Archive for November 2009

The Aussie summer is here

November 26, 2009

One battle is over and another begins. They’re up against Australia straight away after the war with WICB. But a full strength WI side is back playing cricket. That’s the good news. Things haven’t started well with Gayle having to go back to Jamaica to be alongside his sick mother. Thankfully, he’s back and his twitter updates were good news for cricket fans in tense times. Sarwan has injured himself and isn’t playing the first test. That’s a huge blow.

Had Gayle been held up for a few more days, Dinesh Ramdin could have captained a WI test side in Australia. Few would have imagined that possibility. Fidel Edwards is in a mess now with his injury and the board has delayed his contract award. He participated in the IPL and didn’t pay heed to the board’s advice and it has proved costly now. Nobody wants to miss the plane to Australia’s test summer. So with Fidel out, Roach,Taylor and Tonge should take the fast bowling duties along with Benn taking the spinner’s spot. Rampaul is is playing ahead of Tonge but Tonge should provide better stability to the attack. He’s accurate, very similar to Stuar Clark and a little pacier than Munaf Patel.

Devon Smith and Darren Ganga are missing and young Adrian Barath should take this opportunity with both hands.

Meanwhile, Australia continue to open with Watson. He’s offering an extra bowling option but can’t continue as an opener. Hussey has kept his place and that’s a fine decision by the selectors. But there’s no Stuey. They say they have the Ashes of next season in mind and that’s rubbish. Every test series has become a lead up to the following Ashes. Every ODI series has become a lead up to the folllowing World Cup.  Why aren’t they playing for the pride of winning every series they play?

It’s a big test of patience for Lee as he’s out due to yet another recurrence of his elbow trouble. He has to be back, in place of Johnson. Hauritz has done no harm to his chances with consistent performances in India recently.

Tonge will surely get his chances in the eleven. He just needs to keep up the hard work and stay fit.

This is the start of a long summer for Australia and could be make or break for Ponting’s future as test captain. He’s been Taylor’s bunny over the past few years but Benn is the man I feel will trouble Ponting the most. Johnson vs Nash  is another battle to watch out for as they’ve been house mates in Queensland while Nash lived there. This should be a great experience for Roach. He,along with Benn hold they key and if the Aussie batsmen are kept under control, WI will have the upper hand. Johnson and Hauritz are far from dangerous and Siddle is quite manageable although he’s always on the money.  Hilfenhaus is going to be the biggest threat.

Heart is with the West Indies. It’s up to them to ensure Micheal Clarke walks out for the toss along with Andrew Strauss,next Australian summer.

 

 

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Day 1, Dunedin

November 24, 2009

Pakistan won the toss and rightly decided to bowl first. It’s early morning for viewers in India and the sight of that lively pitch swept away the residual sleep in my eyes.Mohammad Aammer couldn’t have hoped for a better start. Tim McIntosh would have hardly expected such a full first ball and that was an unfortunate dismissal for him. Also proved that you need to be off your toes right from the word GO. Both Asif and Aameer maintained a testing line and made good use of the seam movement that was available. They kept asking questions and made the batsmen play as much as possible. Usually, bowlers from the sub-continent while touring New Zealand get carried away by the zip on offer and bowl wide and erratic lines.
Daniel Flynn was a victim of that seam movement and any batsman needs good fortune to survive those deliveries. Guptill looked really determined for a long knock and both Taylor and Guptill ensured there wasn’t any further damage to the top order.
I cannot remember too many overpitched balls in the opening spell and cover drives were a rarety. Scoring opportunities were few and the odd push to the on side helped the score board tickle. It took a while for the straight drives to come out. Guptill left as many balls as possible. He takes all credit for saving NZ’s face today. Ross Taylor started off quite cautiously but did provide a few chances.

Umer Gul started off with a few short balls but soon hit back of a length consistently.Asif and Aameer were a little fuller and were always looking like taking a wicket. Guptill is one of the strongest pullers in the game and one rare short ball produced the shot he was probably itching to play.It was far from the middle of the bat and fine leg couldn’t latch on to the chance. Earlier, Imran Farhat dropped a difficult chance at slip off Guptill. I say difficult even in test level because the ball flew real quick in an awkward height and looked like it was swinging in the air.Apart from these two chances,
Guptill looked solid. He played as straight as possible and that was the order of the day. As expected Ajmal was picked ahead of Kaneria. He was on the money today but well set batsmen can negotiate him with ease in pitches like these.He was treated with caution though and was presented with the full straight bat for as much as possible. Guptill’s strong shot ( the pull) could be tested at test level and his strength could prove to be his weakness if not treated with
the required temperament.

As lunch approached Taylor exhibited some arrogant cuts and the run rate improved quickly. Taylor was uncomfortable with the short stuff and wasn’t watching the ball. He struggled with his timing early on but Im pleased he ended up making a significant contribution today. Gul’s tussle with Taylor from around the wicket with short pitched bowling was a treat to watch.

I thought the pitched eased out nicely after lunch and there was help for both batsmen and the bowlers. New Zealand would be disappointed it couldn’t build on tall from the Taylor-Guptill partnership.Fulton and Elliot missed out. McCullum and Vettori should prove to be tough nuts to crack for Pakistan tomorrow and the pair did well to see through to stumps. Dan already has 40 runs to his name and if these too can carry on for another hour or more, it’s
advantage NZ. Pakistan can’t afford to provide free runs to McCullum and they should try to stifle him. Anything above 350 would be a great cushion for Bond and Vettori. I expected Tuffey to make the eleven ahead of O Brien but that looked like good and sensible selection.

I’d say its honours even at stumps on day 1.Looking forward to 350+ from NZ and then some fire from Shane Bond.

The Kiwi squad

November 24, 2009

McIntosh and Guptill open. No problems there. Flynn and Taylor pick themselves. Ryder is injured and picking Peter Fulton is a backward step. Im afraid he’s been given a chance too many and he has failed to capitalise. Im sure there’s someone else in those islands who’d do better than Fulton.

I’m a big fan of Grant Elliot and he’s going to be an asset to the national team in the coming years. He is most capable of taking that No. 6 spot after Oram’s retirement and ahead of James Franklin.The fast bowling has been strengthened by Bond’s return ( James won’t be missed) and Elliot is surely going to produce beter test output than what Jakes was producing. McCullum, Bond and Vettori are international class.

I can’t wait to watch a test spell from Bond. He along with Lee and Steyn offer an amazing variety to fans of fast bowling.
There’s a problem in the fact that there’s no back up batsman. Not even one. Chris Martin should be getting the nod ahead of Ian O Brien and Jeetan Patel and O Brien should be carrying the drinks.

Daryl Tuffey makes a return and he would be under severe pressure from Mills when the latter is fit. O Brien has been performing decently as well and Tuffey needs wickets to keep his place.

Im putting  all my money on Bond. He’s going to be the star of the series. And NZ are going to win.

They just need some big scores from Taylor, Guptill and Flynn. GO BLACK CAPS!

Don’t forget, this series is ‘hosted by Pakistan’!!

A test in November, for the first time in NZ!

November 24, 2009

The one day series in Abu Dhabi was a good enough warm up for Bond’s return to the test fold.Now that Mills is ruled out, Bond will be back, just as KP was brought back before schedule. One would expect the pitches to be lively as it’s early summer in Kiwiland and the battle between the fastmen should decide the outcome of the series.

Ross Taylor is long long due and he has to deliver this time around and if Flynn, Guptill and McCullum can put up big scores, Pakistan will be under pressure. Captain Mohammad Yousuf has already expressed concerns over the early summer tracks.

In case the pitches are going to be a liitle hard and offer turn, it’s advantage Pakistan. NZ batsmen’s handling of spin looked pathetic in Abu Dhabi.
Both Kaneria and Ajmal find a place in the enormous eighteen man squad. I think Ajmal will struggle to be effective  in New Zealand.Kaneria should be a bigger threat. None of the Kiwi batsmen had any clue to Shahid Afridi’s googlies in the one dayers.
In the 18 man squad, Asif, Gul and Aaameer are the only frontline pacers. Yasir Arafat and Abdur Rauf bowl medium pace and there’s no Rana Naved. The squad has 2 wicket keepers, 3 fast bowlers, 2 spinners and 8 batsmen. And Rauf, Malik and Arafat are the ‘allrounders’. Very interesting selection indeed!
Given this squad, this would be my eleven although I would have wanted Misbah in place of Shoib Malik, Younis Khan in place of Salman Butt and Rana Naved in Aameer’s spot.
Imran Farhat
Khurram Manzoor
Salman Butt
Mohammad Yousuf
Umer Akmal
Shoib Malik
Kamran Akmal
Mohammad Asif
Umer Gul
Danish Kaneria
Mohammad Aameer

NZ did very well to win the one day series 2-1. It was clear exhibition of the difference in attitudes between a sub-continental side and a side from down under. Sri Lanka to me is the most consistent Asian country. Pakistan couldn’t chase down 212 in the final one dayer and that’s a shame. Younis Khan looked in awful form but I’m sure there’s something apart from his batting that’s keeping him out of the side now. A three test series in New Zealand is huge for Younis and if he’s skipping that, the reasons have to be as huge. Only MSD can skip a three test series for the one dayers and the T20s.
There was no maturity shown by the Pakistan batsmen and they simply crumbled under pressure. Shoib Malik was playing as though it was a friendly inter school game.
Tim Southee showed good discipline in his comeback. He’s lost some pace though. Young fast bowlers shouldn’t be fed with too much of theory from the  coaches. The pace is coming down too early in their careers. Irfan Pathan is a fine example of that.
McCullum finally converted starts into big scores.It’s high time Taylor did that. I’m sure Dan is going to get a bunch of wickets with his arm ball. None of the Pakistani batsmen are picking it and there are a lot of LBWs in store for him.

Oh and I was listening to Boycott and Greig together from the box, after a decade.

The Umpire Decision Review system is making it’s debut here. The ICC has convinced the broadcasters to bear the extra costs involved and that’s an achievement. They have to force the other boards as well to implement the system. If NZ can agree to it, why can’t South Africa, Australia and India? They have much more money.

Sachin

November 5, 2009

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar scored a hundred and seventy five runs today ( off 141 balls), half of Australia’s total in their quota of fifty overs.I’m not eligible to write on such masterpieces.

India lost the game by 4 runs.

Sachin himself will have the scars for a long time. Some of my friends are a little shattered.

I don’t care.

I feel so privileged.  What a knock!!