Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pataudi Trophy - Test 2 - Day 1 Thoughts

Trent Bridge Play Summary - India win toss, bowl first, after a tight first session have England in deep trouble at 124/8 at tea; Broad & Swann smash their way out of trouble, Anderson takes out Mukund first ball. And test match in balance at end of Day1. Now my views on the day's play.
  • Sreesanth - He is something else, gets abused by the crowd, runs into trouble with the opposition, maddens his own captain, irritates the viewers, basically drives everyone nuts. And then when you are almost on the verge of counting him out comes back and takes wickets. And then goes away again. Could be a great bowler - bowls at a decent pace, can move the ball, now only if he keeps his craziness in check. But then he wouldn't be Sreesanth.
  • Swann's dismissal - It came out of the blue when Dhoni was running out of ideas to break the 9th wicket partnership. A dismissal caused by the pitch with Praveen Kumar's medium pace rearing up from nowhere, taking Swann's glove and lobbing up to Abhinav Mukund at 3rd slip. The shocked expression on Mukund's face as he caught the ball said it all. Swann's left hand was injured and he did not take the field. But the pitch could be really troublesome for batting.
  • Saurav Ganguly's commentary - I simply loved Dada's commentary. Speaking in a soft voice, witty, sharing anecdotes and so far cliche free. Simply loved the way he wondered about how long Ponting was going to play with Greg Chappel around during the end of the day analysis.
Now Day 2 beckons. India survived Day 1 without too much damage (and saved the follow on as well :P). Lets just sit back and wait and watch.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pataudi Trophy - Test 2 - Preview

After the big defeat at Lords an injury depleted India now move on to Trent Bridge, the scene of a series winning victory after the jelly beans incident.
First the injury count. Sehwag wont be here again. No Zaheer as well (the central figure in jellygate last time around). Word coming in that Gambhir yet to recover from the elbow injury. Don't know if Sachin has fully recovered from his illness. Add Harbhajan's bowling form. So a pretty grim scenario. England on the other hand have lost Tremlett but he is far easier to replace given their fast bowling options (Finn, Bresnan, Shazad, Onions... the list can go on and on).
Injury depleted India against a more or less full strength England. Situation appears grim. Given this is the 2nd in a 4 Test series Indian approach at Trent Bridge is likely to be "Survive today to Fight Another Day"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Arbit Statistics - 10

With his innings of 36 in the 4th innings at Lords in a failed cause, Rahul Dravid has now become the highest scorer in the 4th innings of Test matches crossing Brian Lara. Some weird achievement that.

P.S. Dravid also became the 2nd highest run getter of all time crossing Ponting. With both still active and going through patchy forms would beinteresting to see who ends up higher. And as usual this achievement of Dravid hardly registered amongst most fans. Nothing new about that though.

Monday, July 25, 2011

2000th Test: Lords - Day 4 Thoughts

End of Day 4 in the 2000th Test at Lords. 98 overs of play left. India need 378 runs. England 9 wickets. 1st result highly unlikely, 2nd one quite so.
  • India left fighting for survival in the first test. Pretty much following the script of our overseas tours. Batting gets derailed, then bowlers unable to close out things or totally ineffective. But this is a 4 test series so we should be able to come back (if needed, that is).
  • Clutching at Straws fact - On the last tour in 2007, India survived in Lords with rain washing out the final session and the last wicket pair of Dhoni & Sreesanth at the crease.
  • Day 4 of the Lords Test showed why Test Match cricket is so intriguing. England are were they would have wanted to be at the start of the day, eyeing a lead of around 450 and declaring at tea or in the final session. However what they wouldn't have anticipated was collapsing to 62 for 5 and then a 150 + partnership between Prior and Broad bailing them out.
  • Matt Prior for the second time in the match pulled England out of a spot of bother, scoring fast without taking too many risks.
  • Stuart Broad arrived in the Test with a big question mark on his place. He removed it with both ball and bat.
  • Rahul Dravid's celebrations on day 3 after reaching his 100 showed just what these runs meant to him. Also he opened the batting the second time around when he has clearly shown a disdain for it in the past (although why it is so is a mystery as quite often he has been batting in the first over itself) Still anyone out there wanting him to retire?
  • Ishant Sharma destroyed the English top order. But then went missing after lunch almost literally. Have to say this, love the sight of an Indian bowler bouncing out the opposition top batsman (Pietersen in this case).
  • In an attempt to cut down the scoring rate, Dhoni spread the field but the rate improved. Aren't attacking fields better at saving runs also. Just wondering.
  • I like the way Strauss allows his batsmen to reach personal milestones. Bell against Sri Lanka, KP in the first innings, Prior in the 2nd.
  • Random Observation - Suresh Raina seems to be always there when a players' celebration is going on. Batsman at other end, as a runner for the batsman, near the bowler or the catching fielder, Raina is always in the frame.
  • Now for Day 5 - Can India save the match? Yes we can. Will we save the match. I certainly hope so. Don't want to jinx any of the batsmen so no predictions on the likely centurions.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The 2000th Test - Day 2 Thoughts

Some weird scenes, quite a bit of struggle and some pretty good cricket. These are the thoughts which come into mind after the second day's play at Lords.
  • First up the man who scored a double hundred. Kevin Pietersen just about survived thorugh his first few runs on Day 1, then struggled through to his hundred, may or may not have been out caught by Dravid at leg slip but in the end not just stayed on but hammered his way through to an unbeaten double hundred.
  • Praveen Kumar was not even considered as Test material till lots of injuries and rests got him selected against the West Indies. And today with Zaheer injured, Ishant and Harbhajan totally clueless about how to take a wicket he led the attack, took a five-for and got his name put on the Lord's honours board. And more importantly bowled almost throughout the dayl.
  • Dhoni and Dravid. Given the way his attack was performing, Dhoni himself came onto bowl and didnt do a bad job either. While in his place Dravid came up behind the stumps after many years and again didn't do too bad a job there. Kapil Dev has called this act a mockery of Test cricket. With all due respect to him I dont see how this is the case. Its not as if they started the day with Dhoni bowling. He came only after one full session had been played. A team is struggling and is going about with different options about taking a wicket. In fact to me it showed that like true champion sides, the current Indian team is willing to adjust and adapt to difficult situations.
  • Ishant & Harbhajan. Totally ineffective. Combined figures of none for 280 from 67 overs is certainly not a good sign.
  • Eoin Morgan's dismissal. On first glance everybody says its out. Morgan himself walks off. Then the Hotspot pictures come in and say the ball brushed the pad but no mark on the bat. If the decision had been challenged it would certainly had been reversed. Only issue Morgan walked off and did not review it because he thought he had edged it. So the incident pretty much opens up the DRS debate again. Technology is certainly not perfect.
  • Zaheer's injury just showed how much off a difference he makes to the attack. England can call up Bresnana, Finn, Shahzad if any of their fast bowlers get injured. Whom do we call up Sreesanth, Munaf, Mithun? Hoping he gets fit soon enough. Otherwise its Advantage England for winning the series.
  • In the slipstream of Pieteresen's knock, the sledgehammer of eternal justice and this blog's mascot Ian Bell scored an elegant 46 laced with 6 hits to the fence (more on that in a later post).
  • Indian openers survived the day. Lets see what they can achieve today.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Pataudi Trophy - India vs England Preview

A few hours from now would mark the start (the English weather permitting) of the most anticipated Test series of the year. India, the no. 1 ranked Test side in the world, undefeated in a Test series since 2008 (away in Sri Lanka) against England who have retained the Ashes after beatin the Aussies in Australia (hence the best team in the world according to their supporters). A pretty good series is expected given how evenly matched the sides are expected to be.
Man for man cant have asked for a more matched lineup. Only in the opening department do England hold a slight advantage with Strauss can be considered better than Mukund but not with his recent form against Sri Lanka (I am ignoring the tour match where he played for Somerset). Cook and Gambhir are evenly matched though we don't know how Gambhir will perform in English conditions. Arbit Stat - Mukund & Gambhir will only be the 2nd ever left handed opening pair for India. The first one was Gambhir & Irfan.
Now to the middle order - Dravid, Tendulkar & Laxman may be getting old but they can still score a few, then look towards the youngsters in both teams and shout "Bbhuddah Hoga tera Baap" (though being thorough gentlemen, they are not likely to) . Against them Trott, Pietersen and Bell, all in good touch. Add Raina & Morgan at no. 6 both considered good limited overs players and surprising everyone that they can survive in Test cricket. Even the no 7s the 2 wicket-keepers are evenly matched up. Though Dhoni is more reliable behind the stumps.
Now for the bowling. Swann against Harbhajan in the spin department. Zaheer, Ishant, Praveen, Sreesanth match up on almost every count to Anderson, Tremlett, Bresnan & Broad. Be it the ability to make the ball talk (Zak vs Jimmy), height & bounce (Tremlett vs Ishant), a hardworking medium pacer with swing (Bresnan vs PK) or even some craziness (Sreesanth vs Broad). And the batting abilities of the tails are also almost evenly matched.
With Collingwood retired from England and Raina added to Indian team, even the fielding sides are not much different now. Raina's off-spin against Trott's military medium for 5th bowling options?
Almost nothing to choose between the sides. Now if Sehwag joins the side then?
Now time for some more stats
  • The 2000th Test ever played going to start at Lords today. Though some poeple want the Test status for the Super Test between ICC XI and Australi to be removed from the records.
  • 100th Test between India and England
  • India have not lost to England in a test series since 1996. Wondering why this fact is not being highlighted much.
  • India and England dont like winning more than 1 match in a series against each other. 1996: 1-0 for Eng in 1996, 1-0 win for India in 2001, 1-1 in 2002, 1-1 in 2006, 1-0 for India in 2007, 1-0 again for India in 2008.
Series predictions
Likely to end in 1-1 tie. Some weather issues and a bit of safety first approach from Strauss and Dhoni likely to prevent more results.

SRT to get his 100th international 100 during the series but not at Lords.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sangakkara's Colin Cowdrey Lecture Speech

Here is the link to the speech made by Kumara Sangakkara at the MCC Spirit of Cricket Lecture at Lords on July 4, 2011. One of the best speeches made by any sportsperson in recent times. Extremely articulate, talks about cricket and its impact on the Sri Lankan society. Also raises some very important questions about the current state of Sri Lankan administration.

Definetely a MUST Listen.

Whats in a name? - II

Found a cricketer with a name as awesome as Napolean Einstein.

He plays for Namibia. Has made his First Class & List A debuts and has a country name for surname. And is currently playing in the Intercontinental cup.
Post for Helao Nafidi Ya France also known as Pikki Ya France.

Now am wondering if there are more cricketers with a country name for surname.Can think of only one other name Anthony Ireland (from Zimbabwe)

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Fast Bowling Tale

An India Test tour of the West Indies.
And a tall, fast bowler is battering the batsman with pace and bounce and some swing in
Pretty familiar scene except that this time around its the West Indies batsmen who are at the receiving end. The sight must have definetely gladdened the hearts of the former Indian players who had been at the receing end from the West Indian fast bowling greats all these years.
The sight of Ishant Sharma running through the lineup did make for very good watching from an Indian fan's perspective too. A fast pitch is certainly no more a threat to the Indian teams. Our fast bowlers have begun returning in kind, and in fact performed better than the home ones. Examples like Perth (2007) and Durban (2010) immediately come to mind.
The reurgence of Ishant, the likely return of Zaheer, the newly disocevered test bowling of Praveen and well the craziness of Sreesanth and English conditions. Already anticipating a great series in England.

P.S. Ishant's performance brought back thoughts of "that" ball from Sreesanth.