Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gains for Team India from 2011 Test series vs West Indies @ home

Gains from WI series:
1) Viru has started getting 2nd innings runs in the 2nd decade of his Test career.
2) Ashwin has stamped his Aussie never say die brand of fighting cricket in Tests too, after T20 and ODIs. What a year for him!
3) Ojha, the other (better) spinner, nearly turns a dead Test into a win on a flat a single sessn. Memories of the 70s & 90s. Dare say Harbhajan needs to unlearn a bit of T20 bowlg and relearn Test bowlg. We need him back.
4) After years (?) we have seen three 140k Indian bowlers bowling at those speeds on Indian tracks (yes, all of them) and...miraculously, finishing the series injury free. 
5) Team selectn in the series was done with an eye on current series and another on future. It was delightful to see Varun Aaron making his debut in 3rd Test instead of Umesh although the latter scalped 7 in 2nd Test. It is better to have them fly to Oz with 1 each under their belts than 2-nil.
6) THE HAPPIEST PART, PERSONALLY SPEAKING. The decisn to keep pushing for a possible win after 6th wkt fall in 2nd inngs on 5th day, even risking a surprise loss in the process, was a sight I have waited to see for last decade plus. 
Thanks for that, Team India. You are my favourites again

[edited from my FB status msg]

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Test batsmen and spectators bid adieu

AUs-vs-RSA, 2nd Test, 2nd day at Jo'burg

Tahir with Steyn.
Top class leg spin with express pace. 
Joyous to see both bowlers make the ball talk on same pitch, on same day.

It could be called a great session of Test cricket, if only we had batsmen brought up on better stuff than T20...batsmen who "don't look at 3rd slip fielders as aliens encroaching their space" [to borrow the commentators' words]. Pathetic state of things. And ominous when seen with Eden crowd not crossing 10000 on any day. Tells us that a generation of skilled Test batsmen and their spectators are all bidding adieu across the world hand in hand.

Pink ball day-night first class cricket must be tried next season, if not this one. It can't be worse for either cricket or cricketers than this...and it can always be eased out after letting the 'evening cricket' generation have a taste of cricket in whites.

[adopted from my FB wall post]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Picture Perfect Wall

In year 2008 and at age 35 this man, Rahul Dravid, was beginning to miss catches which he would grab earlier at slip (and in sleep);  he was suddenly batting as if the wall in him had been breached...and he ran so badly that he was his own worst enemy in any form of the game whenever  a short single was on offer. Even I made a blogpost contemplating his Test future at the time.  No one except MS Dhoni, the man who ironically removed Dravid from ODI team a year before, seemed to believe that he could bounce back in Tests.

3 years later in June 2011, you are allowed to expect that things have dipped far worse for Rahul Dravid. After all he is aged 38½ now, ten years more than the Berlin Wall when it was brought down.  

Voila - instead you have a man who is batting once again like he did at his unbreachable peak in the early parts of last decade. More amazingly, during his last ODI series in Sep'11 and in Tests thereafter he was seen running far purposefully between the wickets than he ever did in the past 4 years.

And just when I start dismissing it all as the 'flicker of a dependable candle before it blows out', he takes this catch [please pardon the poor cellcam video quality - it was taken in haste during midnight TV replay]

The second such catch within a year, after this stunning 200th one in Durban, Dec 2010.

What do we have? Masterchef RD presenting  in front of us 5 flowing centuries in 5 months, good rotation of strike and flashes of tremendous slip catching, all on a platter. 

I am almost forced to think now - has  this man hit upon some additional gas reserves within him that can pull him through for a year or two yet??

Cricket is indeed a game of never know when you rediscover fountains of youth.

Didn't someone tell him that India are running short of an express fast bowler??

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Yuvraj problem, and the terrible Neo-specialists

Bloody Amol Muzumder is now a specialist commentator on Neo, and all they can offer for Yuvi's failure is criticising his technique (without specifying WHAT part) and showing repeated replays of Yuvi taking eyes off the ball and getting hit...and then hinting that it might be due to Yuvi's lack of willingness to guts it out. If he hadn't gutsed it out, Sachin would have retired without World cup.

Yuvraj Singh has all the attacking shots against all types of bowling. Sadly, you need ALL the shots in Tests including defensive ones..even Viru needs them in Tests even if ever so fleetingly.
I believe all the support staff, coach and senior players have failed to drill this into Yuvraj in 11 yrs and thus let India lose its most talented young player to lack of evolution. Which is why I am seriously worried about succession after Big Five.

Before you give them top class support, the young cricketers need to be trained to use & imbibe that support. Those 5 came with that mindset..but who's teaching those whose minds are not as focussed?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Right up the Wall Street

Rahul Dravid couldn't have it scripted any better from a personal point of view.

For the 8th consecutive time this season India are playing on a track assisting bowlers. What better time to strike golden farewell form, and remind the world who used to be world number 1 in such conditions between 2002 and 2006.

Even today he had an answer to everything, including a half tracker that arrived at his ankle.

Indian Cricket team: who stole their cheese?

On a 2nd day home track designed to their strengths, they lost about 20 wkts for 209 all out. Between them, the 2 openers were virtually dismissed abt 10 times to short catches and no balls before they finally got out...this while playing a bottom-halfer team, West Indies.

I pray not, but I suspect the England series whitewash might have disturbed them like the 2004 'Final Frontier' home loss did. Dada lost his bearings as a skipper following that, and Greg C worsened things..

MSD and Fletcher may have a BIG repair job in coming years..even if India scrape thru this series. and they are abt to lose 50+ yrs of Test batting experience in coming months.

NOW...NOW even a World Cup win might start looking like snatching laddoos off infants!

[reposted from Facebook status]