Wednesday, June 27, 2007

SOUTH AFRICA WIN

India lost to South Africa by four wickets. The match ended with only a few balls of the 50th over of the South African innings. Some good slow bowling on part of Piyush Chawla and typical South African style ensured a tight finish.

Kallis played a captain’s innings and stayed till the end. There were small but valuable contributions from the others. Since the target was not big, things did not appear to be complicated. Kallis got the Man of the Match for he also got two wickets.

The Indians did well to post a total of 242 with both the openers returning without making much contribution to the team total. Gambhir is not someone who can be trusted to face the new ball on helpful pitches. Ganguly is past his best like many of his teammates.

After a long time Sachin made a good score against a good bowling attack. The pace of the innings was slow. Some of the typical Sachin shots-the off drive was there. But at no time, Sachin looked to collar the bowling. At the other hand, Rahul made a score at a good rate. At the end, it was Dinesh Karthik who played some unorthodox shots to swell the total.

The bowling did not trouble the South Africans since many of the regulars were out on the sick list. Sometimes, the fielding appeared ragged to say the least.

The Indians have to improve on all the fronts to make the most of the rest of the matches.

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WIMBLEDON 2007 DAY TWO

SANIA AND HENMAN ADVANCE
Tim Henman took more than four hours and five sets to thwart the challenge of Carlos Moya. The first round match was spread over two days because of the rain. The final set alone lasted more than two hours. Henman used all his experience to advance to the second round. In his prime, he would have dispatched Moya in straight sets without breaking any sweat.

Sania Mirza scored a straight sets win over her Russian opponent only to face another Russian in the form of Nadia Petrova. In the only encounter between the two, Sania was the winner. But Wimbledon is a bigger event and Petrova is a far superior player.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

TOO COLD FOR COMFORT

Just ahead of the one-dayer between India and South Africa, there is news that at least 8 players of India are down with virus. Of these eight, five are definitely bound to miss the match. With the weather conditions in Ireland predicted to be cold and cloudy, the South African pacers are going to have the clear edge.

The Proteas are going to be tough opponents unlike the Irish. South Africa has in the recent past been a team that has mostly beat the challenges of India. So a win for India is highly unlikely.

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THE BIG GUN LEAVES THE GUNNERS

The transfer of Thierry Henry from Arsenal to Barcelona is a great loss for the Gunners. The French striker has played in the English Premier League for a long time. The lack of success in European competitions is said to be the motivating factor. Also, with the possibility of the coach Arsene Wenger set not to renew his contract after the next season, Henry decided to ply his trade with one of the most glamorous clubs of Europe.

Time and again Henry came to the rescue of Arsenal when nothing seemed to go right. His goals were simply outstanding and the angles conjured by the Frenchman defied the laws of physics.

Though Henry might one day win the top prize in European club football, the Gunners are likely to face a tough transition without their star striker.

For a while the guns will not sound right at the Emirates stadium.

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WIMBLEDON 2007 DAY ONE

ANOTHER STEP FOR FEDERER
It was a rain-curtailed day at Wimbledon. The rains are part of the tradition at the famous grass courts. In the midst of all the rain delays and interruptions, one man took another step towards tennis immortality.

Roger Federer the reigning champion easily overcame the Russian, Gabashvili in straight sets. The champion needs to win another six matches to win a fifth straight trophy to equal the record of Bjorn Borg.

Andy Roddick has lost the last two finals to Federer and the American scored a straight sets win over his countryman. A former ladies champion. Martina Hingis also advanced to the third round, with a three set victory.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A WIN IS A WIN

India won the one-dayer against Ireland by nine wickets. Saurav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir scored unbeaten half centuries to steer the team home after the target was revised under the Duckworth-Lewis system following a rain interruption after the lunch break.

But the easy victory does not tell the full story. The bowlers were not able to bowl out the home team for a lower score. The unheralded batsmen of Ireland were given enough bad balls to put up a decent score.

The top run maker in the history of one dayers was not able to show his class. Ganguly and Gambhir played scratchily with the timing going awry a number of times for both the left-handers.

A team that is supposedly in the revival mode on the road to greatness, this is not the best of starts. Perhaps, the low temperature could not warm up the Indians to the task.

Maybe, there is no room for any complaints because Ireland finished in the top eight at the World Cup. It is the win that counts, not the opponent.

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WIMBLEDON 2007

FEDERER IS THE FAVOURITE

The 2007 edition of Wimbledon is less than 24 hours away. The most intriguing question is regarding the fifth crown for the reigning champion, Roger Federer. If the Swiss manages to do it, he will equal the record of Bjorn Borg. Borg won the top prize in tennis for five years in a row. It is a special record, which eluded even the great Pete Sampras. With the French Open record of Borg matched by Nadal, and with the grass court ability of Federer, there is little to bet against the top seed.

However, Nadal advanced to the final in 2006, only to lose to Federer. That is not impossible and Federer has the clear edge on a surface that is not favoured by the Spaniard.

Justine Henin is given the top billing in the women’s side and she just won the Eastbourne event beating Amelie Mauresmo. Both are contenders and strong challenges are expected from the likes of Sharapova and Serena Williams.

Indian fans would like to see Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi do well but with different partners. Bhupathi is to team up with Sania Mirza for the mixed doubles event.
Speaking about Sania, the Hyderabadi is to partner Sahar Peer from Israel in the women’s doubles. Will this partnership elicit reactions from the moral police?

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

NEW TECHNOLOGY AT WIMBLEDON

The AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club) has decided to introduce ‘hawk-eye’ in order to remove errors on part of the people who judge the lines. With this measure, players can now challenge the calls. After the US Open and the Australian Open, it is the turn of Wimbledon to accept the new technology.

Purists may not be too pleased with the advent of this technology. From the viewpoint of the viewers, there might not also be players to question any bad calls. Of course, the game does not have characters like John McEnroe now.

It is not the first time that new technology has been tried out at the famed grass courts of SW19. Since 1980 a machine called ‘Cyclops’ is being used to judge serves.

But technology cannot be completely relied upon. There have been instances of hawk-eye giving wring calls. Cyclops also beeps even when the serve has not taken place.

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LAST ROUND OF HENMANIA?

I was browsing through http://www.wimbledon.org/ the official website for the premier grass court tennis event and for many, the greatest tennis tournament. I found a link about Tim Henman, the perennial British favourite at SW19.

Henman is now past his prime and despite his confidence, few would give the Brit a chance at this year’s championships. Henman had all the tools that one needs to have to win on grass. The serve though not big, still was good. The volleying was crisp. But time and again, Henman could not hold the famous trophy.

This, I believe, was due to the presence of a certain player named Pete Sampras. Henman was at his best when the American was also at his best. It is sad that Henman had to contend with arguably one of the best grass court players of all time. In another era, Henman and the British could have celebrated a victory.

This may be the last year of the Henmania.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

WHAT PRIORITIES!

The IOA (Indian Olympic Association) has provided a list of 8 athletes who were found guilty of using banned substances. The offences were detected during the National Games held at Guwahati in the month of February. It took almost four months to make this announcement. The IOA defended itself on the ground that the samples were sent abroad in order to eliminate any suspicions.

We have to understand the pressures that the likes of Suresh Kalmadi have faced in the last couple of months. The IOA put a lot at stake to secure the right to host the Asian Games. Of course, Incheon city of South Korea put up a superior display to emerge the winner.

Kalmadi was also busy talking with the organizers of Formula 1 to get a race in New Delhi.

These are the priorities of our sports administrators and no wonder the sports scene is so dismal.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

FORMULA ONE

The IOA (Indian Olympic Association) is said to have inked a deal with FIA to bring F1 to India. The news channels are reporting the likely staging a race in New Delhi by 2009. For this purpose, a new stadium is to be constructed.

This is where things are likely to be messy and true to Indian style, full of politics. Mani Shankar Iyer, the Union Minster in charge of Youth Affairs and Sports is at loggerheads with Suresh Kalmadi, the man who controls the Olympic movement in India. Reportedly, Iyer is not in favour of staging costly sporting ‘spectacles’ when at the grassroots there is no support to sports and sportspersons, in terms of facilities. To a large extent, this is the truth.

About 600 acres of land is needed to construct the race course and the Indian promoters have to pay an annual licence fee of $30 million US.

But unless Kalmadi and company stage and host events, they are not going to make the money. It is only through such events that bosses of sports bodies in the country like to show their gratitude to the supporters. Not to mention the reaping from the spurt in the real estate prices.

So a race is likely to take place for the actual race.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

BORDE SPEAK

Chandu Borde has dismissed the talk of ‘generation gap’ when asked about cricket of his day and the cricket of today. Further, Borde has been emphatic to assert that the Indian cricketers don’t require a coach.

The statement on the irrelevance of a coach for the likes of Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly and Dhoni needs a closer look. There are two ways of looking at it. First, it is clear that the ‘superstars’ need no advice and it is they who advise the BCCI and others.

Secondly, does Borde feel that no coach can do any wonders with these players?

Does Borde intend to endear himself with the likes of Sachin so that his tenure becomes successful and non-controversial?

Without realizing, Borde has stepped into a controversy and that is not a good start to his new innings.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MORE SURPRISES

Indian cricket never is short of surprises. The refusal of Graham Ford to take up the coaching job was a surprise, to say the least. This made the BCCI to appoint Chandu Borde as the Manager for the tours of Ireland and England.

But the biggest surprise was reserved for the teams that were selected for the one-dayers and the test matches. It was a surprise to find the names of Sehwag and Harbhajan missing from the lists. Sehwag should have been included in the longer version of the game for he performed rather well on the last tour. There is not much surprise in the omission of Harbhajan. On cricketing reasons it is justified, given the often-poor showing on away conditions, i.e., outside the sub-continent.

Munaf Patel was pronounced fit by the team physio John Gloster. But the selectors are reportedly unhappy over the fitness or the lack of it. In the same way, there are enough doubts over the fitness of Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth as well.

Akash Chopra could have been taken to the tests as a specialist opener in place of Karthik and Gambhir, Karthik is a makeshift opener and Gambhir is simply not up to test standard.

The selectors and the BCCI made a lot of noise before the Bangladesh tour about the ‘fresh’ and ‘bold’ initiatives. They made Sachin and Sourav take ‘rest’ during the one-dayers. But for these tours, both of them have been included in the tests as well as for the one-dayers.

The bowling looks the weak link with people short of experience and ability. The batting is with experienced but people well past their best.

It is the opportunity for England to win comprehensively.

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250 NOT OUT

This is a bit of blowing my own trumpet. Started this blog just for the kick. Never thought about it seriously. But I am proud to have survived in the blogsphere and posted 250 times.

Thanks a lot to all the fellow bloggers and friends who care to look at my ramblings

Saturday, June 09, 2007

SEHWAG SHOULD GO THE SLATER WAY

Virendra Sehwag came to international cricket with a bang. The man from Nazafgarh seemed to be the perfect replacement for Sachin Tendulkar, that is, once the latter decided to quit. But for the past couple of seasons, Sehwag is not even a shadow of his former self.

Sehwag came into public reckoning in a one-day international. However, it is in the traditional form of the game that he made his mark. It is very difficult to forget the knocks that Sehwag played in India as well as on foreign pitches. The near double ton in Australia and the famous triple ton in Pakistan are just two examples.

The kind of stroke play that made Sehwag a superstar was expected to yield great results in the shorter version of the game. But apart from a great strike rate, there is nothing much to write about. In the first match of the Afro-Asia Cup, Sehwag belted a few balls before being dismissed in his own unique way. In the World Cup of 2007, he made a good score only against an attack as lethal as Bermuda. In the matches that counted, Sehwag was a flop.

In the Australian sides captained by Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh, there was this opener Michael Slater. He was a dashing batsman who hit every shot as if to knock the leather covering off the ball. But he was never able to repeat this in the one-dayers. After a few games, Slater was designated a test player.

I feel it is time to consider the role of Sehwag in the one-dayers. The think tank may argue that his bowling skills are an addition. But at the end of the day, it is the batting that is more important to the team. There is no harm if Sehwag is asked only to play in the test matches.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

A RETHINK?

There is speculation in the media over the issue of putting a cap on player endorsements. After the dismal showing in the World Cup, a large section of the public felt that the players were spending too much time for the advertisements and hence, little could be devoted to honing the cricket skills. Further, the earnings of the players were also called into question.

With Sharad Pawar, the astute politician getting the support from characters like Lalit Modi, the BCCI took steps or rather plainly put, took ad hoc measures to curb public displeasure. The BCCI announced a limit or a cap on player endorsements so that the players would be forced to practice. In truth, these measures were simply announced to bring the players down to their knees.

The players on their part were predictably, angry given that the board infringed on their right to earn a living. Worse, the contracts were scrapped and there was no clarity on sharing between the players and the BCCI. It is to be realized that the players bring the money to the game and not the BCCI.

It is now reported that instead of putting a limit on the number of advertisements that a player can appear, there is to be a limit on the number of days a player can use for advertisements. Wonder, who is the wise guy behind all this?

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

THE GREAT COACH DEBATE: DUBIOUS ROLE

Sunil Gavaskar was not in favour of Greg Chappell when the Aussie was made the coach of the Indian cricket team. It was Gavaskar who was not in favour of Dav Whatmore to succeed Chappell. In the light of cricketing judgement, it is very to little to argue with Gavaskar. But in both the cases, there is one common aspect. The greatest common factor is that both Chappell and Whatmore come from Australia. Was this a factor in not considering the case of Tom Moody?

The latest from the Little Master is the invite handed to John Emburey. There is no surprise with Emburey coming from England and not Australia. Is this the latest from the quiver of arrows that Gavaskar aims the Aussies with?

Gavaskar never misses a trick to take the Aussies to task. Few forget that it was Gavaskar who brought the notice of the ICC to the sledging of the Aussie cricket team. During the World Cup of 2007, he raked up the matter once again much to the chagrin of the Aussies and the non-Aussies alike.
It is very sensible to not ape the Aussies in every aspect of cricket. But are personal biases and prejudices taking the interest of the Indian cricket team into the dustbin

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THE GREAT COACH DEBATE: A SURPRISE

Out of nowhere John Emburey has emerged as a candidate for the post of the coach of the Indian cricket team. It is strange considering the fact that the former England off-spinner was not an applicant in the first place. The BCCI decided to make this public only after Emburey gave his acceptance to appear before the committee for an interview or a discussion.

The great Sunil Gavaskar is said to have come up with the name of John Emburey and that is what comes as a surprise. For one who opposed Greg Chappell and later Dav Whatmore, it is a billion dollar question as to this idea.

By now, most of us have been informed about the coaching achievements of Emburey. He was not a success at Middlesex and also at Northhamptonshire. In recognition of his cricketing non-skills, Emburey is now involved in a non-coaching role as the Director at Middlesex.

This episode of inviting Emburey is similar to the practice in India where political bosses put up their cronies in posts.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

THE GREAT COACH DEBATE: THE HUNT CONTINUES

The hunt for the saviour of the Indian cricket team continues. But, surprises never cease with Indian cricket.

Suddenly, the frontrunner for the post, Dav Whatmore was sidelined. Now the committee constituted to appoint the coach is to hold discussions with two more candidates. On of them is Graham Ford who previously coached South Africa.

The second one is not clear. There is speculation that either Duncan Fletcher, the former coach of England or Arjuna Ranatunga, the former captain of Sri Lanka might be involved.

There was confusion about Graham Ford. It was reported in the media that he was an applicant and then it was revealed that Ford did not apply in the first place. But Ford is invited for ‘discussions’.

Everytime we talk of success in the cricket field, we look at Australia and wonder why things are so different in India. The selection of the coach is a clear indicator why Indian cricket is different.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

END OF SPECULATION?

The Jamaican police are to announce formally the final findings of the investigation into the death of Bob Woolmer. The media have already reported that Woolmer was not murdered but it was a case of death by natural causes.

The announcement by the Jamaican police may finally put to rest all the speculation and rumours over the demise of Woolmer. In the days after the death of Woolmer, everyone became a sort of a detective while analyzing the causes. For a while, attention was diverted from the cricket fields of the Caribbean to stories about the alleged murder.

Is this finally the time for Mr.Woolmer to rest in peace?

A RELIEF INDEED

It is a relief that Sharad Pawar has decided to withdraw himself from the race for the top post of the ICC. Pawar is now categorical that the post should go to a South African, since Percy Sonn who passed away recently, was also from that country. Is this out of compassion for Sonn died in the post or this a strategy to win the support of South Africa in the future?

I say relief because Pawar has shown very little of administrative acumen, either as the President of the BCCI or as the Union Agriculture Minister. The BCCI is at a loss to explain many things. Of course, the BCCI never had the reputation of being organized along professional lines or run by people with experience.

As the Union Agriculture Minister, Pawar is presiding over a ministry that does not care anything about the problem of scarcity of essential food grains. It is indeed a paradox that while the farmers on one hand are unable to realize their costs and the hapless consumer
Is forced to pay through his nose that the big retail chains on the other are claiming to sell the products at reasonable prices.

It is no achievement to lord over the ICC when the BCCI is not in order. Ever since Jagmohan Dalmiya made it to the top, every cricket administrator in India wants to go all the distance. Let us not bring the question of race or nationality here. It is simply a question of excellence.

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THE GREAT COACH DEBATE: ARGUMENTATIVE INDIANS

Last night, a news channel-CNNIBN discussed whether the Indian cricket team needs a foreign coach or a native. These debates have really hogged the airtime as well as paper space, not to mention net space. Such debates have not really taken place ever since when a certain person of foreign origin was set to rule over our destinies. It is altogether another matter that the same person today wields supreme power, without owning any responsibility.


England went through the same routine when the coach for the football team was to be considered. Sven Goran Erikkson was appointed the coach. He is from Sweden and not from England. By all accounts, his tenure was much scrutinized and the Swede was also embroiled in a scandal. When he failed to deliver at the World Cup, the English F.A decided to end the contract. The FA has given the job to Steve McClaren. Many national football teams hire foreigners to improve their fortunes. Many also fall by the wayside once the results are less than impressive.


A section of the media and a few players as well as some of the Board officials appears to be enamoured with the idea of having a foreign coach. It is alleged that an Indian does not have the expertise and the experience to coach the team. Much was made over the laptop glitch that was faced by Mohinder Amarnath the last time when interviews were conducted for the post of the coach of the Indian team.


Every time the issue of coach comes up, there are parallels drawn with the Australian team. John Buchanan did not play at the international level and the new coach Tim Nielsen did never appear for the Australian team. Why are we so fascinated with the Australian model when we are radically different from the Aussies as far as our sporting culture is concerned?


In the whole issue the role of the ‘superstars’ is stinking to say the least. It is puzzling to hear that some of the players are calling for a foreign coach. Wonder what Ponting and company make out of this!


In my humble opinion, it matters very little whether the coach is Indian or not. What matters are the results and the outcome. To paraphrase Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader, the colour of the cat may be black or white but what is important that it should catch the mice.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

WANTED: A SCRIPTWRITER

The BCCI is never known to take the right decisions. But in the last couple of days, things have been utterly chaotic and at times, ludicrous.

The pull out of Nimbus from the telecast of the Afro-Asia cup was followed by the decision of Zee to not telecast the tour of Ireland and Scotland. The Board officials were assuring the people that negotiations were on and that the problems would be sorted out. EspnStar decided to telecast the Afro-Asia event and Nimbus was roped in to show us the games to played in Ireland.

In the first instance, the broadcasters offered insanely huge sums of money. The crash of India in the world cup brought them down to their knees and senses. The Board is trying to play the hard ball by putting a cap on player advertisements. This also added to the problem.

It would be nice in the fitness of things that the Board hired some scriptwriter to pen the right scenes.

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