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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bradmanesque Clarke!

Fifth century of the year!
Michael Clarke has been having the time of his life this year as a batsman and his dream run continued today as he brought up his fifth century of the year with a fluent 106 against a hapless Sri Lankan bowling attack! The knock helped him cross Ricky Ponting's record of most runs in a calendar year set in 2005. Clarke in this year has accumulated 1595 runs at an average of 106.33.

Clarke's knock of 106 today is the the lowest 100 plus score by him this year, as on the four previous occasions he had crossed the 200 mark. The Sri Lankan bowlers must have surely been sighing a relief when they saw him walk back after Eranga forced the Australian skipper into playing a loose shot, and happy that he hadn't converted the score to even a bigger one.

Clarke this year has scored a century (106 today vs. Sri Lanka), three double centuries (210 vs. India, 259* and 230 vs. South Africa), and a triple century (329* vs. India). His four scores of two hundred or more has already put him ahead of Bradman and Ponting. But to put all this into some perspective, let's compare it with some other numbers.

Most runs in a single calendar year by an Australian. (click to enlarge)
Looking at the top 10 run-getters for Australia in a calendar year, we can clearly see Michael Clarke being streets ahead. All the other players in the list have played more than 20 innings. Ricky Ponting in 2003 is the exception, having played 18 innings, which is equal to what Clarke has played this year, but the difference in runs is decent margin of 92 runs. 

Clarke's career stats and 2012 stats comparison. (click to enlarge)
Comparing Clarke's 2012 statistics with his career statistics, we see a mammoth difference. His average is more than double his career average and that tells a story in itself! 

So what has made Clarke transform into Bradmanlike mode this year? Is it the added responsibility of captaincy that has been driving his performance? That very well can be the reason. However digging further into stats, we see Clarke's performance starting to slowly improve since late 2010. In 2011, he averaged 63.38 and this season as we know, has been nothing short of prolific.

Clarke has been living a dream this year and I'm sure he'll remember this year forever. He led Australia to some memorable wins, and slowly is overseeing the rise of the Australian team. He played in the IPL and made an impact and even off the field, he made his conquest, getting married to Kyly Boldy. Perhaps that has been another reason for his awesome run.

Michael Clarke when asked what he thought of the press calling 'top dog', laughed and said "I'll take dog, I've been called worse so dog's a compliment." Surely the pup has become the top dog! The year 2012 perhaps should have been the year of the dog.

50 reasons to date a cricketer

Just ask Lara Bingle about dating cricketers!
1) We always wear protection

2) We can still find the gaps no matter how hard the fields set

3) We look for gaps and play into them

4) We are capable of pulling anything

5) We're not afraid to introduce a third man if required

6) We appreciate legs whether they be fine, short, long or even square

7) We like tickling one down towards long leg

8) We try to avoid 'spraying it'

9) We can go on and on and on for many days

10) We like to play straight

11) We can bat on both grassy and grassless wickets

12) We build long partnerships

13) We know how to vary the pace to good effect

14) We believe in good helmet protection

15) We're not afraid to spit on our fingers to get the shiny side gleaming

16) We have remarkable stamina with all-round performance

17) We score many times

18) We understand the need for covers and extra covers

19) We definitely know how to 'bang it in'

20) We appreciate a good tail-end

21) We have a genuine line and length

22) We know how to get a good use of the pitch we play on.

23) We know how to use our bats skillfully while on the crease

24) We can bowl a maiden over

25) We can play short but entertaining cameos

26) We know how to arch our backs and give it just that little bit more

27) We're a big fan of video replays

28) We always try to hit the right spot

29) We know how to add that extra bit of pressure

30) We're not afraid of a couple of decent bouncers

31) We never underestimate the value of an overnight stand

32) We usually get through 3 sessions a day

33) We British cricketers relish the chance to go 'down under'

34) We know that chasing a wide one can lead to regret

35) We're not afraid to bring technology into the game

36) We also love to put it in 'The Corridor of Uncertainty'

37) We appreciate the importance of playing in the V

38) We love to finish on a high

39) We know it's a threat by bringing in a man closer

40) We can even review it if you don't like the decision 

41) We can even be unorthodox at times

42) Because our weapons are often wrapped with at least one if not TWO rubber sleeves

43) Because with perfect timing we can penetrate a tight ring

44) Obviously we always carry well maintained, knocked in and oiled wood!

45) Once we get in you'll be hit for six

46) Cricketers know for sure that 69 for 2 is a great position to be in

47) Even if it rains it's most likely a different method can come into play

48) If it starts to get wet we are always sure to have spare sheets and covers

49) You'll find people from around the world; Australian, Bangladeshi, English, Indian, New Zea-lander, Pakistani, South African, West Indian; Pretty much any other country you can think of

50.) A full toss in the face is always an accident and will be apologized for straight away

Courtesy - 50 Reasons to Date A Cricketer (a humorous cricket fan page on Facebook. Go ahead and like them and spread the love)

Women readers of this blog, this post is particularly for you. These are 50 reasons why you should date cricketers. And men, here are 50 reasons to forward this post to that girl, you want to go out with. After all once they go with a cricketer, they'll never go back.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is Bhuvneshwar Kumar Santa's gift to India?

The man who swings it like a banana. 
There's nothing worse for an Indian fan than a loss to Pakistan [SCORECARD]. However there was a small silver lining to India's loss to Pakistan at Bangalore in the first T20 on Christmas day. The silver lining was a 22 year old boy from Uttar Pradesh, named Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was made his debut in the match.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar who by all omens was on track for great success when he dismissed Sachin Tendulkar for his first duck in first class cricket back in 2008. And yesterday, playing in his first cap for India, wearing the blue jersey he proved the omens right. Kumar ripped through the Pakistani top order with some stunning display of swing bowling, bending the ball like a banana. Quite literally - a banana, making me ask the question 'is Bhuvneshwar Kumar Santa's gift to India?'

The very first strike of Kumar was Nasir Jamshed, whom he beautifully set up bowling out swingers and then managed to bring the ball in as a gap between bat and pad was created, castling the furniture. But the beauty of the wicket was the late exaggerated swing, that he achieved.

The second strike was Ahmed Shezad, and it was not so stunning, but nevertheless it was a wicket. Bowling it a little wide of the off-stump, Kumar got Shezad to drive the ball which all the sudden started to go away from him, and he found himself nicking the ball to the keeper in a traditional driver off an out-swinger dismissal.

Akmal has no clue to this Kumar beauty!
The third strike of Umar Akmal, was the best one of the lot. The ball from Kumar seamed in and pitched two foot outside the line of off-stump but then the magic happened when all the sudden the ball's trajectory bent and it swung in sharply, missing the straight bat of Akmal and went on to clip the top of the middle stump to complete a couple seconds of crazy ecstasy. The dismissal was almost an identical one of the Irfan Pathan's dismissal of  Mohammad Yusuf at Karachi which completed his record hat-trick, but even that wasn't as crazy as this. This was better!  

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has gotten me all excited and the prospect of this man playing for India is something that is just wonderful to see. Uttar Pradesh is known for it's swing bowlers in recent times with the team bolstering names such as Praveen Kumar and RP Singh, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar seems to be in another level altogether. It's just one match, and that too a T20 match and it's not fair to judge a player on that lone performance. But here's hoping that this lad does have a bright future in Indian blues and maybe even the whites one day.

The very fact that one performance of this sort has gotten me excited, speaks of the lack of quality in India's pace department and India can do with a bowler like Kumar. They desperately need someone like him. And thank you Santa, for this gift. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wish every single reader of this blog, a very merry Christmas! 

As you open gifts, eat some delicious turkey and plum cake, and drink some rich red wine, don't forget the real reason for the celebration! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Best of Sachin Tendulkar in ODIs

Deepak Balamurali looks back at Sachin Tendulkar's ODI career and picks the best of Sachin Tendulkar in ODIs. Here are his top seven innings; presenting the best of the best of Sachin in ODIs.

The cricketing world was today left poorer by the exit of a certain Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar from the shorter format of the game. Cricket pundits all over the world have been paying their tributes – some calling it premature, a few saying it was long overdue, while the majority agreeing that it was a decision forced unto him by the group of lice we refer to as critics. Being a hardcore Sachin fan, someone who used to openly pray for a Sachin special even if he was up against my own Chennai Super Kings. I somewhat find it hard to digest that the whites are the only colors I’ll be seeing him in in the cricketing field henceforth.

I too wanted to pay homage to the cricketing giant in my small way. And as I was slowly recovering from this shocking news of his sudden exit, watching vintage video footage of  Sachin, I realized something – We’ve all had our top moments…Sachin too. Here are what I feel, would be his top 7 moments in the ODI format.

1.) 82 (49 balls, 15 fours and 2 sixes) vs. New Zealand - 1994 

When Sachin walked off at 117 for 2, he had destroyed the Kiwi bowling all by himself. 
This innings, played at Eden Park, Auckland against a strong Kiwi attack comprising Morrison, Larson and the rest, was the foundation to Tendulkar’s ODI greatness. Opening because of Sidhu's neck strain, Tendulkar put on 61 with Jadeja in just nine overs, and 56 in six with Kambli. He smashed three fours and a six off Larsen's first over and Kambli was just as hard on Morrison. India on Sachin's back reached the target with 160 balls remaining!

2.) 65 (88 balls, 9 fours) vs. Sri Lanka - 1996

On a dusty evening at the Eden Gardens, Sri Lanka raced to 251, with their sights on entering their first World Cup Final. Sachin Tendulkar, the leading run-scorer in that tournament scored 65 and put on a good partnership with the captain before departing. His departure ignited a collapse, and the famed Indian batting order collapsed like dominoes. The crowd resorted to violence. Sachin and Dalmiya had to talk to the crowd and reason with them. The match was forfeited but not before the world witnessed another one of Sachin's masterclass.

3.) 143 (131 balls, 9 fours and 5 sixes) vs. Australia - 1998 

Sachin played his greatest ODI innings in the midst of a sand storm 
Operation Desert Storm, was the first of a two part brilliance at Sharjah, the Mecca of ODI cricket, a memory that will forever be etched in the hearts of all Sachin fans. The manner in which he clinically dismantled the Australian bowling attack with contempt and disregard was just outstanding. He single-handedly ensured that India, despite losing that match, went on the qualify for the final, on better run rate. A couple of days later, he gave himself and the nation, an awesome birthday gift, notching up 134 off 131 balls, ensuring that team India emerged victors.

 4.) 140 (104 balls, 16 fours and 3 sixes) vs. Kenya - 1999

Sachin looks to the heavens after completing a century just a day after his father's funeral. 
Back in England, just two days after his father’s demise, Sachin cracked a sparkling century, putting on a record partnership with Rahul Dravid. This was an emotionally high knock and is up there with the best. His gesture of removing his helmet and looking up at the sky said it all! Only he could bring out the best in him, even in testing, turbulent times, and yet, make it look all very simple. Genius at work!

5.) 38 ( 37 balls, 3 fours and 3 sixes) vs. Australia - 2000 

This might not be fresh in many a fan’s memory, but, I vividly remember this for the war of words Tendulkar had with McGrath. Tendlya then showed Glenn who the big daddy was. There may have many a battle with the bowlers that was won with the bat answering (Read decimation of Warney, Caddick and others), but this one was special for the usually calm little Master also did a bit of talking before he launched into an aggressive blitz against McGrath.

6.) 98 (75 balls, 12 fours and a six) vs. Pakistan - 2003 

Sachin made a mockery of modern days greatest pace trios - Akram, Waqar and Akthar 
Saeed Anwar had hit yet another century and Pakistan had piled up 275 against their arch rivals in a high pressure game. Out came Sachin with side-kick Viru, dispatching the bowlers and sending the Pakistani fielders on a wild-goose chase. India raced to 50 by the end of the 5th over. Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akthar were made to look pedestrian, although they were nothing short of being one of the best bowling trios at that moment! The rest, as they say, is history.

7.) 175 (141 balls, 19 fours and 4 sixes) vs. Australia - 2009 

Tendulkar - pure awesomeness indeed!
The Aussies are no small pushovers and 175 off just 141 balls, against them in the shorter format shows Sachin's class. He was struggling on 37, yet did all of his running. Yet again, his team was so close to a win and faltered as soon as he left. This was one magical innings, sandwiched between two other big knocks of his, the quickfire 163 in Christchurch, where he had to head into the hut because of the cramps and the monumental 200* against the Proteas in Gwalior, where he effortlessly re-wrote the record books ! This knock, I’d say, was what would have given him the confidence that his body would support his quest to last an entire 50 overs at the crease. Awesomeness indeed.

I am extremely sad that I’ll not witness any such knocks in the future, but, I can proudly recollect to the future generations how I was alive, kicking and jumping up and down when a certain Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar kept enthralling us with belligerent strokes day in and day out.

See a complete compilation of Sachin Tendulkar's records in ODIs here.

Deepak Balamurali blogs here and tweets here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sachin Tendulkar's records in ODIs

With Sachin Tendulkar having called it a day in One Day Internationals, I decided to go through all his numbers and compile together all the ODI records he currently holds. Looking at the records, I only stand awed at just how much the master blaster has accomplished! In 2003, Wisden ranked Tendulkar as the number one ODI player of all time with Viv Richards taking second place. Now nearly a decade later, that remains true and the proof of that is below.

Sachin Tendulkar's records in ODIs

Most number of ODI appearances - 463 matches
Most number of runs - 18,426 runs
Most number of balls faced – 21,392
Most number of fours hit – 2,016
Most number of centuries - 49
Most number of fifties - 96
Most number of fifty plus scores - 145
Most number of man of the match awards - 62 
Most number of man of the series awards - 17 
Most number of stadium appearances - 90 different grounds
Most number of consecutive appearances - 185 (from April 25, 1990 to April 24, 1998)

Most number of runs in a single calendar year - 1894 runs
Most ODI Centuries in a calendar year - 9 centuries in 1998

Most number man of match awards against Australia - 10

Longest ODI career – 22 years and 91 days (Dec 18, 1989 – March 18, 2012)
Youngest Indian to make ODI debut – 16 years and 238 days

Highest batting average among batsmen with over 10,000 runs – 44.83
Second highest score in ODI history – 200*
Fastest to reach 10,000 runs - 259 innings

World Cup records

Second most appearances in World Cup matches - 45 matches, just one behind Ricky Ponting
Appeared in most number of World Cups - 6 editions (1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011), tied with Javed Miandad
Most runs scored in World Cups - 2,278 runs at an average of 56.95
Most centuries in World Cups - 6
Most fifties in World Cups - 15
Most fifty plus scores in World Cups - 21
Most consecutive fifties in World Cups - 4 (1996 & 2003)
Most number of the man of the match awards in World Cups - 9
Most number of runs in a single edition of World Cup - 673 runs in 2003 WC

Most number of runs in the 1996 World cup - 523 runs at an average of 87.16
Most number of runs in the 2003 World cup - 673 runs at an average of 61.18 

Partnership records

Most number of runs scored by any partnership - 8,227 runs with Sourav Ganguly
Most number of runs scored by an opening partnership - 6,271 runs with Sourav Ganguly
Most number of century partnership stand in a particular partnership - 26 with Sourav Ganguly
Most number of century partnership for opening pair - 22 with Sourav Ganguly
Highest partnership stand - 331 runs with Rahul Dravid against New Zealand in 1999
Most 100 run partnership stand - 91
Most 200 run partnership stand - 6 (tied with Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly)

Unique Sachin records

First cricketer to reach 10000 runs in the ODIs
First cricketer to reach 15000 runs in the ODIs
First player to score a double century in an ODI

Only player ever to cross the 14,000, 15,000, 16,000, 17,000, 18,000 run marks
Only player to have over 100 innings of 50+ runs (49 Centuries and 96 Fifties)
Only player who has 150 wickets and more than 15,000 runs

You can find a comparative analysis of Sachin Tendulkar's records by S Rajesh here

Thank you Sachin for all the memories!

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODI cricket today bringing to end the career of the greatest One Day International batsman of all times.

463 matches. 21367 balls faced. 18426 runs. 41 not outs. average of 44.83. strike rate of 86.33. 49 centuries. 96 half centuries. 195 sixes. 2016 fours. highest of 200 not out. 140 catches. 8054 balls bowled. 154 wickets. best figures of 5/32. 2 five wicket haul. 

Greatest. ODI. Batsman. Ever. 

 Thank you Sachin for all the memories!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Who is the best sledger in the Australian team? [Sponsored Post]

Whenever one thinks of sledging, immediately it's the Australian cricket team that comes to mind. 

"My nana can bat better than you!"
Steve Waugh gave sledging a shine when he renamed it as 'mental disintegration' but the term 'ugly Australians' has been one that has stuck around ever since 1974 when Rod Marsh and Ian Chappell earned them the undesired tag. But ever wonder what the Australian players thought of sledging and which one of them is best at sledging out in the middle?

Here's the Australian Cricket team on who they think does the best sledging out there. Here's a taste of their response.

For more, choose your own interview here: ‪

Catch the action this season with Cricket LIVE Australia, the official app by Vodafone for the 2012/2013 cricket season, as endorsed by Cricket Australia.

"This is a sponsored post but opinions are my own"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

England's Report Card, India vs England, Nagpur 2012

A 28 year old dream realized!
England have ended a 28 year old wait with a 2-1 win over India making sure that England have a Christmas to remember. Cook has put this series win par with an Ashes victory and the win is a huge achievement for the English team and one that they will proudly be telling their grand children many years from now. Yesterday I took a look at India's performance in the Nagpur test which ended in a draw and today I take a look at the English team.

England report card - read as name: TWP performance score (1st innings; 2nd innings) 
(pass = 4/10; DNB = Did not bat)

Alstair Cook: 5/10 - (1 run; 13 runs)
Cook for the first time in the series failed to score runs with the bat thanks to two very bad decisions from Kumar Dharmasena. Considering the form that he was in, it was perhaps the only way he could have been out. However despite not contributing with the bat, Cook the captain came to the fore in the match as he marshaled his troops behind him to graft hard for a draw, earning them the series. This entire series has been about Cook and as my friend Satwik writes, responsibilities make Cook stronger. They certainly do.  

Nick Compton: 4/10 - (3 runs; 34 runs)
Compton has come a long way from his debut at Ahmadabad, a few matches ago and the difference can be clearly seen. He fell in the first innings to Ishant Sharma who was bowling a fiery spell, but in the second innings he managed to dig in hard denying the Indian bowlers the early wicket and prolonging the match. Compton's development as a batsman in the series in one of the toughest conditions for an English batsman is a definite plus for English cricket's future.

Jonathan Trott: 9/10 - (44 runs ; 143 runs)
Trott started the series woefully short on runs and out of form, but the Trott we got to see at Nagpur was completely different. His knock in the second innings which involved a mammoth partnership with Ian Bell saw England to safety helping them seal the series. The knock was nothing short of good, on a pitch that was completely dead and runs were hard to come by.

Happy times for KP and England
Kevin Pietersen: 8/10 - (73 runs; 6 runs)
I'm giving KP 8 because, his first innings knock was as valuable as Trott's century in the context of the game and perhaps even more. The knock was a very uncharacteristic KP knock where he waited patiently seeing out bowlers and toning down his aggression. While he wasn't afraid to go over the field, he was extremely watchful and it was great to see KP play this kind of knock. Great players can always adapt their game to different situations and KP did just that. And all his good work has seemed to have paid off with the ECB extending his 3 month contract. 

Ian Bell: 8/10 - (1 run; 116* runs)
Cricket is a great leveler and Ian Bell at Nagpur is a perfect example of that. He got out cheaply in the first innings but managed to set that right with a century in the second that safely saw the team to safety. Bell's 208 runs partnership with Trott was crucial for England in putting the match beyond India's reach. Bell was at his classy best on a dead wicket, making the most by grinding in hard. The century will surely give him much satisfaction.

Joe Root: 8/10 - (73 runs; 20* runs)
Root making his debut in one of the most important matches that England has played in, managed to show the world what he is made up of. It's always a delight to see a youngster come of age and perform at the highest level and didn't Root take the opportunity with both his hands. His knock in the first innings specially was one that you'd expect from a senior, mature player as he held the English innings in the middle order. He gave almost nothing away and his technique seems to be great! And in the field, he kept throwing himself all over and England have a diamond in this man. Root is one person whom I'm sure has a very long career for England. What is it with Yorkshire and their ability to produce some outstanding batting talent?

Matt Prior: 6/10 - (57 runs; DNB)
Prior looked in great touch during his limited time in the middle and he must be kicking himself for getting out run-out. He was in an aggressive mood and could have damaged the Indians more, had he not had a rush of blood moment. Prior's keeping was good to the spinners and he looks to be in good form all-round.

Tim Bresnan: 1/10 - (Duck; DNB)
Tim Bresnan's contribution in the match can be best described by this reply by @UhohDaeSu on Twitter.

(click to enlarge)
Graeme Swann: 8/10 - (57 runs & 3 wickets;  DNB)
Swann the batsman and the bowler were on song once again as they have been throughout the series. With the bat, he played an aggressive innings that seemed to knock the breathe right out of the Indians and only managed to make it worse by strangling them with his off-spin later on. Swann is without doubt the best spinner in the world right now and it's taken England a very long time to say that they have the world's spinner in their ranks.

James Anderson: 7/10 - (4 runs & 4 wickets; DNB)
Anderson since the Kolkata test has been completely different and once again he was back to his usual best, swinging the ball around and creating a headache for the Indian batsman. He struck in the very first over getting the dangerous Sehwag and it was lovely watching him set up Sachin Tendulkar with two outswingers before castling him with the inswinger. Anderson is a terrific bowler and he managed to show just why he is rated so high at Nagpur.

Monty Panesar: 7/10 - (1* run & 1 wicket; DNB)
Panesar might not have been among the wickets with just Ojha's wicket next to his name, but his contribution with the ball was plenty. The Indian batsman respected him and decided to play safely against Monty and his figures reflect exactly that! He bowled 52 overs for just 81 runs, keeping the pressure on the Indians from one side at all times. This series has revived Monty Panesar's career as much as he revived England's chances at Mumbai and it'll be interesting to see what awaits him from now.

Overall team England's average - 6.5/10

The match was a dull affair, but still it was a combined English effort that saw to it. Even in this match the England team has managed to out play India and India's average score of 3.5 against England's 6.5 tells it's own story. The entire series win was thanks to one big magnificent team effort and they can be proud of their achievement. India were completely outplayed in the series and England deserved the 2-1 win every bit.

Check out the mini-session analysis of the match here

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

India's Report Card, India vs England, Nagpur 2012

MSD and Kohli - Back to scoring runs.
The final test in Nagpur has been dubbed as the death of test cricket with some utterly boring cricket played by both sides thanks to a lifeless pitch. The match ended in a draw [SCORECARD] giving England a 2-1 win - a win that comes after 28 long years. India at Nagpur again looked second best and despite needing a win to stay in the game, the team simply never pushed hard enough for it. Here's a look at the Indian players performance at Nagpur.

Indian report card - read as name: TWP performance score (1st innings; 2nd innings) (pass = 4/10) 

Gautam Ghambhir: 3/10 - (37 runs; DNB)
Another start that was thrown away by chasing after a wide one. Just makes you wonder about Gambhir's attitude which has come under question in the past few days. He is a much better batsman than that and it was saddening to see him gift away his wicket, specially at a time when India needed him to stay in. It's time Gambhir starts to think about the team more and play accordingly.

Virender Sehwag: 0/10 - (0 runs;  DNB) 
When Sehwag comes good, it looks pretty outstanding but when he doesn't it looks like what it did at Nagpur. He was knocked over in the very first over thanks to a lazy defense offered to a beauty from Anderson. Whenever Sehwag has done well, India has done well and everyone wants the aggressive Sehwag, but he would do good to tighten his game early on.

Cheteshwar Pujara: 3/10 - (26 runs; DNB)
Pujara looked set for a big score but unfortunately he was given out wrongly. The ball missed his bat according to replays but with no DRS in the series, Pujara's fate was sealed. In the short time he looked very solid and India does have a champion in him.

Sachin Tendulkar: 0/10 - (2 runs; DNB)
Yet another failure for Sachin Tendulkar in the series. He was beautifully set up by Anderson and the master simply didn't have an answer to the in-swinger fromm Jimmy. Is it time for Sachin Tendulkar to leave cricket? Should he retire? A score of zero does seem to suggest something.

Virat Kohli: 8/10 - (103 runs; DNB)
Virat Kohli probably played his best innings in test cricket till date. He was under pressure to perform after continuous failures in the last three tests and his place in the team was in question. Also with India struggling at 71 for 4, the need of the hour was to build a partnership to get close to England's score and that's exactly what he did with MSD. Batting cautiously, he kept all his aggressive drives away from this innings and played a very mature innings. Gambhir can certainly learn something from this knock of Kohli. It was great to see Kohli among the runs and if he can do this on a consistent basis, then he surely is test match quality.

MS Dhoni: 8/10 - (99 runs; DNB)

The captain promoted himself up the order when he saw that the team was in trouble at 71 for 4 and played a very unlike MSD innings that saw India to safety. Like Kohli he kept down the aggression and grafted hard at the English bowlers. It was unfortunate to see him run out on 99, but it was outstanding that despite batting for 356 minutes, and facing the most deliveries in his test career, he showed no emotion at getting out and took it matter of fact. As a captain, I still thought that perhaps he could have pushed for a win more, but with a dead wicket, I'm not very sure how much exactly he could have done.

Ravindra Jadeja: 4/10 - (12 runs & 2 wickets; DNB & 1 wicket)
An ordinary start to the test career.
Jadeja making his debut thanks to a brilliant run in the domestic Ranji scene had a pretty ordinary test match. He bowled well in the first innings and kept the runs tight. but on a dead pitch where teams were going at 2 runs per over, it wasn't such a big achievement. With the bat, he failed and it was this role that he was picked for in Yuvraj Singh's place. I'm still not convinced over Jadeja's selection, and I'm sure Rahane is probably wondering what wrong he has done not to deserve that cap.

Ravichandran Ashwin: 2.5/10 - (29 runs & 1 wicket; DNB & 2 wickets)
Joked as India's best batsman in the series, Ashwin actually seems to have taken the compliment to heart and forgotten about his bowling. He went into the series as India's premier bowler and now after four tests, people are starting to wonder whether he even deserves a place in the team. As a bowler he had a another disappointing match and India needs wickets from him, if they are to win test matches.

Piyush Chawla: 3.5/10 - (1 run & 4 wickets; DNB)
Chawla coming into the team in Zaheer Khan's place looked good in spells. In the first innings he was particularly good, weaving his magical leg spin and it was a treat to watch him bowl. He seems to have now ironed out the need he had of bowling two googlies every over. However in the second innings he looked lost like the rest of the Indian bowling attack.

Pragyan Ojha: 2/10 - (2 runs; DNB & 1 wicket)
Ojha who started the series on fire with wickets suddenly looked like a completely different bowler with just a wicket from the match. He looked tired and one could almost see the frustration in him during the second innings when the draw become more and more clear. Ojha was the one man India really was banking on and he failed to deliver.

Ishant Sharma: 5/10 - (2 runs & 3 wickets; DNB)
Ishant Sharma was the only Indian bowler who looked to make a difference. He bowled with fire in the first innings and it was great to see him get the ball swinging as he once used to do. He provided India the initial breakthroughs on the first session of the test and set up the match, however he alone wasn't enough. And somehow his inspired performance just went off the charts in the second innings.

Overall team India's average - 3.5/10

So India have lost the series in humiliating fashion and now have plenty to think about. The score of 3.5 is an improvement from 2.5 at Kolkata, but it simply wasn't enough for a win and it not for Kohli and Dhoni this test match could have resulted in another loss.

Check out the mini-session analysis of the match here

Saturday, December 15, 2012

App Review: CricketCoach

 Rahul Dravid has a text book technique when it comes to cricket. Ever wonder what text book that actually is from? Cricketcoach by Cricketcoach Ltd. provides you the answer as it teaches the basics techniques and skill of playing a simple forward defense or bowling an out-swinger or some fielding tips.

The apps give you everything you need to learn the technical aspect of playing and will definitely help you if you are a beginner wanting to learn how to play cricket. Even experienced cricketers wanting to improve your current game can learn few things as it outlines the general faults that arise from playing a certain shot and ways to rectify it. Though I played some decent amount of cricket for my high school team and know the basics of the game from a player's point of view, I still managed to learn a few new things from this app. There are also small videos with multiple viewing angle that gives you a clear understanding of how it's to be executed. Simply put this app is like a small cricket playing encyclopedia cum personal coach on your mobile phone.

This app however I feel is best suited for coaches. The drills that the app outlines and the various other methods of implementing it can be used to teach young cricketers the game. If you're a coach of a school team or a small local club team, then this app should be in your hands.

Verdict - If you really are keen on learning the basic technique and skill of the game, then this app may be what you are looking for. However I'm not exactly sure how big a help it will be without someone (an actual human) guiding you.

As for coaches, this is made for you without a doubt and I would say just close your eyes and go for it.

There are three apps with each one dealing with a specific discipline of the game. It's available on the iTunes store and also on Google Play.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

India win Blind Cricket T20 World Cup!

The champions!
As India play England in the series deciding test match at Nagpur, there's some action happening in Bangalore too.

Today India beat arch rival Pakistan by 29 runs in the final to take the inaugural edition of Blind Cricket Twenty20 World Cup.

I've watched a few short videos of blind cricket and don't fully know all its rules, but it's great to hear news of specially challenged people playing the game we all so love. I always thought blind people are very unfortunate, because a life of darkness and not knowing what the color red looked like, sounds awful. But great to see that these boys haven't let that deter them.

Congratulations and well done!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Should Sachin Tendulkar retire?

Tendulkar walking back - a familiar sight nowadays
The last few weeks haven't been easy if you're an Indian. If you're a member of the Indian test team then it has been worse as the team faces the prospect of a humiliating series loss at home against England that if happens will go down as one of the worst defeats in India's history. And if you're an Indian, a member of the Indian test team and your name is Sachin Tendulkar, then the last couple weeks have been utterly horrible with voices coming from left, right and center, asking you to retire.

The voices are some of the most distinguished names in Indian cricket. Dilip Vengsarkar, and Mohinder Amarnath have come out openly saying the unthinkable, while Tendulkar's former teammate, Sourav Ganguly has claimed that if he was in Tendulkar's position, he would have retired. Even international players who played against him have voiced the same. Wasim Akram has said that, Sachin has nothing to prove anymore, while Michael Vaughan in his column in 'The Telegraph' has blatantly stated that Tendulkar must retire after the series. The public is divided on the issue as expected, but a majority of the voices are along the same lines as Amarnath, Ganguy, and Vaughan. Now is it really time for Sachin Tendulkar, the most complete batsman of modern day cricket and the man whom many worship as god of Indian cricket, to leave the game that he has graced with his presence for over 20 years and has dedicated his whole life to?

The question in my opinion is wrong. The question instead of 'should Sachin Tendulkar retire?' must be, 'when should Sachin Tendulkar retire?' Sachin Tendulkar has been a diamond in the Indian team for over two decades and as great as he is, even his time will eventually come to an end, and I indeed think it is fast approaching.

Tendulkar is no longer the Tendulkar of his prime. He no longer is the same run-scoring machine that used to dominate bowlers and make fielding captains quiver at the prospect of him turning their  best plans to pulp. He still has the technique and can score runs, no doubt but with age reflexes slow down and we are seeing that with Tendulkar. He still remains a legendary tiger warrior from Mumbai, but not the same warrior that defied Australia as a young 19 year boy at Perth in 1992, or the man who said never say die and brought India tantalizingly close to victory against Pakistan at Chennai in 1999, or the man who scored an heroic double century at Sydney in 2004, or the conqueror who just a few years ago in 2008, braved the Chennai heat to chase down England in the fourth innings. He still maybe capable of those feats of grandeur, but is being just capable of them and not creating them enough to warrant a place in the Indian team? His last test century has been in January 2011, nearly 2 years ago. In the current series he has averaged just 22 runs in five innings with a lone half century. Tendulkar is fighter, but right now he's fighting against time, and by the looks of it like Ricky Ponting he might end up losing and perhaps even cast a small shadow on that legendary career of his.

I felt Tendulkar made a very good call in 2007 when he made himself unavailable for selection for the T20 World Cup in South Africa. It was a selfless call, where he put the future of Indian cricket ahead and gave up his spot for a youngster. And didn't they repay his gesture in style by winning the cup! In 2011, Tendulkar and a billion fans realized a long dream come true. Tendulkar finally added to his cupboard the one thing that had eluded him all these years, and with the cup in his hands, he had a chance to bow out of ODIs on a high. He had a chance to leave at the highest pinnacle of glory - a chance that god's crave, and he chose not to. One of the few occasions that he missed the plot of the game. However he trudged along, playing in tests and selecting the series he'd play in ODIs. And now a year and few months later, the call is out for the last man standing of the golden generation of Indian cricket (With Dravid and Laxman retiring earlier this year).

Time to walk into the sunset?
I believe that Sachin Tendulkar should be the person to make the decision to call it a day on his illustrious career. But what happens when he is reluctant and clings onto the game that's been his life all this time? It's difficult to say goodbye to something that's been a part of you since your teen years, but the writing is on the wall and it's not very difficult to see that.

It's time Tendulkar and the fans accept the harsh reality of professional sports. It's perform or perish. If Tendulkar despite his poor run, cannot make the decision to retire, then unfortunately the selectors have to step in. But will they? I doubt it. Maybe here they can take the example of the New Zealand cricket board that sacked Ross Taylor as the captain after New Zealand went from being ranked 3rd in ODIs to 9th behind Bangladesh. The decision to sack your best and most popular player isn't going to win much love, but the board put the future of New Zealand cricket ahead of everything and made the brave call. It's time Sachin Tendulkar and BCCI think what's best for Indian cricket.

A phrase that became popular after the numerous government bailouts following the 2007-08 financial crisis is that some companies are 'too big to fail' and hence cannot be allowed to fail. The question now to ask is whether Sachin Tendulkar is too big to fail? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

India's Report Card, India vs England, Kolkata 2012

Time to go for the master?
The city of joy has been more of a city of trouble for India as the story from the Mumbai test continued with England going one up in the series with a well deserved 7 wicket win [SCORECARD]. India has never been outplayed so much at home before and for once the team looks very very vulnerable. As questions pile up and answers start to disappear, here's a look at the performance of the Indian players at Kolkata.

Indian report card - read as name: TWP performance score (1st innings; 2nd innings) (pass = 4/10)

Gautam Ghambhir: 4/10 - (60 runs; 40 runs)
Gautam Gambhir looked good in the first innings and played some stunning shots but he failed to capitalize on a good start and convert into a much needed hundred. In the second innings he looked good again, until 10 minutes before losing his wicket when he ran out Pujara and started chasing after wide deliveries outside the off-stump which eventually led to his downfall. Again we got to see a lack of application and that has been the story with all the Indian batsmen. More than the bowling it has been themselves who are to be blamed for their shortcomings and Gambhir is no exception.

Virender Sehwag: 3/10 - (23 runs; 49 runs) What does one say of Sehwag? When he gets going he simply looks outstanding and on the other days very ordinary as we saw at Kolkata. In the second innings he was his aggressive best and took the attack to the English bowlers but a lazy prod forward, first ball after lunch saw him out. Again lack of application. What Sehwag and Gambhir must learn is that with the middle order being extremely weak, there is more load on them to score runs up front and lead as seniors, but that isn't happening and if India are to win, that must change and change quickly.

Cheteshwar Pujara: 1/10 - (8 runs; 16 runs)
Pujara's first big failure in the series where he failed to make any notable contribution with the bat and finally the English bowlers are breathing a sigh of relief that he's also a mortal. Pujara however would like to forget this match and move on. He was unfortunately run out in the second innings thanks to a bad call from Gambhir and that just makes the match even more forgettable. However,  I'm not really concerned much about Pujara's poor show. He's in brilliant form with runs under his belt and this was just a small black mark as the law of averages caught up with him. Surely he'll be back to his usual scoring ways next at Nagpur. India desperately needs that.

Sachin Tendulkar: 4/10 - (76 runs; 5 runs)
Tendulkar finally scored some much needed runs that a billion people for once think that all is well with the world. However it didn't last for long as Tendulkar was dismissed on 76 runs with his critics still asking that he retire. His contribution in the second innings was not noteworthy. Tendulkar needs a huge score to get the critics off his back and Nagpur can perhaps do that. It will be a dream come true for many Indians including me if Tendulkar can indeed lead India to level the series with a match-winning century at Nagpur.

Virat Kohli: 1/10 - (6 runs; 20 runs)
Kohli has failed to deliver in all the 5 innings he has had a chance to till now, and suddenly his future in the test team looks in doubt. As a aggressive batsman, like Yuvraj Singh it's his temperament in question and it's about time the youngster starts playing seriously and stops throwing his wicket away after a start. I'm sure that he will be given one last try at Nagpur before the blade comes down on him if he fails to perform. Kohli is someone who revels under pressure and hopefully the pressure of his career on his back can motivate him to score.

Yuvraj Singh: 1/10 - (32 runs; 11 runs)
Yuvraj Singh's continued failure has finally lost him his place in the team and it's no surprise. I just wonder if this is permanent? I certainly hope so. If it isn't clear after all this while that Yuvraj lacks the temperament and isn't made for test cricket, then you must delusional. Even his own father agrees that when he says “I am very unhappy about the progress Yuvraj has made as a cricketer." He's not the only one. There are a billion people out there. As much as I want Yuvraj to succeed, I hope this test has been his last rope for the better of Indian cricket. Virat Kohli seems to be following the same road as Yuvraj and that is a worrying thing. It will be interesting to see who replaces Yuvraj Singh at Nagpur.

MS Dhoni: 2/10 - (52 runs; 0 runs)
In the last report card I asked the question 'has captain cool gone too cold?' The answer seems loud and clear now. If you're still not sure what the answer is, then let me spell it out for you - Y-E-S. Dhoni seemed to have found some relative form in the first innings with a fifty, but that was not enough. His captaincy throughout the series (and for the last few series for that matter) has been completely uninspired and it's time to perhaps think of a replacement.

Ravichandran Ashwin: 5/10 - (21 runs & 3 wickets; 91* runs & 2 wickets)
Why am I giving the man who top scored for India a score of just 5? Mainly because as great as Ashwin's contribution with the bat it simply does not wipe away his failure with the ball. Ashwin might be an all-rounder, but one must remember that it's his ability with the ball that has earned him a place in the team and that takes priority. I once again was bemused by MSD giving over after over to Ashwin when clearly he wasn't doing anything that was one bit threatening to get a wicket. As a spinner, Ashwin still has a long way to go and it's time he fulfills the role of a bowler, the role that got him a place in the team.

Team India - a sad state of affairs.
Zaheer Khan: 1/10 - (6 runs & 1 wicket; 0 run)
Zaheer Khan on a track that gave a little assistance to the quick bowlers was expected to do more damage than the lone wicket of Prior. However as India's spearhead Zaheer simply did not do that. What India needs most from is wickets, and he failed to deliver that. While I feel that dropping him might be a little too harsh considering that the replacements are completely new and lack his experience, but it's difficult to argue for Zaheer when he simply hasn't been doing enough to justify his place in the team.

Pragyan Ojha: 4.5/10 - (0* runs & 4 wickets; 3 runs & 1 wicket)
The entire Indian bowling looked real bad. They simply did not look like a unit that was going to bowl out the opposition twice in a match and it showed. They conceded 500 plus runs in the first innings and that must tell you something. Among the bowlers it was Ojha who looked the best and even that best was just average. The Indian spinners in my opinion bowled a little too slow and short of a length. Ojha sure can learn plenty from Panesar and Indian need him to do that quick because with Zaheer Khan not there for Nagpur, Ojha is needed more than ever.

Ishant Sharma: 1/10 - (0 runs & 1 wicket; 10 runs)
Ishant Sharma made a comeback to the team, taking Harbhajan Singh's place and had a forgettable time. We've all stopped expecting the Ishant Sharma that we first saw in Australia in 2007, but what we saw in Kolkata was still a saddening sight. And his fielding? He kept dropping absolute sitters! I can't believe he hasn't been dropped! Like Zaheer he never looked threatening and though he has been handed another go at Nagpur, I'm not convinced that Ishant Sharma is still test match quality.

Overall team India's average - 2.5/10 

India were completely outplayed and the overall team average of 2.5 is less than what India scored in the second test (3.1). The team has been getting worse with every single match and it is a very worrying sign. India have dropped a few players and the team at Nagpur will be different, but will that be enough to win the test and level the series?

Check out the mini-session analysis of the match here.

Update - Team England's report card for the Kolkata test is missing as I'm recovering from an accident and couldn't write it up.