Sunday, November 27, 2011

India vs West Indies 3rd Test – The Script

On the eve of Day 5 in the Mumbai test match, it seems the match is going nowhere but a draw. Luckily for us, the West Indian think tank had other ideas…

Ottis Gibson: Okay boys time to execute Plan C, we engineer a Callypso Collapso on purpose and bowl out the shocked Indians.
Darren Sammy: Wait a minute… we had a plan to begin with?
Shiv Chanderpaul: Coach, not such a hot idea with all the spot fixing allegations going on.
Ottis Gibson: We are the West Indies cricket team, minus you.
Shiv Chanderpaul: … point taken.
Graeme Smith: Worked for us!
Michael Clarke: Yeah yeah…
And so play began…
Dhoni: Sakshi? Ya its me, get the pakoras ready I’m coming home early.
But the West Indies innings swiftly ended…
Darren Sammy: I think that was too obvious, even for us.
Cricinfo: Memories of Dominica! And we won’t stop reminding you.
Virender Sehwag: Relax guys I got this.
Cricinfo: Sehwag leads India to frenetic start!
Virender Sehwag: Fifty already? I’m bored.
Cricinfo: V Sehwag c Sammy b Bishoo 60 (87m 65b 8×4 0×6) SR: 92.30
Sachin: Target not big enough for a century.
Cricinfo: SR Tendulkar c KA Edwards b Samuels 3 (6m 7b 0×4 0×6) SR: 42.85
Dhoni: Rahul, we better force a result this time so don’t pull any of your stunts.
Cricinfo: R Dravid c sub (D Ramdin) b Samuels 33 (82m 49b 1×4 0×6) SR: 67.34
Dhoni: You too VVS, we don’t want the media to think we depend on you. Lets leave it to The-Future-Of-Indian-Cricket.
Cricinfo: VVS Laxman c Barath b Rampaul 31 (67m 53b 1×4 0×6) SR: 58.49
VVS Laxman: I should have stuck to being a doctor.
The Indian batting order fell away…
Dhoni:  Mmm pakoras.
Cricinfo: MS Dhoni c KA Edwards b Rampaul 13 (45m 37b 1×4 0×6) SR: 35.13
Darren Sammy: I can’t believe this is working.
The-Future-Of-Indian-Cricket: Time to show off my patience and maturity, despite my youth.
Cricinfo: Oh he’s so patient and mature, despite his youth!
Dhoni: Do you mind moving things along.
The-Future-Of-Indian-Cricket: It’s all about the drama boss, haven’t you seen Lagaan?
Cricinfo: V Kohli c Sammy b Bishoo 63 (136m 114b 3×4 1×6) SR: 55.26
The-Future-Of-Indian-Cricket: Damn.
Bad Light: I’m staying out of this.
The climax was upon us…

Ashwin: My selection is secure, you can have this one Darren.
Darren Sammy: But your first innings century was full of shots more delicious than pakora! Take it.
Ashwin: Not if we keep blocking!
Darren Sammy: Not if we keep bowling Marlon Samuels!
Aswhin: Not if Ishant and I run ourselves out!
Darren Sammy: Not if we fumble!
Before either side could make up their minds…
Cricinfo: Oh for goodness sake.
Minimum Overs: That’s it I’ve had enough of this.
And so a scores-levelled draw occurred, only the second in history…
The People: Test cricket is alive and well! All they have to do is keep batting like morons.
Sachin: Well at least I’ll have the West Indies ODIs to sort out my century of centuries.
Indian Selectors: Ahem.
Cricinfo: Dhoni, Tendulkar rested ahead of Australia tour
Sachin: (sigh)
Contributed by : Varun Prasad
Varun’s blog : The Cricket Musings

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Blunders for Down Under

I cannot remember the last time the Indian selectors received credit from all quarters for picking the best Test squad possible. Kris Srikkanth and co deserve it rightly for ignoring the likes of Shastri, in picking players based on their form and promise instead of past exploits and ‘getting under skin” crap. Harbhajan Singh has done nothing of note in the recent past to merit inclusion, while Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha have grabbed their opportunities with glee. There is no shame in it though, as Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Saurav Ganguly showed that they can come back as better players after an enforced absence from the team. It is up to Bhajji now to work his ass off and show the world that he still has got the goods for the international stage. The Indian team will be the better for it.
Apart from the spin department, there are a few minor quibbles here and there; Abhinav Mukund getting dropped after a poor tour of England, Rohit Sharma ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara, and picking two raw pacers for possibly the most demanding overseas tour for an Indian team. Still, the decisions are all justifiable. Ajinkya Rahane has impressed in the brief opportunities he has got and will have more confidence than Mukund, Pujara has just returned to full fitness and there is no need to rush him back when he have an in-form Rohit Sharma, and the pace combination is the best we have, given the lack of viable alternatives.
So, it all adds up to a pretty good team to tour Down Under. I would say that this is the best chance for an Indian team to win a series there, for the foreseeable future. Still, the Aussies won’t just roll over of course; they might be a team in transition, but with exciting players like Pat Cummins and seasoned veterans like Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey, they will still remain as tough nuts to crack. Hopefully, this series will end on a better note than the way the England tour ended.
Squad: MS Dhoni (capt &wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Rohit Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Praveen Kumar, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Zaheer Khan (subject to fitness)
Benny for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Benny on Twitter @tracerbullet007

Friday, November 25, 2011

Arbit Statistics of the Day

The big event did not take place at the Wankhede today but another very rare event did take place.
R. Ashwin scored a century to follow with his Michelle becoming only the 3rd Indian ever to do so. The two prior ones being historic legends Vinoo Mankad & Polly Umrigar. (Pretty sure a five wicket haul wouldn’t have been referred to as a Michelle then, Michelle Pfeiffer not having been born :P ). Surprised to see Kapil Dev missing from that list. Full list of such happenings is here (Thank you Statsguru).
More Arbit Stats – India & West Indies batsmen have combined to score 11 50+ scores in the 2 innings between them, which is a new record for most 50+ scores. Here is the Statsguru evidence.
And also the 1st time ever all the top 6 batsman on both sides have scored a quarter century. Talk about a batting beauty.
Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vinod Kambli’s allegations – Now is the time to speak out

As any cricket follower in the country would have been aware by now, Vinod Kambli has made some serious claims about the 1996 World Cup semi-finals. He claims that captain Mohammed Azharuddin went against the team’s collective decision of batting first and chose to field instead. The match was later to be abandoned due to crowd trouble in India’s innings and a crying Vinod Kambli leaving the field.
Any match-fixing claim has to be taken very seriously. These things have happened. Players have been banned, fined and now even jailed for such crimes. But its also very easy to make allegations about past events, where only the word of one person against the other stands.
In this case the credibility of the allegations is a bit low. The events happened 15 years ago. Given Vinod Kambli’s recent antics, his trust level is pretty low. He was a case of talent truly wasted as a player. Thrown out of team on disciplinary grounds, making controversial TV apppearances (Sach Ka Saamna & Bigg Boss), announcing his retirement from cricket some 7-8 years after being dropped him from the Mumbai Ranji team, Going on proclaiming his friendship with Sachin Tendulkar on all possible forums. Sounds like a person who is despearate to be in news always.
Here the allegations have been made against a former India captain who is under a life ban from cricket for match-fixing based on evidence collected by CBI. So Azhar provides an easy target for such allegations.
If I remember correctly, all the analysts during the World Cup had agreed that Sri Lankans were very good at chasing down targets Performances against India, England certainly justify this claim. Even in the final they chose to chase against Australia knowing fully well that all the previous winners had batted first in the finals. So putting Sri Lanka into bat first seemed a logical decision. There was also talk of using a spinner to counter the marauding Sri Lankan openers in the inital overs. So Kumble opened the bowling with Srinath. Then there was the evening dew factor. Taking these factors into account bowling first does seem to be a logical decision. The one error was misreading the pitch. The pitch had become an unknown quantity due to opening ceremony fiasco. Given all these factors Azhar would have been roasted if he had decided to bat first.
Now coming to Kambli’s remarks. He says Navjot Sidhu was all padded up to open. The toss hadn’t been held till then. What if Rantunga had won the toss. Then there are claims of this being his last game when the truth is he played on and off for another 4 years. Also the timing of the allegations make no sense. He could have come out in the open then or when the match-fixing scandal came up in 2000. Why did he keep silent all these years?
Is there any truth in Kambli’s allegations? I don’t know. The only people who can answer are the other members of the 1996 campaign. So far the manager Ajit Wadekar, and other players like Sanjay Manjrekar, Nayan Mongia and Venkatpathy Raju and Azhar himself have already rubbished Kambli’s claims. But it is very important that the other players like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath et al, whose credibility cannot be questioned speak out. This is certainly not a time of maintianing a dignified silence. Its time to come out in the open and speak out. You owe this to the Indian fan.
Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When Cummins kept going

Thanks for Cummins!
When Pat Cummins scored the winning runs off Imran Tahir in the 2nd and final test of the series, it signaled the birth of a star cricketer. At the tender age of 18, he made his Test debut against the World no. 2 and helped his team to a series-leveling victory, with both bat and ball. There had been a lot of hype surrounding him prior to this tour, but it is altogether a different task to actually meet those expectations. The ease with which he handled pressure situations while bowling in the 2nd innings, and when he came out to bat with a few runs to win, has confirmed hopes that he can stand the test of time and become a future great of the game. These are early days yet, but there is nothing wrong in dreaming.
Australia can thank Cummins and few others for the win; namely, the much maligned Ponting, Haddin and Johnson. The victory might have just bought them an extra series, but there is no doubt that Oz need to look beyond them. There is no shortage of options with Khawaja, Wade and Pattinson available as ready-made replacements. Ponting is an exceptionally difficult case, as the likes of Dravid and Tendulkar have shown that temporary loss in form almost always makes way for permanent class; but how long can the selectors wait? It will be an interesting next few weeks for Australian cricket.
Oh, South Africa. Four home series have gone by and still they have not won one of them. For a team fighting for the top rank in international cricket, this is a staggering statistic. They have the batsmen, fast bowlers, spinner, keeper, captain and coach to make them a formidable side; and still, that final hurdle just cannot seem to be overcome. Fortunately for them, Sri Lanka is next. They have some serious issues if they cannot put it past the troubled Lankans. Also, Philander seems to have sealed the 3rd seamer’s spot ahead of Tsotsobe. Another debutant to have a dream start to his Test career.
Lastly, a mention about the 2-test ‘series’…..while there is no doubt that the contest between two equally matched sides deserves a minimum of 3 tests to sort out the better team, it was hard to fault the logic of the two boards. After all, while the internet buzzed with rage over the short series, there were hardly any spectators in the ground to justify an extra test; in any case, the revenue is mainly made from gate collections. Of course, the cricket boards have only themselves to blame for the obvious reasons. If all cricket boards can sort out these simple issues, the crowd will come. After all, I believe that Test cricket is not dying; its just the crowds for Test cricket, that is dying.
Benny for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Benny on Twitter @tracerbullet007

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Best of Enemies – Test Review

The Best of Enemies – Test Review
Test cricket is certainly not dead (A frequent answer to it’s more frequent question). One expected this tour to be a close competition and it turned out to be just like that, with a few unexpected twists and turns, plenty of nail-biting/ hair-pulling/ head-scratching moments all in the space of a measly two-test series.
Debutants Pat Cummins and Vernon Philander, who acclaimed MOTM and MOTS respectively, proved their names to be the future of test cricket with outstanding performances. There’s something about Cummins – the boy has natural pace and, as Clarke mentioned at the presentation, this needs to be preserved and nurtured. Philander has also got something that could prove to be an asset to the future of South African test cricket.
It’s a pity that these two sides only got to play for the limited amount of time that they did, but it kept us captivated nonetheless. AUS missing out on the lowest ever total , Graeme Smith making a much awaited century, Hash proving to the world once again why he’s SA’s ‘bearded wonder’, an 18 year old Pat Cummins being the second youngest Aussie in history to represent his country in this format – being some of the highlights this series had to offer.
Now, about the happenings of yesterday…SA (and by SA, I mean Philander) seemed to have the Aussies reeling by making the breakthroughs in times of pressure, Tahir (whom I’m sure people expected just a little more from), Steyn (who gave away bulk of the runs – possibly having a bad day) and Morkel (with the best economy) chipped in with a wicket each, but to no avail. The Aussies had other plans, even though 310 was thought to be a big ask, they successfully chased (with the helpful half-centuries of Khawaja, Haddin and a career defining knock for Ponting) what now is the highest second innings chase at the Wanderers (and yes, they hold the second highest too).
All in all, an AUS comeback was due after the first match and they didn’t disappoint. Clarke was ecstatic at the results of the match, a bit relieved at the final result – that being a draw, and having teenage Cummins hit the winning boundary made their visit all the more special. SA on the other hand, will be a little disappointed having not won a series against the Baggy Greens, on home soil, in ages.
While AUS may be satisfied with the result, SA still has a few things to work out. And with Sri Lanka visiting them soon, I would say that time is of the essence and that the Proteas ought to sought through any issues developed as a result of a lack in test exposure. As for Gary and Donald having an effect on the Saffas state of play, there is still much for the team to experience under their guidance and at this point, it’s too early to decipher.
The Best of Enemies tour passed us like a bolt of lightning and yet some of the best and most memorable test cricket had occurred in that period, breathing new life into this format of the game. The next time SA vs AUS, will be in the Aussies’ back yard and if it proves to be anything like what this tour has been, forget any other format and give me more Tests instead.
Surekha Bhugeloo for DieHard Cricket Fans

South Africa vs Australia Series Review – We Have Been Robbed

World cricket is at war.
In one corner, we have the front bench crowd with small attention spans and an insatiable lust for sixes and cheap thrills. They are backed up with cash hungry administrators and sponsors looking to turn the game into a business. And on the other there is the rest of us, those who crave for one simple thing, real cricket.
And by george we got some real cricket.
This series was ample proof of what the beautiful game has to offer in its purest form. It does not require gimmicks, cheerleaders and atrocious piggy backs such as the ‘Free Hit’. The true recipe is two quality sides, zero corruption and a neutral pitch. We live in the insulting batting age where the flat decks of Mohali are termed as ‘good pitches’. This series showed us exactly what a cricket pitch needs to be, reward for skill.
For what it was, the stalemate was the most interesting cricket we have seen in recent times. Neither team, already bitter rivals with a short but incredible history, managed to take the ascendancy. Both teams continued to be the victims of their own insecurities, unwilling to put the opposition to bed once and for all. And we the spectators benefited the most, watching two teams crash back and forth is a mighty load of fun.
Crashing taken literally sometimes © AFP
If you scroll back over the last six months or so, there has been plenty of forgettable cricket. It is no coincidence either that most of this was the limited overs format, does anyone even bother to care who wins these Twenty20 matches? The biggest shambles of them all was the Champions Trophy T20 tournament, which serves more like the idiot cousin of the football equivalent. An ego trip, at best. If we ripped that poor show out of the cricketing calendar, we could have had a third test match.
A third deciding test match, just imagine the tantalizing possibilities.
The solutions unfortunately rely on the likes of the ICC and the BCCI to wake up to these facts. It will rely on a complete implosion of the IPL as well as a large enough outcry from the fans and players alike to rally against poor cricket and support the cream of it. Martin Guptill recently gave up his IPL contract to take on commitments in the longer formats in first class English cricket. There is a shining example.
Much like like a movie trailer, we saw a quick preview of an enthralling spectacle. We have all been left with empty feelings while the players are left scratching the heads, caught in an unsatisfied limbo. There will be no full length motion picture to follow, it shall remain 1:1 and cricketers and spectators alike shall forever remain robbed.
Contributed by : Varun Prasad
Varun’s blog : The Cricket Musings

Monday, November 21, 2011

That man Afridi!

Shahid Afridi is a freak of nature. You can take away the captaincy, take him out of action and blame all the ills of  Pakistan cricket on him; but give him a bat and a ball, and he will proceed to show why he is still the most valuable player in the shorter forms for Pakistan. He may say the darndest things, and even do some of the craziest acts imaginable; but there is no doubting the existence of a fighter in that crazy persona that is Shahid Afridi.
Pakistan is the most resilient cricket team there is, no thanks to their board ofcourse. No other team could face the amount of controversies and upheavals they do, and still manage to produce a side capable of beating any of the top dogs at any given time. Despite losing many world class bowlers over the last few years due to varying reasons, they still possess one of the finest bowling attacks in the world. Now if their batsmen can become more consistent, they could pose a viable challenge for the top rankings in international cricket; and that is saying something.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka are in decline. Their bowling lacks tooth with the absence of Murali and restricted appearances of Malinga, while the batting revolves around Dilshan, Sangakarra and Jayawardene who aren’t gonna last long either. They have a good bunch of youngsters, who unfortunately have been around for long and are yet to realise their full potential. New coach Geoff Marsh has a tough task on his hands to rebuild this side, and he will do well to build it around the exciting Angelo Mathews.
Benny for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Benny on Twitter @tracerbullet007

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Question of Cricket

I’ve got back into “A Question of Sport” recently. For any readers outside of the UK who at this point are saying “WTF”, QofS is basically a sporting quiz on the BBC that features famous sportsmen and women past and present. It’s a little bit kooky and with Phil Tufnell on the panel it can even border on “zany” occasionally.
On Monday night, Jonathan Trott was a guest on the show. The guy is a fricken genius. He knew the answers to every sport: rugby, motor racing, football the lot.
It reminded me that he and his England colleagues are finally on a little break from playing cricket, as he cosied up to Matt Dawson et al. He’s been playing cricket solidly for months and months. A rest and an appearance on QofS is just what the doctor ordered.
A little rest and relaxation can do wonders for professional sportsmen, just ask Carlos Tevez.
Not all cricketers are chillaxing right now though, with Australia currently touring South Africa and India playing host to the West Indies. Sri Lanka are also concluding their series against Pakistan with a round of One Day Internationals.
The crowds for all these series have been disappointing though, and in the case of the India vs West Indies series they’ve been atrocious. Less than 1000 people turned up for the opening day of the second test at cricketing institution Eden Gardens, even with the chance of Sachin Tendulkar scoring his hundredth test hundred in the offing.
But can you blame the good people of Kolkata? It’s only a couple of weeks since England played India in back-to-back One Day and T20 international matches there.
Sure, when your national cricket team rock into town it’s a big deal, particularly when it’s your national sport as cricket is in India, but buying 3 lots of tickets for international matches within a couple of weeks of each other is going to stretch anyones purse strings.
Not only that, but the first day of the second test match was on a Monday. Now call me an old stick-in-the-mud but people do need to work occasionally, especially if they are paying exorbitant prices for, amongst other things, going to cricket matches.
Its clear that international cricket is being scheduled around TV stations nowadays, so we shouldn’t be surprised. Despite the miles between India and South Africa, their games have seemingly been scheduled so that they don’t overlap each other, meaning global TV audiences can enjoy both matches without missing a moment (if of course you are that keen to watch both series that is!)
The speed at which wickets have fallen in both series thus far though, notwithstanding India’s gargantuan 631/7 declared in the second test at Eden Gardens means the schedulers need not have worried so, but that’s another issue.
The point is, with the emphasis so obviously on TV schedules and not on the paying public actually going to the ground, is there any wonder Eden Gardens looked like a “morgue” on Monday, as Tony Greig put it?
And it was. And it was horrible to see. But the ICC and the cricket boards (and the TV companies) that schedule these tours only have themselves to blame.
We all love seeing cricket, but let’s keep it sacred. Saturating the market never did anyone any favours.
A lot of people watch cricket on TV and I don’t have a problem with that. It’s a global sport, and the TV companies do a great job in allowing us all to watch cricket wherever it is taking place in the world.
But seeing the empty stands at Eden Gardens yesterday and to a lesser extent Newlands in Cape Town last week, which wasn’t full either – amazing for such a high-profile series, is going to have a negative impact on the game in the long run.
A Question of Sport is, in truth, a little bit dull, but it’s good to have a little rest-bite from the things we love. Less cricket might, for the players as well as the paying public might just do us all a favour.
Tom Huelin for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomhue1

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Australian Collapse: Has It Been Worse?

It was the early hours of the morning when I was tuned into the forever reliable text commentary for the South Africa vs Australia test match. Fresh off (what I thought then) a career defining 151 from Michael Clarke, I witnessed the (what I thought then) underrated Shane Watson produce a record breaking five wicket haul and a typical South African choke. At 96 all out at nearly 2am in the morning, sleep took quick preference over this supposedly dead test match.
But alas!
In the car on the way to work, and the good folk on talk-back radio were going bananas the next morning. I remember distinctly thinking that 96 all out is a bad effort, but nothing to be flipping upside-down about, what’s all this excited chatter? Then I realized they weren’t even talking about them, the king of chokers were out choked themselves. Repeat after me, 47 all out, Australia. Forty Seven. All Out.
No? Try this one for size, 9 for 21. Nine Australian wickets, 21 runs. Hasn’t quite sunk in yet? Me neither. The most ridiculous result since these two teams produced the 438 run chase.
The first thoughts for everyone were how can a team as good as Australia be quite so abysmal.
  • Was it the pitch? Nope, as Amla and Smith showed us with glee.
  • Was it the pressure? Not with a huge first innings lead.
  • Was it amazing bowling? It was solid at best, but no demolition job.
Excuses nil, it was just bad batting. Exceptionally and inexplicably bad batting. The question I put to you dear reader is, has it ever been this bad? Has a test team of this quality ever been ripped away in such a manner? The Cricket Musings aims to find out (at least for the last decade or so), along with a grading of possible excuses.
Case 1: India Fail. New Zealand Epic Fail
India were the laughing stock of the world after Shane Bond finished them off the in first test of this series. A series famous for is green tops that made Daryll Tuffey and Andre Adams menacing (!), things were no better as India slumped to a pathetic 99 all out after another inept display. But the real laugh arrived when New Zealand themselves were blown away for 94 all out, three innings in one day. Too bad that India couldn’t capitalize and gave New Zealand a poor 160 as the successfully chased down fourth innings target, but it was nonetheless a harsh lesson for a team only slightly worse than the tourists.
Pitch Quality: D
Bowling Quality: B
Stupidity: B

Case 2: Australia Squander 107
Having already crashed India’s party at home by bowling them out for 104 with a 2:0 lead in the series, Australia were left to chase 107 after a manic Indian third innings saw Laxman and Tendulkar manage important 50s and Michael Clarke take bowling figures of 6 for 9. Michael Clarke successes are a bad omen it seems, as Australia were bundled out for 93 on what was a dodgy Mumbai minefield. When was the last time Bhajji ran through a line-up? This was probably it.
Pitch Quality: D
Bowling Quality: B
Stupidity: B

Case 3: West Indies Destroy England
It was a rare and beautiful thing to see the Ambrose and Walsh machine fire on both cylinders, and when it does happen only devastation is left in its wake. England were the unfortunate victims this time, forget the entirely achievable target of 194 because when you get the greatest fast bowling partnership of our generation, almost nothing is achievable. Given the bowling quality, it seems a miracle they even got to 46.
Pitch Quality: B
Bowling Quality: A+
Stupiditynot applicable
Don't even bother turning around son. © PA Photos
Case 4: West Indies Destroy England – Deja Vu
Fast forward fifteen years later and we have a strong English unit and a generally woeful West Indies. The poms were looking to wipe away the first innings lead the West Indies had, a measly 73 runs. Too bad then that they didn’t even get that far, as Jerome Taylor in a career one-off performance, smashed England to bits as they succumbed to 51 all out. Those old skeletons of 1994 were back in their glory. England recovered and this wasn’t the defining turning point for West Indies cricket, but what a great piece of nostalgia it was.
Pitch Quality: B
Bowling Quality: A
Stupiditynot applicable
Case 5: The Adelaide Ashes Choke
Not so long ago England were fodder, and this match was ample proof of it. Having met Australia eye to eye in this important 2nd test, England were faced with one day to play out the draw. They met an inspired Shane Warne instead who helped demolish them for 129 all out in 73 overs of truly aimless batting giving the Australians a target of 168, accepted with glee at more than 5 runs an over. It set the tone for a famous 5-0 whitewash, the most damaging thing being that one of the Glenn McGrath predictions actually came true.
Pitch Quality: A
Bowling Quality: A
Stupidity: A
Case 6: The Fawad Alam Debut From Hell
Poor Fawad Alam. Ignored by the selectors now, he produced a classy 168 on debut and that too in Colombo. With no Murali around Pakistan were cruising along at 285-2 with a nice healthy lead and their sights on a fourth innings target touching the 300 mark. Wrong, chaos ensued.
2-285 (Younis Khan, 78.1 ov)3-294 (Mohammad Yousuf, 81.2 ov),4-303 (Misbah-ul-Haq, 86.5 ov),
5-303 (Fawad Alam, 87.2 ov)6-306 (Kamran Akmal, 88.3 ov)7-312 (Shoaib Malik, 89.2 ov),
8-316 (Abdur Rauf, 90.2 ov),9-319 (Umar Gul, 95.4 ov)10-320 (Saeed Ajmal, 96.4 ov)

It all started with Younis Khan attempting and failing a dumb reverse sweep. Sri Lanka knocked off the eventual target of 171, losing nine wickets for 35 in a true definition of losing the plot.
Pitch Quality: B
Bowling Quality: C
Stupidity: A
How about that sprinting career then? © AFP
Case 7: Pakistan’s 50s… In The Same Match
Arguably the worst performance by a batting team in test match history. Pakistan needn’t have bothered turning up as they registered their lowest score in test history, folding for 59 all out. Not content with that, they lowered their own mark in the same match with a second innings response of 53 all out. The match was over in two days, and in the wise words of Steve Waugh ”You expect to have to fight a bit harder than that to win a Test match”.
Pitch Quality: B
Bowling Quality: A
Stupidity: A+
The bottom line: Australia, you were not alone. Rest a little easier.
Contributed by : Varun Prasad
Varun’s blog : The Cricket Musings

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hang on; The Show goes on !

Cricket is a strange game where amusing things keep happening. So it is neigh say impossible to remain away from Cricket for long; even when India play Sri Lanka in a 21 match bilateral ODI series soon after the IPL. So much fun on the run and how could SPun Doctor miss all the pun ?
So here is my 11 for the week that was or almost.
1] Run Gauty Run: First of all Gautam’s running between wickets has become a Gambhir problem for India. Every time he sets out for a run, he seems to run out of ideas. He needs to contact Abhishek Bachchan immediately to get an idea. GG is just 2G he needs to upgrade to “What an !dea 3G”
2] Limited Sehwagging: Virendar Sehwag probably needs to be reminded of a Test match being played over 5 days and not 20 overs. He last played competitive Cricket for Delhi Daredevils and since then hasn’t seen the 21st over yet. He also has become the most stumped player of all times.
3] No Es-Cape Town: South Africa and Australia collectively lost 20 wickets for 143 runs at one stage during the first test in mildly testing conditions at Cape Town. Australian collapse looked more like West Indian. And short little Raina and other Indian batsmen are supposed to be weak against pace and short pitched bowling.
4] Taylor for the minnows: Zimbabwe on the other hand have shown tremendous guts in their come back to test Cricket. The last day of the Bulawayo test was a great day for Test Cricket in spite of the fact that the underdog lost. It was a Taylor made chase till Brendon lasted. All stitches fell off after his fall.
Taylor played Captain's knock !
5] Capital Punishment: India have been quite benevolent all these years allowing the likes of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru to live luxuriously at our expenditure and going on postponing the gallows. But for once, Team India escaped from Capital punishment at the national Capital thanks to meek capitulation by West Indies and some special bowling by Ravichandran Ashwin. Conceding 95 runs on first innings against stronger teams would have meant a fifth straight test defeat for Dhoni and Co.
6] Royal British Certificate of Merit: We the Indians somehow need the British to certify our products and prodigies even six decades after they left the shores. It was the Surrey Manager Chris Adams’ certificate that gave Ojha a new lifeline and he has done well to hang on. But has the hangman’s noose fallen elsewhere on a certain Turbanator’s career ? 
7] Complete Retirement Plans: Shahid Afridi has made a awesome welcome back to international Cricket at the tender yet ripe age of 25. When he decides to retire this time, he promises to retire completely ! And until he retires completely, we should not consider his retirement as full and final. We hope he will join Mohammed Yusuf in the retirement home once he does so finally. Or will he ? 
8] Down with the Count Down: Sachinists all over India, abroad and on the Mars should remember one thing. He has managed to score the hundredth run ninety nine times in the past two decades. He can as well do it the hundredth time sooner than  later. But to do so, he needs to score those ninety nine runs first. At least keep peace till he enters nineties. So can we please relax and let him relax too ? And for TENdulkar’s sake, can we begin the count down from Ten rather than Hundred ? 
9] Spots Fixed Butt there still is an appeal: While the Pakistani troika of Butt, Asif and Amer have been fixed to their spots in the UK prison by stringent laws, Pakistan have steamrolled a much stronger on paper Sri Lanka in their home series being played abroad. Pakistan Cricket never runs out of surprises, while the shamed trio is busy making a different kind of appeal ! 
10] Cricket Bravery award of the year:  Siddle and Lyon for saving Aussies from the ignominy of equaling the lowest ever score in a Test innings and also for more than doubling the score from where they came together. So shocked were the South Africans by the Australian batting display that even Morkel failed bowl a single no ball or a wide ball.
11] A Cricket Trivia question: How many times has a number 11 batsman top scored for his team in a Test innings ? Australia achieved the distinction at Cape Town. While the former greats lose sleep, the haloed Baggy Green ain’t green no more !
With a lot more Cricket coming up, SPun Doctor hopes to ‘come back’ with more pun on the run. That honestly doesn’t mean retirement and come back.
Govind Raj Shenoy aka SPun Doctor for DieHard Cricket Fans