Thursday, September 20, 2007

Googlies: Semi-India in semi-finals

New rockstars emerge when established ones have a sore throat, and back-up singers take the front stage. The crown prince of the game played yesterday, Yuvraj, was injured, and India were three down with just 33 on board. Messages screamed "the great Indian collapse " has arrived. Rohit Sharma and Dhoni stuck to the task. A friend queried: "Do you know anything of this dude? Is he related to you, Sharma?" "I don't know if he is related to me," I said, "but I know he was one of the best batsmen in our Under 19 team, and is an awesome fielder." Shikhar Dhawan, and Ambati Rayudu were great as teenagers too, but they have vanished from our calculations.

Dinesh Kartik, Pathan, Yuvraj have carried on with their initial promise. Rohit Sharma is dropped from the team for next tour, and that must have been on his mind. To come out and play in the way he did, and get Man of the match award a day after selection board kicks you out of ODI team for no reason, no fault of yours, requires a maturity and drive that will take this bloke really far. To top it off, the agility he showed while fielding, and how quickly he picked and threw the ball right at stumps to effect the run out was outright brilliant.

For me the best part of Indian victories in the tournament has been the fact that India is winning by virtue of a team effort. In nineties, the tests won by India in India were scripts written with Kumble in the lead. In Sharjah, when India got better of Australia, Tendulkar shone so brilliantly that Warne complained of nightmares during rest of his career. In the world cup in South Africa last time, Dravid was in tremendous form. Indian team always has a star performer, and that one personal brilliance is usually able to get us somewhere. But we know from the West Indies cricket, Lara might singlehandedly win matches even against teams like Australia, but without a reasonable team to support him, he is powerless. A semi-India, for what will you call an Indian team with the presence of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Yuvraj, Dravid and Laxman, played today. They batted well, bowled well, fielded well, and won.

Indian bowling, especially RP Singh's performance was immaculate today. They did bowl the widest wides possible, and had more extras to offer than extras as dancers in a Govinda song. Pathan was quite accurate, Harbhajan, in spite of the first over that cost us 17 runs, was bowling to a plan. Kartik had a good day as fielder. He caught the bowl that was racing away faster than eye can blink. Sreesanth behaved like Santh. The best moment for me was when he got Boucher out with an inside edge. Kartik seemed to have dived without catching anything, and Sreesanth thought the bowl had raced to the boundary. So Sreesanth looked visibly frustrated. Meanwhile, the inside edge had directed the ball to the stumps. No one was celebrating, so mortals like me and commentator imagined it to be a no ball. It rapidly went from disappointment to celebration when batsman was seen walking out. Victory seemed a set affair then. The momentum by then was so great that India kicked South Africa out of the tournament.

There is something about South Africa which makes their case poignant. In every tournament, they seem to fail at the crucial stage. Their team always has promise and yet they flounder. They did exceptionally well to win the greatest one day highest run chase drama with Australia. But they have failed to flourish in World Cups. It always reminds me of the students who would do their homework regularly, perform consistently and score highly in all class tests and quizzes, and then fail to make their mark in the final exam or in entrance exams. Their parents will imagine foul play, Pandits would blame astronomical influences (not even astrological, so big is the catastrophe), and the students hardly ever figure what went wrong. Sometimes the weight of expectation was so great (as is case with Indian team) that it cripples them. Some flourish in spite of everything.

The heart of the matter is this: a hero is a hero not because of how he performs everyday, not because he is the tallest or smartest or strongest or fastest among the crowd, but just because he knows how to give his best performance when needed. Competitions require more than just skill. The intent is important, skill is important, but I guess what is the key at the end of the day, is what is at stake, and if what is at stake is big, a buffalo can drive a lion away. Raise the stake folks. When a loss will hurt you harder, when losing is not an option, you will end up giving it your most intense effort, and if you have the skill and the will, victory will be yours. Even the big one!


Vivek Sharma said...

from dud sea scrawls

Dravid with Rohit, Ganguly with Tiwari and Tendulkar with?

The new guard is making its presence felt. I am sure Manoj Tiwari (young dada is what they call him in Bengal) will be the new Ganguly, Rohit Sharma might fill in for Dravid, Tendulkar’s shoes are too small, and stature too big for anyone to fill. But Kartik, Dhoni and Patel will keep the fight going for one wicket keeper slot. Uthappa will soon fight battles with Suresh Raina, Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan for an opening or middle order slot. Ishant Sharma will drive Joginder Sharma, Piyush will take Kumble’s slot (and again Jumbo is too big for anyone to replace him just yet).

My optimism is so intense, that I always hope for six sixes: and Yuvraj showed us, that there are days when that does happen;)

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Fri, 2007-09-21 09:28 — Silent Melody
hey vivek, nice

hey vivek, nice write-up…It is good to see India winning but how I wsih SA had made 126 runs and made it to finals…I have a real soft corner for SA and there was a time when I used to root for SA in India -SA matches…(Yeah bad I know)…

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Fri, 2007-09-21 06:58 — India Whining
Cometh the hour .. Cometh the new Captain

It was really a heartwarming performance by the new look team. They were simply brilliant in this game and the one against Eng. Whats even more heartening is the manner in which Dhoni has slipped into the role of skipper.

During the Eng-Ind match, when the camera was focussed on the Ind team dugout, the newly appointed Captain was seen brandishing a broad smile, fooling around with his young wards. In the match against SA, when the bowlers were splaying around massive wides, he didn’t look flustered. He didn’t go and have a word with the bowlers after each errant ball. There was an instance when he (standing at mid-off) mis-fielded a ball.. his reaction ? A wide sheepish grin.. No kicking the dew laden turf.. No mother-sister bashing. Just a relaxed confident demeanor. Way to go Dhoni You are GOD!

I know it’s still early days to make a definite statement on his Captaincy skills. Win’s usually tend to mask all shortcomings. The real test will come when the team loses a game or two. Besides that, the 20-20 format is too brief to really strech him as a Captain. But whatever little that I have seen of Dhoni - “the Captain”.. I’M Lovin it !

“I was no longer having FUN. I want to concentrate on my batting” our Ex. Captain Mr. Dravid said while quitting. I hope he is now having loads of FUN watching the matches, from the sidelines, on TV Silly I read in the papers that he is slated to shoot 9 commercials this week at various locations in Mumbai. Nice way to start concentrating on batting Jammie. Liar

Vivek Sharma said...


pradeep24s comments: on 21 Sep 07 03:21:00 AM
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Tat was a great match
Vivek Sharma comments: on 20 Sep 07 21:43:00 PM
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Yes, the ball and the wicket surprised one and all.

If South Africa are known chokers, India fares no better against Australia.

If it will be a massacre again, may our team show some spirit, and fight it better than they could before.

Naked Cricket comments: on 20 Sep 07 17:22:00 PM
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Good stuff Vivek.
That Boucher dismissal was a riot - and to top it they went for a commercial break - and a glimpse of Boucher walking, no-ball flashed, not-celebrating, celebrating, scoreboard saying 6 wkts - and the ads didn't stop. I was ready for a wicked run-out while Boucher was of those nasty, freak things you associate with Smith n his associates.
Also like your take on SAF as chokers - that had me thinking after the game (as it did all of SAF). Posted on that, here's the link:
cheers, naked cricket

Vivek Sharma said...

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Vivek Sharma comments: on 21 Sep 07 10:09:00 AM
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beat or break the Aussie jinx or phoenix..... Aussies are beaten in one of the initial games, and then they use it to drive themselves.... Indians have to play without imitating Aussie style (which is what they tried in world cup final)... and without being intimidated by them (has happened in big games thereafter)

We'll see how it goes!

Geometrix comments: on 21 Sep 07 07:03:00 AM
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"Let us see if we can beat the Aussie jinx"

should have been

"Let us see if we can break the Aussie jinx"

Geometrix comments: on 21 Sep 07 07:01:00 AM
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It was fabulous performance from RP Singh, pitch, and SA hara kiri! They should have atleast reached 126, if not 142 (that would have allowed us to take a shot at Pakistan). India has never beaten Australia in a major knock out tournament for a longtime (after the epic Sachin Sharjah Storm?), while Pakistan has never beaten India in a world cup match. India had never beaten SA at Durban prior to this, and SA has never performed well under pressure.

Let us see if we can beat the Aussie jinx, then Pakistanis will be biting their nails (considering them firm favorites against New Zealand).