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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Adelaide Test Review



The inevitable has finally happened and India have suffered a 4-nil loss in the test series after losing in humiliating fashion by 298 runs at Adelaide [SCORECARD].



Double Trouble - In this series Clarke and Ponting have shared some memorable partnerships and this was yet another time that the two would torment the Indian bowlers.  They both helped themselves to wonderful double hundreds and starred in a mammoth 386 run partnership for the 4th wicket.  They made the best of a hapless Indian bowling attack and managed to score at a very fast rate.  Their long stand in the middle helped put Australia in the driving seat for the rest of the match.


The bowlers who scored centuries - Four of the Indian bowlers managed to cross the three figure mark.  Problem was that it was in the bowling scorecard.  Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin all managed to go over 100 runs and looked helpless as Ponting and Clarke helped themselves the runs.  Yadav had a particularly bad first innings going for 136 runs in just 26 overs at over 5 per over.  The Indian bowlers were highly inconsistent with their lines and lengths and the Aussie batsmen made the most of it.

Kohli's maiden century - Virat Kohli, probably the lone positive for India in the series managed to score his maiden test century as he stood tall as the other Indian batsmen came and went.  His innings was full of concentration and Kohli seems to have a bright future as he looks technically correct and has the temperament to succeed.  He was involved in a nasty mid-pitch incident with Peter Siddle and he stood tall fighting fire with fire and showing that he means business in his usual arrogant way.  His 116 was followed by a 22 in the second innings and was the highest run scorer for India in the match.



The rumors - On the fourth day of the test match there were news reports that Dravid was retiring from International cricket an that the announcement would be coming out in the final day.  In the end it turned out to be just rumors as Dravid came out and said that he wasn't planning anything at the moment and was taking it one series at a time.  Earlier Dravid who in 7 innings had been bowled managed to finally get out in another fashion - Caught by Hussey of Harris much to the relief of his fans.

4 - nil - Finally the dreaded result has happened and India have now lost the last 8 overseas test match.  Something is definitely wrong and some touch decisions have to be taken in the coming months to make sure that such a result never again happens and if so it does happen, it won't be India on the side with the zero.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The missing brick in the wall



Rahul Dravid is known as the wall and is the personification of the perfect textbook defense in cricket.  He is the epitome of the conventional breed of cricketers and brings the old charm of test cricket in modern day cricket where its all about striking the ball big with utter disregard for bowlers.  Dravid the technically correct batsmen has for a long time stood as an example to be cited by coaches all over the world to young cricketers and teach them the art of batting.  However that man now seems to be a pale shadow of himself and his methodical technique that once was considered the best in the modern era seems to be unraveling itself from the man.


In his last 7 innings (counting the first innings at Adelaide), Rahul Dravid has been dismissed in the same way.  Every single time he has been bowled and had his furniture disturbed.  A worrying sight for any batsmen and one that confounds Dravid.  For a batsman known best for his rock solid defense, being bowled is without doubt the worst possible way to be dismissed.  Time and time again the red cherry has found a way past the willow and the pad and struck timber and without Dravid's presence at the crease on testing Aussie conditions, the Indian middle order has struggled.


The thing that is most surprising with this particular mode of dismissal is that being bowled is perhaps the last way of getting out you'd associate with a generally defensive player such as Dravid.  As someone who has an excellent forward defense, the gap between the the bat and pad is something that is quite alarming to note.  Also Dravid is a player who is known for his immense powers of concentrations and his presence of mind around the corridor of uncertainty and the ability to judge the lengths of the ball quick, but not that doesn't seem to be the case. Dravid did come out and say that he didn't feel there was any problems with his technique but now with three more similar dismissals I'm sure he like the rest of us feels something is amiss.


The gap between the bat and pad which once was a rock solid wall now resembles the Gateway of India and the sight of Dravid being castled over is one of the few sights in cricket that I rather not watch.  The cause of the missing brick in the wall is difficult to figure out.  Perhaps it can attributed to some minor flaw in Dravid's technique, or the pressure of the need to perform after a long disastrous tour, or maybe old age is catching up and his reflexes have slowed down.  Ganguly has attributed Dravid's failure to his lack of footwork and talking about Dravid, the former Indian skipper said,
"For Dravid, the problem of the ball rattling the stumps continues. I can't remember him getting bowled so many times in his career and it's becoming a worry for him and a lot of people connected with the game. He just seems to get surprised by the deliveries coming into him and the bat face turns, which allows the ball to go through. That fluency of the footwork has gone completely missing and he will have to work very hard to get it back."
Perhaps that is the problem, or perhaps not and a more complex one exists.  Whatever the case, the missing brick is causing the entire wall to crumble and for a man well into the last leg of his career, it will be interesting to see how he handles this and overcomes it.  There is no doubt that the missing brick's place will be filled up with another eventually, but will it happen before the cracks open up and the entire wall is pulled down?


Dravid in his Bradman Oration said that the veterans of the Indian team have returned to Australia for one last time as creaking Terminators however unlike the Terminator they haven't made much impact if any at all and left behind an Aussie wreckage.  Dravid perhaps has one final opportunity to set the record set at Adelaide.  Hopefully the case of the missing brick in the wall can be solved soon and the wall restored to its former glory.

Friday, January 20, 2012

England's Spin Trouble



The world's number one ranked test team lost by 10 wickets to Pakistan within just three days [SCORECARD] and there are alarm bells going all over the English camp.  Of course it is not a big surprise that England lost the match but what is surprising or rather attention grabbing is that the convincing fashion of their defeat.  Surely this is not the same English team that won the Ashes last year and routed India 4-nil in their backyard?

A dejected English team walking off.
England like most teams have a good record at home.  A very good record and without a doubt are the number one team in the world in English conditions.  But take away the comforts and the security of their small island, then you got yourself a team that looks hardly competitive and plays much like how India have been going about in their current series in Australia.

English batsmen have always struggled in the sub-continent and have never been able to better the spinners.  Rarely do you associate an English batsman who bested a spinner in the sub-continent.  Of course there are a few names such as Ian Botham in 1986 who kept sweeping the Indian spinners but overall the English batsmen have come up with little to answer the turning ball and it is this chink in their armor that is bringing their entire team down.

Super Spinner! 
In the match against Pakistan in Dubai on a spinning track, Saeed Ajmal managed to pick up 7 wickets on the very first day!  The pitch certainly wasn't that bad, and Saeed Ajmal despite being a wonderful bowler who in the last year has transformed from an ordinary bowler to someone with great abilities and potential, didn't look life threatening.  Granted that he bowled great nevertheless and kept the bowling pretty tight and managed to beat the mat over and over again, it was more of the failure of the English batsmen in reading him rather than him outperforming them.  Ajmal ended the match with 10 wickets and in the second innings looked a much ordinary bowlers as Trott played a  mature knock showing his fellow comrades how to approach spin bowling.

Ian Bell fell to Saeed Ajmal twice in the match!

Playing spin is a special skill and a different art of batsmanship and if the English batsmen specially in Strauss, Bell and Pietersen don't learn this then the series can very well end in a whitewash with the English having to return home with their tails between their legs.

Time and time again I repeated that the though the rankings show that England are number one test team, they still aren't unless they come over to the sub-continent and win a couple of matches and brave over their spin worries.  And it is this challenge that the team now faces against a new look Pakistan team that is looking to start on a clean slate and forget the spot-fixing saga.  Though I expected England to lose against Pakistan, I never did expect it in this convincing fashion and the alarm bells ringing now might just be the start of a long, tiresome strife for the English team.

Can the English team pick themselves up?
Its just been one match, and England would be hoping that they can see off the spin threat in the second match, and level the series.  However the question mark remains not will they but can they?  I just wonder how successful Australia's wizard and English batsmen tormentor - Shane Warne would have been had he not played all those tests against the English. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Perth Test Review



Today is what was supposed to be the final day of the test match at the WACA sees no action as the game was all over two days ago, and here I am trying yet again to review another test match that India have lost in humiliating fashion.  On a pitch with good bounce and having no demons, the Indian team capitulated for just 161 runs and from then on chased the match.  Australia once again piled on the runs much to the misery of the Indians as David Warner hit a brilliant 180 knocking the wind out of the Indians.  India again capitulated in the second innings suffering an innings and 37 runs defeat [SCORECARD].


The Indian Batting Surrender - India is always known to have a soft underbelly but the way the batting has capitulated this series is just appalling.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have seen a batting line up with the stalwarts such as Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag and Laxman surrendering so easily to any team.  It is a sad sight to behold and one that evokes many questions.  Watching the pathetic display by the Indian batsmen, West Indies opener Chris Gayle has offered to help and tweeted,
"I'm waiting on clearance from BCCI to play in the 4th Test against Australia."

Kohli - the lone positive - Virat Kohli finally came into his own and managed to top score for India in both the innings.  He looked a lot more relaxed and watching him flick the ball through mid-wicket n the second innings was one of the few things that was truly worth watching from the Indian perspective.  The kid seems to have a bright future and if he can convert his starts into big scores then he has a long way to go wearing the whites.

Bulldog Warner - David Warner was the sledgehammer that knocked the life completely out of India at Perth.  Having been dismissed for just 161, I'm sure Dhoni would have been wishing for a few early wickets.   Unfortunately he got Warner who was true to his aggressive self and launched into the Indian bowling and tore it up.  It was all beautiful and horrible at the same time watching as the opener with ease sent the leather to the boundary.  Have Australia found their Sehwag?


Hilfy the Wrecker - If the Indian batting surrendered and collapsed, credit has to be given to the Aussie bowlers who kept a very tight line outside the off-stump. Ben Hilfenhaus was simply stunning and with 8 wickets next to his name I'm sure he is a very pleased man.  Watching Hilfenhaus bowl was like having a knife at your skin.  He always looked threatening and you just knew a wicket would fall soon and this series has proved more than a handful for the Indians.

3 - nil. - So the score now is 3 - nil and India stare at a possible whitewash.  Will they be able to reverse the tide at Adelaide or is it further embarrassment for the men in blue?



Lets hope that that the team at least manages a draw at Adelaide. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who said taping is only required for fielding?



After Virat Kohli infamously did the one finger salute at the MCG and had 50% of his match fees taken away, another member of the Indian cricket team has come out and done the same.


This time Ishant Sharma showed the salute when a few locals were apparently sledging him as he was getting into the bus during the team's trip to the go-karting tracks.  


Dhoni and the senior team management after careful consideration have decided to do their best to assist the members of the team stay out of trouble.  According to sources Sehwag suggested that the two players' fingers be heavily taped so that they will not be able to show any despicable gestures.  Captain MS Dhoni immediately agreed to the suggestion contrary to reports that Sehwag and Dhoni are fighting.  



Who said that taping your fingers is only required for fielding?  It can help keep you out of trouble.  Zaheer Khan is reported to have said that if only they could tape Brad Haddin's mouth.  

So it won't be a surprise if we see Ishant and Kohli heavily strapped and taped at WACA this Friday.  If that does happen then it would very interesting to see how Ishant bowls with a heavily taped hand.  


In other news, Rahul Dravid turns 39 years today!  Here's wishing 'The Wall' a very happy birthday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Haddin and Zaheer exchange Verbal volleys



Aussie vice captain Brad Haddin has started the usual mind games as the teams gear up for the third test at Perth and has said that the Indian team 'break faster' than any other team.


India who have had a nightmare tour so far have lost both the tests till date in humiliating fashion and look like a rag torn outfit despite having a very formidable batting unit.  Haddin on radio spoke of the Indian team and said,
"We know this side can be as fragile as any team in the world if things aren't going their way and they can turn on each other and the media turns on them pretty quick. We knew if we could keep them out there and put the numbers like we did on the board we knew we'd get the rewards because they break quicker than anyone in the world."
India who have lost their last 6 overseas tests do look weak.  However calling the team fragile and easily breakable would be a mistake.  Past India - Australia encounters have shown that.  The Indian team might be struggling at the moment and going through a lean patch but calling them easily breakable is at your own risk.  This team is one that thrives when their backs are against the walls and now trailing 2-nil, and with all odds against them, I'm sure that it would be just a matter of time before the team starts playing to its full potential and pose a challenge for the hosts.


Zaheer Khan who for the first time in his career has been fit long enough in an Australian tour to be available for selection at the WACA has hit back at Haddin saying,
"Brad Haddin should focus on his keeping. That looks really fragile to me. He needs to start moving."
Haddin has dropped three catches so far and has had a difficult time behind the stumps.  Zaheer also dubbed Haddin as the Australian team's designated big mouth.

These tirades will have little meaning on Friday when the two teams clash on what according to the curator is supposed to be a pitch for the faster bowlers.  Zaheer Khan however isn't flustered by that fact and said,
"Doesn't matter what kind of pitch it is, the distance between the wickets is going to remain 22 yards."
The Indian batsmen and bowlers would have their work cut out and I'm sure that we'll be seeing some major improvements in the Perth test.  Zaheer Khan will have a huge role to play and hopefully Haddin will be made to eat humble pie.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Greatest catch ever? [VIDEO]



Is this the greatest catch in the history of cricket?  Perhaps.  I can however I can assure you that this catch is the epitome of awesomeness! 


The match is from New Zealand domestic HRV Twenty20 competition. The fielder who dives over the rope is Bevan Small.  Small catches the ball in the air while crossing over the boundary rope, but manages to throw the ball out just before hitting the ground to Michael Mason who completes the catch.  Interesting to note that Bevan Small who does all the work doesn't even get his name on the scorecard!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Sydney Test Review



Another humiliating defeat [SCORECARD] and its now the result of the series is almost carved in stone.  India's batting and bowling both were pathetic this test and all credit must be given to the Aussie bowlers in the first innings who beautifully set up the match.  However from the Indian perspective there are a few positives specially from the second innings as the famed Indian batting after 9 overseas innings managed to cross the score of 300 in a innings.  Michael Clarke alone did that this test, though.


Pup finally grows up - After a struggling start to his captaincy honeymoon, Clarke finally seems to have finally come into his own and looks like a good leader and someone who will follow the long line of illustrious captains Australia has had.  Also as a batsman he is going through a wonderful purple patch and his triple century was just breath taking.  He did have the help of the Indian fielders but nevertheless Clarke was just brilliant and watching him bat was a treat despite the fact that meant that he was digging India's grave.
I'll take dog, I've been called worse so dog's a compliment.Michael Clarke replied when asked whether he will ever shed the nickname Pup. To uproarious laughter, Michael Hussey suggested "Dog".
Also I admire the way Clarke declared early despite the fact that he was 329 and could easily gone on to score more runs and make a few records and perhaps even break Lara's 400.  But the fact that he refrained from doing so and declared as soon as Hussey hit 150, shows that he puts his role as a captain before as a batsman and that's a sign of a team player and one to look up to.  Also like in 2007 Clarke caught a catch at second slip which was really a bump ball and this time there was a different result as Clarke decided not to appeal and has gained my respect and admiration.

Indian bowling.  What bowling?  - The Indian team looked like they couldn't pick a wicket even if their lives depended on it and after having Australia on the mat 37 for 3, the Indian bowling let go and Australia made merry scoring 622 runs for just the loss of a wicket.  Credit must be given to the way Ponting, Clarke and Hussey batted and also to the fact that the wicket was a good batting track but the plain sad truth was that the Indian bowling was totally ineffective and I doubt if they could have gotten a fly out.  It was just uninspired bowling and lacked intensity.  Understandably the team was discouraged but the way they played was just pitiful.  Skipper Dhoni and the fielders also let the bowlers down and India had 4 centurions with the ball with Yadav, Zaheer, Ashwin and Ishant all going over 100 runs.


Angry Young Virat Kohli - Virat Kohli has had a very hard tour so far and has failed with the bat in all his four outings and looks likely that he would be dropped for the Perth match, but the thing that caught my attention was the incident where Kohli flashed his middle finger at the crowd after they taunted him and started calling his mother and sister names.  Touring Australia is always difficult and when the crowd says ugly things about people close to you and your team is doing horribly, you tend to get angry easily and find the need to vent your frustration, but as a professional Kohli should have refrained from making that gesture.  Kohli is a highly talented kid and is all tipped to be the next captain of India, but I don't see that happening unless he stops this monkey business.


Pink!  Pink!  Pink! - The third day of the Sydney test which is always known as Jane McGrath Day which helps raise awareness and funds for breast cancer and the McGrath Foundation saw the entire crowd at the SCG dressed in pink and it was great to see everyone support a worthy cause.  However one person stood out among them all and Brett Lee from his socks, shoes and to his hair was in pink and looked just...so pink!

Finding Form - This match certainly helped a few players find their rhythm and helped them regain their form.  Ponting (134) and Hussey (150*) both who have been going to a dry spell helped themselves on a flat pitch brought up two majestic centuries.  On the Indian side, Gambhir scored 83 in the second innings which is his highest in Australia and VVS Laxman who till now looked out of sorts also managed a half century.

Captain Dhoni's Aberrations - Dhoni whom I consider to be a decent captain showed otherwise this match and made some incomprehensible decisions.  His captaincy was not only uninspired but also utter rubbish to say anything,  In the first session of day 3, Dhoni bowled Ashwin having a deep point and not one time did the ball travel to Tendulkar fielding there.  Now you can blame the bowlers, but what can they do if they do not get attacking field sets.  With no catchers in position, how can one possibly expect to pick wickets. Dhoni should have realized that the defensive field set wasn't working and changed tactics when the Aussie batsmen were at ease and scoring at a fast rate of over 4 per over, but he didn't and Australia subsequently piled on 600+ runs. Now not only do we have a batting line up that is keen on capitulating and a bowling unit incapable of picking up wickets but a skipper who seems to have run out of ideas. Not always was Dhoni like this and I still remember him to be quite attacking when he first took over the reigns in 2007 but now he seems to have gone into a shell and must rediscover himself and reevaluate his role as the leader of the team.



So another loss and I just hope something happens so that it doesn't become a repeat of the 2011 English summer where we lost 4-nil.

Monday, January 2, 2012

7 things I wish happens in 2012



Its a new year and here are a couple of things I wish happens in the world of cricket this year.


1.) Sachin Tendulkar's 100th century
It's been quite some time and I'm getting tired of waiting for the little master to hit this elusive century.  Its just a tiny landmark, milestone but one that means a lot and hopefully this year he'll cross the boundary and not only hit his 100th century but a few more after that.

2.) Ending the DRS debate
I'm fed up with all the debate and confusion raging behind the DRS and its high time that the ICC sets down its foot and either implements it all together or does not.  It just cannot be left the way it is now, but I guess this is far fetched considering the BCCI's stance against the DRS.

3.) Avenge the English for last summer
England routed India last summer and dethroned the team from its number one rank in test cricket.  Those wounds are still fresh and I would like nothing better than revenge when the English team tour later this year.

4.) Retain the Border - Gavaskar trophy
India might be trailing 1-0 heading into the new year, but I still hope and pray that this Indian team comes back and wins the series and retains the Border -Gavaskar trophy.  We'll know if this wish becomes a reality in the next couple of weeks.

5.) The number one rank in test cricket
I so wish that India will once again attain the highest level in test cricket.  Very unlikely, but I can dream, can't I?


6.) Better scheduling 
There is too much cricket and people all over the world are voicing this and I just hope this year will be a little different where the fans are given more importance and we don't have more meaningless ODIs and 2 test match series.

7.) The Wicket Post to reach half a million page hits
As I write this The Wicket Post has 152,234 page hits and surely half a million is achievable?  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!





Here's wishing all the readers a very happy New Year!