Friday, February 4, 2022

Indian Cricket's tradition of mistreating Cricketing Heroes

We continue our age old tradition of shabby treatment of our cricketing heroes starting from Vijay Manjrekar, the latest victim being the incomparable Virat Kohli. I felt very sad watching him play in the recent matches. It seemed someone had squeezed the life out of him and he was just going through the motions. As a captain he was on the go all the time looking for a run when batting and a breakthrough when fielding. He had the energy and reserve to lead in all 3 formats of the game. That by any standard would require an exceptional level of concentration not to mention a phenomenal level of fitness. And he proved right on both grounds. 
There never was a dull moment on the field with him on the field and kept all the other players on their toes. He led by example and always gave 100 %. It must be said that all 3 formats of the game requiring different tactics and strategies would have put extreme pressure on him physically and mentally but it was never visible looking at him. But in the later stages of his career it must have affected him in some way. 

In hindsight if he didn't take the mantle of captaincy and just concentrated on his batting he probably would have scored 100 centuries with consummate ease. Despite that he achieved great goals in Test Cricket and took India to number 1 position and competed fiercely in the other 2 formats and the least the BCCI could have done is to give him freedom of choice to make his decisions about his future. Instead they imposed sanctions on his free spirit and as a result we may not see the real fighter on the cricket field again. Under the circumstances he may play for a while but I won't be surprised  if he hung his bat and called it a day. I fail to understand why do the politicians or their dear ones need to get involved with the running of the game. We have such a superb array of ex-cricketers who performed exceptionally well on the cricket field and given the chance I am sure will excel at running the cricket board and the players will feel secure in the knowledge that they are under the care of the experts in the game. I really wish that we learn how to treat our heroes otherwise I am afraid Virat won't be the last one in the already a long list of our illtreated heroes.

Dr. K.K. Srivastava for DieHard Cricket Fans

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Virat Kohli – The Talisman Red Ball Indian Captain

“We want to be fearless, that’s the brand of cricket we would like to play”. Virat Kohli was chalking out a new roadmap for Indian cricket in the red ball format. His captaincy style discarded the defensive approach and drove the team to not settle for anything less than a win.
Kohli started his test captaincy in 2014, after Dhoni’s sudden retirement from test cricket during the Australian tour. In 2011-12, the team had been drubbed 4-0 in tours to England and Australia. It was at that time that Kohli took on the baton. A small teaser was the 2014 Adelaide test where the Indian cricket team fought for a win, going against expectations for a draw.

Virat’s mantra to win matches abroad was to get 20 wickets irrespective of the conditions. He, along with the support staff, created a pool of fast bowlers who were relentless and fearless. And, spinners took care of most test matches at home. Kohli’s tough period started with South Africa away tour, then England tour, finally to Australia. Though the SA and England test results were not in favor, there was a paradigm shift in Indian test cricket. The approach was bold, strategic, and most importantly, invoked fear in the minds of the opposition. Kohli always questioned the conventional wisdom, played 5 batsmen, 4 fast pacers and vouched more for all-rounders. At that time, it drew irks but the result was bound to come.

Friday, September 17, 2021

India tour of England, 2021

The current India-England series (we still don't know if it is complete or not) is proving to be quite extraordinary in more ways than one. It has been quite a seesaw affair. Apart from the Headingley Test, the other 3 could have been won by either team. 

The last Test at the Oval has brought so many new truths home. India has always been a team of great individuals who played fantastic cricket but couldn't gel with each other as a team to win matches. They were capable of walking into any world eleven on their own accord. Players like Merchant, Mushtaq, Hazare, Mankad, Manjrekar, Gupte, Ghulam Ahmed, Nawab of Pataudi, Farokh Engineer- the list is endless. Mankad's performance at Lord's in 1952 was of such a class that the MCC decided to label it as Mankad's Test. Freddie Trueman when asked about the players he didn't like bowling to mentioned Vijay Hazare. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

RCB's Plans for Future Matches

After watching incredible efforts by RCB to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Mumbai Indians, here is an attempt to guess plans of RCB for the future matches.

First thing first. Let truth be told. RCB deliberately tried to lose the match to jinx Mumbai. The twice defending champions win every time they have lost the first match. Hence RCB tried to deny that luck this time. Alas, superstitious Nita Ambani's team turned out to be smarter.

ABDV is the match winner. He batted at No. 5 against MI to protect against top order collapse. RCB could play ABDV at No. 7 or 8 or even 9 in upcoming matches to overcome risks of a middle order collapse.

RCB will take inspiration from CSK and India legend MSD. They would try to take the match deep and if possible, to the last ball.

Washington Sundar will bowl just one over, even if he claims a hat trick in that over. This is to ensure the boy doesn't get tired. Kohli wants to keep him fresh for World Cup T20 later this year, where he will have a lot of work to do as water boy.

RCB fielders will continue to follow social distancing norms from the ball to prevent spread of COVID19. As of now, RCB fielders cannot even catch a cold.

To Maxi-mize the returns on the maximum investment they've made on Maxwell, RCB could use him as a floater to surprise opponents by changing his batting order in every match. To keep opponents guessing, Maxwell himself will not be told about his number in the batting order till the last moment. 

Strategies keep evolving. Hence there will be more updates after future matches.

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Summer of 36

Border Gavaskar Series, the famous rivalry between India and Australia begun on the onset of winter in India. For Aussies, it was the start of their home summer season, trying to regain the trophy. Adelaide hosted the first ever pink ball test match between the two sides saw a bizarre batting collapse by India. 36 all out – the lowest ever made by India. As a fan was dejected to see such horrible batting display despite being on top of the match all along. It was going to haunt for years to come. Down and out.

With 1-0 down in the series, Kohli leaving the camp and going back home, Shami adding to the injury list, there were too many problems in front of Indian cricket team. Ajinkya Rahane, led the team at Melbourne. The odds of losing the match and losing the series were high. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The force of humiliation in Adelaide got the team moving forward. They showed brilliant character and made a great comeback at MCG. MCG was won and series was evenly poised at 1-1 going to Sydney.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Gen-Next

A win for the ages! Fortress Gabba breached after 32 years! A second-string Indian team defeats the Aussies in their own den! These are some of the statements that were the headlines following India’s amazing and truly heroic win in the Brisbane test, which brought to the forefront once again the immense talent of the next generation of our cricketers – the gen-next!

The fact that this win was achieved in the backdrop of absence of regular test captain and arguably the best batman in the world Virat Kohli, a long list of injured players, and having gone through the abyss of being bowled out for the lowest ever test score by any Indian team in the first test, makes it even more special. In all trueness, the series was won primarily due to the performances of the debutants like Shubhman Gill, Washington Sundar, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, seasoned players like Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravi Ashwin, and not to forget, the man of the hour, Rishabh Pant, who played some scintillating innings, which helped save the match in Sydney and a win in Brisbane.

I feel that the advent of social media has made the fan following a bit of an extreme phenomenon, with extreme appreciation in case of a superb win like this and utter damnation when the team is down in the depths like it was with 36 all-out. Not to mention that there have been cases like that in the past, with Sachin being booed in Wankhede in 2006 against England and Dravid and the team being booed in Kolkata in 2005 in the backdrop of Ganguly-Chappell saga. But I feel that the fame, or condemnation, is bit too instant these days, just like the lifestyle. In one moment, you are made like a God, and in very next match, you face the wrath of trolls. For sure, not a scenario the players would like either, one can be sure.

That is why, I feel, that these players, the young crop, need to show the similar drive, and fire, for at least next couple of years, to cement their place in the team, with all the talent bursting through the domestic circuit. Not long ago, Pant had to face the ignominy of facing the chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’ whenever he dropped a catch or missed a stumping (he has the additional pressure of getting the DRS calls right, which Dhoni almost never got wrong). We need to remember that Dhoni played quite consistent brand of cricket in his formative years – let it be as a hard-hitting basher – as well as in the subsequent years, as a finisher and captain cool. Pant has big boots to fill in. That it is not impossible. Virat Kohli has created his own legacy, on verge of breaking Sachin’s records. The key is consistency, which is the hardest to achieve, at the global level. You need to play like a champion, at most times. This win has made all of us know what these players are capable of, and they need to be supported and cheered on, even on their off days. It is really fortunate for Indian cricket to have the young players coming in the team and performing instantly, something which as a 90’s cricket fan, I have been used to seeing in Aussie team only. 

As for Pant, his wicketkeeping is a work in progress. Whenever Wriddhiman Saha gets a chance, he shows the difference in level of keeping and the improvement that Pant still must make. For it will not be a surprise to see the  same fans cheering him on today to turn on him if he happens to make a costly miss in a high-stakes match. Those ‘Dhoni’ chants will come back again because that is how the fans are these days. Those misses can cost a match, as Tim Paine learned the hard way, who now stands to lose not only his captaincy but also his place in the team. Moreover, one can never be sure of their place being guaranteed in the team, even after career best performance - ask Karun Nair. For that matter, I would hope that Hanuma Vihari will not be overlooked once he makes a return after recovering from his second-grade muscle tear injury.

However, now is the time to enjoy the toils of the hard work and celebrate this once in a lifetime win. The players deserve all the credit, and we all hope that this is the starting of a long, consistent, and successful career for all these players, to make the country proud.

India beats Australia on last day of Gabba Test, winning Border-Gavaskar  Trophy with remarkable run chase - ABC News

Nishant Raizaday for DieHard Cricket Fans