Monday, February 12, 2007

That’s the over

Six unrelated thoughts from Sunday’s cricket watching:

0.1 Harbhajan Singh bowled Dilshan off a doosra in the
Rajkot ODI today and straightaway looked the way of his happy captain in rejoice before the latter hugged him. The nice n’ professional look of it gratified the mind, especially if one remembers the contents of the controversial Desai report leaked to the media.

0.2 The first two Indian wickets to fall were amply illustrations of the quality of background work that goes into the international game these days.

Rahul Dravid played on to the stumps yet again, enticed into a cut off an in-cutter too early in his innings. This particular delivery is a famous Achilles heel for Dravid and most international bowlers are aware of it by now. The Uthappa wicket was more revealing. He fell gloving a sharply rising ball on off stump – for the second successive innings.

So what if he is 5 matches old and his last innings was against another country; his game has already been mounted on drawing board and analysed for weak areas. Now those flaws are going to be tested. Bad time to be a rookie this - no more do they get the customary 10-15 games as ‘unknown quantities’.

It also shows the quality of Sri Lankan support staff and the potency of Farveez Maharoof, who got both these wickets with his scarcely lively medium pace offerings (but surpassed himself later by unbelievably catching a Dhoni skier in the second last ball of the match to seal the victory.)

0.3 The Tendulkar-Ganguly partnership was pure Time Travel. Golden strokes flowed from both bats and about the only reminders of our existence in 2007 (rather than the late 90’s primetime of the Sachin-Sourav era) were, well, the golden strokes on Lasith Malinga’s designer hairdo!

0.4 Andrew Flintoff’s shaking-to-jazz celebration of the Mike Hussey dismissal in the 2nd final of the CB series was thoroughly enjoyable. It is a pleasure anyway when that guy does well and it’s even better when Freddie enjoys some much-awaited success heartily.

From a romantic’s angle his team have now done the ODI equivalent of their 2005 Ashes win now by becoming the first team to beat Australia in a one-day final this decade. Why, England may even be the first team in eternity to get the better of this Australian outfit in 3 straight encounters! (Have India won that many in this decade against Australians? Got to check this one.)

The build-up to the World Cup is on and we could hardly hope for more exciting developments than inability of defending champions and reigning favourites Australia to get past the 7th ranked Englishmen in a best-of-three finals. As Ian Chappell says on cricinfo:

“..this victory has done wonders not just for them but for the other teams as well - Australia is a beatable team, particularly if Andrew Symonds is not in the squad.”

[Just imagine how difficult this upset could be on WC previewers. I have been criticising sports mediafolk in every other post of mine but for the first time in ages I feel sympathy…]

0.5 Rajkot saw two of the three biggest hitters in world cricket, Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Dhoni, come together after a mini collapse – with a lot of scoring and very little big hitting to do [India had to get just over 100 runs from 22 odd overs at that stage].

It did not work on this occasion. An ill-fated throw of dice from Viru at a critical crossroad of his career separated them.Even if it had worked you have to say that the odds are stacked pretty heavily against such a ‘fiery marriage’ settling down to a partnership time and again. Much as I would love to watch their duet at the crease, I would rather one of them is well set by then.

BTW, initially I struggled to identify Sehwag on the field – his contour has changed presumably from loss of a few inches.

0.6 From hitter-hitter to keeper-keeper. Dinesh Karthik came in at the fall of Sehwag. Another unknown combination was thrown up and followed keenly. However this one passed the test creditably and got separated by a rarity – the gutsy Karthik received an unfortunate lbw ruling from the divine Simon Taufel. It proved to be a killer blow for India in the final analysis; but so things often appear in hindsight for supporters of teams that fail to finish jobs on a regular basis.

While on Simon Taufel, an interview of his appeared today in The Telegraph. At one point he is asked about his reaction 'after knowing he made a mistake':

"I’m disappointed... I feel hurt... That’s because the intention wasn’t to make a mistake... As a professional, my approach has to be to look to the next day or match, for I can’t do anything about the mistake.."

The Seventh Ball: There are two ways for Indian fans to look at the defeat:

“Once again those buggers have capitulated while chasing. And this is home. Even the target was far from monstrous. To think they were 129/2 at one stage….can they reach the Super Eight?”


“India chased 257 and lost by a mere 5 runs to a combative side, the only occasion in the last 22 matches (starting with that fateful 2nd ODI in West Indies to be precise) when we have, er, mounted a creditable chase of any total above 200! In fact only once have India chased successfully(?) in this nightmarish interval – a paltry English 125 in the Jaipur ICC trophy match losing six wickets. This loss is indeed an improvement on the recent past (how ironical). The ‘processes’ are finally yielding tangible benefits as these boys are on the upward curve when it matters. WC semis, here we come!”

Take your pick,
Accordingly as you wanna be happy or sick.

[Don’t you think I’m getting better at this rhyme stuff with every outing? It's fast becoming a compulsion...]

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