Friday, December 28, 2007

Probably Result of the First Test is Decided ...

Well, it will not come as a surprise. It is the Lunch break on the 4th day at the MCG Boxing Day 2007 test and India should be fortunate to make 350 (did I speak rather too early?). India are 2 for 56 with both the openers back in the pavilion.

The pressure is back on the veterans who are probably traveling on their last tour as members of Indian test team (Well, it is a speculation). Sachin should play freely, but there is just too many runs to get. Will he be able to guide himself and India on the path to victory? Will Laxman do his magic, again? Will Sourav do something unforgettable in his 100th test match?

Only time will tell, but it is just clear that it's a very daunting task.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Scintillating 97 and Kumble at Kotla and a Few Records in Between ...

Sachin played brilliantly for his 97 at Gwalior to help India seal the series against Pakistan. I am bored of everyone telling me that he missed his century for the sixth time this year. At the interview while receiving his 56th MOM-award (!), he said that the more he would think about it, the more difficult it would get.

He should have continued with his form at Jaipur but fell unfortunately at a blitz 30. Pakistan went on to win the last ODI. Dhoni and Yuvraj played well to get within striking distance, but couldn't finish it off. Yuvee was adjudged the Man of the Series -- He's worthy of it. Well done, Yuvraj!

Well, Kumble is at his best at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. He achieved the amazing feat of 10-for at the same venue eight years ago! The match is definitely in India's favor with an all-round performance by various players. As I write this, India need 32 runs to win, with 7 wickets in hand. Both Saurav and Sachin are playing well and they should see India through. Kumble's maiden test victory as a captain -- That should be cherishable. Sachin broke/achieved few other records -- Being second-highest run scorer ever in test cricket and being the third Indian to have scored 1000 runs in the fourth innings of a test match.

Misbah Ul-haq's run-out was hilarious.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

First two ODI's Against Arch-Rivals ...

The Series (Pakistan in India, 2007) is level at this point. Sachin was fooled by a slower one by the rejuvenated Shoib Akhtar and was out for 4. India went on to win the ODI. MS Dhoni and Yuvraj saw India through. Sachin fooled the fearsome Afridi and was lucky to have dismissed Shoib Malik. So, his contributions have been there.

The second game performance by Sachin was a gem, yet again. He made wonderful 99. After India made 321/9, brilliant strokeplay by Younis Khan and Afridi saw Pakistan through. Indians helped them by dropping catches.

Another good thing that has happened for Indian team is that Anil Kumble has been chosen as the captain of the test team. I hope good days are ahead of us.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dravid omission is shocking ..

OK, here is a prediction, regarding Dravid's omission: He will come back with a vengeance in the series against Pakistan. There's no doubt in my mind that we will have him in Australia squad.

I think the strategy is akin to the one that kept Kallis away only to help him concentrate more and deliver incredible knocks against Pakistan.

The last ODI and 20/20 Win ...

Hats off to Robin Uthappa, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer and Murali Karthik who won it for India. Getting 194 against quality Australia bowling is awesome. Sachin could have done better, but it was not to be. Someone has already said that he played his last game at his home ground, but I don't want to speculate it.

This win is significant because it reinstated the self-confidence and temperament. Uthappa is all about that. I like it especially because I lack the temperament that is so vital in the game of cricket!

The following 20/20 win where Gambhir led India to victory was enjoyable too. But I have to yet join the Twenty20 fan club.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blogging While Watching the 6th ODI ...

It is 2.39 A. M. I am watching the 6th ODI live. The tension is mounting. Mighty Symonds again hit a brilliant century. What an innings!

Sachin and Saurav have yet again delivered the dream start. 140 runs for the first wicket. India are chasing 317. Volumes can be written about the way these two young players played as opening partners. Guys, it's not easy. Aussies are the best cricket team, excelling in all the departments. Playing against them always needs more than 100%. Winning against them needs best performance and good luck.

When India were on 140/0, the duo had hit only 14 fours and 3 sixes amounting to 74 runs. They had run 66 runs in that staggering heat. This is a very subtle point. Against a team like Australia, who hate to lose, conventional techniques and emotional outbursts don't help. You have to be playing your best cricket all the time, 50 overs, close to 300 deliveries. Ultra-cautious, ultra-tenacious, ultra-sensitive (to marginal possibilities of run) -- you need to be all of that at the same time. Even though people remember only the scores and stats, this commitment, athleticism, improvisations, often go unnoticed. Not all of that can be attributed to
  • Money they get
  • Being used to it
Getting on the nerves of Aussies is an incredibly hard task. (Just now an Aussie or two mis-fielded. Can you believe it?) India team are doing it. Performance (and longevity) is all you need. Leave the age factor to those best of 1.2 billions.

Tonight I am very happy, independent of result of match. At least a friend of mine is going to eat his own words. I pity him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

400 Just Happens to be a Number!

That's true. He doesn't care that he's played that many ODI's. He doesn't care the only other player who has played more ODI's than him (Sanath Jayasurya, another all-time great) has actually got more than 3000 runs less than him :).

We lost that ODI to Aussies. He should have carried on to make yet another century, but Lee got the better of him when he was on 47.

Kudos, yet again and yes, I hope Dilip Vengsarkar (the BCCI chief) gives importance to performance and not age, while choosing the team.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Second Match is at an Interesting Stage ...

The first match belonged to the English, to the rain gods and to Mahendra Singh Dhoni for India. England deserved the win. Yes, Sachin could have done better with his II-Innings knock but others have said plenty about that. It's just unfortunate that another all-time-great, Kapil Dev too has decided to muddy the waters by criticizing Sachin. This time, it's about his match-winning capabilities.

I enjoyed his II-match knock so far and Andrew Miller did it too, apparently. It's just the yet another instance of praise-or-wayward criticism game that is so commonplace in sport journalism these days. The other day, one Mr S Rajesh went on to collect statistics about who has played the best in the 4th Innings while chasing a victory or saving a match. Come on! Give me a break! This is like finding faults with people, and finding innovative ways to find a fault. If you are really interested in it, go get the statistics for the following for greatest batsmen in the World and compare them:
  • Performance when the bowling side has more than two right-arm fast bowlers, two left-handed fast bowlers, one left-arm spinner and one genuine googly bowler. This might give insights to opponents about team composition if the given batsman is still playing.
  • Performance when batting at bat number 1, 3, 4 and 5.
  • Number of lives they got and (LBW) appeals they survived while scoring a century (will that data be available?)
  • Probability that their side would have won a match if they had performed on all the occasions that they actually failed. A performance in this case is a half-century and a lack of performance is number of runs < 50.
Cricket is a team game.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Player of the Series (twice in a row) ...

Notwithstanding the so-called clouds of doubt, Sachin became the Player of the Series twice in a row after the early exit from the World Cup, once on sub-continental pitches and once on Irish pitches.

He shared the honors (rightfully) with Yuvraj Singh and India beat SA convincingly at Belfast. Yuvee was at his best too and saw India through.

This is a thumping blow to sport critics world-wide. They have to pray that he underperforms in England. And again, he's up for the law of averages. I don't have any expectations. I do feel that Karthik, Dhoni and others should now step up and shoulder more responsibilities ...

Let's see what happens in England, who are all over WI.

BTW, here is another unimpressive collection of Sachin's stats. I think if you have nothing to do, you can come up with several good-looking comparison charts that are good for nothing.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

1 Man, 15000 Runs and a Big Heart ...

Great. I am so happy. He isn't "back" or something, he's just there. Like he's always been.

Sachin became the first mortal to have scored 15,000 runs in ODI's having played 387 matches. He did that in style and India defeated SA at Belfast. After he did that, he had this to say:

"After playing for 18 years, I feel it's just one of those things."

Hats off to his modesty. This win might not be one of the most needed ones, but it was just as needed as any other one!

Today, I pity several of those unfortunate sport journalists who have taken liberty to criticize and comment adversely on his prowess. Just a few days ago, one Mr. Andrew McGlashan had to say the following about him even when he scored 99 off 143 balls in a losing cause against SA:

As is becoming an increasingly evident he didn't look entirely comfortable against the short deliveries, with Makhaya Ntini pounding the ball from his wide angle, and his timing didn't come easily. South Africa deserve credit for operating to clear plans - Ntini and Andre Nel were particularly impressive - but whereas Tendulkar of old would have tried to impose himself, here he seemed almost passive

Come on Andrew. You may be writing for, but don't know enough about cricket. Another important conclusion to be drawn from this series of events is that "A tonne of data is not even worth an ounce of Truth".

Here is another - Sidarth Monga and S Rajesh (I don't even know who these two are) had to say
this and asked an illogical question like:

"That Tendulkar was not really comfortable was evident yesterday too. He had ended the first day with nine from 31 balls: surely he wasn't playing for stumps for the last 13 overs of the day?"

Have these guys even played at any recognized level of any game? Do these guys have mind of athletes? Hell no.

I don't even have to justify that these journalists have done more pain than gain to these great individual cricketers, and the game at large. Gone are the days when there used to level headed sport journalists.

I know these ruthless people will have their responses ready crediting themselves with this yet another relentless feat Sachin has achieved. This is the agony of great players. Please don't do this to athletes.

The most fitting reply of course was provided by Sachin's bat:

"It is their job to have opinions. When I hold a cricket bat in my hand it's a far tougher and bigger job. That is what I will concentrate on"

Way to go, Sachin!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Broken hearts ...

India lost to both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to bow out of the World Cup 2007. I know this is a rather late reaction. The reasons of that point to lack of "blogging prowess" in me :)

Naturally, both Indian national and international media has to find someone to blame the debacle onto. I was just waiting for it. But I am really upset with Ian Chappel's comments ( A long-time veteran had to finally say so? Alas!

First off, yes, Sachin could have done better. He bowled 8 overs in a crucial match, getting the prize wicket of Tharanga who was cruising along nicely (although he was not very comfortable that day). He should have just batted. But hindsight is 20/20 and it was just that excellent
delivery from Fernando that Sachin was rather late to react to. I know several hearts broke at that delivery. This has been happening since 1995-6. This is not the way it should be. Of course, Sachin should have risen to the occasion and he could not. But he's only a human. Let's leave him alone. Don't idolize him, and don't burn the effigies.

At this time, the guy is probably devastated and so is every player on India team. But let's leave them alone. I wonder why we are so concerned about their off-the-field earning skills. I mean come on! This is highest form of hypocrisy. We give them commercial appearances, the sales of cola or shoes or something like that goes up because of these guys, the guys of course get hefty money. But then why can't "we, the people" accept our part of the overall failure? Why do we want them to appear on the big and small screens doing what they are not good at?

Sportsmen are not perfect people. They are as idiosyncratic and ordinary as everyone else.
It is just that they have skills on the "field".

It is absolutely meaningless to say, "Dravid should have done this and Ganguly should have left
the ball and Sachin should have played it this way and Sehwag should be abandoned".

Build fast wickets.
Elevate the level of domestic cricket.

In an interview a while ago, one of the greatest and most melodious voices of all time, Lata Mangeshkar, said the same thing about "appearing to take the spot deserved by youngsters". This is baseless. If you are good, you should be able to prove your mettle, given some amount of luck. So, media -- please realize it.

Ian Chappel -- sincere request and appeal to you:
Please don't compare Sportsmen like this. It is not worthwhile.
I am actually surprised that "you" did it. You are a responsible (past) cricketer and have a respected cricketing persona. Obviously, talking about current players is not a taboo, but comparison among two or more greats in such a way, without being objective is unfortunate.

Cricket is a team game, not an individual encounter and no team other than Australia (and maybe SL) knows that. With India, it is always the top three, with Pakistan, it is always Inzy or Yousuf. Get back to basics, people.

Well, what has happened is unfortunate. But Sachin: Think Pheonix. And more importantly, if *you* think it is enough, follow your instinct. Don't be bothered by what others say. I know you know that.