Tuesday, November 27, 2012

India vs England - The Dhoni Backfire

The dinner menu for MS Dhoni this week will be a nice large slice of humble pie.

India were back on track in 'The Revenge Series', having been drubbed in England and Australia in last year they got their home formula nicely sorted:

  • Prepare a pitch with less life than Valle de Luna
  • The batsmen smash a total of 500+
  • The spinners do the rest

I am Dhoni, hear me roar. © AFP
And there you have it, twirl the ball in the same place all day long and wait for mistakes, it worked gloriously all throughout the nineties and even Australia couldn't do anything about it. The Ganguly era was a rare time when India learned to compete overseas, but last years 8-0 saw a revert back to old school tactics to at least make sure that they could wallop teams in their playground and feel a bit better about life.

Only it wasn't enough, not for a 'frustrated' MS Dhoni. 

He wanted more. The test match dragged on until the fifth day thanks to Alistair Cook, who is the real deal. The spinners had to bowl mammoth spells, and unlike the lion hearted Kumble who used to do it without fuss, our captain was

Why Kallis is Greater Than Ponting

As we witness the ongoing duel between Australia and South Africa, two of the greatest cricketers of our generation have come face to face perhaps for the last time, Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting.  It should be no surprise though which of the two has chalked up scores of 147, 49 and an injury filled 58, and which has scored 0, 4 and 18.  Equally its no surprise that which castled the other on the first morning, and his injury helped lead to absolute carnage later that day.

Ponting may have (ridiculously) won the award for the best player of the 2000s, but the truth is Kallis is far far better. Here's why:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cook and Pietersen put England ahead

I'm very happy with the proceedings. Day 2 belonged to England. India started the day at 266/6. England must be happy to wrap their innings in 61 runs. England then put on 178 runs for the loss of 2 wickets. 

Compton was disappointing again. I know he is a new fellow, but it's disheartening to see all his hard work go waste. He played 90 deliveries but scored only 29 runs. Compare this to Kevin Pietersen's score, 62 off 85. If Compton does the hard work and stays there for so long, he must do himself justice by scoring more runs. This kind of batting is only useful when you are trying to save a Test, like the 1st Test. If Compton doesn't improve his strike rate, he should be dropped. 

Captain Cook lead from the front once again. He is batting on 87. What an amazing batsman he has become. I've followed his career from the beginning and seen him evolve. He had potential from the beginning. He scored 60 and 104* in his debut Test against India at Nagpur. But he has come a long way. Calm and collected from the very beginning, his technique and judgement have definitely improved. 

At what age a player should be taken into the side is very controversial. Alastair Cook was 21 when he debuted, James Anderson 20. Both of them are fine players of this era. But there have also been ones like Graeme Swann who made their way into the team at a much later age. There is hardly anyone more consistent than

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Monty Got A Raw Deal

It's amazing how a players stock can rise when they're not even involved in a game of cricket. It's like the value of gold rising when equity markets are in crisis.

The trouble with using Monty Panesar as the golden boy in our investment analogy here is that he's far from being the perfectly safe investment England should revert to when their normal game plan defaults.

With England toiling as India reached 521 for 8 on Friday, long before their catastrophic capitulation with the bat to 41/3 at stumps on day two, the age old debate of England sub-continent tours of old has already re-surfaced: where is Monty? 

A run a ball 117 from Virendra Sehwag as well as a spritely 74 from Yuvraj, returning to test cricket after his battle with cancer, helped India into a position of power during their first innings. But it was the stand out performance of India’s new number three, Che Pujara, whose 206 was full of classical shots his predecessor Rahul Dravid would have been proud of, that really drove home India’s advantage.

A lot of the talk in England before this series focussed on the retirements of Dravid and the sublime VVS Laxman, not to mention the fading force of Sachin Tendulkar. But with Pujara delivering in Ahmedabad and the emergence of Virat Kohli as a genuine test cricketer over the past 12 months, India are re-generating their batting line-up. And mighty impressive it looks too.

England’s decision to maintain a three man seam attack resulted in Monty missing out in the first Test, with Samit Patel’s ability to bat well against spin giving him the nod over Jonny Bairstow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The No Spin Zone

After weeks of slow build-up, the much awaited Test series between India and England is finally here. It’s been a relatively silent prelude to the series, considering the hype generated before the previous series between these two teams. There hasn't been the usual verbal spars or snarky newspaper articles this time around, apart from an occasional reference to the 4-0 English whitewash in the previous series; then again, both teams have their own issues to sort out in-house. England have been busy dealing with the ‘re-integration’ of Pietersen and managing fitness concerns of their bowlers; India are worried about Zaheer’s fitness and the iffy form of their top order.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

For The Love Of The Game – A Short Story

It was the incessant ringing of the door-bell that woke him up. Groggily, the old man checked the time on the wall clock above his television set and was surprised that his friend had arrived much earlier than expected. Slightly annoyed, he got up from his rocking chair and switched off the TV, even as the door-bell continued to ring. “I’m coming!” he shouted grumpily. Muttering to himself, he ambled to the front door and opened it.
“Hello Grandpa. Hope I am not disturbing you.”
For a moment, the old man didn't know how to respond. After all, it was not often that his teenage grandson came around to visit him; but there he was, standing at his door step with an almost forlorn expression on his face.
“Of course not, kid. Come on in”. The old man moved aside and let the teenager trudge in to the living room. Even as he tried to gather his thoughts, wondering what the reasons for the unexpected visit could be, the teenager flopped on a near-by sofa and asked for a glass of water.
Fetching the glass of water, the old man handed it over to the boy, who gulped it down in a flash.
Shifting uncomfortably, the old man asked, “So, what’s the matter, kid? You look upset.”