Friday, July 29, 2011

Motto of India Cricketers

Ganguly: Do or die.
Sehwag: Do before you die.
Dravid: Do until they die.
Tendulkar: Do that will never die.
Laxman: Do when everyone else die.
Yuvraj: Do, die, reborn. Do, die, reborn.
Ravindra Jadeja: Die but never Do.
Dhoni: Do everything before luck dies.
Contributed By Eknath Patil

Friday, July 22, 2011

India vs England Preview – The Showdowns Of The Past

Less than an hour away from what is without doubt the most eagerly awaited cricketing contest since this years World Cup. There is a genuine buzz in the cricket world, both real and cyber, as we all eagerly await ball one between the top two test cricketing sides waging war. But why the excitement one must wonder? This isn’t India vs Pakistan, this isn’t the Ashes, this isn’t the long ongoing battle between South Africa and the Aussies. Is there even a recent history between these two sides?
As it turns out there certainly is, and one arguably just as bitter and controversial as the aforementioned ‘rivalries’ of world cricket. Lets take a moment to re-live some of the classic moments where these two egotistic sides clashed.
Caddick vs Tendulkar
 The Gauntlet
India were coming into this crucial world cup match in 2003 fresh off a spanking at the hands of New Zealand and poor wins over Zimbabwe and The Netherlands. Our friend Andy Caddick (who is not Glenn McGrath) decided this was a ripe opportunity to sink his boots into India, quoting “India hasn’t been up to the mark” and the real gimme, “Even Sachin did not play well despite his century”.
The Comeback
Now whatever the history, whoever you are, Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest batsman of the modern era, and Andy Caddick is… Andy Caddick. Needless to say he got smacked around like a silly school boy, conceding 69 from his ten overs, his career most expensive figures, including a pull shot that send the ball flying clean out of Kingsmead. Just for good measure, Tendulkar found his mojo after that and finished the tournament as the leading run scorer.
Flintoff (and Johnny Cash) vs The Indian Batsmen
The Gauntlet
Captain Flintoff seemed like a ridiculous idea at the time, and probably remains the case, but here was one match he can be remembered fondly for as the man at the helm. Setting India a gettable target of 313 with a full days play left, on a flat deck in India one should note, the match was looking like a either an Indian victory or a draw.
The Comeback
With Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ for inspiration, Flintoff and friends ripped through the Indians in a stunning seven wicket collapse for 25 runs, forcing a series 1:1 draw when it should never have been. These were signs of the turning point for England, showing backbone when teams of the past would have crumbled into jelly.
Ganguly vs Broad
The Gauntlet
Skinny, blonde, baby-faced Stuey Broad took objection to the mauling England were receiving at the hands of Ganguly and Tendulkar in this brilliant match at the Kensington Oval. He decided to verbally dish it out to Ganguly being the tough guy that he is, something like a blonde Hugh Grant impersonating your favourite Schwarzenegger character.

Its the deadly blonde curls that do it. © Getty Images
The Comeback
Broad to Ganguly, SIX, stays over the wicket, not too much wrong with that but Ganguly opens his shoulders and drives that straight towards the pavilion for six – just over the boards. Creamed
Thank you very much.
Yuvraj vs Mascarenhas
The Gauntlet
Same match, rewind a bit with Yuvraj Singh inexplicably entrusted to bowl the last over of the England innings. The underrated Dimitri Mascarenhnas happily plowed five consecutive sixesand left India chasing at least 20 runs more than they should have been. Yuvraj finished up with tail firmly between legs.

The Comeback
This came much later in *that* T20 series, with our blonde bombshell Mr Broad reaping the wounds of vengeance. Citing the Mascarenhas Mauling as the inspiration (as well as Freddy giving him an earful), Yuvraj set the match, the tournament, and the game itself on fire by blasting those six consecutive sixes. It doesn’t stop there either as his recent ODI record vs England shows plenty of plundered red cherries since then.
Zaheer vs The Jelly Beans
The Gauntlet
By jelly beans I do not mean a subtle metaphor for the English cricket team, I mean quite literally jelly beans. Taking the game and the rivalry to truly kindergarten levels, our mature English cricketers chucked a few jelly beans onto the pitch as Zaheer was batting. An action, almost equally ludicrously, Cook later described as being “blown out of proportion”. This is a cricket match Mr Cook, not daddy day care.
The Comeback
A justifiably angered Zaheer found some of that promised old spark that ripped out Steve Waugh’s stumps those many years ago. He tore into the England batting line-up and made sure Michael Vaughan’s century ended in vain, giving India an easy 73 to chase and win. Sprinkle in some typical Sreesanth madness with shoulder barging, beamers and foot-long overstepped bouncers, this truly was a bizarre test match. More of the same please.
Yuvraj vs Pietersen
The Gauntlet
The daddy of all confrontations, the clash of two supernova sized egos. Yuvraj, a pretty average test cricketer, started mocking Pietersen’s rib injury by taking the mickey and making exaggerated limps while fielding. Not a great idea from a man who battles weight and laziness himself.
The Comeback
Pietersen gave Yuvraj a piece of his mind with this gem ”you are a cricketer, you are not God. Concentrate on your cricket. I am tougher than you”. Funnily enough it didn’t end there either, with Pietersen calling him a “Pie Chucker”, and Yuvraj ironically getting him out a few times with the very same loopy pies. This contest ended as a draw perhaps? To be continued?
Yes there is a history, there will be clashes, there will be skeletons dug up from the closet, everything a great cricketing contest needs. Lets hope the rain stays away.
Any confrontation missed? Feel free to add in the comments section.
Contributed By : Varun Prasad
Original Post: The Cricket Musings

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Series preview: England vs India

By this time tomorrow, the first Test will be afoot at Lord’s. If you’ve fallen into the hype-moat surrounding this series (who hasn’t, really, except for one or two continents), then surely you must believe that this will be the best, most competitive Test series since the legendaryWest Indies v India saga of 2011.

There’s every reason to lock yourself up with a TV, laptop, carbs in any form, and another TV (for weather reports): the #1 ranking at stake, Sachin’s 100th 100 (possibly first at Lord’s) followed by 10,000 (give or take 17) articles about his career, WAGs in the stands, and two most enticing matchups:
1) Pie-chucker meets Pie-lover
They're from different backgrounds, literally
2) Man with a sweet tooth
He'd trade a cow for those beans to know what the beanstalk would look like
Anyway, playtime’s over. Time to move on the technical stuff. The real nitty-gritty. Squeaky bum time. Release the kraken. Right.
India’s practice game may have suffered at the hands of rain and Somersetian (Somerian? Somartian?) batsmen, but it actually answered pretty much all the questions related to selection and form. If you accept that you really shouldn’t be asking about DravidSachin or Laxman at this point, it’s all good. Gambhir andMukund got runs on the board in their unbeaten second-innings partnership, Raina cemented his place in the best way possible, Sreesanth bowled himself out of contention.
India doesn’t have to face Willoughby and Thomas, however; England’s pace attack is far superior and much improved since the last time the two teams met. Having said that, India’s batsmen already have one start-of-tour batting collapse out of the way, and there won’t be too many gifts from them, not even with aSehwag-sized crater at the top of the order. Based on what I’ve seen, Mukund is a nervous starter, but once he’s in he looks very assured. (Trivia: When was the last time India had two lefties open?)
India’s bowling, like on the last English tour, looks like it could use the conditions well - Zaheer Khan is the best left-arm quick in the world at the moment, and Praveen Kumar can get prodigious swing with the new ball. Ishant Sharma just needs to bowl the way he was doing a couple of weeks ago. Harbhajan might fancy himself if he gets bouncy pitches, but this England side won’t be as vulnerable to spin as it used to be, especially when they have the luxury of Swann bowling to them in the nets.
Probable XI: Gambhir, Mukund, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Raina, Dhoni (c)(wk), Harbhajan, P. Kumar, Zaheer, Ishant.
England have a superb chance to get an early lead in the series with Sehwag out. Their batsmen have been accumulating runs for a while - CookTrottKP and Bell filled their boots against a toothless Lankanattack. Strausmade merry in the practice game and Prior is in good domestic form, but it won’t be as easy against India. Complacency, and a lack of recent quality opposition could get in their way.
Their bowling, however, is in great shape. Jimmy “Jimmy”Anderson and Chris “freakystringbean” Tremlett will cause plenty of problems when on song. Put either under pressure, though, and… well, we’ll see when Sehwag’s back. Broad will be eager (and under severe, debilitating, acne-inducing pressure) to pick up wickets and stop his Test career from following his ODI career with running shoes on (What?). AndSwann’s there too. See what I did there? I don’t.
Probable XI: Strauss (c), Cook, Trott, Pieterson, Bell, Morgan, Prior (wk), Swann, Broad, Anderson, Tremlett.
Official-looking prediction: Draw. 100th Sachin ton. Both batting sides will stumble. Mukund ton. Broad will take 2-3 wickets. Tremlett will take more. I’ll be slightly wrong about something and very wrong about something else.
Rishabh Bablani for DieHard Cricket Fans

Friday, July 15, 2011

India vs England – Series Preview

With the Australian aura disappearing quicker than bottled water during the Y2K, there have been two teams that have thrust their hands up like eager school children to claim the number one throne. These two teams are due to clash, providing what promises to be a showpiece cricketing tour that will rekindle the dwindling interest we are seeing these days. The series, is England versus India, and while I believe both are nowhere near the quality of the Australian empire, it promises to be a mouth watering clash nonetheless.
Not this sort of watering we hope. © Getty Images
But lets make one thing absolutely clear, the second half of that tour will be nothing but dribble. England are a woeful limited overs outfit, evidenced by a narrow victory over a Murali-less Sri Lanka, and an awful World Cup campaign that left foot prints planted smartly into pant seats. Despite the grubby Indian outfit barely managing a series victory in the West Indies, a full strength Indian outfit should be far too much here.
Let us focus then on the test matches, where the real juice lies.
The Best English Team In Decades?
The English have seemingly forever been a horror story of cricket. They always had the players, and appeared to have turned the corner in the 2005 ashes, only to be sucked again into the familiar abyss of failure with the 5-0 ashes drubbing that followed that. But then the clouds began to clear, probably a lot to do with the Australian decline, and England started have finally getting consistent results. Gone is the Flintoff-or-nothing approach, the blaming on injuries and coaches, the dodgy selections, the idiotic notion that Harmison and Panesar were match winners.
Pictured: England's 2003 Test Team. © Getty Images
Suddenly here is a team without an apparent weakness, a bold and clinical leader and capable depth waiting in the wings. All the ledgers are in balance, they have staunch openers, an attacking and consistent middle order, a varied seam attack almost equal to the 2005 Ashes quartet, a real keeper batsman, and the best spinner in the world. Emulating Australia is a definite possibility with this team.
Are The Bollywood Cricketers Up To It?
India may be the highest ranked test side in the world, but a lot of that credit belongs to the Laxman one-man crusades saving them from what would have been dead set defeats. Has that get-out-of-jail card run out of steam? Laxman aside however, a full strength top order reads Sehwag (if not injured), Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, Laxman, Yuvraj, Dhoni. That is some seriousbatting, even despite that fact that Dhoni is usually fodder in seaming conditions. But don’t forget also that most of these men haven’t seen cricket since the IPL, and haven’t seen real cricket since the World Cup.
Not quite the match practice we had in mind.© AFP
The bowling unit has the wile of Zaheer Khan, easily their bowling trump card, and the rediscovered mojo of Ishant Sharma. India will rely heavily on these two, but despite that Munaf can also be useful in seaming conditions if he gets it right, and despite joining the 400 club, India will benefit from playing Mishra instead of Bhajji. Harbhajan is ample proof that the modern game will skew numbers, he is nowhere near the historical 400 club in quality.
The Differences
Virender Sehwag is the only player immune to bowling conditions. If the wickets tumble which is very likely, he will be a key figure in turning an egg faced 150 into a modest 250.
Chris Tremlett the Terminator had Tendulkar missing everything the last time India toured, and thanks to some long overdue consistent selections, he is firmly in place to wreak some serious havoc. He has all the tools, pace, bounce, presence and most of all, control. He is the real Harmison.
Sarah Conner would have no chance. © Getty Images
The Prediction
The most hilarious thing is watching both these sides pretend to be Australia. There is a plethora of swagger to be had from both sides, both believing that they have earned the crown to be labelled number one in the world. Untrue, as the pillar known as Australian cricket tumbled with old age, it wasn’t defeated. Albeit a notch down, these are two very even teams.
An important factor is that England are at home, and India should expect seaming conditions which could undo them. Add to that a lack of match practice for most of the top order and their chief architect Zaheer Khan. England have come off a thorough mauling of Sri Lanka, while India, fielding a B side, looked scrappy and bored against a poor West Indies outfit. Given these crucial factors, England has the edge.
Contributed By : Varun Prasad
Original Post : The Cricket Musings

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Sourav Ganguly Chart

Many moons ago from this week, the man who would soon to be known as the Prince Of Calcutta was born (or Kolkata if you prefer). By numbers alone he was more than a solid cricketer, particularly in the ODI game, numbers also say he had a distinguished career as the Indian captain and can even be credited as the man who turned it all around by doing a Ranatunga and giving his troops a backbone.
And yet, opinion on him is so divided. Labelled as pretentious, smug, selfish, and i’m sure our old friends Greg Chappell and Martin Crowe probably have choice words that I will not divulge in this family friendly forum. Hardly has there been such a polarized view on a pivotal figure in our recent cricketing history, how has this come to be?
I present you…
Each phase in the Ganguly history can be explained accurately:
Ganguly 0.1 (Beta)
The fresh faced Ganguly didn’t waste any time making an impression, carving up England with a debut century and never really looking back. A lot of people don’t realize the value he gave the ODI team, particularly since Tendulkar was comparatively low in the late nineties. Ganguly feasted on the runs with great consistency and with the minimum of fuss, most of these centuries resulting however in lower order collapses and therefore going unnoticed. There was no question however that as long as Ganguly was there at the top, at least one hole in the batting equation was nicely patched up.
Ganguly 1.0
© Getty Images
With the departure of the disgraceful Azharuddin and a failed run for Tendulkar, Captain Ganguly was born. Backing the then young Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan, Zaheer Khan and others, Ganguly helped forge a side that was at least capable of competing with the best of them. His captaincy style was aggressive and bold, and liked or not, he did take a young team and get them noticed, none more famously with his counter-attacking 144 against Steve Waugh’s Aussies in Brisbane. He was also there when Bhajji and Laxman ended the Australian record test run in 2001 and their 2003 World Cup run to confirm they were the number three side in the world (behind space and Australia).
But at a price. His batting fell away, none more spectacularly against New Zealand in the 2002/03 tour. The Ganguly standard codes of dismissals was written at this stage:
  1. The Wet Bat – Hanging the willow out to dry for the slips to gobble up. If a naughty slipper did drop one, rest assured more came.
  2. The Stump Destroyer – The wickets sponsors would have been laughing all the way to the bank as the off stump flew around gloriously with late cuts from France or China, take your pick.
  3. The Straight Up – While he did manage to crunch a few short balls around, if it wasn’t a six, it was a spoon straight up, a dead set dolly which even Kamran Akmal couldn’t fake.
  4. The Suicide – And when all else failed, the suicidal run out. Not just any run out, a run out by country miles as Ganguly would jog past stumps smashed five seconds ago.
Thanks to him munching away on the likes of Kenya and Namibia, his record never reflected it, but this was when the Crowe’s and the Chappell’s began gunning for his head and replacing it with Dravid’s. Words flew around, fingers were pointed, and eventually Ganguly was gone, seemingly to the same place Kambli and Prabhakar went.
But alas!
Ganguly 2.0
Around a year later emerged a fellow resembling only in appearance to the Ganguly’s of the old. With a slightly tweaked technique, gone was the easy ball creaming of the beta version and the minnows-only 1.0 version, he came back solid, bloody minded, and ready to put a bounty on his wicket. No freebies here, as he saw off the good balls, and put away the bad ones, not with pomp, but with purpose.
He soon became the most reliable ODI opener they had, and a solid middle order presence in tests, offering a nice blend of class and experience. But that wasn’t the telling difference, it was that this Ganguly didn’t get in the faces of the opposition, the public or the administrators. He quietly went about his way under different captains, minding his own business and paying attention to his batting and fielding. When he was dropped from the ODI side, he was their most consistent, but was at least allowed a glorious test exit.
A remarkable change in attitudes in a remarkable career, one of the few players who went through a true metamorphosis as the years rolled by. He should be remembered fondly for his contribution, as be it through his bat or mouth, he help lay the groundwork for what the Indian team is today.
Contributed By: Varun Prasad
Original Post: The Cricket Musings