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Showing posts from January, 2012

Unlearnt lessons

About 20 years ago, an Indian team on a tour down under suffered a 0-4 loss in a 5 match series following a test series loss in England. Don’t know what the outlook about the team was then (as I was too small to follow cricket!), having likes of Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev, Shastri, Srikkanth in the ranks. Yet that tour is remembered as the tour which gave birth to the next big thing in Indian cricket - Tendulkar and India’s spearhead bowler for the next decade - Javagal Srinath. Compare it to the last 8 months; Virat has been the find with the bat and likes of Ashwin & Umesh have impressed, albeit in patches. The analogy doesn’t end here itself!
Srikkanth and Vengsarkar quit test cricket after the final test at Perth, Ravi Shastri within the next 10 months, Kiran More in 1993 and Kapil Dev 1994. No need to elaborate why this could be analogous to the current scenario. The larger thought that needs to be addressed is the lack of lessons learnt to avoid a similar fate. India won just 1 te…

India's problems begin from the top!

The middle order of India’s batting line-up has been the focus of all the criticism in the last couple of months. Amidst this chatter, an aspect of India’s success over the last decade or so - the opening has been a bit neglected. Yes the middle order deserves all the flak and resurrection in that department should be executed with priority but you cannot overlook the constant failure of the openers to deliver what is expected of them. Sehwag & Gambhir has been India’s best opening combine in terms of runs and also the longest serving duo. When you have the same pair at the top, you either don’t have too many options or they are doing too well to disturb; 23 opening stands of 50 or more & 10 stands of 100+ out of 76 outings is a reasonable stat and should endorse the latter view. Dissect that stat a bit and a few creepy things crop up. The duo has managed to provide an opening stand of 100 or more only on 3 occasions out of 34 times they have gone out to open the batting on aw…

Time to press the panic button

The adjective ‘worst’ doesn’t carry sufficient weight-age to describe how India has performed in the last 7 away tests. This has been an exceptional abject display of surrender that you could associate with International cricket. Yes India banged into a strong & in-form English side in conditions conducive for the home side, but there would be very little convictive reasons to explain the thrashing down under. India had embarked the tour with probably its best available line-up, and if 0-3 is the outcome then you are justified in questioning the potency of this side. A month ago this series was touted as India’s best chance; very few gave Australia a chance, especially after South Africa & Hobart. 3 tests into the series and the tables have turned, and how! Was India so underprepared to perform so badly? If two weeks weren’t sufficient to acclimatise, then aren’t a couple of tests good enough?
India’s woes in these ‘7’ tests has been its failure to identify & address the r…

The Underrated Hero!

If you were to chalk out a list of ‘unsung’ heroes of the game, the name of Jacques Kallis would undoubtedly feature in the top 2-3. Most of us didn’t watch Sobers play, but have witnessed Kallis’ game and only a few will disagree that he has been the greatest all-rounder the game has seen, atleast in the modern era. 24216 international runs is a figure big enough to put the man into the bracket of ‘legends’, couple that to 546 international wickets and the end product is colossus! About a week ago, Kallis (age 36) registered his highest test score with a quick paced double ton, to suggest the juggernaut is still rolling strong. Inspite of all these facets, Jacques Kallis isn’t spoken of in the same breath as likes of Ponting, Tendulkar etc.
Does this have something to do with him playing the game in the same era as Ponting, Tendulkar et al. or would he have been spoken of in a low-profile manner in some other generation as well? The answer might be a bit of both; inspite of his creden…

India's batting woes..

The year 2011 began with a chance to create history in South Africa and has ended with déjà vu kind of scenario; a loss in the first test of an away series! As experts, analysts, fans and others associated with the Indian side look forward to India trying and levelling the series in Sydney; it becomes imperative to look for answers to India’s batting woes abroad. For starters this year has been a one to forget as far as the test format is concerned. 3 wins (all against West Indies) and 5 losses don’t do justice to the prospect that the side arose with its performances over the couple of seasons preceding this year. India had probably the toughest challenge up its sleeve: to tour South Africa, West Indies, England & Australia, a tough World Cup at home and all this in a space of about 12 months. Tours to South Africa and West Indies were satisfactory, not good; the World Cup was very good while the trip to England was a disaster and the tour Down Under has begun on a sour note. It …

Wise Dhoni!

Before we get into the zone of high intense test match cricket, pondering upon about MS Dhoni’s statement before he left for Australia would be a very good exercise. His quote on an unclear future has stirred up a clichéd debate - player burnout and fallouts of too much cricket. There is sense of ambiguity about what he has said and has posed serious concern as far as Indian fans are concerned. Dhoni would be 33-34 by the time the Indian side sets out to defend its world title and going by the norm modern-day legends viz. Tendulkar, Ponting, Dravid, Kallis et al. have set with respect to career durations, Dhoni’s statement would sound a bit exaggerated and may be a bit out of place. Look deeper and you will find that his words aren’t quite out of proportion or context. The 2nd most successful wicket-keeper - Adam Gilchrist played the game for 12 years, and about 9 years of test cricket. Take the clock back a little behind; Jeff Dujon had a 10 year long stint in international cricket. …