Thursday, 30 October 2008

Wow! Records fall as V.V.S follows up Gambhir's double century with something strangely similar

The performances by Gautam Gambhir and V.V.S Laxman, both scoring double hundreds in the first innings of the third Test against Australia in Dehli has set some outstanding records. India finished their innings on 613-7 declared with Gambhir falling this morning for 206 and Laxman finishing on 200 not out.

India's dominance from the last Test has been carried through in the early stages of this Test so far. The duo of double centuries was the first time that India have ever had two double centuries in one Test innings, it was also the first time that this has occurred against Australia. I congratulate the players on this fantastic feat, one which brought about Gambhir's highest Test score of his career and lifted the pressure greatly from the shoulders of V.V.S. Laxman. Laxman had faced great pressure of late due to his underperformance and some media suggested that he would be axed for this Test at the expense of a third spinner. However, this was not the case and Laxman has cemented his place within the side for the near future. The pressure is mounting on Rahul Dravid and he will hope to improve upon his performance in the series so far against Australia.

The continuation and the conclusion of this Test will be interesting to say the least and India are the side who look in pole position after these gargantuous efforts. Bring on Day 3!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Sachin under fire

Sachin Tendulkar has come under fire from Adam Gilchrist in the former wicketkeeper's new autobiography. Gilchrist has raked up the Sydney Test and brought it into the limelight once again, claiming that Sachin changed his evidence regarding the racism row. Harbhajan has also got involved stating that 'no one respects Gilchrist.' All of this comes in the wake of an Australian defeat at the hands of the Indians. Am I the only one who wishes that they would let the cricket on the field do the talking? I wonder what will be the next twist. Maybe something about ball tampering would be enough to conclude the series before it has finished. Who knows with these two sides at the moment?

Intikhab Alam gets Pakistan job

Intikhab Alam, the former Pakistan captain, has landed the role of coach on a temporary basis. Intikhab's Test career spanned from 1959-1977, when he averaged a useful 22.3 with the bat and 36 with the ball. However, the first ODI captain of Pakistan (despite only appearing in only four ODIs), will also be fondly remembered in Pakistan for being involved in the 1992 world cup success as Team Manager.

It has been announced by Ijaz Butt that he (Butt) would favour the offering of a two-year contract (so not as temporary an appointment as he has told the media), however, such an offer would need to be ratified first by the PCB. The appointment of Intikhab comes after calls for a local coach to coach the national side from former Pakistan players ever since Butt landed his role as chairman of the board. Ijaz Butt himself said of Lawson, 'I did not say he is useless, but he is of little use to us.' So, as was expected following the announcement of his contract not being renewed and then the sudden dismissal of the former Australian player, a Pakistani has been offered this role. The full terms of the contract, including the length of the contract, will be decided next week. The actual appointment has been shrouded in confusion, with Alam originally being appointed on the short term basis and then claiming a two year contract had been offered. As we have already heard, this is the preferred route of Ijaz Butt. Interestingly, Alam has said that his first task will be 'instilling discipline into his players.'

However, the elevation of a former captain to the highest coaching role in the land raises some rather important questions about the state of the game in Pakistan. Is this really a wise move? Alam, despite his success in the set-up of 1992, has limited coaching experience, having since then only coached Punjab for two seasons in the Ranji Trophy. This cannot be beneficial for the long term development of the game. Maybe it is viable as a short term fix, as we saw with Chandu Borde, but if Alam lands this two year contract, is Pakistan consigning itself to two years of backwards cricket. To a lack of progression? Another question that must be asked is why is the board giving in to pressure from former players and should this be allowed? Javed Miandad has had a huge role in the calls for a new coach of Pakistani origin, unsurprisingly he is not willing to take on this task for the fourth time, but is willing to see another former great ruin his repuation. The board must toughen itself up in the future and run things in a way that is beneficial to the sport, not just to the players that used to grace the field.

At least there is one positive, the excuse of 'we don't win because our foreign coach does not understand the sub-continental game' cannot be used. I am sure that we will see a new captain under this regime, but it remains to be seen how far the 'comeback king' can take this team.

Monday, 20 October 2008

India and Bangladesh on the brink!

India and Bangladesh are both on the brink of recording impressive Test match victories over their competition. India have set Australia an imposing target of 516 runs, with the Aussies reaching only 141/5 at stumps. We have seen impressive performances on both sides in both Tests so far. I plan to do a detailed analysis at the end of the series, but we have seen centuries from Ganguly, Gambhir, Ponting and Hussey and five wicket hauls from Mishra and Zaheer.

Bangladesh have really produced a special performance and there have been some stand out shows by Shakib Al-Hasan, Mehrab Jnr. and Rahim with Vettori so far offering the strongest resistance. Redmond has scored a brilliant 62 not out in this second innings. New Zealand are currently 145/2 chasing a target of 317.

Day 5 could well be the best day of cricket in a while!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Sachin Tendulkar

With Tendulkar closing in on Lara's record for most Test runs I thought of writing a article on the great man, someone who has been an icon in India for 18 years now.

My first memories of Tendulkar dates back to early 90's when as a kid I saw him make Aussie quicks like McDermott, Hughes etc look like club bowlers on what was a lightning fast Perh wicket, it was a match in which Tendulkar came into bat with India in trouble which in the days to come was a familiar story of Indian team in 90's and when it comes to that particular innings it was a treat to watch as he would repeatedly pull, and cut the Aussie quicks, guide it past the slips and he even hit McDermott over mid off which in itself was something to see. In 93 when England played India, Kambli was the one who scored the bulk of runs but Tendulkar too was consistent as it looked more and more like he is going to fulfill the promise he showed early in his career. The next time I caught a glimpse of him was in the 96 WC when he was at his peak and I still remember the way he hammered McGrath against Aussies as he would just come down the wicket and hammer him straight down the ground, or he would make room and hit him wherever he wants and one has to say he looked unstoppable that night until M.Waugh got him out stumped by bowling wide down the leg side. During India's tour of England in 96 his knock at Edgebaston was a connoisseur's delight for the correctness of his technique and the flair that was exhibited by Tendulkar especially those cover drives were superb to watch, yes India yet again collapsed around him which was sad to see as he just needed someone to support him nevertheless it does not take anything away from what was marvellous knock by the little man. Later that year in South africa he again showed his class at Capetown where he smacked Donald and co. all over the park, yet again leaving the wristy Azharuddin no one supported Sachin but he was unperturbed by it as he would hit Donald on the up or he would flick Pollock from outside the off stump he even hooked Donald who was bowling really quick at that time.

Next up were his battles with Warne in 98 and one can remember his breathtaking assault on Warne at Madras in the second innings where there was bit of turn and bounce and Warne was pitching it on the rough but somehow Tendulkar taking leg stump as a guard would make room and hit Warne over the top by coming to the pitch of the ball, now that can be done only by a genius.

In 99 with Tendulkar plagued by persistent injuries he started to become more of a accumulator or a run a gatherer rather than a stroke maker still he had his moments like in Australia during that year he was able to score a hundred at Melbourne though one has to add that McGrath did trouble him by bowling back of a length and giving him virtually no room but Tendulkar still was good enough to counter him, even in 01 though Lax. took the limelight for that breathtaking innings at Kolkota yet Tendulkar also did his bit by scoring a hundred in Madras and in England in 02 he showed his class with that 194 at Headingly. In 04 when there was speculation of Tendulkar being well past his best he still got a double hundred at Sydney and that was a series in which he had troubles with playing those cover drives as he was not coming to the pitch of the ball as a result he was getting caught in the slips so at Sydney he decided he won't play any cover drives and it was amazing to watch him compile a near flawless innings without a single cover drive as poor Aussie quicks tried again, and again to lure him to play those cover drives by bowling well outside the off stump and that innings clearly showed Tendulkar's determination to succeed. In 08 he yet again tormented Aussies by getting 493 runs.

Yes Tendulkar's performance recently in Lanka was nothing to write home about because of which there is pressure on little master to do well against Aussies but he is a true great of the game as to be consistent for 17 to 18 years is just incredible.

Thanks to greyblazer for this insight into the Little Master.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Congratulations to Ricky Ponting

In today's game, something that will be reviewed upon its completion, Ricky Ponting scored a century. This could prove vital as the game goes on, however it is not in this context that I am offering my congratulations. Ponting said "It means a lot to me to do well here. It's my time to stand up and make sure I score some runs." Ponting, until today averaged 12.28 from eight Tests and fourteen innings on Indian soil. Ok, so he was dismissed by a spinner four the fourteenth time in fifteen outings, but this is still an achievement, especially considering his statement of intent came only a day previously.

Bored of Selectors

'With the Test series starting, a question remains etched into the minds of the Board of Selectors, how long will they be able to keep playing the 'fab four' and get away with it? Ganguly has announced that he will soon be going, but I myself have become bored of the 'will they, won't they' questions that keep arising.

Will the board drop the cricketing untouchables (untouchable in a good way of course) if they are performing poorly? Will they give youth a chance? Or are they allowing these players to make the choice as to when they go? I know how I would have it, but then again I am not a superpower within the Indian cricketing world. If a player is performing badly, then of course, their position should be considered, however, if this would involve taking a gamble on a totally unproven player then perhaps this risk is too much to bare. In this instance, I actually feel that the selection of Ganguly for this series and in the line-up is justified. The only other alternative in the squad was Badrinath, an inexperienced player at this level.'

I wrote this before the series began thinking that I would leave it and see how the 'fab four' performed as the series went on. And I have not been disappointed. Ganguly has thus far proven a very worthy member of the squad and I am glad that he will be able to go on his terms with a century to be remembered by. Dravid has not found the best form of his career but he put in that gutsy fifty in the first Test. Sachin is now the holder of more records than I can count and scored some vital runs in the first innings of this second Test. V.V.S has been the most disappointing, and it was V.V.S who I thought would outshine the rest! Shows the difference that ten days can make.