Monday, October 30, 2006


India lost yet another match to Australia and that is not a surprise. Not many genuine followers of the Indian cricket team expected a result in favour of the home team. Those who did were banking on a miracle that did not materialize. In desperation, many television channels had astrologers, numerologists and tarot card readers as guests. The numbers and the cards and the symbols ultimately did not make India win the match. The more devout were shown offering prayers that the Gods also did not heed.

At home my father wished well for the Indian team while I went for Australia. But my mother supported Australia since my younger brother is currently in the land down under.

But there was unanimity about the performance of a certain Sachin Tendulkar. He looked assured but the contribution was a mere 10 runs off 26 balls. Sachin was once again dismissed by the McGrath-Gilchrist combination. This is the 7th time that Sachin fell to McGrath. Gilchrist pouched a knick off the bat of Sachin for the 8th time. Believe me, that ended any hope of a real match. The statistics are telling.

Sachin has so far scored 7 centuries against Australia and India could win 6 matches. As far as the 50s are concerned, Sachin has scored 11 versus Australia and India has won 3 matches. When Sachin has been dismissed for a score of less than 50, India could win only 6 matches. It is really frustrating to see the great batsman failing again in a crucial encounter.

Sehwag and Dravid made half-centuries that are only statistically relevant. Raina and Kaif scratched at the wicket. Dinesh Mongia is simply not upto the international class. In the bowling department, not a single bowler looked like getting a wicket. But Australia managed to lose 4 wickets.

Ponting, Watson and Martyn made 50s and Martyn extended his good run on the Indian wickets. Ponting was given some batting practice and he came good. The score that the Aussies required to chase was not challenging enough and so there were not many shots that demanded attention. The run chase was as professional as one would expect from the Aussies.

After the match ended, a filmstar hollered the punchline of a softdrink in support of the Indian team. The poor show of the Indian team surely has given the ‘blues’ to the fans.

Does anyone really give a damn to cricket fans of this country? It is time for changes and they should start at the top right from the coach.

Friday, October 27, 2006


The Windies managed to snatch defeat but in the end they pipped India to the post. A match that was one-sided became a thriller thanks to the insipid batting from Runako Morton and some good bowling from the Indians.

The much vaunted batting line-up of India failed to make runs again. A good innings from Rahul Dravid came to an end with a run out going for a non-existent single. Sehwag lashed 3 boundaries before falling a victim once again to the incoming delivery. Sachin looked in fine touch until he dragged a pretty innocuous looking ball from Bradshaw onto the stumps. Irfan Pathan did not trouble the scorer. Yuvraj showed glimpses of his talent as well his failings in his short stay at the crease.

In the end, the total of India crept past 200 thanks to some good hitting from Dhoni and Harbhajan. Dhoni and Raina were guilty of playing a number of dot balls. At times, Dhoni looked awkward in the way he defended his wicket.

Gayle was in his usual elements and unleashed a few ferocious shots. He was helped by a dropped chance. Chanderpaul once again frustrated the Indian attack and Sarwan also scored a 50. A simple run chase appeared to become a Herculean task in the closing overs of the match. Lara caned a four and got out. Samuels hit the winning shot with only two balls to spare.

In the bowling department, Harbhajan Singh looked the best and Munaf Patel was good. The omission of the experienced Kaif is unjustified since Raina is in no form. It is time the Indian think-tank does some real homework and not perform a random experiment.A berth in the last four looks out of question since India have to face Australia on Sunday.

For the third day in a row, the captain winning the toss elected to field. But the trend has been bucked by Lara’s men.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Michael Schumacher failed to win the last two races of the season and so failed to win his 8th driver’s title in F1. Frankly, did Schumi needed to win at all to establish his credentials as the best F1 racedriver of all time?

I know nothing about the working of a car leave alone that of a F1 car. I also know nothing of a F1 racetrack and its nuances. But I am a fan of Schumacher. The grit and determination of the German on the track is something that all sportspersons and sports fans should be aware of. As long as the German was in the car, the race was not over for the other drivers. Forget the criticism.

Schumacher was so dominating that F1 was in danger of becoming a one driver show. That is when the bosses decided to tinker with the rules and new champions like Fernando Alonso could emerge. Is this possible to change the rules of Golf when Tiger Woods wins every event? Michael Jordan could not force changes the NBA during his heydays. That shows the domination of Schumacher.

Schumi called it a day when he was almost on the top. That is perfect timing needed to win the race.


It is like making waterfalls out of dew drops. Pardon me for imitating the master of gibberish, Navjot Sidhu. Nothing explains the rather foolish decisions of two captains in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy.

The captain of Sri Lanka, Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and decided to take to the field, stumping the conventional wisdom. When asked about the decision, Mahela felt that the fall of the dew would make the task of bowling and fielding difficult in the second innings. He also seems to be in agreement with the ‘experts’ who argue that batting becomes much simpler under the lights with the ball coming on to the bat aided by the dew on the wicket. Pakistan was able to beat the Lankans under the lights. Probably that outcome weighed rather heavily on the Lankan think-tank. It should be recollected here that the score put up by Sri Lanka was low considering the conditions during the first innings.

The Lankans were outplayed by South Africa who defended a small target of 219. Surprisingly, the dew could not help the team of Mahela.

The captain of Pakistan, Younis Khan won the toss and as with his Sri Lankan counterpart, asked the Kiwis to make the first use of the wicket. Again, the dew factor influenced the decision. New Zealand put up a good score and Pakistan failed to overhaul it. New Zealand bowlers were able to overcome the negative effect of the dew.

So is there any strategy that is worth talking about ? There is clearly no thinking behind the decisions of the two Asian captains. It makes me laugh when Khan was hailed as an aggressive and thinking captain after the unexpected win over Sri Lanka. Mahela also in the books of many is a wonderful captain.

However, the cake goes to the cricket authorities at the PCA ground in Mohali. Some chemical was sprayed on the grass to lessen the impact of the dew. In the end it did not help as dew was well and truly all over the ground. Of course, a few days earlier a chemical adhesive was sprayed on the pitch at Wankhede to prevent the breaking up of the pitch.

Don’t give due to the dew.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Are low scores bad for cricket? Yes, seems to be the answer based on the views of the commentators, news channels, ex-players and the presenters of ‘extraaa innings’. So far in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy no team has been able to post a score that we have been used to see at least on the subcontinental wickets.

Typical has been the reaction of the teams losing to blame the pitch and the commentators blaming things like the dew and the start of the game. It is opined that the toss is the crucial element in deciding the outcome of the matches. On the contrary, the matches have so far provided cricket of good quality.

The loss of South Africa to New Zealand started off the blame game. It is a known fact that the Proteas cannot handle good quality spin and that was the reason for their defeat. The wicket at Wankhede only helped the spinners. A good team has to learn to play and win on all surfaces. That is the factor separating a good team from the best team.

A good bowling and fielding display is as entertaining as the boundaries coming from the bats. South Africa have knocked out Sri Lanka from the tournament with a superb display on the field. West Indies put up a modest score and they could defend it successfully against Australia.

Cricket is not just a game played with the bat and the ball also has a decisive part to play. There have been enough of matches where scores of 350 plus have been chased much to the chagrin of the opponents. It is time to give bowlers their due.

Thursday, October 12, 2006



The decision of Mahesh Bhupathi not to play for the country does not augur well for the country’s prospects in competitions like the Davis Cup, the Asian Games and the Olympics. Bhupathi has his own reasons for this drastic decision. Leander Paes the other half of the famed duo, is hopeful of finding a solution.

Paes and Bhupathi appeared to have the world at their feet with their exploits on the tennis court, more so when playing for the country. Their glorious run came to a premature end and the renewal of the partnership was only shortlived. But this decision has jolted the country’s hope of a medal in the Asian Games. A medal in the tennis competition was a sure bet.

The derailment of the ‘Indian Express’ has so far resulted in many casualities.

Monday, October 09, 2006


The first two matches of the ICC Champions Trophy went along expected lines. Sri Lanka was never in the danger of being upset by Bangladesh while the West Indies swept aside Zimbabwe.

In the first of the qualifying matches, the difference between the two sides was just 37 runs. Bangladesh played much better than in the past, but simply were no match to Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe is just added to make up the numbers and it showed in their pathetic display, especially with the bat. The Windies knocked off the runs before the dinner break.

West Indies and Sri Lanka will make to the ‘Super 8’. I personally, think that the knockout format of the earlier versions was much more interesting. The tournament this time stretches to nearly one month and it is just too boring. Looks like the ICC and other parties involved are far more eager to rake in the moolah by selling the television rights.

Sunday, October 08, 2006



Predictably, the ICC has taken actions that are at best ridiculous. If the Pakistan team was not guilty of ball tampering, then action ought to have been taken against the umpires, Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove. If Inzamam was slapped with a suspension for bringing the game into disrepute, the umpires also were as much guilty. Ranjan Madugalle did not find anything incorrect with the decision of the umpires when there was no evidence of ball tampering.

The ICC decided not to have Hair and Doctrove for any of the matches in the ongoing Champions Trophy. This leaves one question unanswered, how does Mike Procter, continue to act as the Match Referee? Procter was the man-in-charge at the Oval when the whole incident took place.Procter could have done much to diffuse the situation.

Everything speaks of the double standards. Procter is from South Africa and the ICC chief is also from that country. Hair is from Australia and Madugalle is from Sri Lanka. Thus, poor Billy Doctrove was made a scapegoat.