Friday, August 12, 2011

Dear Ravi Shastri, Please Shut Up

With the Indian team crumbling into a miserable heap at the hands of the English seamers, perhaps the time was ripe for an off-field battle between some of the big heads from either camp. But before we get to that, lets make a few things clear about the status quo:
India have no excuses. Losing Zaheer Khan is probably the only piece of bad luck they may rue. Apart from that this is (more or less) a full strength Indian line-up.
  1. India are not number one. And in fact they never were, they only ended up there as a temporary place holder in the lack of a true champion team.
  2. England could be the real deal. The England’s of the past would flatter to deceive, winning an important series before falling flat in those that follow. Not this one it seems, and once they get their ODI game in order, who knows… the next Australia?
But now to the point of the article.
The Bombing of Pearl Harbor

Nasser Hussain, renowned for having a rather big mouth, made it clear what he thought when Harbhajan was unfairly given out lbw with a big inside edge. His two cents worth included “using incomplete DRS is disgraceful by BCCI”, as he correctly said that Harbhajan could have been there if complete DRS was allowed, and that hotspot is in fact less accurate than the ball tracking system, and yet India have opted for that.
Granted the choice of words are not politically correct, Hussain is more or less right. But this is a very unflattering stick thrust smartly into the BCCI bee hive. How dare he criticize the big shots of India!
The Atomic Bomb

The rebuttal, came from Mr Ravi Shastri. He struck back with this:
“They are jealous about the way the Indian Premier League is going. They are jealous about where India is in world cricket.
“They are jealous about the fact that India are world champions. They are jealous because of the money being made by the Indian cricket board.
“The bottom line is that they have never been bloody No 1 in the world in Test cricket.
“So don’t criticise unless you have been there and know.”
Do you Mr Shastri really think that India is *that* good? That they can flat out accuse someone of being jealous of their cricketing abilities, their money and even more laughably, the IPL? Take a good look at how this series is going sir, and learn some humility and respect. It is 2-0 and looking like 3-0 at the moment. Your commentary sounded like you were at a funeral as it was so depressing to see your beloved team being so soundly trounced. Tim Bresnan, the England number 9, is straight driving your best bowlers like they are club level rookies.
Your “bloody no 1 in the world” are playing like the no 1 joke. Beating a few teams on flat decks by out-batting them does NOT make a world number one team, and you will find out in due course don’t you worry about that. Here’s a fact, if it weren’t for the soon-to-retire VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, India would be third at best. They would have lost to the West Indies.
I used to think you were one of the few grounded and well informed Indian commentators, how wrong I was. You are just as delusional and arrogant as the rest of the muppets you are surrounded by. Funnily enough, as arrogant as they were, did you see the Australian commentators openly brag about how good they are? No. They only beat teams to a pulp and let the scoreboard talk.
Ravi Shastri, grow up and shut up.
Contributed by : Varun Prasad
Original Post : The Cricket Musings

Edgbaston: England vs India Day One

If this really is a contest between the top two sides in test cricket right now, India have got a funny way of showing it!
Expectations were high as Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, the touring sides premier opening batsmen both returned from injury at a newly developed Edgbaston for the 3rd test of this series. However, as has tended to be the case so far this summer, India were again bowled out cheaply, for just 224. On a slow Edgbaston wicket, patience was the requisite virtue, a quality few of their batsmen were able to show.
Apart from Rahul Dravid, who to be fair got an absolute jaffer from Tim Bresnan, this was a story of India gifting their wickets away, unable to resist temptation and going after balls they really ought to have left the hell alone. Gambhir and Laxman both succumbed cheaply after promising starts, Gambhir going for one outside off and playing on, and Laxman hooking straight down long on’s throat.
That was after Sehwag had gloved his first ball to Matt Prior and Tendulkar had been caught at slip by his nemesis, Jimmy Anderson, both off the bowling of the in-form Stuart Broad. The finest batting line up in the world all back in the hutch for under 100. Funny old game.
England did well yesterday, but they didn’t have it all their own way. For the first hour, notwithstanding Sehwag’s departure, India were on top. It is a great quality England have developed that they are capable of winning a session even when their opponent is on top. Despite India’s good start they still went in for lunch 4 wickets down
The home side stuck to their task and managed to get wickets through patience and perseverance. They probed on a line just outside off stump and all too often the Indian batsmen couldn’t resist taking a swipe. When Tendulkar came in, Anderson returned to the bowling attack and the Little Master’s first stroke to him was an ugly flat batted swat that got nowhere near the ball – the Indian batsmen just don’t know how to play England’s bowlers.
MS Dhoni and Kumar showed more resolve, putting on a decent rear-guard stand to post some kind of total (yes, it could have been even worse then it was!) Dhoni in particular played some fantastic shots, bludgeoning the England attack for a while, but in the end their total is well short on what is actually a good pitch at this stage.
Starting today on 84-0, England will now look to bat all day today and most of tomorrow to put India out of the game. England made a habit in last years Ashes of scoring big and batting once, doubtless we will see the same plan employed here. It is therefore imperative that India’s bowling attack makes early inroads. Kumar has looked their best bowler so far this series, if he can get a couple early on, who knows?
One player who I really hope delivers if he gets the opportunity in this innings is Ravi Bopara. He’s had a lot of criticism since those 3 consecutive hundreds in the Caribbean 2 years ago, I hope that, if he gets a chance today (or tomorrow) he bats well and scores plenty, because he is a talent and he needs to start delivering at this level now.
If England win today as well, the ICC might as well issue their amended rankings at close of play tonight, because there will be no way back for India after that. They have to win today’s play; it’s as simple as that.
Tom Huelin for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomhue1

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Virender Sehwag

Whenever Sehwag’s hard hitting starts,
team’s winning destination doesn’t remain far.
Whenever India loses Sehwag,
it always hits India really hard.
Be it T20, ODI or TEST, for him it doesn’t really matter,
when he is in form the fielders are anyways left chasing leather.

Hard hitting is his passion,
for the bowlers he is a tension.
Upper Cut is his favorite shot,
1 thing is certain that till the end of match he always fought.

Gokul Garg for DieHard Cricket Fans

Monday, August 8, 2011

England vs India: Halfway series review

It would be the understatement of understatements to say that the series has been full of action so far, but that doesn’t stop anyone from saying it either way.
Such competitive pitches… it could have been so much more than the one-sided whipping it has turned out to be. The first session at Lord’s is proof of that. And then, like Dhoni said, everything that could go wrong, did.
The tour began without SehwagZaheerGambhirSachinYuvraj andHarbhajan filled up the sick room pretty quickly, igniting my suspicion that the physio gives them a complimentary paratha or something after each visit.
I reserve high praise for Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma, both of whom have bowled way too many overs than advisable. Ishant has put in 105.2 overs, still fewer than PK, who at 118.3, has bowled around twice as many overs as Harbhajan Singh. More praise, of course, for Dravid, who has scored more than twice as many runs as any other Indian batsman on this tour.
Sachin and Laxman have looked at ease without pushing on; Mukund has, as predicted, been a walking wicket – his initial struggle in the West Indies was a flashing neon sign indicating the same. Yuvraj and Raina have contributed ultimately inconsequential half-centuries. And to round up, Dhoni is having a horror series – he has done absolutely nothing right, in any department of the game. If Sachin and Warne get the fairytale scripts, Dhoni’s got this tour’s story from Wes Craven (Wiki it).
England, meanwhile, haven’t been perfect (but very close to it). Cook andStrauss haven’t got going, and Swann has been carted around in his half-fit state. They’ve been on the back foot one or two times, but they haven’t allowed themselves to be backed into a corner – they’ve counter-attacked with aplomb.Mr. AndersonBroad Jr. and Bresnan have all got a five-for to their name.
India’s second practice game didn’t really help them in any way. Gambhir,SehwagRaina and Dhoni didn’t get the runs, Mukund (who isn’t expected to play the third Test) hit a quick hundred. Zaheer Khan, for yet unknown reasons, bowled only three overs. Mishra, the second spinner in the squad, was expensive again, just like in the first practice game. So, don’t expect any comebacks, Sehwag or no Sehwag. The two batsmen who can win a Test are the fit and in-form ones - DravidSachin and Laxman. And Ojha must play.
Preferred XI: Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, Laxman, Kohli, Dhoni, PK, Ishant, Ojha, Sreesanth.
Probable XI: Same, but with Raina and Mishra.

Rishabh Bablani for DieHard Cricket Fans

Thursday, August 4, 2011

England On The Brink of World Domination

“That’s a Cherry, a Peach, a Rip-snorter” enthused Shane Warne on Sky Sports yesterday, as Jimmy Anderson sent VVS Laxman’s timbers kart-wheeling across the Trent Bridge outfield. There really is no more glorious a sight on a cricket field than seeing stumps sprayed across the turf courtesy of a fast bowler in prime form, and Anderson certainly was in prime form yesterday.
In fact, Anderson has been in devastating form all summer and India have not yet learnt how to cope with his swing and seam movement. But Anderson isn’t the only one the tourists haven’t figured out yet. Broad had re-discovered his form and is bowling better than at any other point in his career right now and yesterday Tim Bresnan joined the party taking 5 wickets in his role as enforcer, a position that seems to suit him better than the jobs previous incumbent, Broad, and he fairly terrorised the Indian batsmen yesterday, peppering them with uncomfortable short stuff – he took 5 but it could have been more with the amount of edges he induced.
Unlike Broad’s enforcer carnation though, Bresnan still pitched the ball up occasionally, and it was this variety that helped Bresnan secure his 5-wicket haul.
In short, England are developing a bowling attack to be feared the world over, with pace, seam and swing all thrown into the mix and executed with real skill and aggression. On top of this, they still have Chris Tremlett to come back, and lord only knows how he will fit back into the side now that his replacement, Bresnan, has staked such a strong claim. Evening Standard writer Tom Collomosse suggested both Bresnan and Tremlett could play in the next test at Edgbaston, the latter replacing injured Jonathan Trott in a move that would see Ian Bell promoted to Trott’s number three spot, with England playing 5 bowlers and Bresnan batting at 7.
It would be bold, but England’s bowlers are destroying India right now, so why not continue to make it uncomfortable for them? Also Bresnan and Broad are in fine form with the bat, as is Prior, so England would still have enough in the batting department. However, England’s selectors are nothing if not consistent, so I won’t be surprised to see a batsman replace Trott – perhaps Bopara, with Bell moving up to three? We shall see.
Anyhow, why mention Warne at the start of this piece, you might ask? Shane is fast becoming my favourite cricket pundit. He’s witty, takes the mick out of Nasser Hussain (which is always entertaining), but most importantly, he speaks with the experience of a man that knows what it’s like to play for the best team in the world and what’s more, what it takes to remain there too.
When he talked about England’s intensity at Trent Bridge yesterday it was like he was talking about the great Australian team he was apart of for so long. England’s bowlers have hunted in packs in both test matches so far this series and have terrorised all of the Indian batsmen. Yesterday Yuvraj looked totally out of his depth, Dravid was out in single figures and captain Dhoni left an in-swinger that had him plumb LBW without troubling the scorers. Even Sachin left one he never should have which had him LBW too, albeit after a splendid half-century.
In my lifetime, I can vaguely remember watching the West Indian side of Walsh, Marshall and personal favourite Curtley Ambrose, as well as the great Australian attack of McGrath, Gillespie, Lee and Warne. Both those sides destroyed opponents before they’d even marked out their crease and whilst England have a long way to go before reaching those levels, they are developing an attack that will be as feared by opponents as their great predecessors were in their hayday.
England had Australia 2-3 in Adelaide last year and India 37-4 here yesterday, and India boast Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar in their ranks. This is the destruction of cricketing institutions, first Australia on their own patch, and now India, albeit under-strength, but still the world’s number one team, being crushed and made to look very ordinary indeed.
Warne knows this England team is going places. He was talking about this England side in the way we used to talk about his Australian side for so long. England are winning the close tests and are crushing opponents by an innings or hundreds of runs when their opponents struggle. England are ruthless and devastating and in Andrew Strauss they have a leader that will never let the team rest on their laurels.
Great teams have bowling attacks that almost always get their opponents out for below par scores and batsmen that can score big and tire the opposition out by keeping them in the field for days on end. England have both of those attributes working in tandem now I believe; A group of bowlers that will scare opponents before they even take to the field, who know how to bowl in different situations, and how to get the best out of the conditions they are presented with.
Sehwag, Gambir and Zaheer may return for the third test, but I wouldn’t bet against another England win – they are looking superb right now.
Tom Huelin for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomhue1

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Father, Son and the Holy Spirit of Cricket !

Its been more than a month since my last post. July was completely barren. Partly because of personal issues and partly because of not much inspirational stuff happening. The West Indies – India series was totally forgettable. I don’t even remember who all played that series.
The ongoing England – India series seems to be attracting more attention for what is not Cricket than Cricket. Conceding the fact that England appear distinctly superior team at present, I still believe India have been pretty unlucky on several aspects.
Most of the good decisions on field have gone in favor of England and almost all bad decisions too have. But that isn’t anything new for India. When was the last time did India have the better of Umpiring ? Adding to the issue is every expert’s verdict that India are themselves to be blamed for not accepting UDRS.
But this post is about ‘What is NOT Cricket’ and NOT about ‘What is Cricket’. Let us just take a look at what has happened so far.
Kick and remorse !
Event-1: Swann kicks the stumps and expresses remorse and gets away without even a fine. This was his second such offense in 5 month. Praveen Kumar expresses displeasure about Umpiring decision and gets fined. Even he showed remorse, buts still was fined…
Moral of the story: An Indian’s remorse is not remorse enough to escape fine.
Event-2: Baby Broad goes to examine if Laxman had applied Vaseline to the edge of the bat to cheat the ‘hot spot’ and is convinced there was no Vaseline. Michel Vaughan tweets about Vaseline and then counters the outrage with sarcasm. We never knew Vaughan had any sense of humor. If he had he never showed it in his playing days. What would have been the reaction if Sreesanth were to go and examine the bat of Bell or Strauss in a similar situation ?
Moral of the story: Having a Match Referee for father helps. Sreesanth’s father is not even an Umpire.
Event-3: Bell was technically and stupidly run-out. But still English stink tank wanted India to take back the appeal. India complied because they didn’t feel good about that. They had suffered a lot in the Caribbean. But isn’t it surprising that it is only one way traffic when it comes to “Spirit of Cricket” ?
  • Sachin Tendulkar was once run out thanks to timely obstruction by Shoaib Akhtar. He was NOT recalled.
  • Dhoni was twice ruled out wrongly by the third Umpire and the whole world saw that. No Captain or Commentator remembered the spirit of Cricket.
  • Chris Broad has been so narrow minded in his approach towards Team India that he is worse than Bucknor and Harper.
  • Srikkanth was run out wandering out side his crease in his first test. The opposition Captain never thought much about the debutant then.
  • Sehwag was denied a century in one of the most un-sportsman like act by the Sri Lankan Off spinner. Of course he was punished, may be because he too is not the son of an ICC official.
  • Any act of aggression by Indians on field gets immediate and immaculate punishment. From Manoj Prabhakar to Ganguly, Gambhir, Bhajji, Sreesanth and many more examples. But others somehow get let off easily with ‘expression of remorse’.
Can someone remind me of an incident of an Indian batsman being called back by opponents when he was declared out wrongly ?
Spirit of Cricket will have a meaning when it is a give and take. So far it has always been interpreted as “India give and others take” all favors !
With the way the English press, players and Commentators have behaved so far, this is bloody war out there and we are conceding vital advantage there ! I don’t blame Dhoni and his team for playing poor Cricket. It happens to the best of the men and best of the teams. But I am pissed off like hell because they called back Bell. How long will India have to keep playing the nice guys or be forced to play the virtuous ?
Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans