Friday, January 15, 2010

Everyone's a winner for a change...

Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy...

Cricket was the eventual winner...

The groundsman was winning praises...

and this kid won all the hearts ....

Just watch this video before I say anything... Even folks who do not like cricket, I sincerely request you guys to take a look at the athleticism....

Manish Pandey has surely won all hearts in this match, you felt for him just like you felt for Sachin after the Chennai Test Match India lost to Pakistan...

After a dodgy lbw for zero in the first innings, the kid walked out to bat at 47/3 chasing with Karnataka 292 runs away from victory with an angry Ajit Agarkar bowling really well... what followed was some breathtaking stroke play where this kid simply breezed through, pulling, hooking, cutting, driving and what not... He ended with 144 of 151 balls an innings studded with glourious shots. An India spot beckons... sooner than later... just keep churning runs and plucking catches like the one above out of no where... !!!!!!!!

I am sure every Mumbaikar's heart too felt for this Karnataka lad as he fell short of pulling off a stunning comeback by his team.

The match than went into a gripping final hour and while there was a catch dropped with Karnataka needing just 8 runs & it just seemed Mumbai had lost it... but the bull dogs of Mumbai, who in many ways are in Domestic Cricket what Australia is in world cricket, never said die....

Karnataka lost but cricket won.... ! A wonderful cricketing spectacle... !

I hope this match has opened the eyes of the BCCI as to how to go about preparing pitches, thanks to a wonderful wicket, this match was much more talked about and much much more exciting and pleasurable to watch than the series in Bangladesh. 5 day cricket is alive and its Kicking with some VIGOUR !!

P.S. - A 20 year old young rookie fast bowler Abhimany Mithun of Karnataka is another young quickie to watch out for... !!!!! You will hear about him in the days to come... !!!!!

I disagree ... totally ...

According to me a Test batsman's biggest Test is his ability to score against the toughest opponent in Test Matches in the backyard of the opponents which are supposed to be alien conditions.



Please read further only if you agree to that line.



Who were Australia's Toughest Opponents in the last decade ??

I will reproduce the figures :



I hope you will agree... India has been their staunchest opponent in the last 10 years.



So I guess you judge the Aussie players most importantly against the toughest team.



Now a certain gentleman named Ricky Ponting has been declared the cricketer of the decade and I would like you to read below his performance against India in India.





Would you call Gavaskar one of the best openers if he would have failed in West Indies ???

Would you call Sachin the Master Blaster if he failed in Australia ??

Would Lara be a genius if he wouldnt score in Australia ??

Apparently a host of cricket experts and journalists seemed to have forgotten the above.

Infact the only Test tour that the Australians won in India was thanks to non action of Ricky Ponting, he got injured and a certain Micheal Clarke made his debut and scored a century and sealed India's fate. Also to note is that Ricky did play one test in that series and Australia lost that on a square turner in Mumbai.

Even in 2001 the landmark series for India had Bevan played instead of Ponting who couldnt hit the ball off the square in one innings result could have been different.

The cricketer of the decade, in a decade when the bat has truly dominated, while batting in India against India, while 50000 people in the crowd bay for his blood, with 4 fielders around his bat, against the spinners simply BLINKS !!!

I rest my case...


If anyone deserved it I think it was Glenn Mcgrath or Adam Gilchrist who have won every territory they have played in... !!!! Even Warne faltered in India but did well everywhere else.

Glenn Mcgrath & Adam Gilchrist were the only two players who have a blemishless record against all countries either home or away... Plus in a decade where bat dominated the ball, Glenn Mcgrath was a marvel of consistency and I have not seen him hit around in Test matches ever apart from the 1 Test match in Eden in 2001.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A joy called Sachin !

The journey begins...

I was 12 years old then as I sat on the dining table of my Mama's house watching my cousin another cricket freak read the Indian Express and telling his dad, "this kid has just scored a century in the Irani Trophy Final, he will be in our team soon."

That was the first I heard of the marvel named Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. At 15 years in Ranji Debut he scored a century, on Deodhar trophy he scored a century and ended his first Ranji season as Mumbai's highest run scorer. In the ensuing Irani Trophy final he again scored a century.


The writing was on the wall and Sachin was on the plane to Pakistan to play against the worlds best pace attack in their own den.

A 16 year old kid was off to live a dream it might seem but hey he was off to Pakistan of all places to face Wasim, Waqar and Imran backed with Abdul Qadir !!!! Whilst I honestly wasnt a very keen cricket follower then... I still marvel at the stories from that tour... the series was fought hard and in the last test at Sialkot it was 38/4 with India leading by 100 odd runs in their second innings. Suddenly the series had come alive... Pakistan could win..

In walked the lil boy... it was like being thrown to the wolves... Akram, Imran and Waqar let it rip. Sachin discovered fast that international cricket on the field was the last place to find friends as the pace bowling trio bounced Sachin constantly and one from Waqar found its mark, only Srikanth and Sachin in that match batted in a helmet without a grill and Sachin paid the price. He was struck flush on his nose and was bleeding profusely...

As the physio checked Sachin, Sidhu put an arm on Sachin the 16 year old simply said, "Paaji Main Khelenga !!"

That one line even today tells me that age is only a number, this 16 year old had a heart of a full grown man !!!! At one point the umpire Holder in that match had to warn Akram for persistent short pitched bowling. Sachin and Sidhu saved that match and it ended in a draw.

First test series ended with 215 runs at an average of 35 odd runs !!!

In the only ODI on that trip Sachin made a duck on debut... !!

That entire trip of Pakistan was marred by unruly crowd behaviour that would pelt orange peels and stones on the Indian players on the field. I particularly remember this one charity match in Peshawar where the crowd jeered and taunted Sachin and came with posters citing,"Sachin go back and have milk".


It was during this match that Sachin hit Mustaq Ahmed for 2 sixes in an over, this led to Abdul Qadir the mentor of Mustq Ahmed to taunt Sachin, "Bache ko kya maar rahe ho, hume maar ke dikhao"

Sachin didnt reply to Qadir, but when Qadir came to bowl, Sachin hit him for 6, 0, 4, 6, 6, 6. Yes 28 runs in an over and that was it !! The kid had arrived well and truly. The champion legspinner from Pakistan had been hit and his ego badly bruised.

Incidentally this is when I fell in love with this magnificient game cricket for the first time in life, suddenly my hero Diego Maradona had just been replaced by another curly wonder boy Sachin !!!!!

As a kid I had always heard stories of Perth from my dad and my cousin about how fast a track it was and how bouncy the pitch there was. Sachin on his first tour of Australia made a century in Sydney in 1992 along with Ravi Shashtri who made a double century. Sydney though was the only track in Australia that came even remotely close to India in bounce. Everyone from cricket greats to a lil fan in me wanted to see how we batted in Perth, THE WORLDS FASTEST PITCH.

Australia was armed with Craig Mcdermott, Michael Whitney, Merv Hughes & Paul Reifel and they were raring to go on a green WACA wicket after the Australians scored 350 odd in the first innings Sachin walked in at 69-2...

For a player from the subcontinent this was his biggest test, the worlds fastest pitch against 4 pronged fast bowling attack this was the moment of truth for the guy and he smashed the bowlers to all parts of the ground. He made 118 of the best quality and till date I have not seen such square cutting by any player on such a lively track !!!!!

This led to Merv Hughes telling the Aussie captain Allan Border, "This lil prick is going to score more runs than you !!!!"

After establishing himself in the hearts of all Indians at the end of the Pakistan tour, it was here in 1992 where Sachin established himself as a cricketer that the whole world watched. The Benaud's, the Chappell's, the Richards, the Lawry's, the Greig's all took notice of the innings in Perth.

The long journey in international cricket which had loads of accolades and a few brickbats was just beginning for this shy lad from Mumbai, he had established himself and the next decade or two would be when the world would watch him !!!!

From that day to today Sachin has travelled a long distance giving us endless memories and hundreds of moments of ecstacy !!!


On Sunday, 15th of November, Sachin completes 20 years in international cricket with his 160th test match for his beloved India. Over the past 20 years Sachin has given us endless memories, endless reasons to smile on a day when things havent gone well its Sachin's batting that can lift your mood !!!!

Its almost impossible to list all of Sachin's moments but I will try to list a few more of his memories that I think are special but that will be in part II of this post !!!!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Knocked the stuffing out of 'em....

Wednesday’s pasting that the Aussie bowlers received at the hands of the Indian batsman was stuff out of the dreams.

Guys this is Australia, the world champs, yes Lee was out but still, the pitch had bounce, Sachin went for 4, Sehwag for 40 and Yuvi for 20 odd…. but hey… we ended at 354 !!!!

Over the past year and a half Gautam & MS have been the most consistent of Indian batsmen, while Yuvi, Veeru and Sachin have been in and out with injury these two have very consistently done their job. India owes a lot to these two for the fightback yesterday they put up after being at 90 odd for 3 at one stage.

Quite amazingly MS has been under a lot of pressure, people want to have their view about how he has changed his game, how he cant clear the boundary … this is the sort of scrutiny you go through as an Indian cricketer. Imagine a guy who has scored at an average of some 70 odd in the last 45 games with a strike rate of 90+ is under pressure !!!!! That’s life as an Indian cricketer for you !!!! Not just your cricket but people are also most interested in which bike you drive, which commercial you do and when you fail for a game or two it’s the bike or the commercial that is blamed and your commitment is questioned. The Indian fan can be most fickle !!

Anyways coming back to the game the way the Aussie bowlers were treated towards the end of the innings was brutal Raina & MS put the bowling to the sword and it seemed as if the opposition bowling and skipper were on their knees and this is not usual if you have seen the way Australians played over the years.

When they came out to bat they were shell shocked by the bludgeoning they had just received.

Under lights Praveen Kumar does move the ball and he just showed that, but his fielding was appalling to say the least yesterday. Ishant seems to be getting it together and that can only be good news. Having a score of over 350 behind always helps and so I wont look too into the performance of the bowlers.

If anything I still have a complaint with Dhoni in the field when he picked up 3 quick wickets, Dhoni did not go for the kill, he never had slips or fielders in catching positions or inside the circle while Hussey and the middle order batted, allowing easy singles and letting the partnership develop. This is one area where Dhoni has to improve, look to be ruthless and go for the kill and not allow the opposition to breathe easy at any stage. He wont always have 350+ scores to defend !!

However the way the Aussies looked flat and out for almost the entire innings while they were chasing was a sight you rarely see, the Aussies don’t give up, but yesterday they did as soon as India put up that score…

So what if for just one match… we did knock the stuffing out of ‘em… !!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A lull before the storm

Amazing is this silence from the Kangaroo camp... apart from the 7-0 prediction by Brett Lee of all people... there isnt much noise from the aussie camp which is strange. Probably all the big players are out now and a bunch of young blokes finding their feet in international cricket are busy concerntrating on their own game rather than offering advise to Indian players or predicting results... !!!!

Its unusual that this expectedly high voltage 7 match ODI series is about to begin and yet there is not enough cricket fever evident... yours truly is always excited at the prospect of India / Australia but the problem with some sports channels is they dont market the sport well... Neo is one such channel. Also blame the overdose of T-20 with the champions league hogging the lime light.

Regardless of all this the Men in Blue must keep their focus in place. This is their chance to firmly grab the no. 1 ranking. If all the batsmen remain fit throughout the series it would be a heck of a challenge for Australia. On flat pitches this Indian batting line up can be most devastating. Veeru's return is a great boost and he looked in very good touch and more importantly looked very hungry in the Champions league matches. Yuvi coming back adds a lot of fire power to the lower middle order and relieves Dhoni of a lot of burden.

The biggest challenge for India will be their seam bowling but the Indians need to keep chipping away wickets. It is most important that Dhoni thinks wickets and not saving runs. Apart from Ponting & Micheal Hussey this is largely a inexperience batting unit. Shane Watson is used to Indian conditions but his consistency will be tested here. If India can bowl well the batting should take care of itself.

Australia on the other hand have a very good pace attack in Lee, Siddle & Johnson with Watson as the back up but on these flat tracks against this quality batting the odds are in India's favour... I am sure all Indian batsman will line up to face Hauritz and the new spinner.

However the aussies seldom beat themselves and they will field way better than us.

Harbhajan and Amit Mishra will be the key bowlers for India in this series. Dhoni must look to attack with them and not use them as run saving bowlers.

Dhoni needs to always keep in mind this line while in the field : "Attack is the best form of defence, wickets always slow the run scoring !!!"

Never mind the silence at the moment but once at Vadodara when the teams square up... sparks will certainly fly... this is going to be one spicy encounter... the appetite is just whetted... !!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Over the ropes

Bludgeoned, Blitzkreiged, Smashed, Pounded, Torn Apart, Brutal, Violent, Brilliant, One Sided... all sites have various adjectives to describe Sunday's smashing pasting received by New Zealand, it was classical and pristine Sehwag !!

The Nawab of Najarfgarh, when in this mood and this form is rather unstoppable. More often than not he gets himself out, but off late he has got himself to be a little more careful at the start and that has ensured he is a lot more consistent.

Sehwag over the years was never a consistent scorer in One-Dayers, he was consistent in Tests amazingly where as you would think his game is tailor made for the shorter version. But since his comeback in Australia, he has not looked back and gone from strength to strength !!

This is one batsman who scores at his own terms, when he gets going the wheels come off the opposition bowling line-ups !!! He is so so so so so so exciting to watch and he thrills you all the time, at the same time there is this constant fear in your heart that he might get himself out !!!!

Where Sehwag has now improved and matured a lot more is he is sensible, there is a definite method to this MADNESS !! He doesn't go after everything, he waits for his zone, he picks bowlers. Once done that, he pulverises the bowlers !! He is one step ahead of Mathew Hayden for me !! He is a lot more talented than Hayden and a lot more dangerous !!

While the debate rages whether this is the best batting line up India ever had... I would suggest leave that debate aside and just watch India win !!!

For years we have had times when we were not so well off, where individual brilliance would win us a few breath taking matches, but never would we be consistent over a whole series or a few months !!

Yes we won a World Cup in 1983 but were killed thereafter by the Proud West Indians in the Test Series that followed where they beat us 5-0 !!!!

Yes we had a fantastic team of talented players and allrounders in 1985-86 when we won the Benson & Hedges World Series and a couple of years after that, but we have never been able to consistently win series after series. Plus our consistency in Test Matches abroad has been apalling !!!! Its time to set things right !

Now we win series after series, 5-0 against England, 4-1 against Srilanka & 3-0 now against New Zealand ... We should win the New Zealand Test Series 3-0 unless ofcourse if the weather intervenes !!!

This is a new beginning, where we have 8-9 match winners, who can single handedly win matches on their own, in this team of 11 !!!!

Imagine Sachin, now is not the most explosive batsman in the team and that is some statement !!!!

For almost 15 years there was no better batsman, no alternative to Sachin !! We would be scared to even contemplate a time when Sachin would retire !!! But Champion Teams are not made of one Champion player !! they are 11 Champions !!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The mighty fall !!

The Aussies are going down !!!!!! The Champions are being decoded !!!!! Too bad it is not us !!!!!

The Aussies who dominated world cricket for over a decade are now finally being defeated in their own country as South Africa need 150 odd runs on the last day of the Boxing Day match !!! They have not lost a series on their home soil since 1992-93.

A Captain who is nick named Punter, however punts end there. He is never willing to take risks and only tooo happy to push the fielders to the boundary. He is one of the most defensive captain I have seen captaining Australia. As long as he had Warne and Mcgrath it was all too easy. Apart from being great bowlers with fantastic abilities, the two had an aura about them. The fear in the oppositions heart that they cannot prevail.

Warne and Mcgrath went, the aura went now teams feel they can compete with Australia, not just compete they believe they are beatable. India has always challenged the Aussies in the last 7-8 years. This year started for the Aussies with the Sydney fiasco, where if Symonds was given out at 60 for 5 the entire series would have changed but Steve Bucknor didnt feel so and Symonds scored 166. They won that Test match and the whole world knows the result was not fair. Even Gilchrist recently admitted " symmo should have walked "

After that match India beat them convincingly at their very own most favourite venue Perth at the so called worlds fastest pitch and chin music and stuff was put to rest as a resurgent India with a young Ishant actually indulged into some thigh music with Punter. Adelaide was too flat to yield a result. The ODI series went to India as Dhoni's men stamped their mark on world cricket.

Later in the year they came to India, in Bangalore Punter scored a century conquering his demons and they had a great chance to beat India, however the lack of imagination and defensive captaincy saw Zaheer and Bhajji saving India at a few points for these two there were 4 men on the boundary in the first innings. This is where the psychological victory was made. Zaheer mocked "They can't get 20 wickets and they know it !! They couldn't get me and Bhajji out, what else should I say?"

The rest as they say is history. India blanked them 2-0. New Zealand was beaten easily by the Champs but then came the Proteas with arguably the best pace attack in the world. However Aussies found themselves defending 414 runs in the last innings. Captain magnificient succesfully allowed the opposition to chase them with only 5 wickets !!!!!

Agree he has no Warne no Mcgrath !!! My dear Punter was defending 400 runs not 200 rite?? in the fouth innings rite ???

No no he is a good batsman, most wonderful against pace bowling. However as captain he is the most defensive Australian captain ever !!!!! May he keep leading them !!!! Now world cricket is facing an interesting era where the next number one Test team will be decided. Australia is definitely off their perch.

Who will it be next ???? Proteas or Us ???

The bad news for us is we go to Africa in 2010 and Australia in 2011. Thanks to the great scheduling by ICC Future tours !!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Race for No. 1

The race for no.1 test team is on....

India is the number 1 T-20 team. Also beating the Aussies in the One-dayers down under makes us the arguable no 1.

However to be the no.1 team in Test matches we have to still win series in South Africa and Australia....

Problem is we are not touring Australia for another 2 years now....

So when are we going to South Africa ???? No internet sites of cricket show us that....

If South Africa beat Australia at home, which will be known in another couple of weeks... they will be the team to beat....

Australia will again travel to South Africa in March so after that series we will know which is the team to beat...

This is a strange time... We now go to NewZealand after two months for 5 ODI's, 2 Tests and 1 T20 match, if rain permits there will be play.

After that again a break and in June we go to England for T-20 World Cup.... That is simply too little cricket in 6 months time. Thanks to the Pakistani tour being cancelled the players will have a long break...

But a team that is playing wonderful cricket is winning left right and centre would want to play and keep winning....

Trust the BCCI to arrange some or the other meaningless ODI series before we go to the NewZealand. However it is Test Matches that our team needs to play .... is any one hearing ???

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mindset !!

BASHING !! Veeru Style !

Mindset is all that matters, reading the commentary on cricinfo, I cannot quite believe what I read. For so many times I have seen India folding for 150 odd in the 4th innings and cave in without a fight, particularly horrible was once the chase of 120 under Sachin's captaincy in the Carribean when we folded for 80 odd...

We just didnt know how to win. Now take this match for instance... India are set 387 for victory... for all who actually understand cricket will know that 4th innings chase of 200 are also very difficult... 387 is a mountain to climb... Bah... You go and tell that to Veeru. He comes out belts the hell out of the leather, in 5 overs Harmisson is showing the ball to the umpire," Its outta shape !!!"

In the 6th over Panesar comes in to bowl, ahead of their best bowler Flintoff... Surely Pietersen lost his marbles didn't he ??

Test Cricket as Ian Chappell explains is about showing intent, its about poking your opponent in his chest long enough... If intent was ever shown it was shown by Veeru on sunday evening.

My brother called me exclaiming from Bharuch, are they supposed to be attacking with 387 on the board or us ???? By joe this is how fear is planted in the minds of the opposition.... Way to go, and yes I still have to say this... Whatever MSD touches will turn to gold... (remember Dhoni Era) The match is not won yet some 50 odd runs to get... but India has shown the intent... The champion teams wriggle out of difficult situations more times than others... This test match goes on to re affirm my belief this is the Golden Era of Indian cricket about to commence...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Trickily poised

Flintoff has been superb
Day 3, Tea, 13.12.08

At tea time this match between India and England is very very trickily poised... England have their noses ahead at the moment but India have a sniff as well... the way the match has see sawed is what is the beauty of test cricket...
When you have an even contest its just great to watch, although I always want India to win, ultimately cricket has to win...

143 runs ahead with 7 wickets in hand you would expect England to post minimum 250 + for India to chase and on this pitch in the fourth innings that is going to be difficult to chase...

The good thing from India's point of view is none of their batsmen have fired.... whether complacency, bad luck, over confidence or pure good bowling... however it is really hard to imagine if this line up can fail again in the same match...

The champion teams always wriggle out of a tricky situation... Can India do so ??? The sunday is going to reveal all the answers and its a holiday .... Yooo hooo..!!!!!!
Dhoni tried hard but was it enough ??

Friday, November 7, 2008

4th Test Match End of Day 1 :

India 311 / 5
( Sachin 109, Jason Krejza 138/3 )

As the two captains walked out for toss, a realization sank in, no A. Kumble in the team. However all good things have to end and newer better things have to start. So let the Dhoni Era commence… MSD did the right thing by winning the toss and electing to bat.

The way Sehwag started it looked like he was in a hurry to get this over, but it was too brisk and too good to last long. The new opener with whom he started the innings M Vijay looked solid, ran quick singles and played the ideal foil for the free stroking Sehwag feeding him lots of strike. The new kid almost gave India another 100 run opening stand. Agreed the pitch was flat and with only two genuine seamers in Lee and Johnson the task was a bit easy. Still he showed no nerves and was composed his technique looked quite okay, also he learnt a lesson when he got out that you cannot relax in international cricket. Having got to 30 odd it seemed he just relaxed a bit and was caught immedeatly by a short one from Watson.

Dravid continued his poor run, poking at an innocuous off spinner and giving shortleg an easy catch. He must be itching badly to score runs, all his mates have done, he is the sole exception and this comes after a very poor series in Sri Lanka and the pressure is well and truly on Dravid. Some one needs to tell him to just relax a bit as he is a little anxious at the moment lunging at the balls.

Jason Krejza the other debutant of the match was finally picked for the 4th and final test, strange selection policy of Australia just came to the fore when the original bowler selected was not played in tests while a stand in replacement played all 4. Cameron White is not a wicket taking bowler and it also surprises me why Stuart Clark was dropped and not White. Increasing the batting line up eh !! Positive Ricky for you …

Anyways Krejza had a very tough initiation with Sehwag having decided that he was not going to allow the spinner to bowl. At the end of his third over Krejza had given away 32 runs without a wicket and Ponting would have been wondering. Eventually he paid the price for over attacking but not before a flamboyant 66 at less than a run a ball. Suddenly from a dominating position India was at 122/3 at lunch.

But this Aussie attack barely seems like they can run through the team, the entire series at all crucial times the Indian batsmen have come up with partnerships, this just highlights the failure of the bowling attack.

Sachin looked his self assured and signature stuff and Laxman his easy self. Just when it seemed that Laxman was gonna get another century to follow his double he got out at 64. The bowler again being Krejza. Both the batsmen had played some delightful good old test cricket and the batting was a joy to watch, they had also bailed India out of trouble by than.

After Laxman’s wicket something got into Sachin and twice he tried to loft Krejza over his head and miscued twice and twice by different fielders dropped at mid off. Imagine Krejza who was out for 3 test matches would have had 4 wickets. Eventually Sachin got out after his 40th Test hundred. Again his runs came at a time the team needed them, kindly the media please remember this.

At stumps Sourav had notched up a decent twenty and Dhoni came up before a night watchman. I hope this is the new strategy that Dhoni brings, I am against night watchman’s.

Going into tomorrow India need to make sure they don’t lose too many wickets in the first session. They would like to get atleast 400 and they must ensure that Australia are not allowed into the match. For Ganguly’s last test match there is a great incentive for him, one batsman has a century in the first and last test match of his career and that is none other than Greg Chappell. What an antithesis if Dada can get one as well !!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Greatest Indian Match Winner.

November 2nd 2008 will be the last day Anil Kumble bowled for India. The greatest champion of Indian cricket has decided to call it a day. Kotla is the venue where he has had unbelievable success and that is where he will call it a day. It was here in 1993 he made his comeback in the Indian team with 13 wickets in Irani trophy match and since has been Indian Cricket’s biggest pillars. This is the very venue where he picked up the perfect 10 against Pakistan a rare feat so this is where it had to end.

The body through many injuries and years of bowling probably tired and complaining but a heart so brave and young not listening, eventually decided that it was time to listen to the body. The loss of Anil will be felt once he is gone. Yes there are Bhajji & Mishra to step up, but I fear none will be able to replace this man.
As a Bowler : Anil Kumble is as a bowler who is always at the batsman with his nagging accuracy and subtle variations. He never tires and never gives up and wins the battles against the batsman who eventually are forced into the error by the accuracy and variations. Over the years he learnt more and added more variations to his bowling and succeeded overseas in countries like Australia, England to shut up his critics.

As a Team mate : Anil Kumble as a team man is one whom Ganguly described “ when the score is 250 for 1 and you are looking around the field, there is always Anil who looks you in the eye and is ready to bowl, no matter what the situation is .” In Antigua when Anil was hit on his jaw and he had to get pins in his jaw and he was sitting in the dressing room watching, suddenly it seemed that if a spinner came on to bowl India might be able to win. The man gets his head all taped up and comes on to bowl and picks up Brian Lara. He bowled 14 overs with a broken jaw and that really speaks volumes of his commitment to the team.

As an Opponent : Steve Waugh summed it up when he said that “ This man is a amazing, he never tires and keeps coming stronger over after over. The unrelenting accuracy gets to you.” He is one opponent all teams respect and fear, the team meetings are always spent upon discussing how to play Anil Kumble as an inswing bowler and not a leg spinner. Still he has 619 victims who couldn’t still figure him out. Also to be noted is the pressure he created to help wickets at the other end.

As an Indian Cricketer : He is the greatest Indian cricketer till date, unfortunately because Anil is not a batsman we don’t recognize his feats, however he single handedly has won us more Test Matches than Sachin, Gavaskar & Kapil put together. He made India the fort it was in the 90’s & early 2000. His partners kept changing but he was there through out. Be it his pairing with Maninder Singh, Ravi Shashtri or Rajesh Chauhan, Venkatpathy Raju or Nilesh Kulkarni, or Sairaj Bahutule or Harbhajan this longetivity just tells you how good this cricketer was. . Not to forget his fighting knocks as a batsman and his century at the Oval to top it all.

As a Man : The bravest, the most determined, with resolve of steel, most committed and the most humble at heart is the man that he is. He is so respected as not just a cricketer but also as a very humble human being and that is one of the reason things were taken up so seriously after Sydney when Anil famously said, “ Only one team was playing in the right spirit of the game.” I have never seen the Aussies react, and react in a manner where in they admonished their own team and their own captain. The steel of Anil was reflected in Perth when the whole team played as a team, no individual brilliance but thorough teamwork won India a match in the den of the World Champions. No subcontinent team has won in Perth. But Anil as Captain has a victory there !!!

There are so many highlights in his great cricketing career its impossible to pen them all down in one small piece. Be it the 3-0 whitewash of England in 1993 or the Hero-Cup victory where he bamboozled the Windies. The perfect 10 wickets in Pakistan or the top spinners in Headingly or the googlies in Adelaide and Perth he has been truly amazing over the 18 years he gave to Indian cricket and Indian cricket is forever indebted to the man.

The man might just relax for a couple of days but I am sure he will be back in Nagpur to cheer his teammates to beat the Australians and regain the Border Gavaskar Trophy. I am sure he will be more pleased with the knowledge that the trophy was retained. The onus is now on the rest of the team to win this trophy and that would be the most suitable parting gift for Indian cricket’s greatest match winner of all times.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aussie Tour Diary 29th October

End of Day 1 : 296/3 (Gautam Gambhir 147*)

Winning the toss is always very important in India. Anil Kumble did exactly that on the Kotla featherbed that looked like any other Indian track dry, flat on day one and it might crumble and give slow turn after a few days. Batting first you have to make sure you bat big so that you can take the pressure of you and put it squarely on the opposition.

Gambhir did exactly that scoring his career best and being unbeaten at the end of the day. India reached a dominating position at the end of days play and for the first time I must say in my living memory have I seen such a helpless Australian team. Neither do they seem to have no firepower in their bowling neither are they able to outsledge the Indians.

The day started well for the Australians as they picked Sehwag in the third over, thereafter Dravid once again chased a wide one against Mitchell Johnson. India at a precarious 27/2 and it seemed the fight was on. For a change the fielding was not defensive first up and they were trying to pick up wickets. In walked Sachin Tendulkar to accompany Gauti, the master looked in sublime touch. His feet moving well and most importantly he was looking to score runs at all times. He was not over attacking but he was not letting any loose balls go and was putting pressure on the bowler. Sachin in this mood seemed so positive and so solid within the next 30 minutes it started seeming like the two would bat on. Gambhir in the past has been guilty of getting out at 30’s 40’s but the prescense of Sachin Tendulkar ensured the kid kept his concerntration going.

The knock of Gautam Gambhir was particularly pleasing because it was chanceless, very few loose shots, lots of concerntration and he played a perfect foil while Sachin was going for the runs. He would drop and run, normally even Gambhir is pretty aggressive, but for the major part of his first 100 runs he was only waiting for loose balls. The way he got to the century was spectacular, he charged down the track to Shane Watson and put him over long on for 6 when he was on 99.

Sachin’s wicket fell just at the stroke of tea when he nicked one off Johnson, but that was only a one off thing. Laxman helped himself to a tired bowling attack and a captain who lacked any imagination. The attack looks steady at best so it seems that the captain really cant do much with such a attack. The lack of a spinner is really hurting Australia.

I am sure the pride of Australia must be hurting, the fact that they are being outplayed again in another test match again. Looks as if there has to be a miracle to change things from the way they seem and look. In fact now at times it starts seeming rather boring that only one side has the boot on the foot all the time.

The new ball is only a few overs old so Australia would be looking to pick up early wickets and try and control the damage. However one cant help thinking that India will be the one team who will be scoring again on day two and calling the shots. For pained Indian eyes its time to just sit back and just watch some real Aussie bashing.

The icing on the cake was whenever the Aussie sledged Gauti, they got probably more than what they gave. Infact maybe at one instance Gauti got out of hand when he elbowed Shane Watson. However it seems the Aussies are rattled. They were never out sledged. There were instances when they were out played but never out sledged. It was good to see that the Champs getting back what they were dishing out for years to all teams.

However we as a team must also try and stay away from this, we need to focus on the game, this is the time the team has to be greedy and not think that they are in the driver seat. We have a great chance to make it 3-0 and we must give it back to Australia. I at the start of the series told that this is the best chance we had to whitewash this series. The first test was drawn but we cannot allow the Aussies to get away now. Its time to remember Sydney and make sure that when they go back from here they should be left high and dry and beaten fair and square.

(P.S at a recent awards function Micheal Clarke was asked if he had a choice to pick the one Indian player he would like to have on his side. Clarke, “ Its difficult to say that at the moment but if I had to pick one it would be Sachin Tendulkar.” The same question was put to Dhoni, and tongue in cheek he said it with great laughter and also total honesty that at the moment it would be difficult for any Australian to find a place in the Indian team. Ah times have changed.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Aussie Tour Diary 21st October

End of Day 5 : India 469/10 & 314/3 decl
Australia 268 /10 & 195 all out.

Today India has recorded its biggest test win in its history. By 320 runs, this has been a pasting for the world champions and they would be really hurting. The last time the Aussies lost by over 300 runs was in 1969-70 against the South Africans.

Australia’s worst fears have come true, yes they are badly missing the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn Mcgrath, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Jason Gillespie, Adam Gilchrist & Micheal Kasprowicz. They probably were missed most in this match than ever. In this match not only were they beaten but they were taken to the cleaners. The two teams stood apart and the Indians really looked a better team.

The day began with Zaheer ripping the heart out of the aussie fightback. If any one had a glimmer of a hope it was gone in the first 3 overs. In the first over Zaheer had one coming back into Haddin, who was facing his first delivery of the day wasn’t expecting such a beauty first up. In the next over Cameron White chased a reverse away swinging delivery and the next delivery opened Brett Lee like a can of beans and his stumps had taken a walk. The three wickets ensured there was no getting away and no nervous moments for Indian fans. The first ball when Mitchell Johnson faced against Zaheer on a hattrick was a pleasing sight to the eye. We had the bowler and 9 catchers along with the keeper in a umbrella field to gobble him up. This clearly showed how dominant India was in the match. Johnson & Clarke delayed the inevitable as the latter compiled a fifty. Amit Mishra not to be left out took the remaining two wickets and helped himself to 7 wickets in a debut match.

The moment was there for all to see, the joy of not just beating Australia but drubbing them is only to be experienced and cannot be described. At the end of the day Ricky Ponting accepted that his team had been totally outplayed, outclassed in every department. Dhoni acknowledged the fact that everything that they did was almost perfect and would like to stay at this end for more matches to come however he did keep his feet on the ground and told his bunch that Australia would come back hard.

So are the glory days of the Australians over ?? Are India ready to take over the mantle of the number one team ??

Probably Australians are not the force they once were but that doesn’t mean we are the heir apparent. India has its own demons to fight. We have always been able to live up and play well for one match or one series where we look like world beaters only to lift the spirits of the fans and well wishers and than bringing them down with the next series.

The reason the Australians were the world number one team in tests for over 13 years has been their consistency. If India wants to stake the claim to that number than the challenge will be not only to beat the Aussies in this series but to take out England next, than Pakistan in Pakistan than New Zealand in New Zealand and first up show the consistency. Even after that we still have to win a series in South Africa & Australia if we are to be regarded along with the Aussies.

Also as the fab 5 will retire, the challenge will be replacing them. I agree replacing them in the One dayers has been easy but it wont be so easy in the Test Matches, remember we have to replace over 36000 runs in the fab 4 and over 600 wickets in Anil Kumble. This will happen in the next 2 years, where in we will have our own battle like the Aussies who miss their champions. They would have never missed them as much as they miss them today.

However lets give credit where it is due, I cannot remember an Aussie loss of this magnitude. They did lose the 2001 series in India and the 2005 ashes in England but they were close defeats and they were dramatic and really fighting Australian teams that went down but they returned as Champions there after. However in this match they were never in the match since the first morning, Ricky Ponting paid the price for not being attacking. He was ready to be patient, give singles and wait for mistakes and he paid for it. Indians smarting after the 2004 series loss, took a lot of singles, infact 25% of our runs came in singles and the Aussies paid the price for giving easy runs.

Man by man this Indian team looks awesome. Virender Sehwag & Gautam Gambhir are a wonderful left/right hand combination at the top who not only are attacking but also run very well between the wickets. At number three we have Rahul Dravid, who might well be past his prime but you can write him off at your own peril. We have Sachin, Sourav & Laxman in the middle which is full of steel, flair and most importantly another 25000 runs. Add to that a flamboyant Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the batting lineup looks complete. In the bowling We have Anil albeit he didn’t play this match, but a proven match winner over the years, the maverick Harbhajan who I must say is still not bowling at his best. However the most important aspect of this Indian team is that for the first time in our history we have a fast bowling pair with some real teeth. Not only pace but the control the two bowlers have the discipline the willingness to learn and the fire in their belly ensures that the opposition batsmen have no respite.

Imagine we getting a 50+ opening stand always, Imagine the opposition always losing their 1st wicket in the first 5 overs. Well begun is half the job done, when you don’t have to do catching up all the time half the battle is easier to win. Over the years we have never had proper opening batsmen and a proper pace attack.

The bench strength also looks quite awesome. As Ganguly goes I hope Irfan Pathan is enthused in the mix atleast to give the skipper an option to go in with 5 bowlers. Yuvraj & Rohit Sharma will be vying for that spot also and logically it might go to them. But if you want to take 5 bowlers in the team this is the opportunity India has been waiting for. The pace bowling department is the most exciting. Zaheer and Ishant pick themselves head and shoulders above all with the discipline, maturity and heart that they have shown. If Sree Santh can leave the jingoism to others and can concerntrate on his fast bowling and his fitness we could well have a pace attack that oppositions will be drearing. R.P Singh is also an exciting prospect. Add to that Munaf Patel, Manpreet Gony, Ajit Agarkar, Praveen Kumar. This place will have a lot of competition in future. For the openers slot there will be pressure from Akash Chopra & Robin Uthappa the latter again needs to leave the fashion and all else out and concerntrate on his game more. He is very talented and India can do with a powerful batsman like him. Then you have your Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath, Shikhar Dhawan, Mohammed Kaif along with Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma that I earlier mentioned. Amit Mishra has just shown his worthiness as a spinner in this match and we also have Piyush Chawla waiting in the wings along with Pragyan Ojha.

These are exciting times for Indian cricket, but the true test is only beginning. The test of endurance & consistency has just begun. Tighten your seat belts as India embark on a journey to the unknown to the number one spot in Test cricket the real cricket. Just hoping this is only the beginning.

Over to you…..

Aussie Tour Diary 20th October '08

End of day 4 : India - 469/10 & 314/4 decl (Gambhir 104, Sehwag 90, MSD 68)
Australia – 268 all out & 141/5 ( Bhajji 3/23, Ishant 2/29)

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, that is the advice to the Indian team today. We are on the verge of victory but we haven’t won so let the celebrations wait.

The sight of day 4 was pleasing to the eye, India dominated and it has in the past won against the Australians but never, I repeat never have the two teams looked such a class apart. On a flat pitch the way the Indian bowlers have bowled has been the
main reason why India is in this position. Australia in the first innings were not getting out but they were dismissed by a bowling side that bowled with vigor, heart, method and unrelentless accuracy. These traits were always associated always with the Australian bowlers not the Indians.

The day begin with Ricky Ponting again putting up a placard that you can take singles I wont give you boundaries and I am definitely not trying to get you out. In the first hour as many as 13 overs were bowled and 65 runs scored as the two quickest runners between the wickets in the team kept running, at times impossible singles, one couldn’t help but wonder why the fastest bowler in Australia wasn’t called to bowl. The targets were missed by the Aussies everytime there was a run out possible. Quite a turn around this, but negative cricket never pays. When you are not trying to get the opposition out you cannot get wickets.

Gambhir got to a century eventually, he has missed out on many in between. Sehwag missed out on another on his 30th birthday. Dhoni promoted himself and ran like crazy to take India’s lead to 515 before declaring.

Australia began their innings in bizarre fashion, it seemed Mathew Hayden the champion that he is, seemed more angry on his captain’s defensive tactics and wanted to prove a point. How can you explain the way he started, they scored 49 quick runs in the first 8 overs, hitting over the field and across the line with disdain. It seemed they wanted to hit a few and disperse the close in fielders and relieve the pressure, but it didn’t work there were simply too many shots played and they paid the price for it. Bhajji got two in his first over and Hussey soon. Hussey was unlucky as the bowl kept low but India aren’t complaining. Ponting was castled by an ever improving Ishant Sharma and when he got Shane Watson lbw Australia had lost 5 wickets for 9 runs on this flat pitch which is hard to understand. The best batsman as the aussies like to call him is really unable to stamp his class in this country. Well lets not discuss novices for the moment.

However sanity prevailed and atleast two Aussie batsmen applied themselves. The pitch is as good a 5th day track you can hope for. If the batsman decides to dig in it is not impossible. But the fact that they have lost 5 wickets today will hurt them tomorrow when Clarke & Haddin will try and get a draw.

The mindless batting of Hayden & Katich yesterday and the quick wickets there after have left Australia high and dry. Still India are should ensure that we finish the job as quickly as possible and celebrate only after winning.

Aussie Tour Diary 19th Oct

End of day 3 : India 469 all out & 100/0
Australia 268 all out (Watson 78, Mishra 5/71)
India lead by 301

India is now firmly in the driver seat and have put themselves in a position to win the test match. However the pitch is still flat and that means Australia can still bat well and draw the match. This means that the onus in on the Indian skipper to make sure that the declaration comes soon enough. I for one would assume that 140-150 overs atleast will be required to bowl out Australia. However a lot will depend on the start of the third day if the Indian batsmen can get 150 odd in the first 30 overs of the day they could well set a target of 450 in 150 overs that even gives the Aussies a chance to go for it and which may help us more than them that they try to score runs and give more opportunities to us.

The day started with Watson and the ever reliable Hussey. The latter kept on turning the strike over and got to 50. Ishant was troubling him with his line outside the off, Ishant got him to edge twice in the same over the second one carrying to Dhoni. The fact that there are so many praises for the Indian bowling is the fact that on this flat pitch Hussey was dropped once by the keeper. Once he edged and it went between keeper and 1st slip and one that didn’t carry to the keeper. That after so many lucky breaks, a batsman as good as Hussey got to only 50 does say a lot about the bowling. The pressure is not let up at any stage by the Indian bowlers.

Amit Mishra had another good day and he is making his debut memorable by taking 5. A great wrong one did Cameron White in, Watson was leg before and the number 11 was stumped giving the debutant 5 wickets. Bhajji bowled well with heart and flight for a change and kept the pressure on.

The fact that Hayden and Ponting are getting out quickly, means that the Aussies are also not able to put any pressure on Indian bowlers. The opposition can bowl as well as you allow them to. In the earlier days the Aussies would come and put the pressure on the bowling. Hayden is very crucial in this, but Zaheer knocking him out in the first over means we can put real pressure on the Aussies and squeeze them. The bowlers do deserve credit for the fact that there is very little loose stuff on offer.

The start of India’s second innings was unbelievable with only one slip and a deep point. Attacking captain Ricky Ponting decided to put up a placard to Sehwag that we will not get you out, we will stop you from scoring quickly. But the only way to stop Sehwag is to get him into the pavilion as he will make a mockery of the opposition field placings. India raced away to 100 off 23 overs and now its upto the Indians to drive home this test match. If Australia are allowed to get out of this, it would mean Indians played badly. So far India haven’t played badly in the series so lets see what happens on day 4.

Aussie Tour Diary 18th Oct.

End of day 2 : India 469 all out ( Sourav 102, MSD 92, Sachin 88)
Australia 102 for 4 (Amit Mishra 2/21)

Don’t be misled by the Aussie score, the wicket is flat, absolutely flat and there is nothing that causes concern. However the Indian bowling was at its best, I have never seen an Indian fast bowling duo that like this before. Never in my memory have I seen an Indian side with fast bowlers that have been better than the Australians. Add to that an attacking off spinner and a debutant leggie who was willing bowl slow and flight and lure the batsmen and beat them in the flight. Truly great to see that.

The day started with Dada on 50 and Ishant Sharma, he was quickly bounced out by the other debutant Peter Siddle. In walked the new skipper, this man never ceases to surprise me. When we all thought he might just play a slow innings and grind the opposition bowlers and bat long. He decided to take the bull by the horns and was seen hooking and pulling Lee, Siddle and Watson with disdain. The Aussies too got a bit carried away and kept banging in short while they should have been trying to make the new batsman drive.

Sourav batted with a lot of grit and scored his century in the farewell series and for a change it was good to see that there was no point to prove and that he was glad for himself. This hundred I suspect is very very satisfying for the former captain. Dhoni missed out his hundred being handed a shocker by Rudi Koertzen.

At 469 all out, few would have expected what was to come, the pitch was flat and it seemed that the Aussies would score the runs as well. However Zaheer seems to have the number of Mathew Hayden for the moment and he dismissed him for the 7th time in his career. Again an unsure Hayden which is a rarity, pushed half forward and the ball sneaked in between his bat and pad to peg back the off stump. In walked Ponting, surely Hayden’s wicket was an aberration this was still a good wicket to bat on. But Ishant had other idea’s and he seems to have Ponting’s number at the moment. He probably got Ponting out twice in the same over but the earlier one was not given. The heat with which the two quickies were bowling was heart warming and a treat to the eyes who have always seen this happening to us but never being given back by us. Not only there was spirit in the effort but there was line and length and discipline and a lot of thought. I am crossing my fingers these two remain fit for the few coming years.

Time for the debutant to have his say in the match with his 12th delivery in test cricket Amit Mishra got his first test wicket, but the wicket of Clarke was as spectacular as anything. Last over of the day with two bowls to go and nothing much happening, MSD prompted him to go around the wicket and the debutant goes around and bowls a googly that beat Micheal Clarke’s defense. He was out on the last over of the day twice in the series. Amit Mishra and the team left the field with a spring in their stride. Hoping to make something of this match, still a tough job as the wicket is really flat and if some people do get it they can bat on this pitch.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Aussie Tour Diary 17th Oct

17th October 2008

Day one of the second test match starts on a pitch that is as flat as a concrete road. You really don’t want to lose the toss and MSD doesn’t. He wins the toss in place of Anil who has taken a rest so that he can be fit for Kotla.

Peter Siddle and Amit Mishra would be making their debut in this match. The Aussie debutant started with hitting Gambhir on the head in his first over. However that was only an aberration as Sehwag and Gambhir started like a raging bull, scoring at almost 6 runs an over for the first hour. But the start was just too good to last long. Sehwag perishing against the run of play nicking one down the legside to the keeper.

Gambhir and Dravid settled down into a nice partnership and the latter was looking in real good form and looked set for a big century. Just when you thought they players were settled both of them got out in the space of 3 deliveries and India were in trouble. Laxman again nicked one down the legside to the keeper. Mitchell Johnson had three wickets all of a sudden and it looked like India would fritter away the advantage of winning the toss.

The moment of truth for Sachin & Sourav had come the match depended on their performance but they would have viewed this as another opportunity to assert their worth to the team. Had they failed the knives would have been out again and people would again start taunting the fab four or fab five what ever you want to call them.

The reason I bring this to your notice is that this is unnecessary pressure that the media has put on these champions. Instead of watching and enjoying our champions and supporting them we have made their tasks more difficult.

But come what may the champions will rise, they will perform, they will make critics eat their words. The duo had a good partnership where in Sachin crossed Brian Lara and than crossed 12000 runs as a test batsman. Sourav over took the Don and than 7000 run mark and took India to relative safety at 311/5 however India will have to ensure that they get some good partnerships and reach atleast 450 or else the advantage of winning the toss will have been negated.

The kangaroos have been helped by the loose shots and the fact that none of the Indians capitalized and kicked on from the starts that they got. Even if Sachin would have been not out I could have written the day belonged to the Indians but I must say the end of day one the match is even steven.

The specialist spinner in Australia bowled 8 overs today which really makes me ask this question. Is he being masked as a spinner only to extend the batting lineup so that Ricky can ensure that his team has 8 batsmen which can help him draw the match. Surely there are doubts in the opposition camp that they can take 20 Indian wickets.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Aussie Tour Diary 15th Oct

Finally some sense into the Indian media. It took the skipper to lash out at the media. In his article in Hindustan Times he has categorically bashed the media for their uncharitable behaviour. Surprisingly the media is just a little quiet now, and have left out the extra focus on retirement of the champions and the stupid debate of MSD taking over Anil’s mantle. Probably Anil will not play the next match as he got injured during the course of the match. I repeat, during the course of the match. I would reiterate the fact that these champions will do whatever needed for the team. They will not let the team down. If they feel that they are not fully fit they will themselves back off. Leave them alone and let them relax and enjoy while they churn out match winning performance I don’t have to say anything more as Anil just has said whatever he had to.

Aussie Tour Diary Oct 14th

The cricket is over but the talk is just starting. Ricky Ponting starting the mudslinging that Indians play a lot of drawn test matches. Whoa !!

Just for the record India batted at 3.26 runs per over in the first innings and Australia at something around 2.65 runs per over. For Harbhajan Singh & Zaheer Khan at times there were 4 boundary riders. Pretty attacking cricket that.

He got a fitting reply from Zaheer, he went on to taunt them that they couldn’t get me and Bhajji out, what more do I say. He even went on to proclaim that the Aussies know they can’t get 20 wickets and the pressure is well and truly on them. He also added that on the 5th day track their spinners were ineffective and even their pacers on such an up and down track.

Things just hotting up.

I sincerely request all our media persons and unlimited news channels to please leave the 5 seniors alone. The amount of contributions they have made to Indian cricket is immeasurable and they will still contribute and they have it in them to still perform. Also have some sort of trust that if they feel they are not upto it they will themselves accept it. A man who even came out to bowl with a broken jaw, a man that has taken 600 wickets, a man that has won more test matches for India than any other bowler or batsmen in India has a bad match and the swords are out.

Ian Chappell a very respected former player and a person with strong views on captaincy comes out and terms Anil as a defensive captain. As much as I respect him and his views, I must really state his version is totally wrong. At the end of the day he is a proud Australian and he can see that this is India’s biggest chance to put it across the Aussies. He contributes to the team cause by taking this biased view and sparks off a controversy in the media that Anil was defensive and Ricky wasn’t. That in two hours MSD looked a far better captain.

The media has bought this story and started going gaga over the whole issue and have already started speculating MSD’s debut as captain. MSD is the captain in waiting and the more he plays as Vice Captain the better for himself before he gets the captaincy eventually. Don’t forget he is just 20 test old.

He will probably be a very successful captain. But the point is Ian is cleverly diverting the attention from Ricky’s defensive tactics and putting pressure on the Indian captain. The Indian media instead of backing their own man after one bad test match want the removal of Anil Kumble. Also remember the test match was drawn not lost.

This is totally aghast !!!! This is what will happen if people who have not played cricket start talking about cricket the whole day. Too much coverage, and they want controversies as only that will sell. The Indian media needs to take a leaf out of the Aussie media who find some reason or the other to target the opposing team and support their own team.

I seriously pray to God that Anil plays the next match and takes enough wickets to make the media people eat their words!!!

From the first test it is evident that the Aussie attack fully fit isn’t going to dismiss the Indian batsmen easily. Time for Kumble to come into his own in Mohali. If he is fit and if he plays the champion that he is will surely give his best for the country.

Australia's India Tour 13th October

End of play : Match Drawn. Australia 430 /10 & 228/6 decl*
India : 360/10 & 177/4

The most suitable result for two captains who are not willing to give an inch and not willing to take any risks. Both captains have lacked the initiative and have resorted to defensive tactics ensuring that the other side doesn’t get on a roll. However neither have really thrown a challenge at the other side and given each other a chance to win.

The pitch at Chinnaswamy didn’t help things, strangely we had a deteriorating pitch becoming difficult for batting however we had no sessions in which we had bunches of wickets. Four wickets in a session is the most I think. Anil Kumble’s injury maybe was one of the reasons India didn’t perform as well as they would have liked to. However the two pacers bowled their heart out and also showed that Indian team would do well to forget the pitch and leave it to the groundsmen. We have an attack and a team that can win any time anywhere in all conditions. Remember Perth.

Ricky Ponting I must say surprised me with a rare good declaration. Lets give him the credit and the benefit of the doubt that he did dangle a carrot. Sehwag was going to be crucial for India because his prescense not only ensures the runs come but also ensures that the opposing captain will not have enough men in attacking positions. He & Dravid fell early though ensuring Indians would be playing for a draw.

After a long time it was good to see Sachin bat for a long period and although he got out for 49 he looked comfortable and more importantly relaxed flashing smiles at regular intervals. Still the concerntration of the fab four since the last one year or so seems to have gone away. In the England series none could muster a century although they all batted well, even in Australia we saw that they would all get starts even make 50’s 70’s but not kick on. This is strange because normally these four kick on. Apart from Sehwag they haven’t really kicked on. Yes Ganguly did make one double in India in Pakistan but we are talking about one big century between 4 world class batsmen, and over a dozen test matches. Don’t know if its age or plain co-incidence. I will however not write off these champions and I can only say that they all are due for runs which is not a very good sign for Australians.

Kumble went wicket less in the test match. This must be rare and will hurt India’s chances. In the media there is an unbelievable scrutiny about his fitness, Ganguly’s retirement and who’s gonna retire next. The media goes mad about the whole thing & that is one of the biggest reason it seems to me that the team is actually performing better away from home than at home.

Hopefully Mohali can provide with a pitch that has more bounce and hence the ball comes on to the bat to ensure more positive cricket. The one that will take the risk will win this. Both Captains are being defensive it is time to change this. Test Cricket needs much better cricket and if the series that is billed as the clash between the best teams will keep on producing draws it wont help Test Cricket’s popularity.

Australia's India Tour 12th October

End of Day 4 : Australia 430/10 & 193/5
India : 360/10

Finally today India’s tail was dismissed but not before the lion hearted Zaheer Khan scored his fifty. The way the tail batted clearly showed that the team is fighting to the core and they will not give in easily.

The second innings of Australia began with Anil Kumble not coming on to field and Dhoni in charge. Whether that or the fact that the tail got so many runs there was a sudden spring in the stride of the Indians and the early wicket of Mathew Hayden again sparked things. There was a buzz around the Sunday crowd involved and Ponting into bat while Harbhajan was already bowling made for great atmosphere. Gautam Gambhir made a costly mistake when he dropped a relatively easy catch of Simon Katich at a time when the momentum was just shifting.

Ponting was smartly trapped by Ishant with some imaginative field placing by Dhoni for 17. However the sponge like character of Micheal Hussey and Simon Katich ensured that they absorbed all the pressure and also ensured that there was no panic and calmed the nerves of the Australian dressing room.

Kumble stayed off the ground for about a 100 minutes and talks of a shoulder injury and he not playing in the series started. He came on to bowl his discomfort visible. This can be a big blow for the Indians so far he has not picked any wickets.

Harbhajan than came good to pick up Katich with one that suddenly bounced, and Hussey with a beauty. Although later replays showed that the one that got Hussey appeared to have hit a crack. Clark was again out cheaply thanks to another slower one by Ishant Sharma. The two pacers have bowled very well and stuck it out, just fear at times and hope these two don’t get injured. Especially with back to back test matches.

At the end of the days play Brad Haddin & Shane Watson seemed to have taken Australia to relative safety. Kumble again seemingly resorting to the fielders at the boundaries. It seems he was setting similar fields to that of Ponting which is really strange. This is his last chance as captain to put one across the Aussies and defense will not help him. However as we approach day 5 all three results are possible depending on when Australia declare. However have a sneaking thought that Australia will not declare before they feel safe as there is a Virendra Sehwag lurking and he always makes the job of the opposing captain very difficult.

Aussies in India October 11

End of Day Three : Aus : 430 all out.
Ind : 313 / 8. ( Harbhajan 54, Rahul 51, Sourav 45)

The turbanator just showed the heart he has, he is one who is always ready to fight and not give in. He didn’t do well with the bowl and the fighting cricketer that he is he tried his best with the bat and probably have saved India the blushes.

Starting the day a lot was expected from the opening pair, however Gautam was taken by Brett Lee lbw where the latter would have been better playing straighter rather than across. Sehwag would be rather disappointed with the shot he got out to. But if you live by the sword you die by it.

The script was perfect for the fab four to silence the critics. However Sachin and Laxman couldn’t do much. Rahul had his customary fighting innings and got a fifty and although he was disappointed with the Lbw he got he was probably out. This innings will help him in a lot of ways in the coming test matches as he got good match practice in the middle on a deteriorating pitch against quality bowling. Sourav also stuck it out for a 45.

The batsmen especially Sehwag, Rahul & Sourav would be rather disappointed to have not converted their starts into something more substantial. India looked like folding with a lead of over 150 runs but thanks to the grip and determination shown by Harbhajan & Zaheer we eventually managed to bat out the whole day. This will give the dressing room the much needed fillip. I have always heard from former champions that if the tail gets runs it means the team is fighting.

How the test shapes from here is what is most intriguing. Australia would like to take the remaining two wickets as soon as possible and a lead of around a 100 would be really handy. For Australia it would be a blessing in disguise if they would get bowled out rather than having to declare as that would make things difficult.

This is why people like Sehwag are worth their weight in gold. The opposition captain will always have him in the mind when he is looking to declare. The fear players like Sehwag create in opponents minds cannot be measured.

Also we had the first argument in the test match between Zaheer & Haddin. However nothing serious and probably it will be brushed under the carpet.

Tomorrow being a Sunday there should be a large crowd and the atmosphere will build up and that should make for a nice day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Aussie Tour Diary October 10th

End of Day two :

Scores : Australia 430 all out (Hussey 146, Ponting 123,Zaheer 5/91, Ishant 4/77)
India 68 / 0.

Reading the above is something new, 9 wickets to Indian pacers in a test match innings in India. I cannot remember when this happened last. As much as this is a joyous thing to see Indian pacers pulling their weight, there is real worry about the fact that Anil and Bhajji could only must 1 wicket for 232 runs.

However the two spinners are too good to be out of the wickets for long. The slowness of the pitch and low bounce wasn’t helping them a lot. I expect them to perform much better in the remaining innings in the test series. Coming to the pace bowlers Ishant just showed why every one calls him a very good learner and how he is getting better with each game. The kid just picked up 2 wickets with a slower bowl today. Zaheer got 5 wickets and the reverse swing at the end of the innings looked deadly. India would be hoping the Aussies do not get that kind of swing. However the ease with which Brett Lee batted over 50 deliveries reinstates the fact that the pitch is not too bad for batting still. If the batsman can keep the odd delivery stays low out, batting should not be very difficult.

Micheal Hussey or ‘Mr Cricket’ as they call him just showed why he averages over 70 in test match cricket. He is second to only Sir Don at the moment. He goes about his work unnoticed. Keeps turning the strike over, is meticulous and a brilliant timer and runner between the wickets. No he doesn’t scowl, he doesn’t indulge in sledging or is in the limelight making statements. But as humble the man is he is the batsman to watch out for. Without being noticed he notched up the fifty, and Kumble would do well to not allow him easy singles in the effort to try and get him off strike. It is very important that he is not allowed to rotate the strike and forced to hit the boundaries.

In reply to the Aussie innings India started well with Sehwag making a strokeful 40 and how this match now shapes on the third day would largely rests on how much Sehwag bats. If he can bat atleast two more sessions he would have notched up atleast over 150 and that would mean India would be past 250. The two openers run very well between the wickets and Ponting’s strategy of giving singles will be taken too gladly by these two.

Strangely enough it seems both captains are prepared to wait and be patient. Instead of taking the initiative and attacking both the captains are rather defensive. This is in start contrast to the past. May be the Aussies have a case in point that they won in 2004 with this strategy. However I don’t think India will fall for it again.

Will be interesting to see how the 3rd days play goes, Sehwag knows only one way to bat and that is attack and no matter how defensive fields Ponting sets trust him to score quickly. That is the one reason why he is crucial. Once Sehwag goes Ponting can control the run flow a lot easily and squeeze the runs and apply pressure. Another case in point that Laxman should be coming in at number 3 and not Rahul Dravid. However lets see how the 3rd days play unfolds.

Aussies in India October 9

The drama ends and the actual cricket starts, at the end of day one the match probably hangs in the balance still with no side at any clear advantage. The most Important thing for Australia and Ponting was the fact that the skipper got his first century on Indian soil in test matches. So early in the series the pressure is off the Aussie skipper. Agree one innings doesn’t make the whole series but he will now be a lot more relaxed.

On a day one pitch when you lose the toss and have to bowl you hope for your new ball bowlers to make it count. Zaheer did just that with Hayden out in the first over although it seemed he didn’t nick the delivery. Ishant kept the pressure up at the other end but there wasn’t much on offer from the track. For a few overs it was almost a sequel to his spell in Perth where he troubled Ponting so much. But Ponting got through it.

At 254/4 Australia would be satisfied, India must be hoping that if tomorrow morning they can get a couple of wickets easily they might still bowl out Australia below 350. Than hope to bat well.

The most intriguing thing through out the day was the very evident fact that Australian batsmen were ready to fight, they put a price on their wicket. They were patient and not playing with the usual run rate they normally do. In a way it has also ensured that the Indians were in the game at the end of play. 350/4 would have been a lot more in favour of Australians. Credit to the Indian bowlers too although largely good batting conditions they haven’t bowled lots of loose deliveries and kept the pressure on.

To expect spinners to run through the opposition on the first day of the test match is probably asking too much, however Kumble and Harbhajan have done that in the past. Still 4 days to go and everything to play for. However tomorrows morning session will hold the key.

Aussie Tour Diary 7th October 2008

Two days to go and the wait is getting more and more difficult. The news channels are playing the revenge story time and again to remind the cricketers what happened in Sydney.

The statements are flying everywhere, Sehwag predicting a 3-0 or 3-1, Hayden saying Harbhajan’s prescense inspires him to play better, he even said that Bhajji is a very good bowler and scoring against him is a challenge. Nice to see that coming from the guy who used the word obnoxious little weed for Harbhajan. Than you have Harbhajan who says he is looking to take Pontings wicket, and also claims that we are the favourites.

Just a small advise to Bhajji, please just leave the talking to the ball. You can talk whatever you want once you have the series in the bag. For the moment just concerntrate on the game. One of the biggest problems when India plays in India is the media these days. So many news channels and all want something or the other that is exclusive and there is so much distraction here. Invariably in the last two or three years we are actually playing better away from home where the team is together a lot more and also the fact that they have lesser media commitments when touring as compared to when they play in India. A simple pact needs to be made within the team, no one will speak to the media during the test match, only one guy goes to the press conference. Also that no one will be doing any private things during the matches. I presume there are such pacts already but they need to practiced strictly.

The players themselves know that once they win the series they will have their fair share of accolades and their fair share of rewards and will be even more sought after by the media et all.

Guys the time has come, this is what all cricketers want to do, the world champion test team is here and its our chance for glory. Its our chance to beat them 4-0 I again reiterate if we play to our potential it is not at all impossible. Come on India its time !!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Aussies in India - October 3

3rd October, 2008

Second day of the 4 day game was ended with Ponting still to solve the spin puzzle in India. Amazingly Ponting has done well in Sri Lanka but there is very little he has done in India, and now it is all mental. Even yesterday it was seen that he was reaching out for the ball rather than waiting. Harbhajan would do well to toss it up and bowl slower.

Micheal Hussey, Micheal Clarke & Brad Haddin may well prove to be the biggest thorn in the flesh for Indians while the latter two are pretty good players of spin. Micheal Hussey has the required patience required and he is a left hander. Both Anil and Bhajji have had their own fair share of headaches with left handers.

The inspired spell by Irfan saw an early exit for Hayden denying him valuable match practice. He is the other dangerman as far as India are concerned. Getting him early is going to be crucial. Without him the Aussie line up seems directionless. Australia will feel the pinch once he goes.

Openers are worth their weight in Gold, especially if you have openers who not only tire the new bowl bowlers and deny wickets but bludgeon them and debilitate them. Hayden with his old partner Langer were actually intimidating new bowl bowlers all over the world. Quite a co incidence that India's overseas performance have started improving ever since Sehwag started opening and has been so successful.

The partner of Hayden this time is Katich who is a good player but is a hard worker and not a flair player. In modern day cricket very few such cricketers are left. A Dravid here a Chanderpaul there or an Ashwell Prince but very few left. However these players at times get stuck and at times take the rhythm of the batting line up away especially in sluggish conditions.

If Ponting cannot come to terms with batting in India, Australia will have a real battle on their hands.

In the meanwhile their leggie has gone home with injury, no replacement has been announced. Ponting would be really brave if he decides to go in with Krejza. However to go in without a spinner in India also puts a lot of burden on the fast bowlers as you don't want them to become stock bowlers but remains as strike bowlers. Clarke and Katich may have to share the bowling responsibilities. Clarke can be quite deadly as we have seen and against us he just loves bowling.

The third day starts tomorrow with Hussey and Haddin on the crease. Yuvraj would be keen to break the partnership and finish the innings soonest possible. Lets see how the day unfolds.

Aussie tour diary - 2nd October

2nd October 2008

The action starts today finally. First day of the practice match between Board President XI. Yuvraj the skipper won the toss and elected to bat. The start given by Chopra and Jaffer was solid. With Lee being the only bowler who looked threatening. However they all saw off the first spells. Both fell when set for a big score. Chopra I must say is very very unlucky being given out Lbw when replays showed the decision could have gone the other way. Badrniath couldn’t do much. Yuvraj played a couple of delightful strokes but flattered to deceive and got out strangely. Indecisive in going for the pull he got out softly. They were 126/4.

A collapse round the corner. Rohit Sharma & Virat Kohli just showed why they are so highly talked about. Not only did they both score hundreds, but the way they dominated the bowling and the pace at which they got the runs would surprise Ricky Ponting. Albeit they were helped by Krejza the new off spinner. Hope he can bowl more consistent than this. Because if he bowls like what he did yesterday than Ponting has his hands full. At the end of the days play both Kohli and Rohit were out for 105. Staking claims for a test spot and Badrinath would be under pressure as evidently both are more talented.

However both have played very little first class cricket, and for them it would be very good if they can keep playing first class cricket a little more and keep scoring runs. The pressure of runs will force them in the team and that is what should happen. They shouldn’t have been given a berth just on talent but on weight of runs. Let them earn their spots.

For Ponting I must say this was an eye opener. Last time when they won they set defensive fields and frustrated the Indian batsmen. Ponting has said in his interviews that they would use similar tactics. Well well, what Ponting forgets is that last time the bowling attack was a little more different. Mcgrath, Gillespie, Kasprowicz & Warne. Now these bowlers were very very consistent in line & length. Bowling maidens was their forte. They would be at the spot for hours and they learnt that over the years touring the subcontinent as even they were taken to the cleaners on earlier tours.

Now lets compare the current bowlers, Lee is their spearhead but every one will agree that as good as he has been over the last few months he has never been the tightest of bowlers. He does pick wickets but he gives runs away. Clark is probably their morst consistent bowler. But this is his first trip here so lets see how he goes. The challenge for fast bowlers in the subcontinent is to bowl in 40 degrees heat with 80% humidity. The true test of fitness for the fast bowlers. That’s why Dravid at 6 is necessary you don’t want the line up of batting to get bogged down. Laxman at 6 is necessary precisely for that reason on subcontinent pitches, you need to keep scoring fluently to not let pressue build up. We all have seen the Aussies in 2001 & the ashes 2005 when Australians are made to bleed runs and they are not able to control the flow of runs they are under most pressure. They have had wonderful bowlers who did not give runs and kept the pressure up. But can the new attack match up will be interesting to see. I doubt frankly.

The biggest factor in the last series was Warnie, he was the one who was bowling tight from one end giving the fast bowlers at the other end to be rotated and enough time to rest. From what ever was evident yesterday it seems Krejza is not an answer to Warnie and I won’t be surprised if they field a 4 pronged seam attack and Shane Watson the allrounder being the fifth seamer attack. Interestingly Aussies fielded Simon Katich as the opener preferring him over Phil Jaques. Also more interestingly he didn’t bowl throughout the day. Is there some injury we don’t know or is he the surprise for the first test match???

The spin cupboard of Australia is bare and its evident. In this heat bowling 90 overs a day is hard work, that is the reason why you need spinners in your line up that would either take wickets or atleast keep one end tight and do the labouring while the fast bowlers can be kept fresh and be rotated from the other end. The last session just showed yesterday how tough it is for bowlers on the subcontinent.

However this is what Ponting would have wanted for an eye opener. They will see, learn and analyse and find ways to come out of it. Whether they will be successful or not will be decided after the series ends.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Australia's India Tour 1st October


Dada’s Back!!!!!!!

He has been selected for the team for the first two Test matches!!! For a Dada fan this is the best news. Truly the Sourav Ganguly Saga has one more chapter left. There is steel still left in the man who wears his heart on his sleeve. Someone just asked if this was a compromise, and an opportunity provided to him by the board for an honourable exit. The man stared icily at the journalist and told “ Its not true.” The man composed with the media, infact a bit mellowed since his return in 2006 in South Africa, still remains the essence of the spirit of fightback in the team.

Thank god for the sense shown by the selectors. I have always maintained that the place of these seniors should be earned by Yuvraj & Rohit. Both have an opportunity to stake their claims with the practice match starting today against Australia in Hyderabad. But the fact of the matter is that they have not done enough to dislodge the seniors.

Lets not dwell too much on the seniors any more.. Lets concerntrate on the cricket and the series on hand.

Ricky Ponting does have some nerves. He is keen to continue the catching pact that he had in Australia with Anil Kumble. Pffft!!! No chance Ricky, I doubt you can talk Anil into it again. We have all seen what happened in Sydney.

Whew!! Things are starting to heat up. More heat to follow today in Hyderabad. In the mean while there is a lull, no real controversies as both teams are preparing to take each other on!!

The team looks really solid now with Sourav back, mobility will be a challenge. The biggest. For a change we are playing a young Aussie team, and they will run and chase balls. We will surely not be able to match them here. But than we can make up with the brilliance & talent in the line up. Also our slip catching will prove to be the difference as I doubt Australia are that good now, they simply drop a few too many these days.

So the line up looks like this :

Virendra Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
VVS Laxman
Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly
Rahul Dravid
M S Dhoni
Harbhajan Singh
Zaheer Khan
Anil Kumble
Ishant Sharma

Yes Rahul at number 6. No disrespect meant. In India the ball doesn’t move so much and so Laxman can take his favourite spot against his favourite team. Plus if there is a collapse than it’s the fighters Sourav, Rahul & Dhoni who are left to pull the team out of the crisis. In case quick runs required Sourav & Dhoni can still do that.

Things pretty much in shape. I would have loved to have Yuvraj in the 15 but Badrinath deserves his place. The man has scored sacks of runs in domestic cricket. He must get his due. Although not ultra talented, he has a sensible head on his shoulder. Unless an injury happens, I don’t see him playing the first two test.