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Sunday, October 26, 2008

End of an Era?

Is the Australian dominance coming to an end?

That's my question I have planned to answer in this post.

I believe that nothing good can last forever and believe the Aussies are now at the same stage the West Indies in the late eighties and the nineties. The Australians are not the invincible machines they once were and that is mainly due to the following reasons.

1) The Australians played with greats such as Mc.Grath, Langer, Warne, Martyn, Gillespie, Gilchrist, Fleming, Bevan, Steve and Mark Waugh. But now as these greats have retired the Australians have struggled to replace them. The machine like precision of Glen Mc.Grath on the off-stump in the corridor of uncertainity is irreplaceable so is Warne's mastery of leg-spin. Jason Gillespie, Damien Fleming and Glen Mc.Grath always proved more than a hand-full and even the world's greatest batsmen have struggled against them. Though Brett Lee has taken to the task of spearheading the attack well, it remains to be seen his success in the sub-continent. The Australians are struggling in the spin department. There's no one to fill the big shoes left void by Warne. Even the batting is not the great it once it was. Though Ponting has led the Aussies to two world cups and is a natural leader like Steve Waugh, and Micheal Hussey has succeed Bevan, the Aussies still struggle. Langer's place as opener is still open though many have been tried as openers. The weakness of the batsmen from the down-under against quality spin bowling is clearly visible as none use their feet as Martyn did. The role of a keeper-batsmen is also largely at want. Haddin is good behind the stumps like the keepers befor him as Adam Gilchrist and Ian Healy, but his time in front of the the stumps has not been able to lift any spirits. There are still many more places to fill and it is seen crystal clear that the Australian bench strength is not really strong or even close to it.

2) The second reason is because the gap between the 'Invincibles' and the rest of the world is shortening. India, Sri-Lanka, England, and the South Africans have well balanced teams which are more than able to compete at the top level constantly. I feel only Pakistan have deteriorated. Even New Zealand and Bangladesh are doing better and becoming more competitive.

3) The third reason I feel is the incapability of the Australians to adapt to different pitches and conditions. They have done well at home but have been beaten by India at WACA Perth, the very place they consider their fortress. The Australian batsmen have been guilty of not being able to adopt to the conditions abroad. They found it hard in the Caribbeans and also now in India. The slow pitches of the sub-continent, the swinging conditions of England and also the seam and bounce of the South African pitches have been places of struggle. The batsmen have also been guilty of not being able to adopt to the situation. The present team is lacking in experience and when a situation arises hell breaks loose. They also have been not able to implant the plans discussed in the dressing rooms successfully.

4) The forth reason of decline is because of the enormous pressure on the team. The batsmen and the bowlers are expected to give their 100 per cent and are scrutinized whether they are. The team is also expected to win almost every time they set onto the field. The decline in the bowling quality has increased demands on the batsmen. The team now requires the batsmen to score those extra 50-120 odd runs since the bowling depth is in adequate. This causes the batsmen to come under a lot of pressure. The Australian also have not been able to maintain their high run-rate they once used to. The hectic international schedule also takes its tole on the players.

5) The final reason I believe is the quote that 'No good thing lasts forever'. Even the mighty empire Rome fell and it's not far when the Australians too do fall. This is exactly what happened to the invincible West Indies of the 70's and the 80's. I like to conclude my reasoning quoting Steve Waugh,
The thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Walking 'Gentleman' Slams India's Hero

Just like the title says, Adam Gilchrist has slamed Sachin Tendulkar of being a liar. In his auto-biography he calls Sachin a Liar and a sore loser.

The whole of India and half the world is furious with Adam Gilchrist for questioning Sachin Tendulkar's integrity in the monkey-gate scandal, star Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said the retired Australian has lost his respect. The man who used to be known for his honest walking when out has lost also the respect of this blogger. I used to look upto him as he did the impossible of walking away when out. By this he took responsibility for himself, and I adored him for that. And even do now, But my respect to the Australian legendary keeper is lost.

Writing about the dramatic final moments of the Sydney Test when India's last two batsmen, Anil Kumble and Ishant Sharma, walked off without any Australians offering a handshake, Gilchrist said: "We went into the Indian changing room and shook hands.
"Not all their players could be found, which points to another subtle cultural difference.
"In the Australian mentality, we play it hard and are then quick to shake hands and leave it all on the field. Some of our opponents don't do it that way. Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, can be hard to find for a changing room handshake after we have beaten India. Harbhajan can also be hard to find. I guess it's a case of different strokes for different folks. But the criticism of us for not immediately shaking hands with Kumble and Sharma was unfair, and typified a moment when everything we did was wrong."

Symonds claimed that Harbhajan called him a monkey, which Gilchrist said began when the spinner patted Brett Lee on the backside as they passed mid-pitch. He claimed Tendulkar changed his story in an appeal conducted by the ICC. "Tendulkar, who'd said at the first hearing that he hadn't been able to hear what Harbhajan had said -- and he was a fair way away, up the other end (of the pitch), so I'm certain he was telling the truth -- now supported Harbhajan's version that he hadn't called Symonds a 'monkey' but instead a Hindi term of abuse that might sound like 'monkey' to Australian ears. The Indians got him off the hook when they, of all people, should have been treating the matter of racial vilification with the utmost seriousness." said Gilchrist.

The feisty off-spinner who Sachin stood up for was angry and answered "We don't respect him," to the 'Sydney Morning Herald'.
India's Sachin Tendulkar said the Australian star, Adam Gilchrist had phoned him to clarify his controversial comments about the batting great in a new book. "Gilchrist called me up and clarified this issue," he told Times Now.
"He said his comments have been taken out of context," he said without elaborating further.

Maybe Gilly was pulling a gimmick or may be not........................................................Will we ever know?

I hope it was an accident as I don't want to find the the man who has kept Australian cricket clean to be a liar.

NKP Salve Challenger Trophy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

India Record Famous Victory at Mohali

Its V-Day today for all Indians as India cruised to well earned victory against the Aussies. The Indians outplayed the tourists in all departments. The Australian lower middle order was ripped apart by Zaheer Khan as he took 3 wickets in four balls. Johnson and Clarke offered little resistance but were soon sent packing by the debutant, Mishra. The man of the match award was rightly given to Dhoni.

The Indian batting came good and the Indians were able to post huge scores in both innings. The Indians had a brilliant start from Sehwag and Gambhir and the famed Indian middle order built upon it. Farewell boy, Ganguly came up with a well carved century in the first innings. Dhoni missed his by only 8 runs. In the second innigs the Indian openers sent the men from down under on a leather hunt as Gambhir and Sehwag blistered on. Gambhir scored his maiden century in home soil. Dhoni provded some fireworks by promoting himself at no.3. The Indians set the kangaroos a stiff and improbable target of 516.

The Indian bowling bowled out of their skins and were rewarded with 20 kangaroo hides. Ishant and Zaheer provided India starts and were backed up by the spinners. Bhajji (Harbhajan) playing in his home ground chipped in with useful wickets. But the man of the match was debutant Amit Mishra. He steam-rolled the Aussies scalping 5 wickets for 76. Again in the second innings he came up with two wickets. The Indian bowling unit looks well oiled and really lethal.

Even the Indian fielding came good and catches were not put down. Runs were saved and the body language of the Indians was good. The Australian high standard of fielding was way below par as catches were dropped and midfields occurred.

The Indian team outplayed the Aussies in all departments and Punter (Ponting) too said. The match would surely be etched in one’s mind forever for many reasons. Tendulkar became the highest run scorer in Test cricket history and also crossed 12,000 runs. Ganguly scored his century and crossed 7,000 runs. The BCCI have been given a headache over selection as a young leggie on debut managed to topple the worlds greatest. Dhoni led fearlessly and also led from the front as did Sehwag and Gambhir. Or the reason seeing a debutant display nerves as he bowled with craft and precision against the best in the world. But the greatest reason for remembrance would the reason that Indians have finally avenged for the Sydney test and have beaten the world champions. For the Australians the last frontier will always be a lost frontier.

Surely India is on the conquest to be the best in Test cricket.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Master Blaster Runs Again

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar just scored his 12000th run in Test cricket being the first to do so. Earlier in the day he became the highest run-getter in the history of cricket surpassing Lara's record.

The Master Blaster needed just 15 runs today to overtake Lara's Test match tally of 11,953 runs and establishing a fourth world record in his illustrious career. The 35-year-old batting maestro is already the world's top-scorer in One-Day International (16,361) and has the most centuries in Test matches (39) and One-dayers (42). The Mumbaikar came close to surpass Lara's milestone in the drawn first Test in Bangalore but he fell short of just 15 runs after playing a gritty knock of 49 runs in the second innings to help India seal a draw. Sad that wasn't his day.

But today he scored his 10th half century against the Aussies and has broken two records.

Tendulkar still remains the most admired cricketer from all quarters the world ranging from experts to cricket ardent fans despite not being in his best of form off late. Also one of my Favorites. He is like the god of Indian cricket. Maybe cricket. Period.

I just wonder how much milestones this great man would break (I think he has broken almost all) and make when he decides to hang up his boots.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bengaluru Test Ends In a Draw

Bengaluru Test Ends In a Draw. So what else is new? India held it's nerves didn't it.

Sad, Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed 14 runs short of equalling Brian Lara's world runs record as India on for a draw in the first Test against Australia on Monday and Cameron White picked up his first wicket. What a match for him!!!!

"It is always difficult to start a series in India, so I am happy the way we played this one," said Australia captain Ricky Ponting after the close. "I thought we had a good chance to force a win today, but full credit to India, who batted very well.
"This was a good wicket to play on because there was some bounce till the end. I think we need to improve in a few areas and now have two days to refresh ourselves for Mohali."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Ever Wagging Indian Tail

In the third day of the Bengaluru (Bangalore) Test between Indian and Australia, India got off to a horrific start. India found Gambhir and Sehwag back in the pavilion early after strikes from Lee and Mitchel Johnson. Tendulkar and Laxman followed soon after taking Johnson's tally to 3. India was struggling at 106 for 4 when Ganguly walked in. Dravid and Ganguly tried to steady the Indian ship but Dravid was dismissed by Shane Watson after a fighting 51. The scoreboard read 155 for 5. Dhoni soon followed Dravid adding only 9 runs. From 195 for 6 Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh took the score to 232 before Ganguly fell 3 runs short of his half century.

Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh entertained the disappointed crowd by playing shots all over the ground and more importantly helping India recover. The two added 80 runs as Harbhajan helped himself to a handy half century. The hosts ended the day at 313 for 8 recovering from 232 for seven. It's still 117 runs behind the Aussies but the Indian Tail came up with valuable runs. Zaheer stayed not out on 35.

In the first session of the fourth day India added another 47 runs as Zaheer Khan finished undefeated on 57. India are only 70 runs behind the Aussies.

The Aussies extended their lead to 263 runs as they finished 193 for 5 with Watson and Haddin at stumps.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How Ganguly built a golden era in Indian cricket

This is an awesome cricket slide show by Cricket Next dedicated to the man whom we all come to adore. It is filled with facts and takes you through the timeline of The Prince. It talks about,
'A golden era in Indian cricket'. A must visit for any Indian cricket fan.

Declared the Innings, Unhappily

Saurav Ganguly has announced his retirement but he is not happy about it. In a interview to a Bengal newspaper, he said, "There is no point playing like this. I am not willing to play at their (selectors') mercy. They will pick you now and then dump you. Why should I be the sacrificial goat all the time? It was difficult to accept." Surely he felt that he was a easy target who can be axed when the selectors felt that they had to. He was surely insecure.
Ganguly, yesterday vented out his frustration saying, "I have played enough cricket. Everything is possible in Indian cricket. There are players who haven't scored for last three series for India, even for the last one year,". He also added, "There are some who have changed their hairstyle more than they have scored for India. I am bound to feel bad. I had to fight with my heart. If there is a gun to your head all the time, how long can you bear this? After all, I have played 400 matches for India. I have played badly in only one series Yet every Tom, Dick and Harry is playing in the team."

The former skipper said, that his exclusion from the Rest-of-India team in the Irani Trophy by the selection panel led by Dilip Vengsarkar was the last nail in the coffin and didn't want to face any more humiliation from them.

"I never thought I will be out of the Irani team. I couldn't sleep for one month in anger, agony. Had this committee (new selection committee) come three years ago, things might have been different," said the 36-year-old left hander. "I didn’t like the way I was dropped from Irani Trophy and that is when I decided to quit. It took me around 2 weeks to come to this decision,” he said.

The Prince Justified his actions and said, "How long would I have played? Maybe upto 2009. Maybe seven more Tests. For that I was not prepared to take any more humiliation. I was tired of being humiliated again and again. I don't want to play cricket at the mercy of others."

This repeated humiliation should have forced anyone into retirement and I am unhappy Ganguly finally decided to call it a day though that was what I would have done in his own shoes.

His angry outburst will probably do the BCCI good, as it dosen't know how to treat a Legand who is an Indian player and the only player after Kapil to lead the Indian team to a World Cup finals.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Putting Demons to Rest

Just as the title suggests, someone put his demons to rest today. Australian skipper, Ricky Ponting scored his first century in India today at Bengaluru. 'Punter' (ponting) who has amassed runs all over the world averages just about 12 runs with just two half centuries to his name. Ponting has had two unsuccessfully tours to India and today he in his third trip showed the world that he is a class player who can and probably will (hopefully not if your an Indian like me) score runs in the matches to come.

Ponting is a player who tends to get into the front-foot a lot and that has been his un-doing in many instances. He likes the ball coming on to the bat and and tends to push at the spinners. Harbhajan Singh has dismissed him in nine out of ten times in India and the new (not so new now) pace sensation Ishant Sharma had troubled him deeply Down-under.

But today after walking in at number three to face only the fourth ball of the innings (Hayden was dismissed by Zaheer in the third ball) took lot of guts and nerves. Being watchful to the Indian seemers early in the innings, Ponting settled in.

Punter became the first person with 16 centuries as captain when he broke Sunil Gavaskar's record of centuries. The Tasmanian thoroughly enjoyed his knock and probably would rate it among his best even though it was one of his slower ones.

Ponting strung a crucial century partnership with Simon Katich and an another 60 runs with Micheal Hussey. Ponting then fell to his old nemesis, Harbhajan Singh trying a sweep shot. But by then the Aussie captain had scored 123 of 243 balls studded with 13 hits to the fence.

Australia ended the day at 254 for 4 with Ponting scoring the bulk of the runs. Surely he has struck form at last in India and it sure doesn't sound good if you are an Indian fan.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Final Curtain

A legendary batsman today decided to hang up his boots after a final battle with the Aussies in his own backyard. I couldn't believe my ears and thought my dad was pulling my leg when he said that Saurav Ganguly has officially announced his retirement. So I flipped through the news channels and was not ready for what I saw. It was true. One of the four jewels of the famed Indian middle-order has announced his retirement.

I write this hoping wondering 'why?', But I know that it was a wise design as only he knows when. The aggressive lefty was the most successfully and probably the most influential captain India ever had and will have for a long time. Ganguly will leave behind a lasting legacy when he walks back on the 10Th of November in Nagpur having played his last game. Former Indian skipper Azharuddin also agrees with me and said, "I am really surprised to hear this. He was the top performer against Pakistan some time ago ... I really feel he had a few years of cricket left in him. But perhaps it's the player who knows himself best."

The attacking left-hander had a dream debut in the summer of 1996 scoring a century(136) announcing to the world a new era was starting. Even to date his 136 remains the highest score scored by a batsman on his debut. Ganguly followed this with another ton at Trent Bridge announcing the arrival of the Prince. In May 1999 'Dada' scored his highest in ODIs (183) in Taunton against Sri Lanka in the World Cup, it was the highest score by a Indian then. And in the September 1999, he was awarded the greatest honour - to lead the Indian team. Ganguly made his captaincy debut in the Coca-Cola Singapore Challenge tournament. July 2002 was a memorable year etched in any Indian's memory. It was the year Saurav led India to victory in the Natwest series against Freddy Flintoff's team. Him taking of his shirt in the Lord's balcony and waving it around signalling the successful conquest will always remain in my mind. 2003 was a test for Ganguly as he was battling to regain his form yet he led India to the finals of the World Cup in South Africa. A united India under Ganguly reached the finals first time since 1983 and would have taken the cup had it not been for Ponting. In 2004 he became the first Indian captain to win a test series in Pakistan and also became the most successful Indian captain with 15 test wins. In November 2005 the Prince's 5 year reign as over the Indian team came to an end followed by him being unceremoniously sacked from the team. Many speculated the end was nigh (I was one of the many who thought I would never see the Prince pelting the ball through off-side again with his glorious stroke-plays.). But it was not to be. After 16 months, He made a fairytale come-back to the Indian team and returned from the South African tour as the highest run-getter. He scored 98 in his come-back ODI match in Nagpur against the West Indies and hence got selected in the Indian world cup team of 2007. Ganguly stood tall against Bangladesh with a watch full half-century as the other batsman around him collapsed. He returned from the Indies being the second highest run-getter. He scored 249 runs at 49.80 in India's series win in England to cement his place in both Test and ODI squads in the autumn of 2007. He smashed his first double century and got man of the series against Pakistan scoring 534 in the Nov-Dec months of 2007. And now in October 2008 he decides to call it a day.

The Bengal Tiger had a amazing ability to send the ball through the off-side and was known to play spinners well. Muralitharan was one of the spinners whom he looked to attack and usually succeed in lofting him over the mid-wicket fence. Ganguly was also an awesome captain who stood by his team a hundred percent. He also gained the respects of his team mates and also his rivals. The south-paw always loved challenges and his determined come-back in South Africa show his undaunted spirit and his willingness to fight even when all odds are against him.

Ganguly is India's most successful left-hander and has amassed 6,888 runs in 109 tests at a average of 41.74 with 15 centuries. In the ODIs he had a better time in the top order scoring 11,363 runs in 311 matches at an average of 41.02 with 22 tons. Ganguly also bowls brisk medium pace and is known as a partnership-breaker. He has 100 wickets in the shorter format.

I'd like to wish Ganguly all the best and hope he enjoys his last outing against the kangaroos. Your legend will always remain with every fan and so will your wonderful memories. Thank you for entertaining and captivating your fans (including me) for the last 15 years. I wish you all the best for the future. Farewell Ganguly.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Today was the third day of the four-day practice match between the Indian Board President's 11 and the Australian team. Australia starting from 191 for 4 slumped to 218 for 9 after a splendid spell as Pragan Ojha and Pyuish Chawla ripped through the Australian batting. The two teenagers shared 8 wickets (5 by Chawla and 3 by Ohja) as the visitors were bowled out for 314.

Last man Stuart Clark who averages 11.80 with the bat in 18 tests came out with a firm and defiant resistance with Mr. Cricket (Micheal Hussey). Hussey scored a mammoth ton (126)while his counterpart scored 44 runs as they put on 96 runs for the last wicket. Clark a number 11 batsman came up with four boundaries and two sixes in his heroic knock saving the Aussies the blushes. Imagine being Yuvi (Yuvraj), the captain of Indian Board President's 11 thinking his team is winning (walking all over the Aussies) when a number 11 batsman comes and puts on a 96 run stand to help Australia avoid the follow-on. It would must been damn frustrating mustn't?

That's what you call a brave resistance.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

King of comebacks

Saurav Ganguly is well known for his many Resurrections and yesterday when the five wise men headed by Krish Srikanth decided to include the southpaw in the upcoming series against Australia, Ganguly had resurrected himself again. After being left out of the Rest of India team in the Irani Trophy many people including this very intelligent blogger questioned his future.
But Ganguly time and again continues to impress with his many comebacks. The aggressive middle order stroke player was sacked by BCCI as captain and soon from the Indian team after strained relations with the then coach of India, Greg Chappel. Many including me thought we would never see the classy left-hander ever again in the international arena, but after 16 months he came back to the international scene and became the highest run-getter in tests for India last year surpassing Tendulkar. He handled the conditions in South Africa and England and scored his first double century. But 2008 has not been so good as Ganguly had only a decent performance down under and in the Emerald Isles, he had a nightmarish experience.
But now that Cheeka (Krish Srikanth) and his team of wise men have handed Saurav another lifeline be sure that Ganguly will perform. You can never count the Prince of Calcutta out as he is the king of comebacks.