Archive for the ‘Australia in India’ category

Day 1, Bengaluru

October 9, 2010

Firstly, the administration. I’ve seen how it works in Chennai and without doubt, it’s organized better in Chennai.

 

There are no season tickets issued here.

The officials at the gate aren’t sure whether digital cameras are allowed inside.

There are no gate passes issued during lunch and tea intervals.

Security checks were generally weak.

The toilets were missing. Really.

There is no clear scorecard for those on the same side of the big screen. The traditional scorecard is no longer legible.

I should be arriving at a clearer picture in the coming days but these were the most striking on Day 1. I’d been here for the previous Australia test but things haven’t changed much.  Perhaps the Bengaluru public  are a little less threatening than those in Chennai but an established system was still missing.

 

Coming to the cricket, India could have exerted a lot more pressure today. Zaheer was very ordinary with the new ball. Sreesanth ran in well and delivered with very good pace. The pitch wasn’t helping him. He was unlucky not to have got that LBW appeal against Katich in his favour. But it was Zaheer who got the extended spell. Katich put a lot of value to his wicket again today and by doing that, he’s doing a very good job for Australia. Almost all the others are stroke players and tend to score quickly but Katich has been the Grant Flower.

Even on pleasant overcast conditions of Bangalore, Sreesanth and Zaheer couldn’t get a single breakthrough. Call it the status of Indian pitches or the status of Indian fast bowler, it also has something to do with the captain.

How many of you can understand the field that is being set by MS Dhoni? In the first session on Day 1, there were two  fielders on the boundary on the on side. And that for Harbhajan Singh.

Ponting played a fine off drive off Ojha that went for four and immediately, the gully was moved to cover. I observe Dhoni acts very quickly. He wastes no time in placing a fielder in an area where the previous ball has gone. Why can’t another ball go in the same area? Another 4 balls? Won’t you get a wicket? Team India is still managing wickets and all the poor captaincy is going unnoticed to the general viewer.

It has become obvious that Harbhajan will be bowling to Ponting and Clarke while Zaheer is supposed to take care of Hussey, North and Katich. This has been the strategy ever since the first innings in Mohali and it has worked well. North showed good resistance today and played the ball to it’s merit. His Ashes spot should be safe now.

Ponting played a very determined innings. Clarke missed out today and so did Hussey. Hussey played away from his body and that was a punishable offence. Tim Paine is looking good but does not deserve deep point, deep mid wicket, long on and long off which the Indian captain is offering him. In fact, every new batsman was offered generous field placements and it is nothing but nonsense. Dhoni cannot claim any intelligence out of that. The keeper is also not collecting the throw from fielders from behind the stumps. He collects the ball well before the stumps and then tries heroically to disturb the wickets, which no wicket keeping coach would recommend.

 

It’s well poised at the end of Day 1. I’d be pleased even if this is 80% as good as the previous game.

And I’ll stab myself in the eyeballs if Ian Gould, by any chance, gets the ICC Umpire of the Year Award anytime.

 

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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!!

 

Game 2, Nagpur

October 30, 2009

I couldn’t watch India’s batting and fortunately or unfortunately, I can’t comment on Dhoni’s innings. Harsha Bhogle has called it classy and Kris Srikanth has ‘seen the old Dhoni’. I congratulate the man on his success.
Dhoni has won this one for India while Sachin, Viru and Yuvraj are due. Beware Australia.
Good to see Raina in such form. I want him to be the Lara of India. Gambhir has displayed amazing consistency and is an inspiration for aspiring batsmen in India.

Once a target of 355 has been set, the energy levels and the atmosphere is altogether different in the second innings and the fielding team is on top.
Shane Watson was surely not expecting that bouncer off Ishant’s first ball and his wicket was just out of the blue. Sachin’s catch at slip was firm proof of his fitness.
As I had mentioned in my report of the Challenger final, the pitch at Nagpur was a beauty. It looked newish and offered great bounce and carry for Ishant Sharma. Australia simply cannot complain about the bounce, or the lack of it. They can expect bad bounce in the next game at Delhi though, if the Champions League is any indication.
Coming to Ponting’s dismissal, the ball moved in off the pitch and was not an inswinger as mentioned repeatedly by television commentators whereas Tim Paine’s LBW was off a fine inswinger.Praveen Kumar was his usual self with the new ball.

Hussey seems to have jumped out of his bad patch and is timing the ball well. He is waiting for the ball to come as close to him as possible and that’s a sign of confidence. Australia would hope he carries this kind of form to the test matches as well.

With a mountain of runs to play with, I thought it was a good chance for Harbhajan to find some form, especially with the left handed Hussey batting.May be the dew affected his grip, he was hardly bowling any off spin from his second over onwards. His off spin looked spoilt.( Hussey struck 3 boundaries off his first over) Once Voges came to the wicket, Bhajji reduced the number of quicker ones and settled down a bit. With so much of dew, one would have expected free flow of runs off Yuvraj and Harbhajan but the duo kept things very tight.

Ravindra Jadeja impressed once again with his accurate and intelligent bowling.He could be a solution for the allrounder’s slot in foreign conditions provided, he gains further fluency in his batting. Hussey’s good innings came to an end with a ball that gripped and turned and Hussey was never expecting that amount of turn. Cameron White just had to get out as the required run rate was well over 10 rpo.

The only positive for India(bowling wise) was perhaps the return of pace and rythym for Ishant. Its a good opportunity for him to build some confidence from this game and he should be grateful to the batsmen.

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan among others described this to be a better bowling performance by India but all this was a result of the 354 runs the batting unit had put up.

I wonder how people like Robin Jackmann tolerate with the idiots here.

1st ODI, Vadodara

October 27, 2009

 When you are picking a squad for the first two ODIs, why not pick players who are fit for both? Selecting an unfit Yuvraj (they aren’t sure if he’ll be fit for the second game) was ridiculous and a chance to another deserving batsman was denied.

Ponting won the toss and not surprisingly, chose to bat. Watson was tentative and stayed rooted to the crease. He escaped the first ball but Nehra beat him for pace and caught him in front in the very next delivery. In came Ponting and I’ve hardly seen him miss a pull shot these days. Punter’s missed pull off Nehra indicated that the pitch didn’t offer true bounce. It stayed relatively firm throughout but offered a lot of turn.

With the new ball, Praveen Kumar is not exposed but in his fifth consecutive over, there was little swing and Ponting dispatched him out of the attack. Until then Nehra and Praveen were doing a good job but that poor Praveen over swung the momentum towards the Aussies.

I noticed Ishant closely and he’s surely short of self-belief. His natural balls are going down leg and he made conscious extra effort (with a disturbed rhythm and less pace) to send balls on and around the off stump.

Harbhajan’s bowling was all over the place whereas Jadeja attacked the stumps, strictly maintained a stump to stump line and was rewarded with Ponting’s wicket with a beauty. Ponting, I thought underestimated Jadeja while trying to play a couple of big strokes but the young man showed discipline and proved to be very good. There was some doubt as to whether the ball had pitched outside leg but umpire Shahvir Tarapore took his time and made a fine decision.

My friend Rajesh wanted Praveen Kumar to be thrashed before I criticized him and Praveen was very much at the receiving end yesterday. Dhoni probably expected him to be of Kemar Roach’s pace and introduced him in the middle overs. The fellow survived a very expensive over as White couldn’t middle a few loose balls. Dhoni made a good change in bringing Raina for Praveen but that didn’t pay off as well. There’s a lot of talk about ‘specialist bowlers for the death’ but India continued to bowl loose balls in the end overs. Once White gifted his wicket away, Voges couldn’t find his feet during the powerplay as there was added pressure on him. How often do we see the batting powerplay go in favour of the fielding side due to compulsion for the batsmen to take the aerial route?? Praveen Kumar though kept on bowling meaningless slower balls which were picked up very easily. He doesn’t outthink the batsmen and continues to use the slower ball without being sure, that the batsman isn’t expecting one.

Hussey came out as the best batsman. He never took any risk, kept the scorers busy and ended up making a significant contribution. 292 was always a tough task, especially against Lee and Siddle. Lee, I think will prove to be the difference between the teams in this series. He is bowling as well as ever and looks like the world’s best fast bowler today. I can’t understand why he wasn’t given his full quota of ten overs but I now hear he had some trouble with his elbow.

 Sehwag’s shot selection these days  is near perfect. He looked in supreme touch and the Aussies were lucky to get him early. Sachin looked to play a big innings but couldn’t middle the balls. He looked a little out of touch. Siddle bowled a testing spell to Sachin at good pace and just outside off. Gambhir and Kohli did not take the initiative to attack the bowlers during the powerplay. Even though Watson and Johnson were ordinary, the batsmen couldn’t keep up a good enough run rate. I remember Sachin toying around with Hopes in Australia a couple of seasons back and batsmen seem to be giving him too much respect to him these days. Adam Voges is another bowler whose bowling career could have been finished off today but he was given royal treatment by Gambhir and Kohli. The pair should have started accelerating slowly when the inexperienced Kohli played a suicidal shot to get out. When Dhoni came in to bat, ( I was surprised he didn’t come at No. 3!!) Ponting made a good move in bringing back Siddle. The captain was left clueless. He could just manage some irresponsible slices on the off side.

 Though it wasn’t utilized properly, one should appreciate the decision of taking the batting powerplay in the 34th over. Gambhir lost concentration and missed a full ball from Johnson. Raina looked in good touch but was left foxed by a slower one from Johnson. And when Dhoni held out at mid on, most of the television sets in India would have been switched off.

What followed later was proof that the game is one of glorious uncertainty. There was little pressure on Harbhajan and Praveen Kumar and the duo carried on and on. The Aussie bowlers had little pressure on them and were going through the motions. They thought that the match was in their hands and the bowlers hardly focused on finishing off the tail. Harbhajan’s timing was as sweet as honey. Nobody expected Bhajji to win the match for India and he thoroughly enjoyed his batting stint. And in the end, when just 9 runs were needed off the last over, there was pressure on the batsmen. They were scoring at more than 10 runs an over  previously and 9 runs off the last over meant that people expected them to win it for India. Harbhajan couldn’t handle this, went for a wild swipe over mid wicket and was bowled by Siddle.

 The match ended up very close and Australia survived the Turbanator scare.