Fitting Finale

Source: ABC News

This was a perfectly scripted and engaging story. A young Indian team takes on an experienced battle-worn and tough Australian side to hand over a 2-0 defeat in the final segment of a very very long Commonwealth Bank tri-series tournament. Now that the tri-series will never be played again at least in the near future, the Australian side has to live with fact that India will be the perennial holders of the series. This should trouble them more as it was their last chance to regain the trophy after losing it to England last year.

What the series also has shown is that a tough team like Australia can also be defeated in its own backyard. This was possible as the Indian side took on a different skin unlike the previous Indian teams that toured Australia. This was a team that did not blink an eye looking into the eyes of the world champions. Australia really got it wrong with its long lasting and successful strategy of playing the pressure game on the opposition side. Instead of sulking under the pressure brought in by the unnecessary controversies on and off the field, India managed to give it back to Australia. This was something the Australian team never expected and crumbled under the backlash.

The fact remains that Australia has been defeated convincingly both on and off the field and this should please the other teams who would now look to win in Australia. The series has proved to be a blessing for the Indian side as it threw up potential talent in youngsters like Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Rohit Sharma. And with the Indian U19 team already clinching the world cup the bench strength of India looks strong for the first time. Dhoni deserves a special mention and praise as he captained with a very very cool head on his shoulders. Leading a team with the most experienced and senior player Sachin Tendulkar and a young bunch of cricketers and managing to win is not an easy task and he did made the pressure look easy, but it was a tough and brave act from the Indian captain.

Sachin Tendulkar, the man always in the limelight, written off by critics, questioned by fans on his poor form showed why he is regarded as a master blaster. Getting back into his groove he did demolish the opposition. He had an exceptional run in the test series and also the final few matches in the one day series.

Looking at the positives for Australia Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken did well to take 37 wickets between them, but did not help their team win the tropy. They worked hard and never had anything to complain. For India it was good to see youngsters and newcomers Ishant and Praveen kumar bowl under pressure. If there was a chunk in the armour of the mighty Australians it was their poor batting with none of their leading batsmen showing consistency or taking the lead in scoring the runs. Gilchrist, Hayden and Hussey scored the bulk of the runs (1212) for Australia. Ponting had a disappointing show with his batting while he concentrated more on assisting the umpires with his decision making abilities and his new role of keeping the integrity of the game. The Indian batsmen had a dream run scoring runs at will and consistently. The top and middle order of Sachin, Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Yuraj came good scoring 1623 runs. Gautam Gambhir scored two classy centuries while Sachin played two important knocks, a century in the winning cause and another score where he again missed scoring a century in a winning cause.

India will go back home with lot more than the controversies and trophies that it won in Australia, confidence in their ability to win in tough situations.


India Wins Two Finals On The Same Day

Well, this was truly an exciting Sunday. India seniors backed their decent bowling performance with some terrific batting from the top order to crush Australia by 6 wickets in the first final of the Commonwealth Bank Tri Series. India juniors disappointed with some poor batting giving in to the pressure from some excellent bowling from the South African pacers. But the script had its thrilling moments. Defending a modest 159 the Indian bowlers matched their counterparts in restricting South Africa to 102/8 in another match decided by the Duckworth Lewis method and eventually winning the Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2008.

Whatever happened in the two finals, India clearly showed that they now play a different kind of cricket. After a long time Sachin Tendulkar opened his bat to some exciting stroke play and left the Australians dumbfounded. Never did he gave the opposition a chance to get on to him and stroked another memorable century on the Kangaroo land. He would be a satisfied man what with getting a century that eluding century in Australia fittingly in the first final to set up the remaining two finals.

Though the junior Indian cricket team disappointed with the batting display there was no sign of any nervousness on the players and they instead looked quite relaxed even with a modest total to defend. A tight bowling with some electric fielding thrown in left the proteas clueless and eventually fell short of 12 runs to hand over the trophy to India. Not to take away any credit the proteas did put on some terrific display of cricket and truly deserved to be in the finals, but as they say only the best team wins and today it was India.

South Africa Vs INDIA Vs Australia

It will be a terrific Sunday with India featuring in two exciting finals. While India seniors will be up against Australia hoping to win the eluding tri series cup in Australia by taking a lead in the best of three finals, the juniors will fight it out with South Africa in the U19 cricket world cup finals in Malaysia.

A terrific performance by the youngsters in the U19 world cup augurs well for India as it will help spot young blood to fill the soon to be vacant slots in the senior team. A strong U19 team will be even more useful as India is one of the few cricketing nations to have a very young senior team. The senior team after a long time has been performing quite well outside India. Hope to see both the junior and senior teams win their matches tomorrow.

Some interesting observations on all that happened on the cricketing fields in the month of January.

The Week That Passed By …

It has been a strange and tiring week. For the first time I have been troubled by a rather strange and persistent cough and cold that are relentlessly trying to get me down for the past two weeks. Strange, as I recover quite quickly. My doctor informs that this is due to some new bacteria or virus and people say this is due to global warming (I do not know why they choose global warming!). Interestingly scientists are using cow dung to know the changes in climatic patterns.

Strange as it seems, we did get to see some unexpected rainfall in February in on two days in the last week. The already overflowing traffic in Hyderabad choked at every nook and corner on two days when it rained. A few centimetres of rain showed what it could do to a fast growing city like Hyderabad if the necessary infrastructure is not put in place. It is high time that the government and citizens understand the need for robust draining facilities and some much needed traffic sense.

And while the stock markets in India keep playing the game of rise and fall, a prominent politician Rajnath Singh of the BJP feels that Terrorists have something to do with this. Supporting his views are that FII’s have close ot 40% of the investments in India and also Mr. M K Narayanan the National Security Advisory who expressed his apprehensions one year ago that Terrorists might use the FII route to manipulate the stock markets. Well this was a different take all together on the Indian stock markets that have been quite volatile in the last few weeks. We have already seen two major IPOs being withdrawn and share prices of Reliance Power tumbling with some heavy selling on its counter.

Down Under in Adeliade Oval, India missed another wonderful opportunity to place itself in a strong position in the 7th ODI of the ongoing Commonwealth Bank 2007-08 triseries. Bowling out the world champions for a measly 203 India failed to capitalise on the advantage and lost to Australia by 50 runs. The young Indian brigade did put up a decent show but that was not enough to defeat the unrelenting Australians

On anther note Pepsi feels that the youngsters of the present Inidan Cricket team can give more to its brand. With a host of options to choose from, it has replaced Ganguly and Dravid in favour of the young and upcoming Ishant and Rohit Sharma for its new ad campaign “Yeh hai Youngistaan Meri Jaan“. The new ad campaign intends to ride on the promise and appeal of the young Indian cricket and film stars to position itself as a youth brand to garner a good market share in India. I am sure this saves them some money. Pepsi can save some money on the sharmas.

I often look foward to weekends to catch up on reading books. But with my health not co-operating, I have been unable to make any progress in the last week. The Lazybug also has been struggling a bit but at least is making some progress – some Conventional Wisdom here. The list of books that I have to finish has been slowly growing, something which I dislike.

  • Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann
  • Unrational Leadership by Charles Fleetham
  • The Fifth Discipline by Peter M Senge
  • Inevitable Ilusions by Piatelli Palmarini
  • Being Indian by Pavan K Varma
  • The Dogs of Justice by Nina Sibal

Finishing them off will add to my list of books I have read and bring me close to the half century mark (My current count of books I have read stands at 43).

All in all this was a strange week for me and I was really feeling it. With some signs of me recovering soon and hopes of finishing my personal and official assignments well within time I look forward to a great week and also the marriage of my close friend the next sunday.

Symonds’ Blood Boils

This is what Symonds the so-very-lucky, Australian cricketer in the just concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy had to say about the racism controversy in his column for The Daily Telegraph

Anyone who knows me understands that I’m a very straight up and down bloke, what you see is what you get, so to have people saying I’m not playing cricket in the right spirit really makes my blood boil.

And this interesting post from his dairy

I am in there in the courthouse for three-and-a-half hours giving evidence and listening to Harbhajan’s evidence. Finish at 2.30pm and rush to the airport to get a plane back to Brisbane. Land and hear about the outcome of the case. I am pretty shattered.

Sri Lankan cricket team’s captain Mahela Jayawardene wishes that the controversy between India and Australia continues so that they can concentrate on cricket. Some clever thinking, but I do not think it would happen. Here is what he had to say in his column.

“As for off-field controversies, all I have to say is, the more India and Australia have a go at each other, the better it is for us. Our aim is to… concentrate solely on the cricket. Anything else is avoidable.”

India Wins!

India have won! India have won a test match in Australia!

Source: BBC Sport

The Return of the Indians

Well, there was no Steve Bucknor this time or else Ponting & Co. could have more or less won this match also. India deserved a win in this series but it came only in the third test. This win will definitely be one of the most memorable one for India.

Coming back from the best-to-forget Sydney test, Kumble led an inspired Indian attack at Perth on the famous WACA pitch. Known for the speed demons that usually assist the Australia pace bowlers to shred the opposition to pieces, it was the turn of the Indian pacers to turn the tables on Australia this time.

This test has seen some terrific bowling from young pacers like Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh while experienced campaigner Kumble has been leading the team from the front with some fantastic bowling and decisions. Ishant Sharma deserves a special mention here for the One-Hour-Special bowling in the second innings to Ricky Ponting to get rid of him. Ponting would definitely remember this.

On the other side India fared well in batting also. The trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly kept the scoreboard busy. And the very very special Laxman DU (that is Laxman Version: Down Under) who batted exceptionally well in the series till now with a century and half century under his belt. His valuable knock of 79 in the second innings set up the match for India and a chance to go for the kill.

Source: BBC Sport

Kumble – The Jumbo Bowler

In the midst of all that happened at Perth, Kumble quietly moved into the 600 wicket club. Nothing would have him pleased as much as scalping the wicket of the so-very-lucky Symonds as his 600th victim. He is certainly relishing the captaincy. Kumble has been quite successful in the last few series on the Australian pitches known for assisting pace bowling. He is also the joint highest wicket taker(19) in this series along with Brett Lee.

It is also interesting to note that India has the best record Down Under since 1991.

Since India’s disastrous tour in 1991-92, the teams have met 21 times in Test cricket; the numbers now stand at 10-8 in Australia’s favour. In the corresponding period Australia’s record stands at 27-9 against England, 12-2 against Pakistan, 15-4 against South Africa and 9-1 against Sri Lanka.

Source: Cricinfo – A great rivalry revived

Only England fares a shade better than the other teams. Ricky Ponting must be panting after getting Australia to win 16 tests on the trot. Australians, I guess, would now plan carefully not to play India the next time they want to set up some record. They have reasons to worry, India has denied them the 17 wins-on-a-trot record twice.

Cricket Down and Under

Cricket, I believe, no longer is the gentleman’s game. What with the kind of tactics teams adopt to win, especially Australia. The less said the better about the way the issues of racism, verbal duels between players and poor umpiring have been handled in this series until now.

If there is something that hasn’t changed in this series that is the standard of umpiring. Some poor decisions were to be seen even in this match that denied Sachin another almost certain century. Of course Sachin by now would have got used to the decisions but not the Australian players like Hussey and Symonds who have been quite lucky in this series.