Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Payback Series: Whiteawashed

It had been built up as a revenge series by the broadcasters. And Team India certainly have paid back with interest (only for the ODI leg so far). Here are the thoughts for today's game at Eden Gardens and the series as a whole.
  • Dhoni enhanced his finisher reputation. The big sixes were back and he stayed not out as well. His average may have been boosted by the large number of not outs but isn't not getting out one of the criterion for a good batsman. (A post by The Old Batsman on the subject is here).
  • Rahane is looking impressive without having got that BIG one as yet. Also he is unlucky that Kieswetter keeps taking stunning catches to dismiss him when normally his keeping has been of the Kamran Akmalesque quality.
  • Manoj Tiwary has been having a pretty weird international career. Injured during practice on the eve of his debut series and since then has played 5 matches across 4 series spread over a 4 year period.
  • England had an awesome opening partnership followed by one of the most stunning collapses. 128 for none followed by 47 for 10. 
  • Varun Aaron takes his 4th international wicket. Interestingly all 4 bowled which starts the slide for the Poms.
  • Ian Bell finally played and scared the rest of the English lineup by failing to read Jadeja's spin.
  • Some apologies for the years of abuse heaped on Ravindra Jadeja.
  • In short England caught in a spin web and spun out. England in India have been worse than India's in England (only comparing the ODI parts so far)
  • India still missing most of the big guns and their first choice replacements as well. On the other hand England did not have Broad & Anderson, though they wouldn't have made too much of a difference.
Payback still remains. This is only the appetizer. It won't be satisfied till the Tests thrashing is also avenged.

P.S. Malcolm Waller missed out on a well deserved century as he finished on 99* to take Zimbabwe to a thrilling one wicket victory over the Kiwis.

P.P.S. Wishing all readers a very Happy Diwali.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Payback Series: Game 4 - Thoughts

The Payback continues, with a Comprehensive 6 wicket victory at Wankhede, Mumbai.

  • It was one of the most eagerly awaited debuts in recent memory. And Varun Aaron delivered to all expectations. A low economy, excellent clean-up of the tail and consistently over 140Ks. Certainly well begun and living to the expectations. A note of caution - Ishant Sharma & Irfan Pathan had even better starts.
  • Another poor batting display by England. And still no Ian Bell. Logic of this is certainly beyond me.
  • Suresh Raina leaving his England monsters behind while Virat Kohli produces another classic display. 
  • Steven Finn giving Raina a send off after he had smacked the pants off the English bowling was hilarious to say the least. Can't understand all the chatter from a team which is getting comprehensively pounded.
Looking forward to a 5-nil whitewash in Kolkata.

P.S. Congratulations to the All Blacks on winning the Rugby World Cup. There were quite a few parallels to the Indian victory in the Cricket World Cup earlier this year. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Payback Series: Game 3 - Thoughts

The Payback Series moved on to Mohali after a crushing win in Delhi. And though the margin was much closer, the end result was still the same. here are the thoughts  for the day.
  • Team selections. I am bored of saying it. Bell should be playing. Given Kieswetter's Kamran Akmalese  performance today behind the stumps, it would be wise to give the gloves to Bairstow and bring Bell in as the opener.
  • Team wins toss. Bats first. Bats well. Posts a big total. Total gets chased down easily due to some unimaginative bowling and shoddy fielding. This was the basic template for India's ODI losses in England (except for the toss part). Today it was just the other way round.
  • The Indian bowling lineup with Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar & Virat Kohli looks straight out of the Kiwi dibbly-dobbly-wibbly-wobbly template
  • The game was close. But somehow the result wasn't ever in doubt. Maybe its the T20 effect. Any total seems chaseable with 2 decent batsman in the crease.
  • The fist pump by Ravindra Jadeja after edging a boundary as a gesture must be unparalleled.
  • Dhoni's lost luck seems to have been found (:D) as he provides the finishing touch to an almost perfect team chase. 
  • Rahane & Trott missed out on well deserved 100s, as Mr. Gavaskar would have said. maybe it was this obsession with centuries that made Sunil Gavaskar one of the greatest run accumulators of all time.
The series has been won. But the Payback is not done yet. 

Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy - 2011-12

The Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy for the 2011-12 season has begun. (Detailed schedule here). For the uninitiated this is the tournament which determines India's national T20 champions (and not the IPL as everyone believes).

Here is my team, Jharkhand's schedule of play for the zonal round.
Oct 21 - vs Tripura
Oct 22 - vs Bengal
Oct 23 - vs Orissa
Oct 24 - vs Assam

After the zonal matches, we have the quarter-final stage onwards in March (!!!). Some weird scheduling.

Wishing all the best to Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi and Co. I know the team is quite depleted with Dhoni & Aaron on national duty but still it should be a tough fight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Payback Series: Game 2 - Thoughts

The payback continues with interest. This time at the Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi.
  • Again England did not pick Bell. Why is a mystery. Certainly hope that Bopara's military medium isn't the factor keeping him in the team ahead of Bell.
  • An even bigger mystery is what is an underperforming Kieswetter doing in the team? They have Bairstow and Jos Butler is the reserves.  In fact Butler is considered the better keeper by Somerset followers as well. Some re-juggling is certainly required.
  • Good pace generated by Umesh Yadav. Maybe a bit wayward but the pace is there. As of NOW.
  • And for a change India bowled well within time. Though I hardly see it getting mentioned anywhere.
  • Gambhir should be opening. Can't have makeshift openers like Parthiv Patel with Gambhir in the line-up.
  • Good innings by Kohli. Nothing surprising from him in that. In fact, the partnership with Gambhir had a deja vu feeling written all over it.
  • Indian conditions and the English seam bowling looks neutralized. On the basis of 2 games only. Still early days here.
  • Victory by 8 wickets with about 80 balls to spare. One word. Comprehensive.
Let the payback continue.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Payback Series: Game 1 - Thoughts

It was time for revenge and payback, proclaimed our TV channels promoting the current India - England series in India. But 5 ODIs and a T20 do not give enough opportunity to give payback for the happenings over the summer in England. Yet it was nice to start with a win in the 1st ODI in Hyderabad. I could only watch the England innings. Followed the Indian innings via online text commentary at work. Here are my thoughts for the match.
  • Why did England not play the "Sledgehammer of Eternal Justice"? Cook as captain and having to fit in Trott, KP, Bopara, Bell in one lineup. Thats an interesting conundrum. Still feel that Bell should have been the first one to be picked in this lot.
  • No debut for Varun Aaron as yet. When will I get to see a school alumnus play for India. (Aside - his Facebook fan page is here)
  • On paper, the bowling looked weaker than in England except the conditions had been reversed. This game showed how big the difference can be. (I know it is only one game. Still)
  • Do English batsman in general have a difficulty against left arm spin? Ravindra Jadeja's success here and the successful county stints enjoyed by Pragyan Ojha this season & Murali Kartik over the years certainly does point to that conclusion.
  • Random Factoid - Almost 3 years since India beat England in an international match in any format. Last victory was in the Chennai Test, 2008 post the 26/11 incidents
  • In summary, England's opening performance in India reminded of India's performance in England.
  • 126 runs - a comprehensive win
P.S. Piyush Chawla's 92 in the Challenger Trophy final the day before must definitely rank as one of the best List A innings ever.