Thursday, March 31, 2005

so when is Dada leaving ??

...hopefully, not anytime soon !.....I know Gang's batting has been bad for a while in tests...and even i thought that he is not deserving a place in current test side purely on form...but then this way we wud be constantly shuffling people...maybe couple more test series to judge whether this is temporary loss or permanent...and he has been batting all right in ODIs...

His last notable (not great..but just notable !) knock was in first test against aus...made 45..batting good....then he and sehwag threw away the wkt and we lost the match....some of the matches india has lost have been clear throwing away of wickets of the in-match-form players !!..he also made 57 and 40 against SA...its not as if he's been dealing in 'trinary' figures for too long...just not enough centuries

And the stupid thing with this Indian media reports is that they manipulate one data to suit multiple if we are talking about an ODI series....they mention ganguly's loss or form in tests as a reason for why he should be sacked !!! each time we choose ODI team and Laxman is missing....they report that he is 'dropped' !!!!...when he wasnt there in last ODI India played, then how the hell can you call it 'dropped'....same with Karthik..."why is he not being persisted with in ODIs when he made runs in test???"....arrey bhai...there was someone else chosen for ODIs....(Dhoni)...he also needs 'persistence' :-))....

..Similar is with this Ganguly and 'not making runs' thing...."Ganguly hasnt made runs since Dec 2003 knock against Aussies (it sounds like 2 years back but isnt!!!...and in cricketing terms..its only ONE year back because of long break Indian team had) are some interesting facts...
  1. He played another 73 run innings in same Aus tour in Melbourne 2nd innings (only he and dravid made runs in that innings!!!)..
  2. He has played only 18 innings since then (or 16 if u remove 2 innings against BDesh)...agreed no centuries but with a few fifties... here is how he scored in those innings
  3. is another 'next to bradman only' batsman in his last 24 innings.. just compare to see who is worse...And of course no one is talking about 'removing' this batsman from the team !
I hope most of the viewers, readers supporters of Indian cricket see sense in this...and see things in right perspective....although I am not sure...

update... more comment on the way media handles this....they keep on commenting on how bad Ganguly has been with the bat (despite what I wrote above)...keep on building the the common person just keeps on reading more and more criticism without realising that there is hardly been any cricket played between the last two articles so its basically repetition !!!

..and another despicable aspect of these reports is the total lack of accountability of the if one is criticising Ganguly, he would continue saying how totally useless as a batsman he is, and its time for him to quit, and counter it with 'he should go if he doesnt score runs....if he doesnt take inspirations from the likes of Younis Khan !!!!'....typical 'saving the back' statement. So unsure are they of the lack of form of Ganguly, that no chances are to be taken ! What if he scores tomorrow :-) ?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Match two day one (16.03.05). And Sachin today.

So, India is in a position of 'slight advantage' only. Instead of 'complete domination' at the end of day one. Well, whether India wins this match, or this series, its not going to be all India's days all the time. (Not even Aus could manage that !). Anyway, it was really interesting that India kept the scoring tempo up all the time. The main criticism, from all quarters, at the end of last match had been that Indian scoring rate in first innings had visibly slackened towards the latter half, thus handing over the well gained initiative. Now whether that was due to strategy (as Sehwag pointed out at the end of Day three) or lack of it is another matter. But it seemed that the Indians were aware of that while batting today, and chose to counter attack most of the time.

Now, its difficult to say what would have been the position had they eased down a little. But lets assume, that they had ended the day close to 300 runs, and atleast Dravid (maybe another batsman) still there, not just tail to play tomorrow. Would that have been better or worse ? This is for the critics of previous inning to answer. It was a sheer coincidence that the answer for our previous innings scoring patter were answered so soon ! But alteast I know for myself which situation I would have preferred.

Now, the other interesting thing about today. Sachin completed 10,000 runs in test cricket. Despite all the criticism, we have to agree that he is probably the best all time batting hero we have produced (here in India). Probably his biggest contribution has been to keep the faith of Indian cricket lovers alive in their worst times of crisis. It is very much possible to imagine that he single handedly prevented many Indian cricket lovers for shunning the game. He kept the flame alive in the storm, before Ganguly's gang converted it into the happy campfire ! We may criticise or praise him now or when he is gone, but we would never be able to forget the sheer joy of watching cricket that he brought. Never before (not sure when again) would so many come to watch a single man, battling it out in what is supposed to be a team game. I being of the Sachin generation would probably not know how it was in earlier times, but its hard to imagine, game after game, people switching off (radio, tv, mind) once he was out. Even if it was only ten minutes into the Indian innings !!
By the way, Sachin said in an interview today that he was not aware of the exact number of runs he had made when people started cheering him (he went and asked Dravid at the other end what the commotion was about). And at the same time, I read reports saying that he was visibly slow before reaching the miltestone, and much more fluent since crossing it. Is there a confusion here ? Either the critics are trying to blame him for pursuing personal glory, not able to digest that this is a different Sachin from the earlier days, or else Sachin was lying. You decide !!! By the way, he also tried to make it very very clear that he is not trying to reach the 35 century milestone in any other way than he tries to score as many runs, centuries in each match. Isn't it quite simple ? Isn't this how it should be with all batsmen, scoring 35th or 1st century. What is the fuss all about ? I know, the 'joy of watching' is not the same. I agree. But did we expect it to last for ever ? There may still be glimpses, special occasions like to 2003 World Cup, where we may see him closer to peak. But not all the time. Lets enjoy what we are getting. Its still rare.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The first match gone

Yes, ok we did not win it. But I dont see too much fault here. We dont have the australian bowling lineup to do the cleanup job each time. What is more surprising is the way blame is being laid on the slow third evening progress India made while batting. Amit Varma in his cricinfo article here (also his blog here ) says India lacks desire to win (similar message in Prem Panicker's post in rediff here ). I dont see it that way. Sehwag, in his interview on 3rd evening, made it very clear that the strategy was to have atleast one 'bastmen' left on 4th morning to make big lead. Whatever it may have finally turned out, but that plan looked fine to me. Had India made 60-70 more runs on third evening, they might have lost more wickets, and wouldnt have had Laxman and Pathan to play long innings on fourth morning (which, incidently did not happen, but these were 'Plans' which does not mean execution). And anyway, in the end, Sourav made it very clear in post match interview that India had 97 overs on final morning, 4 Pak wkts to take, and make remaining runs (in the vicinity of 100-150) in around 50 overs. Seemed like a 'very good' situation to be in. I'm sure most of us would have been happy to take that on 3rd evening, when we were finding faults !

Ofcourse one cannot plan for innings like Razzaq/Akmal played. Aus did not do anything wrong in the Kolkata test (well, atleast their decleration wasnt wrong, or we would be saying Steve Waugh was a foolish captain, not one of the best ever in business !!). They just didnt see that Dravid/Laxman innings coming. Nor did anyone else even in India !! Speaking of Aus, another problem I have is this constant comparison with Aus, and India's 'aspirations for greatness'. Well first thing first, Aus did some mistakes in their subcontinent matches in recent past (against India, as well as SriLanka. Lankans were just not good enough to capitalise) Saurav would not make those. He would not 'not play safe'. He ensured that Pak did not have enough time to 'go for a victory'. Who knows if we had batted faster, made 60 more runs, Pak could have given us a target of 250 runs on two sessions. We could have been in 'more trouble' then ! Yes this is the 'what if' variety of logic, but I did not start it, only replying :-) So, Aus were not as great in their strategy. Secondly, we are aspiring to be great. Doesn't mean we 'are' great enough already. We dont have the same bowling strength as Aus (we have a better batting lineup, another complain that I have with critics, but that for another time !), and Saurav, or anyone else captaining Indian team, would have to realise that. Aspirations should not come in way of common sense. You can even call it selfishness on Indian captains part (or the strategy team's part, I dont think Saurav would be alone in this).
So, my point ? Well, we are a good team, better than Pak, and it showed in this match, even when Razzaq/Akmal were batting. I dont think there was resignation at any point of time (another important point missed by many analysts) when many better teams would have given up. Saurav said that he gave up only when it was around 210 lead with 30 something overs to go (a run rate of 7). So, before that the Indians were still hopeful ! Wow. Now, for me, that is a practical step in 'aspiration to greatness' ! So, we were better of the two teams, not just good enough to win this match (umm, consider the time lost on second day also....there is a difference in loosing time towards beginning of innings, when you can still exercise your options better as a strategist, and then deliberately loosing time towards the end of innings, where options are limited, and you've to make best of what you got !)
Yes, we would win the test series, or we should barring inspirational performances like that from Razzaq and Akmal. Or even Inzimam. And 'this' is not prediction. Just analysis of what we saw in the past 5 days.