Friday, October 31, 2008

Australia responds well to India's big total

It was a good day of test cricket.
An excellent start from the openers Hayden and Katich, a well built innings from the captain Ponting and a patient half century by Hussey put Australia in a safe position in the 3rd test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008 at Ferozshah Kotla, Delhi.

Katich played well for his 64 and was bowled by Amit Mishra. Hayden(83), who has been struggling to score runs in this series, finally came up with a wonderful knock. He was dismissed by Sehwag. But Ricky Ponting played with patience and made sure they did not loose another wicket. He faced the spinners very well. He used his feet very wel against the spinners. He had some problems facing Ishant. He bowled beautifully to Ponting. Sehwag dismissed Ponting(87) with a beautiful ball. The ball turned much for Sehwag.

Michael Hussey(53) played a well composed innings. He did not play any loose shots. He was very cool and patient. Sehwag bowled him with another good ball just before the close of the day's play.

Sehwag used the conditions well and bowled pretty well today. He turned the ball, bounced it well. He was pick of the bowlers today. Amit Mishra too bowled excellently. One of his overs to Ponting was top class. Ponting had no answers to Mishra in that over. Mishra was simply superb with his turn. He ended the day with an excellent googly to Michael Clarke. Kumble was injured after lunch and he was out for the day's play. Ishant and Zaheer bowled well but they did not get any wickets.

None of the Australian batsmen looked uneasy against the Indian bowlers, except Ponting at sometimes against Ishant. They must be happy with the way they batted. The ball might turn much tomorrow and Australians have to be careful in facing the spinners in the next two days. This test is going to be an interesting one.

Australia is on 338/4 at the end of day-3. Michael Clarke and Shane Watson are at the crease.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gambhir and Laxman propel India to a big Total

It can't get better than this....two double centuries in an innings by Gambhir and Very Very Special Laxman followed by brisk knocks from Kumble, Zaheer and Dhoni took India to 613/7. India declared after Laxman reached 200.

Starting at his overnight score of 149, Gambhir went on to reach 200, after lunch, before Watson dismissed him. Gambhir played some superb shots. He was catious and aggressive. It is a good achievement to score back to back centuries against a team like Australia. Gambhir has been really enjoying his time since T20 world cup.

Laxman reached his hundred before lunch and went on to reach 200. It was Laxman's second double hundred and both of them have come against Australia. Out of his 13 centuries, Laxman scored 6 of them against Australia including the century today at Ferozshah Kotla. He was very wristy and played some beautiful shots. It was very delightful to watch him play those wristy shots. Most of his bounderis were perfectly timed. He completely dominated the Australian bowlers.

Gambhir and Laxman scored a record 278 runs between them for the 4th wicket. Both these players frustrated Australians on a perfect batting pitch which is expected to assist spinners from day-3. Australian bowlers were hopeless against these two.

Ganguly joined Laxman after Gambhir departed. But Ganguly departed early. Dhoni came and played aggressively for his 27. He hit 2 fours and a six in Cameron White's over and then edged a Watson's delivery after hitting him 2 consecutive fours in the first two balls. Kumble and Zaheer too scored runs quickly while Laxman slowly moved to his 200. Kumble declared Indian innings immediately after Laxman's double.

Australian openers started their innings confidently. Australia is on 50/0 at the end of the day. Both the openers, Hayden and Katich, are unbeaten on 16 and 29 respectively. But the pitch is expected to produce more turn and bounce from day-3. This will surely trouble the visitors.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

India in driver's seat on day 1

Gambir had Australia in a spot of bother on the first day of the third test at Ferozshah Kotla, Delhi today. An unbeaten 149 by Gambhir, a good knock of 68 by Sachin and a quick unbeaten 54 by Laxman have put India in a commanding position at the end of Day 1 of the third test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008. The way Gambir, Sachin and Laxman batted, India looked set for a big first innings total.

Everything went in India's way from the time Kumble won the toss. The day clearly belonged to Gautam Gambhir who scored an excellent century. Brett Lee gave the perfect start to Australia by removing Sehwag in the third over. Sehwag was one run away, when he was out, to become the leading run scorer in 2008 in tests. Dravid was out for a wide delivery from Johnson. India were 27/2 when Dravid was out.

Tedulkar joined Gambhir after Dravid was dismissed. Gambhir started slowly while Sachin played some excellent shots at the other end. He looked dangerous in their 130 run partnership. He played most of the shots on back foot today. He was well set to score a century. But he was dismissed by Johnson just before tea. Gambhir played his natural game after Sachin's dismissal. Gambhir brought up his third century in style by hitting a six when he was on 99. He scored back to back centuries, that too against Australia. He must be happy. Gambhir was absolutely delightful to watch. Laxman too scored quickly in contrast to his natural game. The unfinished fourth-wicket association of 139 between Gambhir and Laxman promises to be a big one.

The Australian pace bowlers were all working on reverse swing in the one week gap between the second and third tests. But none of them could reverse swing the ball in this test match except Brett Lee for some balls. The pitch was very sluggish and only Stuart Clark bowled well with his nagging deliveries. Ponting was once again in trouble for the slow over-rate. He used Simon Katich, Michael Clarke to reduce the slow over-rate. One should wonder what is the role of Cameron White in the playing XI for Australia. He was used for only 4 overs today.

There were a couple of heated moments in the game today.

The first one occured in 51st over. Gambhir hit the ball off Watson for 2 runs. Watson said somethig when Gambhir ran the first run. Gambhir then hit Watson with his shoulder as he went past him for the second run.

The second one occured in 78th over. When Laxman hit a ball off Katich straight to him, Laxman wanted a single. But Katich did not allow Gambhir to run by blocking his way. They exchanged some words there and Billy Bowden intervened and calmed them down.

India is on 296/3 at the end of day 1. India have a great chance of sealing the series 2-0 at Ferozshah Kotla, which is considered a fortress for India.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

India Vs Australia 3rd test Preview

After a memorable 320-run win in the 2nd test, India is looking forward to seal the series in Delhi. Australia is under tremendous pressure here. The third test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008 is going to start on Wednesday at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi. India played 29 test matches here and won 10 matches. 13 of them were drawn. India won the last seven test matches it played in this ground. Australia played 5 tests here but managed to win only one test. Surely Kotla is a fortress for India, especially Anil Kumble. Kumble has taken 55 wickets in 6 tests with an average of 15.41.

Ferozeshah Kotla is the home ground for the openers Sehwag and Ghambir, and Ishant Sharma. This is the second test for Sehwag in Kotla. This Delhi duo have given good starts in the series so far. They will surely be on fire in the 3rd test at their home ground. All the Indian batsmen are in good form and they have a good track record here. Ganguly, Laxman, Dravid and Dhoni average 60.55, 54.75, 58.66 and 56.50 respectively in this ground. Sachin averages 44 with 2 centuries. The bowling department is also strong with Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan on song. Kumble declared himself fit for the 3rd test. Considering his performances at Ferozeshah Kotla, he can be a major threat for Australia. Much of the focus will be on Kumble, his bowling and his captaincy. Only bad news for India is Harbhajan Singh is doubtful for the test. If he doesn't play, Amit Mishra might be retained. You have to wait for the decision till Wednesday's morning.

Austrlian batsmen are struggling with their form. They are all experienced batsmen and if they find their form it will be a bit difficult for India to clinch the series in Delhi. Austrlian bowlers are also struggling against the Indian Bastmen. Brett Lee is one of the major concerns for Australia. He has not been upto the mark in this series. Stuart Clarke is fit for the test. So he replaces Peter Siddle in the 3rd test. This might be the only change in the Austrlian side.

India is surely on top and head into the 3rd test with confidence.
Can Australia keep the series alive by winning this test?

Monday, October 27, 2008

When will Yuvraj learn?

India Blue won the the recent NKP Challenger Trophy. But Yuvraj Singh's contribution to the team's victory was almost nil. He was out for some poor shots in this series. He doesn't seem to be learning from his mistakes. He was trying to play too many shots too early in the innings.
His place in the team is going to be in danger. A lot of talented youngsters are there waiting for the place in the national team. Yuvraj must be aware of this and he has to perform to keep his place safe.
Yuvraj was in the form of his life one year ago. He was named as the man of the series in three consecutive series against South Africa (joint with Graeme Smith), against Pakistan and England. He scored three centuries and four half-centuries in fifteen matches in those 3 series. It helped him to make it into the top ten of the ICC ODI batting rankings.
Though he is there in the international cricket for around 8 years, he is yet to make his mark in the test cricket. Though he got many opportunities in tests, he did not utilize them. He already lost his place in the test team. And if you consider his recent ODIs, he scored 72 runs with an average of 14.40 in 5 matches against SriLanka. He struggled a lot against the spinners. And it's still the main concern for Yuvi.
In the last 12 months, he has not played a big innings. He scored 840 in 27 matches with an average of 35.00. After his successful performance in the T20 world cup last year, Yuvraj has been playing that kind of shots in all formats of the game. He was trying to hit every ball out of the ground. It's going to be difficult for Yuvraj to keep his place safe in the team(atleast ODIs) unless he changes his attitude.
C'mon are a match winner...make a strong come back...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cricket-Past, Present and Future

Cricket is one of the greatest games ever played. It is a mind game than body. Going back to the past, it was a game played by a minimum number of nations, but as time passed on, the game raised interest in the hearts of millions. The number of cricket playing nations have increased over time.

Cricket was discovered in England and the only countries which played it initially were England and Australia. Then the countries South Africa, West Indies, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Srilanka and Bangladesh have joined the list. Now cricket is played in more than 100 countries. It all started with test matches which do not have a limit on time. Then the time was limited to 5 days and later the limited overs game was established which are the one-dayer. The one-day matches were initially 60 overs but were later reduced to 50 overs. Now the new format of the game is established which are the 20-20's. This was introduced in England to provide the tired workers with some evening entertainment and it proved prosperous. Thus the unlimited time matches has reduced to a very much limited time. And what might be the future. It might even reduce to 10 overs.

In the past cricket was even seen with pride ,but now its been a business with a lot of sponserships, telecasting rights and even high amount of betting. The players are giving top priority to money than game. Now by introducing different leagues like IPL,ICL and the Champions league which are drawing more crowds, the number of one-days and tests played will get down. Even the players are giving priority to the leagues than playing to their country. Many players already said that Test matches are no more interesting. The interest in test cricket has gone down. The stadium in India which are always seen filled up are now seen empty during the test matches between India and Australia. Even the 50-50 format is slowly loosing its grip. ICC is taking care to limit the number of 20-20 played every year. But this cannot avoid the fact that other formats of the game are dipping. The future might well give way to short time matches like the 20-20 where the importance of class-play is minimum. The test matches might not be eradicated but might loose their importance.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Will Sreesanth come back?

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, fast bowler from Kerala, is struggling to make it to the Indian team after being ruled out with a side strain injury that he suffered during the Indian Premier League. Sreesanth suffered a left side strain in the IPL during Kings XI Punjab's final league match on May 28 and played the semi-final, but only bowled one over.
He was left out for the Kitply Cup in Bangladesh, the Asia Cup in Pakistan, the Sri Lankan tour, the Irani Cup , Challenger Trophy, the Champions Trophy.(postponed to 2009) and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
He was picked for the India-A team after he was declared fit by the NCA(Bangalore) physio. But unfortunately for him he again injured his back and was left out of the squad. He is not even playing any domestic cricket. S. Sreesanth has not been included in the Kerala Ranji Trophy squad for the opening match of the plate league against Goa which begins at Fort Maidan on November 3.
Sreesanth last played for India in the Test series against South Africa in April 2008.
He is not looking to be concerned about his place in the team. He is frequently seen in fashion shows and other TV realty shows. This emotional, aggressive fast bowler needs to concentrate more on his fitness and bowling rather than these TV shows.
Former Indian Captain Ravi Shastri said "Sreesanth should be more disciplined if he has to make full use of his talent.
Kapil Dev said "I wish he concentrates more on cricket. Aggression is good but it should be on the field".
We have Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel, with RP Singh too in the mix. It would be best for Sreesanth to play matches, get match fit and pick wickets to return to the Indian side.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Can Ponting beat Sachin?

There has been a lot of speculation over whether Ponting will beat Sachin or not. After Sachin broke Lara's record of most test runs, many people gave their thoughts on whether or not Ponting is going to beat Sachin.
Lara said "Ricky Ponting (with 10,239 runs, currently sixth on the all-time run-scorer's list) is the guy who can break Sachin's records. He is young enough. I think he is a class player, who may take away the record from Sachin in the future."
Former English batsman Allan Lamb has said that though Indian master blaster Sachin was a brilliant cricketer, but Australian captain Ricky Ponting was closely chasing his world record of maximum Test runs.
No one can even come closer to Sachin in ODI format.
Well..coming to tests, it depends on Sachin's fitness.
Sachin has 12037 runs in 152 matches where as Ponting has 10246 runs in 121 matches. Sachin is 35 years old. He can still play some more years. If Sachin continues his good form for 2-3 years more, no one can beat him.
Sachin says he wants to play the 2011 world cup. But if he plays more of limited over matches, fitness problems may arise for him. I think he needs to concentrate more on the test cricket as a lot of promising young cricketers are proving their talent in the limited overs format.
Ponting can also play for 3 or more years. I think it will be difficult for Ponting to surpass Sachin, but it is not impossible.
If Sachin wants to keep his record safe for a long long time, he better keeps an eye on Ponting and set that record out of his reach before he retires.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All set for the Challenger Trophy

The Challenger Trophy was introduced by the BCCI in 1994-95.
Ths year's NKP Salve Challenger Trophy begins tomorrow with a match between India Blue and India Red at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack. Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif and S Badrinath lead India Blue, Green and Red respectively. This is a good chance to the players like Yuvraj, Uthappa, Virat Kohli, Mohamad Kaif to impress the selectors. Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored 386 against Maharashtra in the Under-22 CK Nayudu Trophy in Rajkot, has got an excellent opportunity to play along with the seniors.

The squads were announced on 12th October.

India Blue: 1 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6, Ravinder Singh, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Yogesh Takawale (wk), 9 Ashok Dinda, 10 Pradeep Sangwan, 11 Chetanya Nanda, 12 Arjun Yadav, 13 Siddarth Trivedi, 14 R Ashwin.

India Red: 1 S Badrinath (capt), 2 M Vijay, 3 F Fazal, 4 Manoj Tiwary, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Jaydev Shah, 7 Abhishek Nayar, 8 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 L Balaji, 11 Piyush Chawla, 12 Vinay Kumar, 13 Monish Parmar, Parthiv Patel (wk)

India Green: 1 Mohammad Kaif (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Naman Ojha (wk), 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Cheteshwar Pujara, 6 Saurabh Tiwary, 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Laxmi Ratan Shukla, 9 Manpreet Gony, 10 RP Singh, 11 Pragyan Ojha, 12 Rajat Bhatia, 13 Abhinav Kumar, 14 Pankaj Singh


India Blue Vs India Red at Cuttack - Oct 23,2008.
India Green Vs India Red at Cuttack - Oct 24,2008.
India Blue Vs India Green at Cuttack - Oct 25,2008.
Final: at Cuttack- Oct 26,2008.

I bet on India Red....What's your bet?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

India crushes Australia in the second test at Mohali

When it comes to rivalry in cricket, people talk about India Vs Pakistan matches and Australia Vs England matches. But India Vs Australia matches seem to surpass the traditional rivalries and the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy between the two teams proves so.

India beat Australia to take 1-0 lead in the series. Australia was totally outplayed by India. It all worked for India from the moment Dhoni came out for the toss. India never looked ot of touch from the moment it won the toss. India registered a 320 run victory which is the biggest margin of victory by runs for India. Resuming at the overnight score of 141/5, Australia slipped to 144/8 when Zaheer Khan grabbed three quick wickets on the fifth day. Leg-Spinner Amit Mishra got the last two wickets and that made 7 wickets in his debut match. India's bowling performance throughout the match is superb. All the bowlers played their part prefectly and contributed to their victory. Dhoni was named Man of the Match for his aggressive batting and his captaincy.

Here's the progress of the match.

It was the day of records as Sachin broke Lara's record of most test runs. Ganguly crossed 7000 runs in tests. After a flying start from the openers Gambhir and Sehwag who added 70 runs to their first wicket, India lost 3 quick wickets. But Sachin and Ganguly ensured that the good start wasn't wasted. They added 142 runs between them. They became the sixth pair to score more than 4000 runs when batting together in tests. India were 311/5 at the end of the day with Ganguly batting on 54.
It was all Sachin's day.

Ganguly's elagant century, Dhoni's aggressive 92 took India to a massive total of 469. Dhoni played his natural game after a long time. Dhoni played agressively and carried the momentum set by Sachin Tendulkar. It was nice to see him playing this way. Ganguly makes his last test series a sweet one with his hundred in the first innings of the second test and a good performance in the first test. He was cool and confident throughout his innings and did not play a too many unnecessary shots. He constructed his innings with ease.

Zaheer Khan removed Hayden third time in a row in this series. After Harbhajan Vs Ponting, it is Zaheer Vs Hayden now. Ishant Sharma dismissed his favourite batsman, Ricky Ponting with a good length ball that nipped back into right hander after pitching. The bebutant Mishra joined the party by removing Katich and Clarke. Australia were 102/4 at the end of the day.
It was the day of Ganguly and Dhoni.

It was the spinner's day, especially the debutant Mishra's. His 5 for helped India to restrict Australia to 268 and take a first innings lead of 301 runs. Amit Mishra is the sixth Indian bowler to take five wickets in his debut. Ishant Sharma removed Hussey for a fantastic delivery. Shane Watson and Brad Haddin resisted Indian bowling for sometime before Harbhajan removed Haddin with a flighted delivery. Australia were all out for 268. Watson played well for his 78. He showed sense in the difficult situation. His 78 came in handy when his team needed a good innings.
Aggressive batting from the Indian openers Sehwag and Gambhir took India to 100/0 at the end of the day.
It was the day of Amit Mishra and Shane Watson.

Gambhir went on to score a magnificent century where as Sehwag fell for 90. The pair added 182 for the first wicket. Dhoni promoted himself up the order to score the runs quickly. He scored an unbeaten 68 to set Australia a mammoth target of 516.
Australian openers started their chase aggressively. But that did not help Australia as both the openers fell in one over looking to play for big shots. Harbhajan removed both the openers in an over before tea. He dismissed Hussey just after tea. It was Ishant Sharma then who carried the momentum. He bowled two top class deliveries to dismiss Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson. Both the balls were pitched just outside off and nipped back into right handers sharply. It was an excellent stuff from Ishant Sharma.

It was the day of Gambhir, Harbhajan and Ishant.

Starting the day with the overnight score of 141/5, Australia was slipped to 144/8 thanks to the excellent bowling from Zaheer Khan. He grabbed 3 wickets in a span of 4 balls.It was then Amit Mishra who took the last two wickets to end the match.

Here's my ratings of both the teams in this match.


Batting: 4.5 out of 5
Indian batsman made use of the batting conditions and scored well. They were amazing in their own conditions. Sehwag and Gambhir played aggressively from the start of the match. Both of them faced the Australian bowlers well. Tendulkar and Ganguly set a big partnership and they crossed some milestones. Dhoni too played aggressively to take his team to a big total. Dravid too played his part in the first innings. It was a bit disaponting for Laxman in the first innings. Dravid and Laxman did not get a chance in the second innings. It was a collective performance from all the batsman.

Bowling: 5 out of 5
This is the main difference between the two teams. On a pitch where Australians struggled to swing the ball, Ishant and Zaheer swung the ball very well and troubled the Australians throughout the match. Ishant's bowling was superb. His deliveries to Ponting and Watson in the second innings were top class. The two pacers claimed 8 wickets between them. Harbhajan bowled excellently in the second innings. He took 5 wickets in the match. The debutant Amit Mishra got 7 wickets in the match. His variations made the Australian batsman struggle. The spinners claimed 12 wickets between them. Full marks to India in the bowling department. Indian bowlers were on song throughout the match.

Fielding: 3.5 out of 5
Indian test side is full of senior players like Laxman, Dravid, Sachin and Ganguly. But it did not affect their fielding in this match. Sachin took a terrific catch off Simon Katich. It was a fine fielding from India though there were some minor mistakes.


Batting: 3 ot of 5
Except Hussey, Clarke and Watson to some extent none of the batsmen peformed well. Had Hayden, Ponting performed well, the reslt would be different. Hussey, Clarke and Watson faced the indian bowlers well. These batsman batted with focus and determination. They held the Austrlian innings together for sometime.

Bowling: 3 out of 5
Brett Lee was the major problem for Australia in this match. He was not upto the mark. He took just two wickets. Indian batsman were never troubled by Brett Lee in the match. Mitchell Johnson was the only Australian bowler to perform well. Peter Siddle, the debutant, was predictable. Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and Cameron White shared just two wickets among them. Australia definitely needs a quality bowler. On a pitch where Indian bowlers could find some assistance, Australian bowlers could find no assistance in the pitch and struggled to trouble the Indian batsmen. Indian batsman played them comfortably.

Fielding: 3 out of 5
Rarely we see the Australians misfield. Australia's fielding in this match is not upto their potential. Ponting misfielded a few times and they given away so many extras in the form of over throws, byes.

This is one of the finest moments of Indian test cricket.The important aspect of this test was indians played attacking and sensible cricket. Dhoni once again led from the front. Australia were outplayed in every department.
India will look to wrap up the series in the third test match starts at Delhi on October 29. The Australians will need to regroup after this crushing loss.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ishant and Harbhajan leaves Australia in tatters

Would you believe Australia lost 5 wickets in a span of 9 overs (9 runs) ? Thanks to the excellent bowling from Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma. While chasing 516, Australia is struggling with 141/5 at the end of day 4. Clarke and Haddin are at the crease resisting the Indian bowling. They added 83 runs for the sixth wicket. Australia were looking good when Hayden and Katich were playing. Harbhajan provided the early breakthrough in his first over by removing both the openers in one over. Sachin Tendulkar took an excellent catch to remove Katich. Harbhajan got Hussey just after tea. Harbhajan is just one wicket away from his 300th test wicket.

Ishant Sharma joined the party by removing his 'favourite batsman', Ricky Ponting, and Shane Watson. He produced two top class deliveries to remove them.

10.2 Sharma to Ponting, OUT, Ishant hits the timber, superb delivery, pitches around the off stump and comes back in off the pitch, Ponting commits early to the forward prod but somehow the ball sneaks through the daylight between bat and pad and knocks the off stump back, Ishant now gets Ponting for the fifth time in as many matches

RT Ponting b Sharma 2 (11b 0x4 0x6) SR: 18.18

16.3 Sharma to Watson, OUT, Koertzen gives him the slow death, Ishant pitches it just a fraction short of a good length fairly wide outside off and gets it to nip back in very sharply, Watson is caught at the crease and fails to cover the sudden movement, the ball hits him in line with the off and middle stumps

SR Watson lbw b Sharma 2 (22b 0x4 0x6) SR: 9.09

He gets Ponting for the fifth time in the tests. Ricky Ponting is still working out how to tackle Ishant Sharma. Ishant reminded us of his exceptional spell in the third test against Australia in Perth earlier this year. Sharma's high-arm action attacking on and around the batsman's off-stump gives him the ability to bring the ball back in to right-handed batsman and also swing it through the air quite considerably, while extracting a great deal of bounce. This ability makes this young man a dangerous bowler. Ponting himself admitted that Ishant is a dangerous bowler. Ishant has been bowling well and his bowling performance today is one of his best performances. Ishant Sharma is certainly a good prospect for india. Ishant you beauty...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What a day

for Bangladesh, especially Shakib Al Hasan and India, especially Ganguly.

Shakib Al Hasan ripped through New Zealand to boost Bangladesh on the second day of the first of 2 tests against New Zealand. A six-wicket haul from the left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan allowed Bangladesh to make an impressive start to their test match against New Zealand today. He took six for 32 from 24 overs at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium to make New Zealand struggling at 155/9 at stumps on day 2 after they bowled out Bangladesh for 245. New Zealand pinned their hopes on Oram , McCullum when they were 57/4 at tea. But both these players got out looking to play big shots. Vettori is batting on 48 and they still trail by 90 runs.

India had an excellent day at Mohali they could be proud of. Brilliant performances from the captain MS Dhoni(92) and Sourav Ganguly(102) took India to a good total of 469. Dhoni was a little unlucky to be given out. He deserved a century. Dhoni played his natural game after a long time. Dhoni played agressively and carried the momentum set by Sachin Tendulkar. It was nice to see him playing this way. Ganguly makes his last test series a sweet one with his hundred in the first innings of the second test and a good performance in the first test. He was cool and confident throughout his innings and did not play a too many unnecessary shots. He constructed his innings with ease.

Here is what Ganguly has got to say after the day's play "This will be my last series, I will not reconsider coming back (smiles). It's been a fantastic batting quartet. Our overseas performances have improved over the last few years. I knew I wasn't going to be selected any more"

Zaheer Khan got the early breakthrough by removing Hayden for 0. It's Zaheer Vs Hayden now after Harbhajan Vs Ponting. Zaheer gets Hayden three times in a row in this series. Debutant Amit Mishra took 2 wickets. Australia is 102/4 at the end of day2. The day completely belongs to India. Australia keeps its hopes on Hussey.

New Zealand struggles

New Zealand is struggling on 57/4 at tea on day-2 in the first test against Bangladesh. All the 4 wickets have fallen to the spinners. Shakib Al Hasan takes 3 wickets. McCullum and Flynn are at the crease. Can McCullum play a long innings to get his team to a comfortable position? A lot depends on McCullum, Oram and Vettori.

Third time in a row

Zaheer strikes early....he gets Hayden for the third time in a row in this series ....good going Zaheer...

India heading towards a big total

A good knock of 88 by Sachin, a brilliant unbeaten 91 by Ganguly and an entertaining knock of unbeaten 45 by Dhoni ensured India a big total in their first Innings in the second test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008 against Australia. India is 401/6 at lunch. Ganguly is well set to score a century. I think Australians missed a trick while bowling to Ganguly. There were only a few short balls bowled to him.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh 245 all out in their first Innings against New Zealand...and NZ is 8/0 in 3 overs.

Friday, October 17, 2008

India ends the day on a high note

Well, first day of the 2nd test between India and Australia saw some milestones. Sachin beat the Lara's record of most test runs, Sachin corssed 12000 test runs, Ganguly crossed 7000 test runs. But one sad thing is Sachin Tendulkar once again missed a well deserved century. His partnership of 142 runs with Ganguly took his team to a comfortable position. Ganguly scored a half century and is looking strong and confident.
Sachin, after the stumps on day 1, says " When I got out in Bangalore a few guys made it a point to remind me about the record. I knew I had done a good job there and that was important. My focus today was just to watch the ball. The journey over the last 19 yrs has been fantastic. There are stones thrown at you and you turn it in to milestones. I was not that excited to be honest. The focus was to continue and not lose concentration. Me and Sourav focussed on batting out the day. I didn't really think of the record too many times. I try to keep the records out of my mind and my aim is mainly to contribute. It's nice that it's come at the right time, the Australians are a quality opposition. I planned to stay till the end but it didn't happen. I thought i didn't use my feet well but that's the beauty of the game. The ball changes and so does the game." India end's the day with 311/5.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh recovered an initial setback by New Zealand and ends the day with 183/4. Bangladesh's batsmen Mehrab Hossain and Mushfiqur Rahim played well and made an unbeaten partnership of 139 runs.

One more bowler joins the list

of bowlers who got Sachin as his first Test wicket. It is Peter Siddle of Australia who took Sachin's wicket in the ongoing test against India at Mohali. He must be happy :) .

It's not new

for Sachin to break the records. He has done it again today. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar surpassed Lara's record of most test runs. His long wait has come to an end. He brought up the world record
with a glide of a full delivery off Peter Siddle on the first day of the second test against Australia at Mohali. Now he is the leading run scorer in both ODI and Test cricket. The Little Master holds several records to his name. Sachin will be there as long as cricket is there.
Congratulations Master Blaster.

India makes a flying start

In the absence of Anil Kumble, Dhoni came out for the toss and he won it. He decided to bat in the second test against Australia at Mohali. Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Ghambr made a flying start before Sehwag departed for 36. They made 70 runs for the first wicket. Dravid joined Ghambir after Sehwag was out. Ghambir made a half century to take India to 104/1 at lunch. Ghambir is on 53 and Dravid is on 11 at lunch.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh is 34/1 , in 32 overs, against New Zealand at lunch on day-1.

India Vs Australia 2nd Test Preview

It's a bit disappointing that the first test match did not produce a result where the result was definitely possible. Both captains will now make sure that they won't repeat the mistakes of the first test.

The biggest question now is 'What will be the India's team composition for Mohali test?'. Will India stick to 2 spinners on a pitch that assists pacers or will India play 3 seamers and a spinner?

Though Kumble said he is fit to play in the second test, the suspence over Kumble's appearance in the 2nd test continues. We have to wait for the decision till the match starts. If India wants to play 3 seamers and a spinner, it would be a better choice to rest Kumble and bring in Munaf. Kumble can be dangerous if the pitch supports him. But on a pitch that assists seamers, it's better Kumble takes rest. Harbhajan has a good record against Australia. He performed with the bat also in the first test. Munaf Patel is a talented bowler who can swing and cut his deliveries. This promising right arm fast bowler is known for his pace reverse swing and deadly yorkers. He bowled well in the match against Delhi in the Irani Cup. Munaf took 7 wickets against England on his Test debut here at Mohali in 2006. Munaf's inclusion will definitely boost the Indian pace strength.

The other possibilities for India would be
1. Unchanged playing XI
2. Drop Ghambir, bring in Munaf, let Dravid and Sehwag open. If the pitch assists the spinners on the last 2 days this will be a better option to play 3 seamers and 2 spinners.

Coming to Australian side, Stuart Clark is ruled of the the second test because of an elbow injury.
It opens the test doors for Peter Siddle's debut. His consistent performance earned him a place in the test squad for Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008/09. This might be the only change in the Australian team for the second test.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

First wicket is the best wicket

For many bowlers dismissing Sachin Tendulkar is a dream come true. But when a bowler gets Sachin Tendulkar as his first wicket in his career, his joy knows no bounds. The bowler will never forget that moment. 8 bowlers got the opprtunity of dismissing Sachin Tendulkar as their first test wicket.
Hansie Cronje(SA) in 1992-93, Ujesh Ranchod(Zim) in 1992-93, Ruwan Kalpage(SL) in 1993-94, Mark Ealham(ENG) in 1996, Neil Johnson(Zim) in 1998-99, Jacob Oram(NZ) in 2002-03, Monty Panesar(ENG) in 2005-06 and Cameron White(AUS) in 2008-09 got Sachin as their first test wicket. Hansie Cronje got the opportunity in his 2nd test where as the others in their debut matches.

ICC introduces rankings for women's ODI cricket

ICC lanuched the ICC ODI Women's Rankings today in Mumbai.
Claire Taylor of England is the No. 1 batswoman. Indian batswoman Mithali Raj and Australian all rounder Lisa Sthalekar stands at No.2 and No.3 respectively. Lisa Sthalekar has been ranked the No. 1 all rounder. Jhulan Goswami , the Indian pace bowler who recently replaced Mithali Raj as Indian captain, is the No. 1 bowler.
This initiative towards the Womens's cricket rankings will increase the popularity of women's cricket. We have ICC Women's World Cup which is to be played in Australia in March 2009. This is the first world cup after ICC merged with International Women's Cricket Council in 2005.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ponting breaks the shackles

Ponting's average in India(19.50) is pretty poor. Out of his 16 innings in India, he was able to cross 20 only twice.
First,in the recent test match of Boder-Gavaskar Trophy 2008 where he scored a century in his first innings. It was also his first test century in India.
Second, in the 2nd test match of Border-Gavaskar Trophy 1998 where he scored 60 in his first innings.
Ponting was dismissed by the indian spinners 14 times out of 16 innings in India. Harbhajan got him 6 times, kumble 4 times, Venkatapati Raju 2 times, Murali Karthik and Ashish Kapoor once each. Playing spinners in India has been a problem for him. But the way he played them in the first test when he scored a century is excellent. He broke the shackles with a wonderful century on the first day of the test match. After 12 years of waiting he finally managed to score a century in India. Hope he continues his form and improves his records in India.

Horror in Cricket

I'm not referring to Ireland's win over Pakistan in 2007 world cup or India's loss agaist Australia in Sydney test in 2007-08. It's a new Australian comedy horror film about cricket which is released in 2008.
The film is titled " I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer " with a tag line " Mass murder, it's just not cricket ".
The film's plot at IMDB is " A cricket team are dismissed by a moustachioed serial killer with a razor sharp cricket glove and an arsenal of sharpened stumps. One by one the killer exacts revenge for the torment he endured 20 years earlier ". You can find the more details and a trailer at the film's website.

Picked it from: Patrick Kidd

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Deterioration of the spirit of the game

The US$70 million deal between Sri Lanka Cricket and the BCCI(IPL) is a move that is certainly going to kill the spirit of cricket. Sri Lanka is supposed to tour England in Apr-May 2009 where as the second season of IPL is scheduled from April 10 to May 25. As per the above deal, a good number of Sri Lankan players such as Sangakkara, Murali, Jayawardene, has to play in IPL irrespective of their international matches. Many people thought that IPL would inflame commercialization of cricket. It has come true with this deal. However the former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga said that the tour of England will go ahead as per the schedule. But the Sri Lankan players are not happy over Ranatunga's statement. They prefer to play in IPL rather than the England tour. This clearly points out that the players are tending towards earning more money. They are no more looks to be proud to play for their country. Sadly no senior cricketers seem to be concerned about this deal.
C'mon guys...come out of this and play for your proud to play for your country.

I'm not against IPL or any other leauges...What I'm saying is that there should be a separate window for these leauges so that the players cannot miss the opportunity to play for their respective nations.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Zaheer comments on Australia

Zaheer Khan while receiving his Man of the Match award for the 1st test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008 said "I have never seen an Australian team play such defensive cricket, which is a good thing for us". How will Australia respond? Let's wait and see....

First Test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008 ends up in a draw

However it ended up in a draw, the first test match of Border-Gavaskar Trophy between Australia and India stood up to its hype. Ponting's decision to declare the innings, setting India the target of 299 in 83 overs, was brave and clever. Had Sehwag and Ghambir stayed at the crease, it would have been easy for the Indians to win the test. But the aggressive play from Austrlia helped them to get the wickets of Sehwag, Dravid and Ghambir. The hopes of India's win gone with the wickets of Sehwag and Ghambir as no other Indian batsmen can play as aggressive as the two openers. However Sachin scored quickly till Ghambir fell. He slowed down a bit when Laxman came into crease. It was this pair that saved the match for India. However Sachin fell for 49, 15 runs short to break Lara's record of most runs by a batsman in test cricket. Ganguly and Laxman stuck to the crease till the end without giving the Ausies a chance to get a wicket. The game called off with 10 more overs left. It was Australia who dominated throughout the test match. India fought hard to save the match. In India's point of view, it was Zaheer and Harbhajan, on day 3, who helped India to recover from a bad situation. Zaheer, Harbhajan, Tendulkar and Laxman saved the game for India. Zaheer was awarded the Man of the Match for his 6 wickets and a knock of 57* in the first innings.

The positives for Australia:
1. Ponting's record in India is poor. He came back well and scored a century. His come back made the team look strong.
2. Hussey's form.
3. Their fast bowlers performing well.

The positives for India:
1. Ishant and Zaheer bowling well. They have taken the 13 wickets out of 16 Ausies wickets.
2. The fab 4 seemed to be in good touch. Dravid and Ganguly's innings on the 2nd day and Tendulkar and Laxman's innings on the 5th day were important.

The negatives:
1. Spin bothering both the teams.
2. Kumble was wicketless in this match. Both Kumble and Harbhajan were not upto their mark. They have to perform in the next match.
3. Cameron White and Michael Clark could not trouble the Indian batsmen much.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The punter back

The much hyped Ind-Aus test series started in a stunning fashion on a batsman friendly pitch in M chinnaswamy stadium at Bengaluru. Zaheer khan provided the earlier breakthrough for India by removing Hayden in the 3rd ball of the innings. In comes the underpressure australian captain who averages below 13 in India. In the next over the struggle started for him in the form of Ishanth sharma who got under his skin and removed or troubled him throughout the Australia-India test series in Australia earlier this series. He troubled Ponting a lot in that spell.
The well determined Ponting didn't get his head down. He played with positive intend and worked the ball all along the ground. Didn't play too many shots earlier or shots on the up, just played it late and streching well forward for ball that is coming in before he is leaving it. The technique worked for him and he survived to Ishant's incoming deliveries. He didn't bother about playing spin, he played it with ease. His old friend Harbhajan(got him out consistently about 9times) didn't bother him at all. In the end it was Harbhajan who got his wicket,but by that time he did what he wanted to do. He would have given out for an LBW or caught and bowl appeal in Kumble's bowling but laddy luck in his side.
That is determination and composer of well deserved hundred. This is a perfect example of leading from the front, holding relatively inexperienced australian team together. The world class player showed everyone that he can play at any condition and didn't deserve the bad record in India against his name. He proved everyone he can change his game according to the situation. He might have impressed the underpressure fab-4 ;). Lets hope that India will keep Ponting underpressure at least for the reminder of the series, otherwise it will be difficult for them to stop Australia mammoth totals.

Friday, October 3, 2008

India Vs Australia Test History

India faced Australia in 72 test matches till now but managed to win only 16 matches where as Australia won 34 matches and the other 22 matches were drawn. The first test match between these two teams took place in Nov-Dec, 1947. But Indians involved in an unofficial test series with Australia in 1935. The two teams played 4 matches in that unofficial series. India drew the series 2-2.

The Indian visited Australia in 1947 for the first official test series with them. Australia won the 5 match series 4-0. The "Don", Bradman, scored 3 centuries and a double hundred. The Indian players, VS Hazare(2) and DG Phadkar(1) made centuries. Australia visited India after 8 years in 1956-57. They played 3 tests in that series. Australia won the series 2-0.

India registered their first win against Australia in the 1959-60 series. India lost the first match and brought in a specialist spinner, JM Patel, for the second test. It worked well for Indians as the spinner took 14 wickets in that match(9 wickets in the first innings and 5 in the second innings). But India lost the series 2-1.

The next series took place in India in 1964-65. India saved the series(1-1) first time against Australia. India visited Australia in 1967-68 for 4 match series. Australia wrapped up a 4-0 cleansweep with 144 run victory in the last test. Australia visited India in 1969-70 to play 5 matches. Australia won the series 3-1. India lost the next series 3-2 in 1977-78 in Australia. Sunil Gavaskar hit three hundreds in that series.

Australia visited India after 10 years in 1979-80. India won the 6 match series 2-0. It was India' first series win against Australia. India drew the next 2 serieses, 3 match series 1-1 in 1980-81 and 3 match series 0-0 in 1985-86, both in Australia.

India drew the 3 match series 0-0 in 1986-87. The first test match was 'tied'. India needed 348 runs to win the test match. They were 344-9 before the last over of the match. India required 4 runs from the final over of the day. With 2 balls remaining, 1 run needed Maninder Singh of India was given lbw to the penultimate ball of the game. It was the only second test that end up in a tie.

Australia won the 5 match series 4-0 in 1991-92 in Australia. Tendulkar hit 2 centuries in that series. India won the 1 match series 1-0 in 1996-97 in India. Australia was desperate to record a first Test success in India after 1969-70. Kumble took 9 wickets in that match to restrict the Australia.

India won the 3 match series 2-1 in 1997-98 in India. Tendulkar hit 2 centuries. Kumble took 23 wickets. Australia won the next series 3-0 in 1999-2000 in Australia. Sachin was the man of the series for his brilliant batting. McGrath took 18 wickets in that series.

The next series was one of the best test serieses. India won the 3 match series 2-1 in 2000-01 in India. Australia won the first test by 10 wickets. India were at the edge of defeat after following-on. It was then Laxman scored a match winning 281. Harbhajan got a hat-trick in that match. He claimed 13 wickets in that match. India won that match by 171 runs. That was the third time in the history of cricket that the team following on has won a Test match. Unfortunately, on all three occasions, Australia has been the losing team. India won the next match by 2 wickets. Harbhajan bowled excellently and took 15 wickets in that match. He was awarded the man of the series.

India drew the next series(4 matches) 1-1 in 2003-04. Australia saved the last test in the final day after put up a target of 443. Sachin scored an unbeaten 241 in the first innings. Laxman scored 178 in the first innings. It was Steve Waugh's last test match. Australia won the test series in India in 2003-04 after almost 35 years. It was a 4 match series. Australia won it 2-1.

India visited Australia in 2007-08 for a 4 match series. Australia won the series 2-1. The highlight of the series was Ishant Sharma's bowling against the Australia captain Ricky Ponting. India beat Australia first time at Perth in the 3rd test. There were some bad umpiring decisions which favoured Australia.

Australia is in India now to play a 4 match test series. After the two warm up matches, the Australians will play 4 tests against India. The home team has an advantage over the Australians as most of the Australians are yet to play in India. They have no experience playing India in India. They also lack a quality spinner. Indian team has star-studded batting line up of Sehwag, Ghambir and the Fab four. Kumble is the key in the bowling department.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Indian Young Cricketers

Indian young cricket players are proving their mettle. Raina scored a blazing hundred in the first test between India A and NewZealand A. He has been a consistent perofrmer in all forms of the game. His performance in the Asia Cup was match winning. And today it was a splendid performance from the youngsters Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the tour match against Australia. They both made centuries and put their team in a strong position by the end of day-1. Rohit came in when the Indian Board President's XI was in trouble at 59 for 3. Rohit and Kohli added 146 runs for the 5th wicket. They both scored runs at almost the same pace with some fabulous shots all around the ground. Rohit, especially, is very good at playing spinners. A nice feature of his batting is the way he uses his feet against the spinners. His shots off the back foot are simply awesome. Anything short and wide outside the off stump will end up in a boundary. Virat Kohli failed against the Rest of India team in the Irani Trophy. But he came back well and played superbly.

It is clear that the young generation can also play the long format well. Players like Rohit, Badrinath, Kohli and Raina are the future of the Indian cricket in the absence of the fab four. I think these players can replace the fab four if they
  • master their shot selection
  • don't try to play too many shots too early in the innings
  • are able to tackle the pressure situations
  • can be able to play at any position
  • don't hang over in the current success

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ganguly included in the test squad

Many people might have thought that Ganguly's era as a cricketer is over. His career was at stake when he was omitted for the Irani Cup. But the new selection panel gave his career a boost by including him in a 15 member squad for the first two tests against Australia. For all the people who says Ganguly should quit as he did not perform well in the test series against Sri Lanka, let me make it clear that none of the other seniors performed well in that series. It was a collective failure of these four against Sri Lanka. Fielding is also a major concern with these players. So, why Ganguly only? Why not the others also? If we look at the last 20 test matches of the Fab Four, all of them, except Dravid, has almost the same average.

The selectors should make it clear that those who performs well will only get the chances. There has been a lot of competetion from the youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Badrinath and Suresh Raina. The Fab Four should seriously consider this series important. They should perform well to retain their place in the team. May be they should consider retiring voluntarily after this series if they does not perform well in this series. Good luck seniors and team India :).