Tag Archives: captain

Criticizing a young team is not fair

India has been traditionally been a poor traveling team. The team has hardly won overseas even with some legends in the team in the past. India has only won 40 tests overseas out of 247 games with a W/L ratio of 0.377. India’s overseas record post Ganguly era is impressive. India has won 27 tests overseas since November 10, 2000 (The first time Ganguly captained in tests) out of 91 tests since that period. The W/L ratio since that period is very respectable 0.75. So if we take that period out we have 13 test wins overseas in 156 games at a W/L ratio of 0.185 which is extremely poor record.

The Ganguly era basically made the overall test record slightly better than the horrible record we had prior to that. It is not like the India had a poor test team  before that. India lost all those tests with legends in the team like Sunil Gavaskar, Bedi, Prasanna, Kapil Dev, GR Vishwanath, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Amarnath, Venkatraghavan, Mohd Azharuddin etc. The Indian team was mentally weak and was not able to turn good performances into wins overseas and was mostly blow away by the opposition. Now all the experts from the past are expecting this young team who are nowhere near the capability of the teams of the past to suddenly start hammering teams overseas.

Let us look at the current Indian team. Except for Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli, the rest of the batting order is still up for debate. The bowling has been extremely inconsistent with a young brigade led by very inconsistent Ishant Sharma. The spin attack hasn’t played too much overseas (Ashwin has played a grand total of 9 tests outside Asia). The attack on Kohli and this young team by past players and media for not winning overseas seems little over the top. I agree that the fans want Indian team to win overseas and compete but again we need to give this team a chance. Almost all the players played their first games overseas in 2013-14 and gave a decent account of themselves, much better than some legends did in the past.

Sourav Ganguly started kind of a golden era of Indian cricket but again he had much better team at his disposal. Sourav and Virat are similar captains, both are aggressive in your face leaders but Virat Kohli is developing a core while Sourav already had a core available to him. The task for Sourav was to channelize and guide a group of legends to perform as a team and start winning games overseas but the task for Kohli is much tougher. He does not have legends in his team but has few good players who are still finding their feet at this level. He does not have a batting line up consisting of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. He does not have a bowling attack of Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath, and Anil Kumble at his disposal to turn this around immediately. So the media and experts need to be patient with this young team.

There is no reason to crucify this team now. They have just started to gel and perform. They just won a test series in Sri Lanka which even the best of Indian teams were not able to do for 22 years. Sourav Ganguly had a bunch of players who were experienced and were playing in the team for 10-13 years. Srinath, Kumble and Sachin were playing for a long time and except for Sehwag the rest of the team at least was 5 years behind them. So let us not hammer this team now. The ex-players should understand this better than anyone. I can agree if the media is doing this as they like to sensationalize things but the former players who have played at the highest level should know better.

I can understand the frustration of Virat Kohli and he is completely justified to feel aggrieved. The Indian teams of the past won home games like how Virat and his team is doing now and except for post Ganguly era performed worse than the current team outside home. Expecting a bunch of players who hardly have any experience to suddenly turn that horrible overseas record overnight is ridiculous. I hope that we support this young team and back them and give them some time to figure themselves out and I am sure we will see the results getting better when they travel overseas again. This is a young team with a young leader after legends exited the game. We can see how badly South Africa and Australia played in the sub-continent after their legends left the game so give these players some time and encourage them. No need to throw your own players under the bus for winning home games the same way the teams of the past won their games at home.

Catching troubles for team India

The Indian slip catching has been poor in the recent times and has cost India in tests.

The Indian slip catching has been poor in the recent times and has cost India in tests.

As the old adage in cricket goes “catches win matches” and obviously that holds true for all formats of the game. Catching has been a big problem for this young Indian side. There was a time when Indian slip cordon consisted of the Dravid and Laxman with Sehwag, Sachin ET all making up the other slip. The catching was brilliant and it was the main reason for India to climb in the rankings. Yes there were few drops here and there but mostly all catches were taken.

It was not only the slip catching but overall the Indian fielders were good in taking catches. The one criticism that Indian team had then was that their ground fielding was really poor. Now with the current team India faces quite the opposite problem. The Indian ground fielding is one of the best but the catching overall has been very poor. Over the last few months the Indian fielders have dropped some crucial catches which has changed the course of the game. The slip catching has been tentative and the overall catching has been casual. Statistics say that India has tried as much as 5 fielders in the first slip in the last 19 tests and as much as 8 catches have been dropped in the slips by India in the last 7 tests. This is a very revealing stat and something which has been completely ignored while blaming our bowling.

The Indian bowlers aren’t world beaters and they require all the assistance they can get from the fielders. The drop chances have really hurt India and their chance to win few games. The Wellington test comes to mind immediately, the drop chances of Williamson and McCullum cost India the test which they were well on the way to win. In the first test at Lord’s Rahane dropped Robson but luckily for him the batsman did not make most of that chance. India let a chance slip of Gary Ballance in the first innings and he went on to score a hundred. Alastair Cook was dropped in the first innings of the 3rd test which allowed him to get of the wretched form he had been under to post a career saving 95. The captain Dhoni himself hasn’t been a safe catcher himself in the recent times.

Young players like Jadeja, Rahane and Kohli have been pretty bad and have dropped some crucial takes over the last few months. Virat Kohli has been the biggest offender among the young brigade. His casual attempt at nabbing Brendon McCullum’s feeble drive at short mid-on in the second test cost India dearly. Jadeja has dropped couple of crucial ones. Dhawan has been a reluctant first slipper and has hardly shown intent to go after difficult takes. Rahane has dropped a few in the slips.

This has been a disturbing trend for the young Indian team. The young players who have been brilliant in saving runs and effecting run outs have been poor catchers in the slips as well as in the outfield. This problem has not only been in tests but also has been in the ODI’s and T20 games. India needs to arrest this problem fast if they have to compete at the highest level. Good players will always make you pay if you give them a second chance. India has found that out in the recent times to a devastating effect. The team needs reliable slip fielders and the outfield catching needs to be sorted out too.

India has two more tests after the current one at the Rose Bowl in this series and then they travel to Australia later this year. India needs to take all their chances to compete in these games. Top teams will make you pay if you drop catches. The coach and captain need to find a way to get through to these young players and figure out what is going wrong with the catching. If they do not arrest this trend soon, India will be finding themselves chasing the leather most often than not and the only ones to suffer will be the bowlers.

Rahul Dravid – A Tribute to the legend

Looking at the performance of the youngsters on this A tour, it shows how priceless Rahul was for the Indian middle order. We will miss Rahul for sure in the test team. This was the tribute I wrote when he retired and I wish he stayed a little longer.

My Thoughts

It was 1996 and India was touring England. This was the first time I got to see “The Wall” Dravid bat for India. The media coverage those days wasn’t so great for domestic cricket so knowing a player before debut was not that easy. The series did not start well for India as they lost the first test in Edgbaston and as with the case in the 90’s Sachin was the standout performer with a hundred. India decided to go with 2 debutants for the Lord’s test. The 90’s wasn’t a great decade for debutants for India until that point and considering the criticism vented on Ganguly at the start of the tour I wasn’t hoping too much from either Dravid or Ganguly on their debut. How wrong was I?

After dismissing England for 344 in the first Innings, India found themselves in early trouble as usual at 59/2. After…

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Amazing Kohli moves to a higher league

Virat Kohli is definitely the toast of the nation at the moment. The last few ODI innings of his has for sure cemented his status as one of the premier ODI batsmen in the world. Virat has had brilliant last couple of years in ODI cricket and his elevation to vice-captaincy status at a very young age shows that the selectors see him as a future Indian captain.

My first look of Virat was in 2008 Sri Lankan ODI series. The test series for India was absolute dampener and the series was more famous for the emergence of another mystery spinner from Sri Lanka Ajanta Mendis. India was missing experience in the batting order and in the absence of Sachin and Sehwag, Virat was sent to open the innings. Virat showed great grit and stuck to his task admirably well. His stats weren’t earth shattering but it did show the fighting spirit of the youngster. He handled some difficult conditions pretty well and helped India win the ODI series.

It was surprising to see that India ignored Virat after that series for almost a year but the youngster took the break into his stride and came back stronger. The break also meant that Virat travelled to Australia to take part in the Emerging players trophy where he was the top scorer for India. Since he made his comeback to the team in 2009, he has been an indispensable member of the Indian squad. With exceptional technique and great concentration Virat Kohli has established himself as one of the finest young players in the world. He has already won lots of ODI games for India batting second and has an enviable average doing so.

He has 11 hundreds in just 82 ODI innings, making him the youngest to get to 10 ODI hundred at an impressive average of 50.56. Virat has everything going for him in ODI cricket. Virat Kohli though did not have a smooth sailing in test cricket. In spite of having everything going for him as a player, he did struggle at the test level though. He did not have a great start to his test career but by the end of Australian tour he did find his groove. He was the only Indian to score a test hundred in the Australian series and proved that he did belong at the bigger stage. His two fifties at Perth and a brilliant hundred in Adelaide should give him lots of confidence for more challenges ahead later this year.

Even though he has had a great start to his career, his aggressive celebrations and use of expletives too often has got him into trouble with the experts and the media alike. Even though I personally feel that being an aggressive cricketer playing with lots of passion, he does get little carried away which is fine with me. Virat has the talent and performances to pull off such behavior as a brash youngster, similar to another great Ricky Ponting. But Virat needs to keep one thing in mind as such behavior will for sure look great when the team is doing well but will look ugly when the team is struggling. I guess he for sure will learn as he gets older.

For now let’s enjoy the success of the genial superstar, India has unearthed once again. I hope that he continues to scale more peaks and helps India to get to the top once again in world cricket.

Rahul Dravid – A Tribute to the legend

Rahul Dravid is all set to announce his retirement from test cricket on Friday.

It was 1996 and India was touring England. This was the first time I got to see “The Wall” Dravid bat for India. The media coverage those days wasn’t so great for domestic cricket so knowing a player before debut was not that easy. The series did not start well for India as they lost the first test in Edgbaston and as with the case in the 90’s Sachin was the standout performer with a hundred. India decided to go with 2 debutants for the Lord’s test. The 90’s wasn’t a great decade for debutants for India until that point and considering the criticism vented on Ganguly at the start of the tour I wasn’t hoping too much from either Dravid or Ganguly on their debut. How wrong was I?

After dismissing England for 344 in the first Innings, India found themselves in early trouble as usual at 59/2. After few partnerships and brilliant innings by the debutant in the match Sourav Ganguly, India were 202/5 still 142 runs behind the English total. Rahul Dravid the other debutant for India walked in to join Sourav in the middle. It was a great moment for Rahul and like Sourav he did not want to let this opportunity slip. Rahul Dravid even in his first innings at the international level showed great composure and calmness at the wicket. He was a perfect foil for the flamboyant Sourav Ganguly who went on to make a brilliant hundred on debut at Lord’s. Rahul though missed the mark by 5 runs.

In spite of him missing his hundred we all then sensed that we had witnessed something special. For the next 15 years along with Sachin, Sourav and Laxman he has been the vital cog in the Indian middle order. Coming in at number three he has been the India’s most important player overseas and has played quite a few memorable match winning knocks. A player par excellence was named the “The Wall” for his amazing appetite for runs and his watertight defense which is almost impossible to breach when he is settled at the crease. He has been a perfect team man often doing what is required of him in the team. He has been pushed around in the batting order even though he has been India’s best number 3 by a distance. He has batted in all positions in the batting order and has also opened when required for his team. He also donned the keeping gloves for a while when India were looking for balance in the ODI squad. Rahul will be always known for his brilliant hundreds in Indian overseas victories over the past decade. Rahul also made India proud with his brilliant speech at the Sir Bradman oration late last year in Australia. He is an articulate speaker and his speech then was like one of his silken cover drives.

Dravid will finish with 13288 test runs at an average of 52.31 with 36 hundreds and 63 fifties. He has been India’s best number 3 by a distance scoring 10524 runs at an impressive average of 52.88 with 28 hundreds and 50 fifties. Rahul Dravid was not a bad ODI player either, he remodeled his game to suit the shorter format and became one of the best middle order bats for India in the late 90’s and better part of last decade. In 344 ODI games he has scored 10889 runs at an impressive average of 39.16 with 12 hundreds and 83 fifties. Not bad for a player called as test specialist.

Rahul as a captain was brilliant too. During his tenure at the helm India had an amazing run in both forms of the game. Under his leadership India won a test series in West Indies and England after a long time. India was also unbeatable at home during the same time in ODI. It was unfortunate that he decided to give up the test captaincy after the English tour. He was player with great cricketing brain and I am sure he would have been an excellent captain had he continued. Rahul captained India in 25 tests, winning 8 and losing 6 with a W/L record of 1.33. His ODI record is impressive too with a W/L record of 1.27.

There is no question that Rahul has been a perfect role model off the pitch too. He is a soft spoken individual who always says the right thing in the media. Rahul has been a great role model and a brilliant player over the years for India and a true legend of the game. He has given us wonderful memories through his batting and the Indian team will for sure miss his presence in the middle order.

Rahul Dravid has finally decided to hang up his boots and it will be very sad to see him go. He has been an integral part of the Indian team over the last 15 years and a player I have seen growing up as a cricket fan during the 90’s. I for sure as a fan will miss Rahul’s calm assurance at the crease when the team is in trouble. He has been a great ambassador for the sport and for sure will be missed in the cricketing circles. I wish the great player an excellent future in whatever he decides to take up after cricket and I hope he remains involved in the development of Indian cricket at some capacity

A captain is as good as his team

There is a famous saying in cricket “Wicket keeping is a thankless job”. For 6 years in the Indian team Dhoni has donned the keeping gloves and he should be pretty aware of the saying. The Indian cricket team has for sure hit a road block, all the good work done by Kirsten and Dhoni seems to have been undone but Dhoni alone is not to be blamed for this fiasco. When a team is doing well, whatever the captain does is appreciated. The captain makes a change and the ball goes there and people say that he is an astute captain; he has a great cricketing brain etc. But as soon as the team starts to lose he becomes a villain.

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Kumble all set to replace Mishra for Delhi test

Kumble Harbajan and Mishra during practice sessions

Kumble Harbajan and Mishra during practice sessions

The Indian coach has made it clear that Kumble will play in Delhi if he is fit. That puts an end to all speculations involving the team selection for the next test. India is all set to retain the same squad which won in Mohali with just Kumble replacing Mishra being the only change. Anil Kumble will be captaining the Indian side in Delhi where the Indians would be hoping to seal the series.

The Australians face an uphill task of keeping this series alive as the Indians have an impressive record at the Ferozshah Kotla ground. India havent lost a test match in 21 years at this ground. There has been some reports in the media that few former cricketers feel that Mishra needs to be played in the place of VVS Laxman in the team. This is a completely ridiculous call from the former players as VVS Laxman is a batsmen with a proven record against the Aussies.

Amit Mishra had a great debut game but playing five bowlers has seldom worked in India. I guess India would be better of with four bowlers as the fifth bowler is always underbowled in a test match. well the Selections apart this series is heating up with the comments from Gilchrist against Sachin and with the pressure put by the Australian media on its players. The Australian team would quickly want to erase the embarassing defeat they faced in Mohali from their memories and would like to level the series in Delhi.

All in all we can expect another great game of cricket and hopefully the Indians can wrap up the series with another clinical performance.