all the Indian batsmen then I must say nobody is near Laxman's average. He is averaging more than 50 in second innings which tells about his temperament and ability but on the sad note I must say  Stylish Laxman never got that fame which his other colleagues got. I feel he is unlucky because he is playing cricket in the era when we have Great Tendulkar, Wall Dravid, Dasher Sehwag and Gutsy Ganguly until his retirement. Laxman just lost under the shadow of all these great players but I feel he is the biggest superstar of Indian Cricket because when it comes to save or win the game for the country then Laxman is the man for that hour. No other player gives you confidence of winning or saving matches like Laxman gives you. In the last one year he won 3 matches for Team India from losing situation and saved the match once. 
178 V/s Australia, 2004
He may not be endorsing big brands like Dhoni and Tendulkar , may not be giving too many interviews, may not be a popular man among media but he is God of Crisis for Indian cricket and time has come now to recognize his service and give him his pending dues and that will be great tribute to him and his services. His initials VVS tells the story of this charismatic cricketer. Indeed Laxman is Very Very Special for Indian Cricket. I must say he is very good human being apart from great cricketer which is most important.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Team India aims for white-wash at Wankhede


After a gap of 4 WKyears, ‘Test Cricket’ is returning to the Wankhede Stadium, a ground which saw Team India lifting ICC Cricket World Cup trophy this year. Third and final test match between India and West Indies will begin tomorrow at this historic venue and Team India will aim for the white-wash.

At the moment Team India is dominating the series with 2 assailable wins and series is already pocketed by Dhoni and his men. So what lies ahead for Team India to achieve in this  final test match. INDWI4Well it’s a good time to test the bench strength.I think selectors have done good thing by dropping Yuvraj Singh and included Rohit Sharma, who is in sublime form at the moment. Sharma has done no harm to his reputation this season, as he scored two magnificent big hundreds in Ranji Trophy, so it is good time to get him in the playing eleven. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane also deserves the chance but only one of them can be included but for that team management have to rest either Dravid or Laxman which is highly unlike but if it happens then this move will give clear idea about the selection for Australia tour. Kohli got his chance in West Indies as he played 3 test matches their but failed to deliver that time, so it is right time to test him in the final test match before selecting the team for Australia.

Experiment can be done in bowling as well, if Dhoni and Fletcher wish. I think it is wise to give chance to Varun Aaron by replacing him with Ishant Sharma who failed to grab the opportunity in two games played so far. YSAaron have the pace and he has already promised a lot during the ODI series against England. In spin department, I think Rahul Sharma must be included in place of Ojha or Ashwin. So good time  for experiment, if team management wants to do. Third test match is equally important for Sachin Tendulkar as well. So far Tendulkar has managed only one century on his home turf in his illustrious career. Tendulkar is also on the verge of creating history. His epic 100th ton is much awaited in cricketing fraternity, as well as among the fans and everybody hoping that it will come in Mumbai, but I think we have to wait till One-Day series because it is highly unlike that his epic hundred will come in this test match looking at his performance on Wankhede in past, so we have to wait for sometime.

RSI think Team India must try youngsters in this final test match. Look at Umesh Yadav and Ashwin, both grabbed the opportunity with both hands and performed very well. So I think we can trust on youngsters and must blood them in.

As far as pitch is concerned, it is going to be fairly quick at Mumbai as per curator but remPitchember in Mumbai pitch is made of red soil which have little carry initially but from Day 2 onwards it becomes dust bowl and support spinners. Who can forget test match between India vs Australia four years back on this venue. Pitch turned square in that match and troubled the mighty Aussies, so I don’t go by curator’s word and I firmly believe pitch is going to be a turner with little carry initially. Dhoni’s injury scare is also a worry for Team India as he skipped the morning practice session. Let’s hope Dhoni gets fit in time to lead the team at Wankhede.

As far as West indies is concerned they are coming in this match with series loss, so they will definitely try to redeem themselves and will look to save some pride. Second innings of last match must have giWIven them some confidence of how to tackle the Indian spinners. But they have to work hard on their basics if they want to win the final test match. They have very good young and talented batsmen, who can do well but these youngsters have to show application like Darren Bravo showed in the last match. Bravo scored brilliant hundred at Edens and took Windies score past 400 hundred.  If West indies have to  win this test match then their bowlers have to bowl in channel otherwise strong Indian batting line-up will eat them.

West Indies also looks in little trouble as Shivnarine Chanderpaul picked up calf injury in last match and that has not healed yet, so there is suspense on his inclusion in the final eleven. if Chnderpaul don’t take the field tomorrow then it will dent the Windies chances of winning the final test match of the series.

So far this test series remained one-sided, let’s hope Windies give some fight and make the final contest exciting enough to watch.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Purest form of Cricket is Real Cricket.....Test is Best


ILTCSince last two years there is lot of concern spread among the cricket fraternity and media about the survival of test cricket which is also know as purest form of cricket. Cricket experts feel test cricket is losing its popularity and too an extent they are correct as well because spectators are not turning up for the test matches at the venues where it is played. But I must say still people love test cricket and there is audience which watch the test cricket as well but on television and on Internet.  So it is too early to say that test cricket is vanishing. According to me purest form of cricket is still test cricket, only thing require is to promote this format of the game aggressively and intelligently.

The first officially recognized Test match commenced on 15 March 1877, contested by England and Australia at the MelbourneTM1 Cricket Ground(MCG), where Australia won by 45 runs. England won the second ever match (also at the MCG) by four wickets, thus drawing the series 1–1. From this first test series in 1877, more than 2000 test matches have been played in a period spanning over a century, so it is not correct to say that test cricket is vanishing. It has survived for more than century which itself shows that people love the longer format of cricket.

It's hard to believe that Test cricket is in trouble, especially as India and England play out the first of their clashes to be the top-ranked Test nation in front of packed stands at Lord's. But the possible demise of the sport's oldest, most ICtesting, most complex and most loved format has been a talking point for some time. Ongoing series between India and West Indies is drawing very few people to the venue but one has to remember that West Indies is not the same team as it was in 70s and 80s. So lack of contest is solely responsible for less crowd. I think BCCI must take test cricket out of the metros and play it at smaller venues where till date people have been deprived of live test cricket. Live test cricket will definitely become novelty for the people of smaller cities and will definitely go and watch the test match and this way it will get more popular and its reach will become more wider.

As International Cricket Council Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat pointed out last RDweek, Test cricket has never been marketed as aggressively or cohesively as ODIs and T20s. That's partly because, with its endless bilateral series, the only outcome of which is to move up or down a ranking decided by an complex mathematical formula. Test cricket lacks the sort of focal point provided by the World Cup or World Twenty20. The solution is the World Test Championship, recently confirmed for England in 2013, where the four top-ranked teams at the time, right now, it would be India, South Africa, England and Sri Lanka will battle it out to be the first ever official champion of Test cricket.

It's a good idea, but cricket has never done anything like this before and inevitably there are WSTCcomplications. One is that the sport would have three different world title-holders but then, with the rankings, it sort of does already. A bigger problem is that the Test format has never lent itself to knock-out competitions as it involves a lot of draws, and obviously people don't want joint world champions, and audience certainly don’t entertain drawn semifinal. But I think for semi-finals rules can be changed and which every team scores more runs in entire test match must be declared winner and this way draw can be avoided. Same rule can be  applied for the final as well.

Timeless test match is also an good option to fetch the result and I think, the way batsmen play aggressive cricket, timeless test will not last loSachin Tendulkarng more than 6 days. So timeless test is also a very good option to be looked at. Apart from this audience must be treated like VIPs at the venues and ticket rates must be slashed, so that common man can afford it. I think creating picnic like atmosphere at ground will certainly popularise the test cricket. I must say test cricket is  still the best format and recently we witnessed one of the best test match of this decade between South Africa and Australia at Capetown which eventually won by South Africa even after conceding the lead of 188 runs and lot of spectators thronged to ground to watch this interesting test match, so it is really hard to believe that test cricket is vanishing. If it is played between two competitive sides than it will certainly attract the crowds to the venue.

I think ICC also have to take initiative in promoting its  associate countries to play test cricket. According to me, ICC have to make a pool of 8 team each. One pool will have ICC ranked Top 8 team and another pool will have ICC ranked Bottom 8 teams. ICC have to promote 6 good associate nations like Ireland, Netherlands, etc. to play test cricket. This will definitely increase the interest among the people of associate nations in test cricket.

The team which tops the Bottom 8 group over the period of one year will automatically qualify for the Top 8 group and team which ends last in Top 8 group will automatically gets demoted to the Bottom 8 group. This fear and happiness of going up and down in the pool will certainly increase the competitiveness and quality of test cricket as Bottom 8  group teams will look to get promotion and Top 8 group teams will certainly try to avoid the demotion and this will definitely make the spectator happy. test cricket will get more teams with this formula and become very exciting as well.

So there is way forward for test cricket and I am sure test cricket will never die.As a cricket lover I don’t want it to die, no matter any number of shorter formats introduced, test cricket will always remain closer to my heart.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Team India eyeing series win at Edens


19656_1270326036364_1176246205_30695728_2448336_nSecond test match of the series between India vs. West Indies going to start on Monday 14th November, 2011 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Team India will go into this test match with series victory motto. On the other hand West Indies will look to tame the Indian team and will try to level the series. Hence, contest at Eden will become very interesting.

INDWI4Team India won the Kotla test after conceding the  lead of 95runs in first innings and that must have given great confidence to this MS Dhoni lead team. Openers and middle-order batsmen except Yuvraj Singh had decent outing at Feroze Shah Kotla and got into the form very early which is very good sign. Bowlers did fantastic job for Indian team at Kotla and will certainly continue their good work at Edens as as well.

 PitchPitch will not be the same, as it was at Kotla, as per the curator of Eden. According to curator, pitch is hard with little shine on the top and will assist spinners on last two days of the test match which will definitely rejoice the West Indian pace battery but remember India also have a very decent pace attack at the moment and that will definitely come into play, if pitch will assist the pace bowlers. Ishant and Umesh bowled brilliantly at Kotla but without much luck, so they will definitely cherish the carry on the wicket. As far as spinners are concerned, I think bounce will assist them as well, especially R.Ashwin, who is tall and definitely use the bounce because of his height.

SCEverything went well for India in the end at Kotla but there were few jitters which haunted India on Day 2 of the Kotla test especially in batting and Indian batsmen have to be careful in approaching their batting and ensure that no batting collapse happen as it happened in Delhi in the first innings. India also have to plan the wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul because Chanderpaul is the man who has scored tons of runs against India and he simply loves batting against India. MS Dhoni and the team think-tank have to find the way to get Chanderpaul out without scoring too many runs. If Chanderpaul fell early then West Indies will not be able to score much runs.

This will also going to be a special test match for Sachin Tendulkar, if he succeeds in getting his epic hundred on  epic Eden Gardens. Epic ton of Tendulkar is much awaited among fans and cricketing fraternity but somehow it has not come so far. Let’s hope this epic ton comes at Eden. I also feel it is right time to try out Ajinkya Rahane or Virat Kohli in place of Yuvraj Singh which will give us fair idea about the new talent as well.

WI1As far as West Indies is concerned, except Chanderpaul none of their batsmen clicked in Delhi and that is the irony of this new look West Indian team. Guys are young and this tour will going to be a good learning curve for these young West Indian players. Brathwaite, Kirk Edwards, Kieran Powell and Darren Bravo looks promising but failed to deliver so far and if West indies have to do well then all these batsmen have to score big runs and support Chanderpaul who is an anchor in this West Indian line-up. I think if West Indies promotes Chanderpaul at No.3, then this will certainly boost their batting because at the moment there is too much inexperience prevailing in that West Indian top-order. If Chanderpaul bats at No.3 then he will definitely guide the young batsmen and help them to score big runs which eventually help the cause of West Indian team but that is unlikely to happen and Chanderpaul will bat at No.5 for sure.

DSSCAs far bowling is concerned, young leggie Bishoo had shown lot of promise but he has to convert his potential into performance because pitches are very supportive to the spinners atleast in sub-continent. I think if West indies drop one batsmen, either Kirk Edwards or Kieran Powell and go in with additional seamer Kemar Roach, then definitely their attack will look more potent. So according to me, they have to try 5 bowler formula.

Second test match at Eden will going to be an interesting affair as India will look to seal the series and West indies will try to tame the Indians and in between there will be an eye on great man who is on the verge of creating history.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wait is getting longer and longer for epic 100.


The ‘GOD OF CRICKET’ once again missed on his epic 100th international hundred and fell for 76 at Feroze Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi on 4th day ST1of 1st test match between India and West Indies. Wait is getting longer and longer for the epic ton. Master batted beautifully for his 76 runs and increased the curiosity of spectators by playing an authoritative cricket, especially today morning. The way Sachin was batting it looked like he will reach his goal but to his and fans disappointment, he fell well short of his epic hundred while pulling short ball of leggie Devendra Bishoo. Decision looked 50-50 but umpire ruled it in favour of the bowler and great man walked away from the ground to pavillion after putting India in commanding position but without completing his 100th ton. This shows that even GOD can’t get everything when he wants. Now fans and GOD have to wait for Eden Gardens. I think this epic hundred is destined to come on this historic ground.

As far as Indian team is concerned, they regained their confidence of playing test match which was  vanished in the last series against IDNWINEngland. Season at home , so far has been good for MS Dhoni and his men as they white-washed England in ODIs and now won the first test match against West Indies and will be hoping to win the next one at Eden Gardens. Although first 2 days belonged to West Indies in this test match which really disappointed the fans but Indian team clawed back very well on 3rd and 4th day and won the test convincingly in just 3 and half days.

R.ASHLot of positive things happened in this test match for India as they found new hero in R.Ashwin who single handedly crushed West Indies batting on 3rd day when all were hoping of another disaster in Indian cricket. This offie from Chennai bowled with lot of guile and variation to which West Indian batsmen had no clue and fell like nine pins in their second innings. Indeed it was spectacular performance by R.Ashwin on debut. Now this performance of Ashwin will certainly jeopardies the situation of Harbhajan Singh who is fighting hard to make comeback in Indian team.

Harbhajan have played one game so far in Ranji Trophy and remained wicketless even after bowling 28 overs in the entire maHBJtch. After such a sterling performance of R.Ashwin certainly selectors will not favour Harbhajan. So now it is upto Harbhajan to do something extraordinary in domestic cricket if he wants the ticket to Australia. Two more test matches to go in the series against West Indies, if Ojha and Ashwin continue their good form in next two test matches then certainly Harbhajan will go out of the schemes of selectors, so either Harbhajan have to bowl brilliantly in Ranji Trophy or Ojha and Ashwin have to bowl poorly in remaining two test matches. in only either of the scenarios. lies the chance for Harbhajan Singh.

Pacers Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma bowled with their best of the ability but didn’t get much help from the slow-low wicket of the Kotla but UY1nevertheless both Ishant and Yadav looked impressive while bowling and given lot of hopes to the Indian team. Finally India found real fast bowlers who can trouble any batting line-up in the world. Both of them bowled  with lot of pace and line-length were emaculate. Both claimed two wickets each in the match. I think if they will get little support from the wicket then they can do wonders. Talking about Indian batting, I think Sehwag made an impressive comeback to the side, scoring half century in each innings of the test. Gambhir was bit disappointed as he got out after getting a decent starts. Rahul Dravid lived upto his reputation and bailed India out of the trouble in first innings by scoring patient half-century. Laxman as always played crucial knock in the second innings and helped India in  winning the test match. For Yuvraj Singh this test match was quite disappointing as he failed to score big runs in both the innings after getting good starts. I think time has come now to try out Ajinkya Rahane in next test match instead of Yuvraj Singh, as Yuvraj got the plenty of chances in a test team but failed to cement his place.

Dhoni’s captaincy was remarkable but he disappointed his fans with the bat as he couldn’t continue with his good form of ODIs in this test match. Overall good test match for India and they will go with positive frame of mind and confidence in the next test match at Eden Gardens.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Team India geared up to face Windies.


DSAAfter disastrous 2 months in England where Indian team lost its No.1 ranking in tests, Indian cricket is back on track with 5-0 whitewash of England team in the home ODI series recently.  Now West Indies is in India to play 3 Tests and 5 ODIs and Indian is beaming with confidence to beat West Indians. Injured players returned to the side with full fitness and that will boost the team composition further. Induction of few youngsters in the team reflects the thinking of Indian selectors which clearly suggest that Indian Cricket is looking toward future.

Sachin TendulkarIt was nightmarish 2 months in England for MS Dhoni and his team but this team forgot that disaster and pulled itself back and now eager to challenge any team in the world once again.  This series against West Indies will give us idea who will be going to take the flight to Australia which is very important series for Indian Cricket. Everybody, from cricket experts to media created hype of Australian tour and forgot the West Indies series, but one must not forget that performance of Team India in the series against West Indies will give the correct idea of how Team India will going to perform in Australia, so series against West Indies is most important. This series is going to be a make or break series for few youngsters like Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, R.Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. If these guys come good in this series then I am sure Indian team will do well in Australia as well.

VKRahane, Aaron and Yadav had a wonderful tour of Australia earlier this year with ‘India A’ team and they have the experience of playing in Australia which will going to benefit Indian team to an extent. But before that series, all important series against West Indies beginning tomorrow at Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi. It is important series for few stalwarts as well. Likes of Sehwag, Yuvraj and Sachin are going to make a comeback to the Indian team and they have to play out of their skins to get into the top form. This series although remembered for the long time if Sachin Tendulkar gets his epic 100th century in International cricket. Already there is talk about Sachin’s hundred and that’s the way this series is promoted by the media. But I think it is ridiculous to hype the series on one personal landmark. Such kind of hype will create pressure on Sachin Tendulkar, so according to me it is advisable to ignore this fact and look at it as normal series and leave great Tendulkar alone to achieve it.

TCGhis series is also in news because of the exclusion of Chris Gayle from the West Indian team. West Indies board once again ignored the giant  which certainly robbed little bit of competitiveness from the series. Without Gayle, West Indian team looks a club side but one must not forget that cricket is a funny game and anything can happen in this game. Who knows West indies get one more Gayle from this series. Although recent series against Bangladesh has given enough idea to the West Indian team about the conditions prevails in subcontinent and they will come well prepared so even without Gayle they will compete hard, no matter how their team is termed in media. There bowling have little upperhand compared to india because Indian team will go in with 3 debutant bowlers in this series.

UYSeries against West Indies will going to be interesting and Indian team will look to dominate the series and try to regain its lost reputation in this Test Series. On the other hand it is going to be a rebuilding series for the West Indian team. Also I am certain that Indian team will not going to miss Harbhajan Singh after watching his performance in Ranji match against Uttar Pradesh, where he remained wicketless for 2 days.