Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sachin Tendulkar Counter Attack - againt SA - Video

Abu Dhabi - India - Pak - 1st ODI - Video

Waquar Being Slaughtered

Sharjah curse continues

Like I mentioned in my previous post, Sharjah has not been a happy hunting ground for the Indians. And even though the city changed from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi, the country (UAE) remained unchanged and along with it Tema India's fortunes on this land. But the venue alone cannot be blamed, for the way the Indians played today, they really lacked the passion, and the attitude and Pakistan were truly the deserving winners.

The lost in itlsef does not take away anything from the Indians, for they have truly be very consistent, but in my opinion every game that they play from here on, leading into the World Cup is a critical one, and the more games they win, the better it is for Team India and for all its players. Graham Gooch said in an article, that India should not peak too soon. And my only response to that is -- when did we ever peak?

The success that we have had so far has all been in the sub-continent, and more important in India. The moment they are out of the home grounds, they falter. We have just been winning good matches, not peaking. Did Australia peak too early, leading into the World Cup of 2003? No, they were just consistent, and so darn consistent. It is that consistency that India need to imbibe in themselves.

One wrong foot here, and a little complacency and the slide will be there again for all of us to see. There was also an argument in Prem Panicker's blog that India were just coming back from a drained out tourand so they were barely physically present there at the venue and hence a bad game. I tend to disagree on that. I mean look at you and me. I work as a software engineer at a reputed IT firm, putting in 12 and often times 15 hours a day to do the job for what I am being paid. Likewise Prem is sitting by the PC and writing about the game, at the oddest of hours, simply because that is his passion, and his job. Well, for the cricket players, it is both -- a passion (I hope) and are getting paid to play the game. So, what else would you need to get motivated and perform to the fullest of your abilities. I sit there day in and day out and work on my IT projects. Where is the difference. I don't think that a couple of close series should really be a reason for non performance.

Hopefully India will have a much better showing in the second game. Maybe I am expecting too much, but I suppose, every game is critical, and you better perform well on the job that you are being so handsomely paid for!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

India - Pak in Abu Dhabi - Preview

Well, India are on a high. Having broken the record for the most consecutive successful chases in the game, they have done themselves and their country proud. With almost no time for a break, India now travel to Abu Dhabi to play arch rivals Pakistan in a two match series. This will be the first time that the two teams will meet in UAE. The last time they met was in 1999-2000 series in Sharjah, when Pakistan won the last match comprehensively (Match Details)

UAE has not really been a very good venue for India, specially against the Pakistanis. While all of us remember the "Desert Storm" that Sachin raised against the Aussies in 1998, Team India's record against the Aussies has been dismal. The two teams have met in Sharjah (UAE) on 24 times in the past, and of all those matches, India have tasted success in only 6 matches.

Although the ground this time over is different, the country is the same, and I am inclined to believe the the playing conditions will also be the same. This series will really test the new Team India and all the young guns. For starters they do not seem to have history on their side. Then the Indian opening pair still seems to be a worrysome issue. It is here that we will see the true characters of some of the young guns. No doubt, Team India has all the arsenal and the momentum going their way, but a neutral ground, one where none of the teams have played a game before, is sure to test every player.

And on a closing note,, just one comment about the ground -- (take a look at the photo above). It sure looks like a beautiful ground, lush green outfield, excellent stadium, picturesque in every sense. The only unknown - the virgin pitch. Is it ready for the fireworks though? We will see..

So, lets just wait and watch!

India make it 16 in a row

Well, the Englad series has been a real good one for this Indian team. India now have won 3 out of their last four series, and drawn the only other series with SA. With India extending its chasing streak to 16, there is already a talk of winning the World Cup. Huh, do we get excited about all this so fast? Why?

Just a couple of things that I would like to bring to the forefront here . All the past 4 series that India have played in the last year, have been on the sub-continent. The Rainas, and Yuvis, the Dhonis and Uthappas will really be tested once they are out on the Australian and the New Zealand pitches. I would expect that even the WI series coming up in May will test some of these players. Lets not start sepculating just yet.

As for the bowlers, well they will also be tested in more seamer friendly pitches, where controlling the ball is not as easy as it is on the sub continent pitches. Besides, playing against oppnents like Australia, New Zealand and SA on more bouncier pitches, where they play their best game will also test these bowlers.

No doubt that India has been doing well in the recent past, but a change in the pitch and playing conditions, that are somewhat different from the sub continent will really test this team. That is something that the players, captain and the team management has to be wary off.

Till then,, keep playing Team India!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Can Bangladesh pull off a miracle>

The last two days have got to be the best days in the cricketing history of a nation whose current Test status is being questioned. Bangladesh for two consecutive days - yes mind you - days, and not sessions has managed to keep the Aussies at bay and have bettered them in every department!

If only they can sustain it for another three days, cricket lovers around the world will witness one of the most dramatic moments. I wonder how many ranking points will Bangladesh earn if they are to win against the mighty Aussies!

Well, its still a little too early to say, because the Aussies are consistency personified, and I just get the feeling that there is still enough pwer in the current Australian team to not just come of their current state of plight, but also force a result in their favor. But until then, they must fight, and the Bangladeshis must not, for one little second even blink and continue the way they have been playing their games in the last two games. For even a single bad session for them can take the game away from them.

Lets wait and watch -- I would also like to see the photo on the Daily Telegraph three days from now!

Friday, April 07, 2006

The failures amongst the wins

Team India continues its impressive run with its unparalled 15th consecutive successive chase. But what is even more impressive is the fact that this team has been successful without the form and absence of some of its key players - Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif. Amongst all the victories that India has been able to conjure in the last 5 months two of these three players have contributed little to India's cause. That, in my opinion is the loss in all these victories so far ...

The selectors, captain and the coach continued to show a vote of confidence in both Sehwag and Kaif, by not only retaining both of them in the squad but also selecting Virendra Sehwag the captain for the next couple of ODIs. That is indeed a big vote of confidence for him, and if nothing else at least this should produce an inspiring innings from Viru.

With Rahul Dravid already being rested for the next two ODIs, it will be left to Viru to not only make sure that we do not falter and start losing the confidence that has been developed in the last 6 months by losing the games but also to sort out his own form and come to terms with his batting disappointments. It is these non-consequential matches that I really fear the most. There is nothing to play for, or so it seems - from the series stand point at least - but there is a lot to play for, if you are looking to gain confidence and hone your skills.

Moving forward, every game from now on would be critical leading into the World Cup. Although India have played Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa and now England beautifully so far, they still have to face up New Zealand and then of course Australia. And remember, they have not played any team outside the sub continent of pitches that are always a concern to the Indian batting. The only way to make sure that you play well, we need to make sure that we win as many matches at home and gain a lot of confidence. After all half the game is played in the mind!!!

India should not let England come out of their bad form and dominate them in the last three games. That would indeed, despite the series win would be a big failure, one which could lead into a drop in self-confidence and eventually performance leading up to the critical series in WI and then the world cup. It could really be a BIG failure amongst all the beautiful victories! India must stay guarded and focused!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Yuvraj Pulverizes England

Before the match, in my previous post I did mention that India had refrained itself from experimenting on the ODIs so far. But here it was again, and it seems that the experimentation seems to always be working for India. Dropping out Gautam Gambhir to accomodate an extra bowler was a brave move, and all kudos to the captain - Dravid for once again taking on the onus on himself and opening the Indian innings in an attempt to get rid of India's opening blues.

The start was better than the usual considering the dual nature of the pitch. But Sehwag continued to disappoint. Looking at the way he was dismissed, I really feel now that he should be sent back to playing some more domestic cricket. Dravid on the other hand continued to impress and was rather unfortunate to be out in the way he did. India finally experimented again, promoting Irfan to No 3. It did make the English captain think and change his strategies a little bit because he had to delay the third powerplay. India were at it again -- the experimentation.

But it was Yuvraj's day today, and he really made it count. His strokeplay suggested as if this was really a 300+ pitch. It was really heartening to see the way he and Raina played the 20 overs - hard hitting boundaries punctuated with singles and twos. It has also been a pleasure to watch this Indian team perform at the highest levesl without Sachin Tendulkar. Way to go India!

As for the Englad -- well they never looked in sight of victory after Pathan took the top three wickets. Paul Collingwood provided some respectability to the total and played a very good game, but this English side is a little immature and short on experience and talent when it comes to the shorter version of the game. In the last two ODIs they lost the plot half-way through the second innings, this time though it was lost by the top order batsmen itself!

On a closing note -- while the Indian batting finally came true today, the catching is still a concern. Ramesh Powar missed out on another skier, although a difficult one -- but what do you expect at this level? Better ? Right?

Match Scorecard here

Sunday, April 02, 2006

India - England - 3rd ODI - Preview

As we start the daylight savings time here in the US, and move an hour ahead, its going to get late by an hour to see the 3rd ODI being played between India and England. At the moment though, India sit pretty well leading the series 2-0. Not an unassailable lead, but definitely a lead that would make them feel more comfortable and confident. The one other thing that this lead has done is that it has made Englad lose all the momentum (if any) that they would have generated for themselves by winning the 3rd Test match.

Although India seem to have won both the matches, there are a lot of areas that India could do to improve upon. Firstly of course if their catching. The catching was good in the first ODI, but the slips by Ramesh Powar and Suresh Raina let India down again in that department. I still cannot believe that Ramesh Powar could have dropped the catch that he did.

Secondly of course is their top order batting. Sehwag really needs to come up with a class act soon, otherwise he may also have to sit out of the team. His over-weight is now starting to cause a lot of worry for him and for the team -- it is really looking like excessive baggage. The balance in the shots that he plays is missing and so is his confidence. Gautam Gambhir on the other hand has looked in both the outings, but has failed to convert the starts into a big innings. These two and the number 3 and 4 batsmen really have to put up their hands and come up with much better performances, if India are to continue winning their matches.

It is also interesting to see that there has not been any experimentation in both these games so far. The batting order has come up with no surprises, and there have been no shuffling. Makes me think, if Dravid and Guru Greg had had enough of it, or if not experimenting with the batting line-up is also an experiment in itself? It would be worth to try someone else at the top of the innings and let sehwag come down the order for a couple of innings till he gets his momentum going.

The pitch at the Nehru Stadium in Goa will be a new one - re-laid out ( See the photo at the beginning of the blog). Only time will tell whether the Indian batsmen will get their act together or not. We are also waiting for the more traditional (now) ODI - the one with high scores and large number of boundaries. Will that be the case in tomorrow's game?

But one thing is for sure, that if India does not improve their two shortcomings, they may well see England convert their periods of domination into a positive result. Will Goa be that venue? Well, its not been a very good hunting ground for the Indians, having lost all the 4 games that they have played here so far. Lets wait and watch ....