Sunday, February 28, 2010

AN INTERESTING CHOICE

Waqar Younis has accepted the offer to coach the cricket team of Pakistan.It is learnt that Younis shall be with the team till the 2011 World Cup.There was speculation in the past about this but now Younis has himself confirmed the offer from the PCB and the subsequent acceptance.

There is nothing new in a former player becoming the coach but things are extremely complicated in Pakistan. Things between Younis and his bowling partner, Wasim Akram were less than cordial and this can divide the team into two groups, each owing allegiance to a great fast bowler.Add to this is the fact that former players like Javed Miandad and Sarfraz Nawaz are always happy to give their take on Pakistan cricket.

Waqar was a great bowler but this does not guarantee his success as a coach. It is not rare to find great players not having a good time as coaches. The players might not be as talented as the coach and the coach finds it difficult to make the players lift their game.Besides, Waqar does not have any coaching experience.

Even as the contract runs through the forthcoming World Cup, Pakistan can still spring surprises and have a new coach in place of Waqar

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REDEMPTION

It was always something that bothered me.

The highest score of Sachin Tendulkar in test matches came against Bangladesh and the master does not have a triple hundred in his resume.

It pained even more to remember that the highest score in one dayers belonged to Saeed Anwar who made 194 against India in the Independence Cup.

So when Tendulkar became the first person to score 200 in one dayers in the ongoing series between India and South Africa, I like millions of Indian cricket fans felt redeemed. That it came against one of the stronger teams made this latest feat of Sachin even more special.It is hard to imagine any other batsman going that far, but even when the feat is repeated or exceeded, the record books shall always show the name of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar as the first man to climb to this mark.

Sometime back, Sachin made a 150 plus score against Australia and still India finished on the losing side. That innings, in my humble opinion should be rated as one of the best of the master. Probably, an Indian win would have kept that innings in our memories. Let us not forget the back to back hundreds made in Sharjah.

There is another innings that can match this latest knock of Sachin-the 175 not out of Kapil Dev in the Prudential World Cup of 1983. When half of the side was back in the pavilion and the days when 100s were not common in the one dayers, Kapil showed the way.Of course, there was no one to record that innings for posterity, unlike the 200 of Sachin that surely will be viewed many times even in future.

Just as Sachin was being written off as a matchwinner, he managed to set a benchmark that may become one of the most long standing records in the history of cricket.

It is not happiness or relief but a case of redemption not for Sachin but for Indians as a whole.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A CAUSE FOR CONCERN

The Indian team just managed to win the first one dayer at Jaipur after having the Proteas down and out.The lack of bite in the Indian bowling allowed Steyn and Parnell to take their team alarmingly close to the target.

The second match of the series is going to be played at Gwalior and the curator is not ashamed to call his creation a 'graveyard for the bowlers'.In this scenario, the lack of penetration in the Indian bowling is a cause for concern.It is not everyday that the rival batsmen fail to score.It is difficult to imagine Ravindra Jadeja becoming the saviour of his team in every match.With a big question mark on the fitness of Sehwag, there is a greater need for the bowlers of the home team to take the initiative.

Even in the one day situation where people mostly pay for the runs, there has to be some place for the bowlers.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A LOSS TO TEST CRICKET

The lure of the IPL riches has made test cricket poorer with the speculation of Brett Lee likely to announce his retirement from test cricket.It was only a few months ago that Andrew Flintoff, an all-rounder of the highest class did the same.It is true that both of these players were battling injuries and more so the case with Flintoff

The present Australian team does not really miss Lee with many promising fast bowlers ready to wear the baggy green although the same cannot be said of the English test team without Flintoff.

Lee brought more than fast bowling to the team from down under. It was not uncommon to find Lee showing genuine appreciation for the exploits of the rivals.Even when he was on the receiving end, there was a smile for all to see.

There were doubts over his action when Brett Lee was first unleashed on the Indians but over the years, he silenced the critics.He played cricket the hard way without rubbing rivals the wrong way.That made Lee special.

In the past also, fast bowlers suffered injuries that led to changes in the bowling actions and a cut in the pace but with the likes of IPL offering easy cash, Lee and others have found an easy way out.The world of test cricket is a loser because of the chaddi (T20) cricket.

There are many memories associated with Lee on the cricket field.My most loved one is the straight drive from the bat of Sachin Tendulkar during the last Commonwealth Bank Series that thundered past the bowler to the boundary even before Lee could complete his follow through. Unlike the typical reaction from a fast bowler, Lee could afford a smile!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

When Ian Chappell expressed his doubts over the standing of India as the best test playing nation in the long run, there was widespread disbelief. Motives were attributed to Chappelli and the familiar white vs. black debate got started all over again especially among the followers of the game in India who are more addicted to the chaddi cricket(T20).

In his analysis, Chappell talks about the bowling and the batting talents that are required to sustain the No.1 ranking over a period of time.

The first test between India and South Africa exposed brutally the chinks that were visible to most real followers of Indian cricket.In the absence of Dravid and Laxman, the batting resembled a bunch of weekend cricketers against a professional outfit, barring the knocks of Sachin and Sehwag.Forget what Dhoni might had to say after the trashing on swing bowling-conventional or otherwise, the fact remains that the batsmen were just not equipped to deal with the likes of Steyn. It is true that most teams now look very ordinary when facing good bowling, particularly of the faster variety.The most successful batsmen of his generation, Ricky Ponting made to look ragged by Kiemar Roach.

Laxman talked about the lack of bench strength in the spin department.The Nagpur loss showed how true the concerns of Laxman were. The premier spinner in the team Harbhajan Singh just did not have a clue on spin while Amit Mishra spun a few balls in his first spell on the first day. That the Indian batsmen struggled to find their feet against Paul Harris is another story.

THe selection of the team made one pull out hair in dismay. Why was Saha in the team as a batsman when Manish Pandey and Virat Kohli had better credentials to offer?

It is often said that one needs to run faster to stay at the present position. The INdian team just could barely walk and going by the happenings in the second test, it is very difficult for the team to stay at the top.

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