Monday, October 08, 2007

Googlies: India beat Australia; Dhoni leads from the front; Randomspeak

India kept her nerve, and won by eight runs. This headline is enough for certain people. It shuts them down, and it lets you start your day with happy relief of having watched a tense and thrilling encounter, and reached the triumph in style. The drama is in the detail. Tendulkar, for example, batted either circumspectly, (we can say that in retrospect), or maybe batted in fear of losing his spot at the top order. So did Ganguly maybe, for he is thrown of out equation quite easily these days. Twelve half-centuries in this year, and string of good batting have kept Ganguly at crease, against all odds. To have Tendulkar on the other end, and to see him play a dot ball after dot ball, meant that the onus of scoring fell on Ganguly. He perished attempting a slog shot, but he had ensured by then that India had their first good start of the series. Even in the match where rain saved us, we had lost Tendulkar's wicket within the three overs that Australia bowled.

The approach was full of grit, patience and focus. When you see Tendulkar (and to some extent Ganguly) fight like that, you must praise the quality of bowling. But I write Googlies, and they turn into corners where they are not expected. So today when Tendulkar batted with that grit, the question that really bothered me was, till when my friend, till when? Like in most dramatic movies, the demise of better looking guy, or departure of the more obedient son, brings the other hero to stage, it was Ganguly's dismissal that helped Tendulkar realize that a batsman at crease is a mortal. He started showing signs of actually knowing where the ball is coming from, and where it is going, and piled on runs. Ganguly silenced his critics, and so did Tendulkar, and India won in the end. But the next ten matches will be perhaps best in terms of how Saurav and Sachin bat. They have the caliber, experience and skill to dictate terms and of course, filling their shoes is still a hard task. But till when my friend, till when?

Gambhir, in spite of his scores in Twenty20 and Sehwag, in spite of his occasional brilliance are the horses that I won't buy for a long haul. Dinesh Kartik has been good, but the bullock cart of Indian team requires a pair to pull it. Could Mr. Parthiv Patel, the man of 22, who has scored five consecutive centuries (four as part of India A team, and most recent 179 fighting knock in Iranian trophy) be that buddy? As a batsman, Patel should make the cut, given his string of scores. The baby boy has grown up, bats much better and like Kartik and Dhoni, can be in the team just on merit of his batting. Another friend who must return is Manoj Tiwari, the little dada from Bengal, who helped himself to another important knock of 130 in the Iranian trophy. Last time he was included in the team, an injury forced him out. His return is imminent, given how well he bats and how heavily he scores in all the important matches. But if he returns, who shall be replaced?

Dravid did not get the time to redeem himself today. He would have loved to blast off a few more fours, but he was trying to play to the galleries. Playing to galleries gets you roars of laughter and claps for sure, but if that is your criteria for success, then you are headed to doom. A great artist thrives not on the instant roar of laughter, but on a memory that his performances stamp on memories of those watching. Dravid is great for batting with a correctness that is hard to emulate, and pretty to watch. This requires patience, waiting for right balls before scything them, slices at cute angles and wrists of supple nature. For the moment, by giving up captaincy he has increased rather than reduce the pressure on himself, and I hope he will get out of the shell soon. We definitely will need his best form for Tests, but we will like to see our third God to battle and win as well.

The stars of the day were the young guns. Yuvraj had certainly become a commodity after Twenty20 World Cup. Batting at the home ground, he made boundaries look so easy. I realized how symbolic that display was. Ganguly, a left hander is replaced by another lefty in Yuvraj. Then even though Tendulkar is batting on the other end, everyone is expecting everything from Yuvraj and he looked more in control than his senior partner. When Uthappa walked in to replace Dravid, I had a similar relief, and I argued with myself for behaving like that. Yet both Dhoni, the new captain, and Uthappa only confirmed why my subconscious self thought of being pleased with their presence. Uthappa was brilliant once again, hitting a string of much needed fours. He just walks out of the crease like Hayden, and dumps the ball out of the boundary. Dhoni led from the front, with brilliant innings and a six on last ball to get his half century and then superb fielding to top it off. This was his first win as Captain, and it came with a Man of Match worth performance from him.

Lastly, India bowled well in last ten overs to achieve an unlikely victory. When India had 187/2 after 39 overs, predicting a final 291 seemed unreasonable, for the best bowlers of the innings had some overs left with them. When Australia were 190/4 only after 34 overs, Australian victory seemed likely. The opening spells of Indian bowlers had got them hammered and the situation was saved only by some good spin bowling. But again RP Singh bowled a remarkable 47th over to turn the tide in India's favor, and we won. The script, as I wrote it, doesn't do even a whit of justice to the bowlers, who put up a more improved performance than last four times. Hopefully they will bowl even better in the next match, and we will get to sing their praise.

Cheers and beers till then.


Vivek Sharma said...

From dud sea scrawls:

Tue, 2007-10-09 14:08 — Vivek
The holy trinity

IW sahib:)

I guess I have been one of the few rooting for seniors. Even in the Twenty20 celebrations I included a thanks to them. What I did want to emphasize though was that unlike always, Yuvraj was carrying the weight of expectation and unlike always, Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar were the boys who needed to battle and win. What should have been a personal battle was also something all of us want them to wage and win everytime they bat. I am aware of how easily we disrespect seniors (as a graduate student you really see that;)!!) and I revere them all, Kumble above all. “They have the caliber, experience and skill to dictate terms and of course, filling their shoes is still a hard task. But till when my friend, till when?” This question was meant to emphasize that we must continue to build our bench strength and I was sort of reminding ourselves that two from the bench, Parthiv and Manoj are performing consistently.

Citing half the comments is a ploy that makes the same thing mean quite different things. The statement:
“Even in the match …. three overs that Australia bowled.” was meant to highlight the impact Tendulkar and Ganguly’s opening stand had, which was mentioned in the preceding line:) “he had ensured by then that India had their first good start of the series.” and so on.

IW I watched the Indian innings, ball by ball, and saw my batting heroes play quite helplessly in the beginning of the innings. In the end they did manage to put a decent score, but the way first ten overs were played, especially by Tendulkar was surprising, disturbing, scary, and depressing. It was great to see a much improved Tendulkar after Ganguly departed. But the ease at which Yuvraj, Uthappa and Dhoni batted was quite in contrast to how Dravid, Ganguly and most striking contrast, Tendulkar batted. He was like Steve Waugh battling for every run, while others hit and run like Hayden, Gilchrist and Bevan!

I like thy fervor my friend:) It matches mine (for number of things)
We have to meet for beers:)

Thanks Pradzie for all the rooting on various different blogs, especially Janki and Mansoor. The story was in its build-up stage so far, and in an episode or two, the action will begin. Much like Indian batting, the last ten overs will be crucial;)

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Tue, 2007-10-09 10:34 — India Whining
Yeh Googly tha ke Beamer ?

Vivek you had one more reader in me (besides Pradzie & Asuph) who have been following your Googlies. But after reading this post, am afraid, you just lost me as your reader. The reason behind my ire is following line

Even in the match where rain saved us, we had lost Tendulkar’s wicket within the three overs that Australia bowled.

That wasn’t a Googly.. that was a beamer like the one Sreesanth slipped onto Kevin Pieterson, aiming straight at face. If you asked me, it was totally uncalled for. I am sick of this whole Junior - Senior debate.. For me the best 11 on the day plays.. Age doesn’t matter. Just take a close look at the Opposing Aussie team.. (off the cuff I can name Hayden & Hogg) who are on wrong side of 30s.. and I am quite sure there would be atleast dozen youngsters Down-Under who can make their way into Senior team.. Yet these oldies continue to play.. The reason being quite simple that the old guns are still firing.

Now coming back to the 3 seniors who are being witch hunted by the media.. 2 of them Sachin & Sourav are the only 2 Indian Players to complete 1000 runs in calendar year of 2007 in ODIs. That says a lot about their consistency. And to achieve such feat, under the relentless pressure exerted by the 2 penny media.. says a lot about the mental resolve & the innate talent of these old guns.

I was expecting a more balanced reporting from you. I know your intentions are noble ( with an eye on Indian teams future ) but somehow I felt you were too hard on SRT.. ( Quote - batted either circumspectly, (we can say that in retrospect), or maybe batted in fear of losing his spot at the top order - UnQuote ) I won’t go into the technicalities of that innings played by SRT and how it fitted in the whole context of the match & playing conditions. If you have been following cricket long enough.. I really don’t need to do that.

p.s. : Are you getting a live feed on TV or you are following the matches on Cricinfo ?

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Tue, 2007-10-09 12:31 — Pradzie
Ok, i didn’t catch that

Ok, i didn’t catch that line abt Tendonka. Or rather i didn’t think much of it, Maybe my ‘GO Sachin’ batts need to be recharged since its been long since i’ve seen him on the field.

IW, i think we can safely assume that maybe Vivek like most of us still believes that SRT can still win an innings by just staying there. By getting out, he was merely making a suggestion that we would have lost (i think?). i dont think the fellow meant it in a bad way…?

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Mon, 2007-10-08 20:39 — Pradzie
I got the last over

I got the last over commentry from my brother who gave me ball by ball inventory… Smiling
6 balls - 15 runs

Its nice to see the attention is not on Sachin anymore and he’s playing his game. I want that man to make a dozen more centuries….before he retires.

*decides not to say anything nice about Dhoni to jinx his winning ways*

and Vivek keep up with the googlies, you have ONE reader!!!! Smiling

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Vivek Sharma said...

more from

Wed, 2007-10-10 13:23 — Vivek New
(whistling) Gangwars of cricket..!

Asuph miyan, I agree with you that we tend to forgive Tendulkar in spite of everything. Last year he was playing no better than Ganguly, and yet he was never dropped. This year both have played with a purpose, and have amassed runs. Yet one day cricket is all about aggression from the first over. By having slow starters, the whole game plan is spoiled. There was once a Ravi Shastri who was shouted out of the team. There was once a Rahul Dravid, who crawled back into the team only when Ganguly let him in, pretending that Dravid was a wicket-keeper allrounder. This too, after Dravid was highest run getter in one of the World Cups. If Ganguly lets an over be bowled to him, without scoring, he is said to be selfish. If Tendulkar plays seventeen dot balls in beginning of a One Day, he is said to be responsible. Perhaps all I ask for is patience with other men. Perhaps all I want is equality of insult. IW bhai, equality of insult:) We should be equal opportunity providers. We have lambasted Gandhiji so much, that I think that is a national shame that we were able to do so. We have let Nehru degrade so much in our eyes that when Rushdie says “Jawahar is afterall only a stuffed dog” I see the metaphor as brilliant. Maybe Tendulkar is a superhero that no one wants to touch yet. But if he continues to bat with a decreasing applause, he will retire like Waugh or Kapil or Gavaskar. I wish him to go out like Bradman, with head held high. Like Pete Sampras.

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Wed, 2007-10-10 09:54 — India Whining
Look no further..

Just peek at the neighbouring playground.. where SL are playing the resurgent (??!!) English team.. 4th ODI

Sanath Jayasuriya Out for 3 in 22 Balls (Strike Rate : 13.63)

Unfortunately for SL team, he couldn’t bail them out of the hole. Right now they are struggling at 20 for 2 in 9.1 Overs. Tsk Tsk poor old Sanath.. why did he play like that ? Why was he so circumspect ? Was he scared that another failure and he might lose his place in the team ?

Strange indeed..

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Wed, 2007-10-10 12:11 — Pradzie
abah yaar, chod na… SRK

abah yaar, chod na…

SRK is SRK only…lol i mean SRT…

This feels weird, like we are the only four kids in the classroom and we’re playing hopp and drawing stuff and jus being weird.

Vivek mostly doing the writing/drawing on the boards and thinking.
Asuph countering his writings with a smirk
IW countering asuph with a smirk bonanza
Pradzie just hopping around thinking we’re still playin hop n catch.

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Vivek Sharma said...

here is some more:


Wed, 2007-10-10 04:30 — asuph
way to go vivek

there seems to be a band-of-sycophants that has made questioning SRT a blasphemy. I mean Ganguly has a bad day, everyone makes a fun of him, it’s fine. Dravid plays a slow, tortured innings, everyone makes a fun of him, that’s okay. Yuvi is plays one rash shot, goes out, is criticized for being immature/temperamental, it’s vogue. Sreesanth gets thrashed by one and sundry for his over aggression, it’s game. But SRT’s slow inning is questioned as being too circumspect, and the hell breaks over!

i mean, come on iw. we all love SRT. but when he sucks, he sucks. and knowing how he has the capacity to make the Lee’s of the world look like ordinary medium pacers, it pains more when he starts playing a role that he’s not made for.

so stop reading because someone hurt your first love, but that just means you’re being childish.

go vivek go!


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Wed, 2007-10-10 06:51 — India Whining
No Pain.. No Gain

>> it pains more when he starts playing a role that he’s not made for.

It would have been easier option for him to throw his wicket away instead of grinding it out.. And if that was to happen we could well have been 40 for 5 in 15 overs and the match would have been well & truly over & the series scoreline would be 3-0 instead of 2-1.

So if you ask me, he played the role that was deemed suited for the occasion, perfectly well. I would rather be childish than be grown up & wise like you guys, who seem to know more about cricket than the great man himself.

What took my goat was the line ” or maybe batted in fear of losing his spot ” .. For all i know, this is the guy who has topped the batting averages in the recently concluded Ind-Eng series.. Why the hell would he be bothered about losing his spot ? I for one would NEVER agree that Sachin would put his own personal interest ahead of his teams.

The best person to judge his contribution are his team members & his Captain. Dhoni in the post-match interview said that the way Nbr 4/5/6 players play depends entirely on the kind of platform the Openers & 1-Down player lay for the team. So on that account he bloddy well did his job.

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