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Monday, September 29, 2008

To be the Kings of the World

The upcoming test series is a series that will be fought with intense rivalry ( and I mean much more rivalry than a indo-pak match). The Indians will be looking for revenge and where better than in their own backyard. As the kangaroos prepare to face the tigers are trying to regroup after a disastrous Sri Lankan campaign.

But to India's advantage there is none in the Australian bowling line-up who has bowled in India before and the spin department is probably the weakest in the world. The bowling consists of Brett Lee spearheading, fast and furious. But how will he handle the slower subcontinental pitch. There is no Glen Mc.Grath probing on the off-stump line and the corridor of uncertainty and how well Stuart Clarke will jump into Mc.Grath's shoes is not known. Then the spin department is weakest and with no one to replace Shane Warne, Australia have gone with two new debutant spinners. Though Michael Clarke's slow left arm has triggered collapses in the past he is just a club cricket bowler. The Indians normally excellent players of spin would look to put the incident of the Emerald Isles behind. So if the Indians plan out their batting the Australian bowling can be stretched. The Aussies would look to be aggressive as usual and the would be met with aggression from the Indians led by Sehwag at the top. The great dual to be watched would be between Sehwag and Lee. The Aussies would also dearly miss Andrew Symonds. They would miss his batting and his slow and deceptive medium pace and cutters. He would also be missed in the covers where he has stopped many boundaries.

India in the other hand have a new openers. Sehwag loves the Aussies and will go at them with all that he has. But Gambhir's foot work would be largely tested by the Aussies. Dravid will walk in at no.3 and he will be under heavy scrutiny and tremendous pressure. Tendulkar is set to follow him and wonder what form he will be after being plagued by injuries. Tendulkar will be looking to break Lara's record of most runs. Ganguly will probably not be featuring in the playing eleven so a youngster will be chosen in his place. Laxman should do his magic with the bat. The Aussie really fear him. Dhoni would be keeping wickets.

The Indian Bowling looks much more intact than the Australian. There is plenty of variety in the bowling attack. Zaheer and Ishant are on top form and would be vital in picking up Hayden. The spin attack would be Kumble And Harbhajan Singh. The Australians weak at playing spin can be easily dismissed as the better players of spin Langer, Martyn, Symonds and Gilchrist are all not part of the squad. It would be a tremendous task for Clarke and Hussey as they hold together the middle order. Only Hayden is a good player of spin and there will some really good bowling for him. The Aussies will miss Symonds for the ability he has to pick a off-spinner from outside off-stump and landing the ball over mid-wicket and long-on. Harbhajan is only half the bowler when attacked. Ricky Ponting's form is another concern for the Aussies. It would also have to be seen how Brad Haddin steps into the shoes of Adam Gilchrist both behind and in front of the wickets.

The old warriors of Indian cricket will probably face the Aussies one final time now in India and would like to remember it for all the good reasons. Therefore beware Aussies.

You have stepped into the tiger's den and the tigers want vengeance and to be the ultimate test team in the world. The fight for glory and world supremacy starting on October 9Th would be a battle well worth watching.

Good luck to Kumble and his men.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kings of T20

Yesterday, Last year India under a brave and fearless captain lifted the inaugural Twenty20 world cup. India won the championship under Dhoni who was making his debut as a captain. M.S. Dhoni led a team with full of new faces as the Indian Fab Three in ODIs dropped out. Dhoni led the team and brought the best out of all. The first match was washed away and the second match was a bowlout against Pakistan. I remember Robin Uthappa knocking down the stumps and taking a bow. A well deserved bow as he was the player who scored the highest during the match. India advanced easily to the super eights but lost the first match to New Zealand-Dhoni's only failure. But from then India went from a high to another high. The next match against South Africa was a must win for India. The Indian batting crumbled but the 'new kid', Rohit Sharma carved himself a wonderful maiden 50 with a six of the very last ball. With some good bowling and sharp fielding India routed out the hosts from the tournament. Then the unforgettable match against England took place at Durban. And India scored a mammoth of a total propelled by Yuvi's six 6's. India won that one and progressed to the semi's to meet the ODI world champions, Australia. Again India won after a close finish and were through to the finals. And the finals could not have been better as India took on arch rivals Pakistan. Yours truly was in Mohali during the epic finals and what a final it was!! Again Gambhir scored runs to cement his place in the ODI side and after an inspirational spell by Irfan Pathan India were in the driving seat. But there was Misbah Ul Haq who almost won the match for Pakistan. But he made a fatal error and did the chip shot and the rest as they say is history. When Sreesanth caught the ball to dismiss Pakistan, billions in India and around the world erupted simultaneously. What a game!!!
Now Dhoni's Devils ruled the world.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Six Sixes

Yesterday, last year Yuvraj Singh rewrote history books by setting Durban on fire. Yup, It's been a year since Yuvraj smashed those 6 sixes against Broad. I remember peeking from my room, hiding - as we had our quarterlies I went to 'sleep' early. I still remember Ravi Shashtri in the commentator's box watching the fireworks and expressing his awe as he saw his own record being equalled. Man was it awesome!!! And the expression on Stuart Broad was worth more than all the diamonds of the world. No wonder the Prince from Mohali got the new T20 award in the ICC awards.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Death of a Prince?

I was really surprised at the omission of former Indian skipper from the Rest of India for the upcoming Irani Trophy. On September 8th the selectors decided to axe 'Dada'. The Indian 'Fab Four' had a poor outing in Sri Lanka. But Ganguly having the time of his life since his recall in South Africa has scored 1,076 runs in the last twelve months at an average of nearly 45. This is much better than his career average. This proves that age is no barrier (at least not for now). In Sri Lanka he scored only at an average of about 16 runs. Then again the famed Indian middle order failed to read the young Sri Lankan spin sensastion, Mendis. And this probably was the last nail in the coffin. But one fumble is not the end of the world is it? Now, his international career is at jeopardy. Surely the selectors won't select him again.

But the question that arises is Why Ganguly?

In the last year the Bengal tiger has been the backbone of the famed Indian middle order. Ganguly has played more matches of match winning importance in India's bid to supremacy in test cricket. Dravid going through a lean patch has scored at an average of 34 and Tendulkar has also the same average as Ganguly. Only Laxmaan is ahead with a average of just below 51. Age is no barrier. We see that in Jayasuria and also in Sourav in the last year. Even Ganguly agrees he has at least two more years to go. He still is fighting like a tiger and with a spirit of an eagle as he did when he was in his prime? Ganguly is a person who loves the sniff of a combat and loves the taste of blood. So why kill a man who is a born fighter and a trained season campaigner? I really don't know. Why?

Is it the end of the road for Ganguly?

Friday, September 5, 2008

The greatest batsman

Australians and the world around celebrated the birth of Sir Donald George Bradman on August 27th, paying tribute to the world’s greatest batsman. Don Bradman or ‘the boy from Bowral’ helped forge a nation’s identity. He was and is the greatest batsman the world has known and probably will know.
When one thinks of the Don, one thinks of a mean run machine and of his last innings which he played 60 years before. It was his only innings where he failed to get a single run against his name and fell four runs short of and perfect batting average of 100. His batting average is 99.94. Bradman describes the last ball he ever faced in international cricket as the best ball he ever faced. His description of it is
“It swung in, pitched to the right of leg stump and took the off bail”
He considers Alec Bedser the bowler who got his wicket as someone whom he respects deeply.
He played only 52 test matches and scored 6,996 runs with 29 scores above hundred with an incomparable batting average of 99.94. He had a dream series in his first series in England. He scored 236 in the first match. He then scored 131 and 254 in the second test and followed it with his highest test score of 334 in the third match. He then made another big score of 232 in the fifth test. Even during the ‘bodyline’ series of 1932-1933 the English bowlers could only restrict him to an average of 56.57. In 1936 was appointed as the captain of the Australian team and by 1948 the Australian team was dubbed as ‘the invincibles’. Under him the Australian team won 17 matches by an innings. And in 15 March 1949 The Don Became Sir Don. He is the only Australian to be knighted by the English crown.
Ponting the only other person other than Tendulkar who comes close to Bradman says,
“It’s almost like he is separate from the game. His name and what he achieved, it’s so far out of any player’s reach, in his time or any player who has played since. It’s almost like he played a different game to what we’re playing”
He also says “As a team we try to score at least 300 runs a day in test cricket” comparing to the 1930 Leeds match where Bradman scored 300 in a day.
Bradman’s first class stats are also just as impressive. In 234 matches he scored 28,067 runs with 117 centuries and a highest score of 452 not out with a mountainous average of 95.14.
Though the world saw Bradman last in 2001 he still lives in our hearts enchanting us with his cricket.