My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan

Sachin Tendulkar is arguably one of the greatest ODI players ever to grace the cricket field. He gave joy to countless cricket fans over the years with his breathtaking stroke play in the limited overs cricket. He has finally decided to close the curtain’s on his illustrious ODI career. A career which spanned for 23 years and yielded 18426 runs at a brilliant average 44.83 with 49 hundreds. He was for sure the best ODI player of his times. The only time I saw Sachin bat live was the game against Pakistan in a test match in 1999. Even though this is not an ODI innings, I have decided to post this as this was one of the most memorable moment of my life as an Indian cricket fan. This is first of my many tributes to my favorite cricketer. A player I have grown up watching. A player who was the reason I developed this deep love towards this wonderful game. This is the account of the brilliant game which took place in my home town Chennai as I remember it.

This was in 1999 when Pakistan and India met in bilateral series after a hiatus of 12 years. There was a lot of hype around the series and the first test was held in my hometown, Chennai. As a young cricket fan I had two wishes, one to watch my idol Sachin Tendulkar score a hundred live and the other to watch team India win a test match.

The Chennai test was an incredible one, completely worth of all the hype surrounding its start. Pakistan team was filled with great bowlers and incredible batting line up and India prior to this series were unbeatable at home. The battle of Sachin with Waqar, Wasim and Saqlain was much talked about prior to the series. The game began and both teams were neck and neck after the first innings. India gained a slender lead of 16 after the first innings and Saqlain Mushtaq enhanced his reputation of being the best young spinner in the world at that time with a 5 wicket haul.

Pakistan began their second innings on a positive note and in spite of losing wickets at regular intervals, it seemed like they would set India a huge total to chase. Afridi was great with a brilliant hundred and with useful contributions from Ijaz and Inzamam, Pakistan was well on course for a huge total. At 275/4, already leading by 259 India’s chances seemed glum when Venkatesh Prasad probably bowled one of the best spells of his career. He took 6/33 as Pakistan collapsed to 286 as their last 6 wickets fell for just 11 runs. India began their second inning needing 271 to win with more than 2 days to go.

Indian second innings did not get to an ideal start as Waqar dismissed both the Indian openers with just 6 runs on the board as Sachin Tendulkar joined Rahul Dravid in the middle. Both these players took India to safety without further loss and it was all set for a brilliant 4th day at the MA Chidambaram stadium. This was when I got a chance to go to the stadium. I had watched the first 3 days on television and my uncle who could not go to the ground on the 4th day, offered me the ticket and along with my cousins I headed to the ground with lots of expectations.

We reached the ground early and watched the players practice. This was my first visit to any international match and it was really exciting to see the players warm up ahead of a great game of cricket. The crowd cheered as Sachin and Dravid walked out to bat, to continue India’s chase. Wasim Akram’s peach on the fourth morning went through the wall’s defenses as India was in early trouble at 50/3. Azhar and Ganguly got out to poor decisions to leave India tottering at 82/5 when Nayan Mongia walked out to join Sachin Tendulkar.

Both these players saw India through to lunch and in a sedate partnership took India to tea with 5 wickets still in hand. The match was in balance and we in the crowd knew that a wicket at that point will mean that India had no chance. After tea though the mood changed, Sachin and Mongia had decided to attack and the runs flowed quickly and India were racing towards the target. It was exhilarating to watch the proceedings as the bowling attack of Pakistan was brilliant and the world’s best player was involved in a fierce battle to win the game for his country. It was a privilege to watch Sachin counter Saqlain on a wicket which was turning square. He was battling back spasm too in the middle of all this which made this innings even greater. Sachin reached one of his best hundreds and I was in the stands applauding. This was one of the best moments for me as a cricket fan.

India was 218/5 with just 53 to get and we could see Pakistan losing hope. They had taken the new ball to no avail as Mongia and Sachin were scoring runs at a fair clip. This is when Mongia decided to display one of the biggest brain freezes of his career. Trying to loft Wasim over the top, got himself caught at mid-off leaving a struggling Sachin to take India to victory along with the tail. Sachin got out to Saqlain trying finishing the game with only 13 needed and the Indian tail collapsed in a hurry as India fell short of the Pakistan total. It was a heartbreaking loss and a very hard one to take as an Indian fan. It was so near yet so far for the Indian team.

When the game was over unlike all the other grounds in India, in spite of an Indian loss the crowd stuck around. Then one of the most brilliant thing happened when even now when I think back makes me proud of being an Indian. The Chennai crowd rose in appreciation of the Pakistan team as the victorious neighbors took a victory lap in India. Who would have thought that it was even possible? It was a brilliant moment as the fans clapped till the end and it was a victory for the game. Chennai is considered as one of the most knowledgeable crowds in India and I saw it with my own eyes for the first time. Even though there was a disappointment of an Indian loss that evening, I was proud as a cricket fan. Cricket is a sport and it’s beyond borders and the crowd that day proved the same. I got one of my wish granted that day but had to wait for another 3 years to watch India win a test match but that memory will forever be etched in my mind.

While there is a huge hue and cry right now about Sachin’s 100th hundred, I have decided to recollect one of my favorite memories as a young cricket fan. This was in 1999 when Pakistan and India met in bilateral series after a hiatus of 12 years. There was a lot of hype around the series and the first test was held in my hometown, Chennai. As a young cricket fan I had two wishes, one to watch my idol Sachin Tendulkar score a hundred live and the other to watch team India win a test match.

The Chennai test was an incredible one, completely worth of all the hype surrounding its start. Pakistan team was filled with great bowlers and incredible batting line up and India prior to this series were unbeatable at home. The battle of Sachin with Waqar, Wasim and Saqlain was much talked about prior to the series. The game began and both teams were neck and neck after the first innings. India gained a slender lead of 16 after the first innings and Saqlain Mushtaq enhanced his reputation of being the best young spinner in the world at that time with a 5 wicket haul.

Pakistan began their second innings on a positive note and in spite of losing wickets at regular intervals, it seemed like they would set India a huge total to chase. Afridi was great with a brilliant hundred and with useful contributions from Ijaz and Inzamam, Pakistan was well on course for a huge total. At 275/4, already leading by 259 India’s chances seemed glum when Venkatesh Prasad probably bowled one of the best spells of his career. He took 6/33 as Pakistan collapsed to 286 as their last 6 wickets fell for just 11 runs. India began their second inning needing 271 to win with more than 2 days to go.

Indian second innings did not get to an ideal start as Waqar dismissed both the Indian openers with just 6 runs on the board as Sachin Tendulkar joined Rahul Dravid in the middle. Both these players took India to safety without further loss and it was all set for a brilliant 4th day at the MA Chidambaram stadium. This was when I got a chance to go to the stadium. I had watched the first 3 days on television and my uncle who could not go to the ground on the 4th day, offered me the ticket and along with my cousins I headed to the ground with lots of expectations.

We reached the ground early and watched the players practice. This was my first visit to any international match and it was really exciting to see the players warm up ahead of a great game of cricket. The crowd cheered as Sachin and Dravid walked out to bat, to continue India’s chase. Wasim Akram’s peach on the fourth morning went through the wall’s defenses as India was in early trouble at 50/3. Azhar and Ganguly got out to poor decisions to leave India tottering at 82/5 when Nayan Mongia walked out to join Sachin Tendulkar.

Both these players saw India through to lunch and in a sedate partnership took India to tea with 5 wickets still in hand. The match was in balance and we in the crowd knew that a wicket at that point will mean that India had no chance. After tea though the mood changed, Sachin and Mongia had decided to attack and the runs flowed quickly and India were racing towards the target. It was exhilarating to watch the proceedings as the bowling attack of Pakistan was brilliant and the world’s best player was involved in a fierce battle to win the game for his country. It was a privilege to watch Sachin counter Saqlain on a wicket which was turning square. He was battling back spasm too in the middle of all this which made this innings even greater. Sachin reached one of his best hundreds and I was in the stands applauding. This was one of the best moments for me as a cricket fan.

India was 218/5 with just 53 to get and we could see Pakistan losing hope. They had taken the new ball to no avail as Mongia and Sachin were scoring runs at a fair clip. This is when Mongia decided to display one of the biggest brain freezes of his career. Trying to loft Wasim over the top, got himself caught at mid-off leaving a struggling Sachin to take India to victory along with the tail. Sachin got out to Saqlain trying finishing the game with only 13 needed and the Indian tail collapsed in a hurry as India fell short of the Pakistan total. It was a heartbreaking loss and a very hard one to take as an Indian fan. It was so near yet so far for the Indian team.

When the game was over unlike all the other grounds in India, in spite of an Indian loss the crowd stuck around. Then one of the most brilliant thing happened when even now when I think back makes me proud of being an Indian. The Chennai crowd rose in appreciation of the Pakistan team as the victorious neighbors took a victory lap in India. Who would have thought that it was even possible? It was a brilliant moment as the fans clapped till the end and it was a victory for the game. Chennai is considered as one of the most knowledgeable crowds in India and I saw it with my own eyes for the first time. Even though there was a disappointment of an Indian loss that evening, I was proud as a cricket fan. Cricket is a sport and it’s beyond borders and the crowd that day proved the same. I got one of my wish granted that day but had to wait for another 3 years to watch India win a test match but that memory will forever be etched in my mind.

First of all let me congratulate both the teams for playing out a brilliant game of cricket. Amidst ridiculously long IPL, it was wonderful to see two teams slugging it out in the oldest format of the game. When Pakistan was leaving for their Caribbean tour, there was confusion between the West Indies superstars and the WICB. The young West Indies team was completely written off and Misbah was primed to create history. He was all set to become the first Pakistani captain to win a test series in West Indies.

But when I looked at the composition of both the teams ahead of the first test, there was little to choose between them. Both the teams lacked experience and Pakistan was seriously down on batting to be called as the favorites. The absence of Younis and Yousuf in the middle order meant that they just had Misbah to guide the youngsters. Pakistan batting had too many players who had little experience in the longer format of the game, which eventually made the difference. The pitch wasn’t a great one to bat on and required great skill and patience from the batsmen to survive and unfortunately for Pakistan none of the young players stood out to be counted. West Indies though had nothing to lose and with the addition of Chanderpaul and Sarwan in the middle order they had the much needed experience on the batting front.

The game was fascinating to watch. Both the teams were low on batting which probably made it even more interesting. The bowling attacks of both teams though was well balanced and for sure was their strongest suite. West Indies had 2 good quick bowlers, an excellent young leggie and a steady medium pacer perfectly suited to the wicket in Guyana. Pakistan boasted of excellent spinners and two good young pacers. So the contest was always between the batsmen of both the teams.

Pakistani batting though struggled on a sluggish wicket and was completely at sea against the wicket to wicket bowling of Sammy. Their bowling though was very good led by Saeed Ajmal who was brilliant with 11 wickets in the match. Umar Gul though was disappointing as he failed to claim a single wicket. The other spinners in the team Rehman and Hafeez supported Ajmal well to keep WI to low totals in both the innings.

For West Indies their captain Darren Sammy led from the front as he claimed 7 wickets in the match including a fifer in the second innings. The batting though had some good contributions from Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Roach, Bishoo and Simmons. Ravi Rampaul was excellent on his return as he bowled with fire and pace claiming 7 wickets in the game and he was well supported by Roach. Bishoo was excellent on his debut as he picked 4 important wickets in the first innings and also contributed with the bat in both the innings.

It was an impressive performance by the West Indies team which wasn’t given any chance by the experts. The Pakistan team management will be terribly disappointed as they would have expected to win this series comfortably. The selection of the team again was baffling as Yousuf I think should still be part of Pakistan middle order for couple of years at least. The young Pakistan players need guidance and who better than Yousuf to give them the same? Younis (Who had to leave the team mid-way due to a family tragedy) also was missing from the X1 and their batting was entirely dependent on Misbah and the unreliable Akmal.

I guess having a team which is so less on experience on an overseas tour is suicidal to say the least. Except for Asad shafiq and Azhar Ali all the other young batsmen look out of depth at this level. Umar Akmal who is an excellent talent needs to take more responsibility. With just few days to go for the second test at St Kitts to begin, the Pakistan team needs to pull themselves up and put up a decent show for their fans.

The West Indies team though would extremely happy with this performance. This was their first test win in two years and the first in 18 games. The team played with Great Spirit and looked hungry for success. I hope that this sparks a turnaround in WI fortune and hopefully the fans will get interested in cricket again. For a great contest of cricket it was sad to see empty stands in Guyana. I am used to seeing a party crowd in the 90’s when WI was still a force in world cricket for test cricket. I hope this marks the return of calypso in West Indies cricket and we see an excellent atmosphere in St Kitts.

Finally the fans have gotten what they wished for, an India-Pakistan game. Just two days to go for the mother of all games and the hype surrounding the same is unbelievable. An India-Pakistan encounter is a very rare occurrence these days, so every game carries huge expectations among the fans of both the countries. The politicians, the movie stars, the business tycoons all will be in attendance at Mohali on 30th of March for this mouthwatering contest.

The teams though would not want to fall into this hype. They would want to keep this game simple and concentrate on their performance on the field. They would want to stay away from all the commotion which surrounds this semi-final game. I pity New Zealand and Srilanka as they have hardly got any attention ahead of their semi-final game tomorrow. So let’s take a look as to how the two teams stack up for the game on Wednesday. Both India and Pakistan have had their ups and downs during this world cup. Pakistan though contrary to the pre-tournament predictions has had a wonderful world cup. Except for the one slip up against New Zealand, they have done exceedingly well. Their bowling has clicked almost in every game and their batting has contributed enough to take them through.

Their win against West Indies in the quarters shows how well they have gelled as a team this tournament after all the off field issues they had prior to the same. Gul and Afridi have been brilliant and the addition of Misbah and Younis in the middle order has given the solidity the team was lacking over the last few months. So the Pakistani team would be quietly confident regarding their chances in the Wednesday’s semi-final game. The batting will be under the scanner and they would know that their bowlers cannot have an off day.

The Indian team on the other hand has had a mixed tournament. Their bowling and fielding has struggled and the batting has been inconsistent during the course of the tournament. The bowlers have failed to defend 300 twice in this tournament and the batsmen have collapsed from great position twice. The Indian bowling has heavily relied on Zaheer Khan who has been brilliant in this world cup. He has been the second highest wicket taker in the world cup and along with Harbajan Singh has been India’s consistent performer. Ravichandran Ashwin’s inclusion though has given India a definite edge over the past couple of games.

The Indian top order has been in great form and Raina’s inclusion ahead of Yusuf has given the team the necessary depth in batting. India would take a lot of heart from their performance against the Australians where their bowling and fielding was top notch. The Indian fielders put on an incredible performance to restrict Australia to an achievable total. The bowling was also pretty consistent and it was probably their best performance on the field in the entire tournament. That shows that probably the Indian team is peaking at the right moment for an important tournament like this. The Indian batting too showed that they have the necessary depth and quality to chase down a difficult total on a tough wicket.

Sachin, Ghambir, Yuvi and Kohli all looked in excellent touch. Sehwag coming back from an injury did not look that comfortable against the Aussies but knowing him, he will be very much ready for a contest as big as this. Raina who was included at the last minute showed amazing maturity to play a great short innings under pressure to guide India to victory in the quarterfinals. The win against the Aussies for sure would have been a great confidence booster for Dhoni’s men. On paper though you would say that the Indian team should win 9 times out of 10 but strength or form counts for nothing in India-Pakistan encounters. It’s the performance on the day which matters.

Indian management’s decision to not allow the players to interact with the media is a masterstroke as this will keep them focused on the game. It’s unfortunate that the Indian government is trying to make this a political game by inviting the Pakistani prime minister. This puts a lot of pressure on the players in the middle. I don’t know when the politicians will realize that this is just a game of cricket and politics has no place in sports. The pressure on the players is enormous as it is and they would appreciate a little respite.

Just couple of days to go for the D-day and fans from both the countries would want their team to win this game. I don’t even think anybody is worried about the finals as of yet as this game is as good as the final for the people of both these countries. I just hope that this game lives up to its billing and produces a wonderful contest. C’mon India!!!

Indo-Pak Express:- Rohan Bopanna (India) and Asim Ul Haq Qureshi of Pakistan

It has been a great week for the Indo-Pak duo of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (Known as Indo-Pak express by their fans) as they have been conferred with the “Peace and Sport” award by a Monaco based foundation. With both their countries at the loggerheads for the past 60+ years the duo has proven that there can be in fact peace. It’s not like these two have suddenly gotten together and received this prize but have been together for the past few years and their sudden raise in the rankings have finally got them some attention.

Both these players should be really proud of this achievement as this has proved that sports can be devoid of politics and can surely extend a hand of friendship. It will be great if others can follow the example of this Indo-Pak duo and shed all their differences and work for a peaceful existence. Kudos to the Indo-Pak express for setting up a brilliant example for others to follow.

Finally I would like to sign off with the quote of the “Peace and Sports” founder Joel Bouzou “”Sport is ready for peace. But will governments rise to this challenge?” he asks, a question to both the governments. Something for the governments to think about.

Younis and Yousuf recieve life ban

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) shocked everyone with their decision to ban the two most senior players for Pakistan in Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan today. It was known that after the inquiry commission reports the PCB might impose a ban on Rana Naved and Shoaib Malik for a period of one year, but this one was totally unexpected.

The reason given by the PCB for the ban of the two was that they caused infighting, which in turn damaged the team unity. Afridi and the Akmal brothers (Umar and Kamran) were slapped a fine of $24000-$35000 and have been kept on 6 month probation to mend their ways.

The life ban on Yousuf and Younis means that they will not be considered for any future games for Pakistan from here on in any format, but the PCB have allowed them to participate in their domestic tournaments, county cricket and in any such foreign leagues. Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved have been banned for a year from representing Pakistan in any form of international cricket starting now. It was not very clear as to what was the reason for the bans on Rana and Malik.

This now puts the selectors in a predicament as they have punished almost all of the senior members of the squad, and choosing a captain for the upcoming T20 World Cup is going to be a challenge. From the available pool of players – since Afridi has been placed on probation – Razzak might take the mantle for the T20 WC. He is the most senior member left in the Pakistan squad, and he is almost certain to represent them in the 20 over format.

The captain for the ODI’s and Tests will leave the selectors pulling their hair out. Whether they will name Afridi as the captain for all three formats is something to wait and watch. The inquiry commission has certainly left the Pakistani cricket in further turmoil, and it will take a lot of planning by the PCB to get the team on track.

Captains should take Batting PP seriously to take advantage of the concept

Captains should take Batting PP seriously to take advantage of the concept

Batting power play is the latest innovation by the ICC to spice up the 50 over format. Over the past year when this new concept has been in place it seems like the teams have found this hard to comprehend. It seem like the teams have found it hard to determine how to use this new concept to their advantage. Previously the ODI format had a 15 over field restriction rule when the batsmen can go berserk trying to muster as many runs as possible within that period. This gave birth to the pinch hitters and unconventional openers in the mid nineties.

The 15 over rule has been there for ages now and it seems like the teams are still stuck in that time in spite of the latest changes in the power play rule. The current power play (PP) has been extended to 20 overs with 15 bowling PP overs and 5 batting PP overs. The first 10 overs of PP are continuous but the bowling captain can choose when to take the rest of the 5 bowling PP overs. Then there are 5 PP overs which the batting team can take as and when they please within the 50 overs. If the batting team fails to take it by the end of the 45th over it is automatically applied or forced on the batting team.

Sounds simple enough but when you look at the ODI games in the recent times, it seems like the concept is more complicated for the captains then it actually looks. The bowling team takes the easy way out by taking the PP at a stretch for the first 15 overs keeping the older format in mind. So it works out simple for them, since the captain need not strategize and is happy to get the PP away. But the batting PP is the one which has got the teams napping. In the recent times most of the teams have been either forced to take it or have taken it one or two overs too late.

I guess the problem comes with the age old adage in ODI cricket that the slog overs start from the 40th over. The teams wait till the 40th over to decide whether they want to take the PP or not. Sometimes it works but most of the times the teams lose too many wickets which makes the PP almost useless. For example in the recent ODI between India and Pakistan, India was 190 odd for the loss of 5 wickets with two settled batsmen at the crease. The required RR was just over a run a ball and a perfect time to take PP. Suresh Raina was taking risks with the fielders on the boundary which made no sense as the PP was available for the Indians to take. India for some strange reason wait and Suresh Raina gets out and by the time India decides to take the PP they are 7 wickets down, virtually making the PP useless.

So what is the ideal time to take the batting PP? This is something the teams should discuss in their meetings prior to the games. They have to work out a strategy as to when they should take it and in what situation. The best situation as far as I am concerned is when two batsmen are going strong and are well set take the PP and score 40-45 runs which will put enormous pressure on the fielding team. The best example for timing was again a game involving India, when Sachin and Yuvraj where blasting the NZ bowlers earlier this year. They decided to take the PP as early as 22nd over and blasted 69 runs in those 5 overs. Brilliant decision whoever made the call to take the PP that early. India ended up with 392 on the board.

But these things are easier said than done. It’s very difficult to determine what goes through a cricketers mind when he is at the middle and yes there are team instructions to follow as well. We don’t even know if the players in the middle are actually allowed to take that call or not. Probably the coach sends out a message to take the PP. whatever may be the scenario if we take a sample of 50 odd games in the recent times, we will see that most teams have wasted the batting PP. If the ICC isn’t smart about it, this concept will also die down as the super sub did couple of years ago.

I guess the best way would be to put the pressure on the captains by saying that they have to take the PP themselves before the 46th over is bowled and will not be automatically applied if they don’t take it. It will be assumed that the team has given up the right to take the PP and it should work to the advantage of the bowling team. I guess if such a rule is put in place, it probably might receive more serious thinking by the teams during their discussions and probably will become part of their strategy. Unless something is done to make it more interesting, I guess the ODI game will still follow the same old adage of 15 overs of field restriction and last 10 overs of slog and the innovations will have no effect.

Abid Nabi - Considered one of the fastest in India, does not get even mentioned in team selections

Abid Nabi - Considered one of the fastest in India, does not get even mentioned in team selections

India is almost out of the champions Trophy and barring a miracle, they will pack their bags and head home tomorrow. As I wrote earlier India’s bowling problem hurt their chances in the Champions Trophy. The Indian bowlers were pathetic against Pakistan in their first game allowed them to escape from a precarious 65/3 to 302 which in the end proved too much for the depleted Indian batting lineup. This has been the problem with the Indian team for the past 1 year or so.

The batting strength was able to shield this weakness but with the absence of couple of key players it was exposed even further against the Pakistanis in the Champions Trophy. So the perennial question is where are the bowlers? So much of domestic cricket being played, so much of talent but why do we keep hearing the same names again and again? Are the selectors good at actually tapping good talent? India has loads of talent in the Domestic arena but has been reluctant to try out new players in the National squad. Three years back when Guru Greg was at the helm there was a bowler named Abid Nabi who was touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. He was even summoned to bowl at the Indian batters in the nets but where is he now? He signed up for the ICL and could not be considered but still his name was never mentioned during selection anytime. He is now in the list of players who has accepted the BCCI “Amnesty” program. Another one of BCCI’s ridiculous act but at least he can be in contention now.

And then there is Sudeep Tyagi who has been performing very well in the domestic cricket, had a good IPL and also performed brilliantly in the recently concluded Emerging Players trophy in Australia but he is nowhere close to selection. The Indian selectors are known to waste talent in domestic cricket for ages now and it has hurt Indian cricket. There are loads of names which come to mind. Where is Piyush chawla, Pujara? Both have been performing consistently in the domestic arena. Chawla though has done quite well when he has been given chances at the National level but still continues to be ignored by the selectors. The Indian selectors are short sighted which is the major problem. They always look to fix the current issues but fail to look at the larger picture.

When we speak of All rounders, it always has to be the Pathan brothers but what about Ravichandran Ashwin who has been brilliant for Tamil Nadu? Ashwin has been brilliant for TN and could be an asset in the Indian team but has never been in consideration. The Indian team needs to find some good bowlers to complement Zaheer and unless they do that we cannot claim ourselves as the contenders for the Number 1 spot. Ishant Sharma needs a break to sort himself out and if possible needs to take a break from the IPL to concentrate on his bowling. India has the talent to develop into one of the best teams in the world even after the retirement of the greats but the selectors need to be smart about this.

Grooming and nurturing young talent is really important and unless that happens, Indian cricket will continue to suffer. Right talent needs to be encouraged irrespective of where they come from. Players like Ashwin, Nabi, Pujara, Tyagi, Chawla, Mishra, Kohli, Badri, Vijay etc have to be in the Indian plans for the future and need to be given chances regularly to prove their worth. India play a 7 match ODI series against the Australians and it will be the right time to rest some bowlers and give chances to youngsters. They cannot perform worse than the current pack. Keep Ashish Nehra and change the rest of the bowling, RP Singh, Ishant and Harbajan need a break and have to be challenged. They have been performing badly for about a year now without being shown the door in ODI cricket and need to be given a break.

If India needs to be considered as the number 1 team in the world they have to work towards it. I hope that Dhoni and the selectors are listening.

Rahul Dravid castled by Jeetan patel in India's warm up game against NZ

Rahul Dravid castled by Jeetan patel in India's warm up game against NZ (Courtesy Cricinfo)

Captain MS. Dhoni will have a lots to think about between now and Saturday when India take on a buoyant Pakistan team in the first match of the ICC Champions trophy. India played NZ in their only warm up match before the tournament started and were badly beaten by 101 runs. The problem for India was again the bowling. India for sure has one of the worst bowling line up among the top 7 teams (excluding WI) and it’s going to certainly diminish their chances of winning the Champions Trophy.

Ishant, RP and Praveen yesterday were pretty ordinary and went for more than 7 an over. Only Mishra, Yusuf and Raina were economical which again puts the Indian captain under lots of pressure. Spinners being the best bowlers might force the captain to go with Mishra and Bajji in the lineup compromising a fast bowler. Praveen might be shown the door after yesterday’s performance but the rest aren’t that great either.

Ishant Sharma has been really poor over the past year and has consistently gone over 6 runs per over. He has never been able to restrict the runs or take wickets. Nehra after his comeback had a good WI series and bowled well in patches but again lacks consistency to lead the pace attack. RP Singh has just made a comeback after injury and is yet to regain his pace and swing. So India has to totally rely on Bajji and the part-timers to restrict the run flow if they decide against 2 spinners.

The batting also seems a little bit rusty but expecting them to chase 300 every time is expecting too much. The Indian batting is strong but they can collapse once in a while like they did yesterday. Yeah agreed that Sachin wasn’t playing but to rely on just one player is taking the team back by 10 years. The news from the team management is that Ghambir isn’t 100% fit, which is a shock as he has been picked in the squad. I don’t know why you would pick a player for an important trophy if he not 100% fit.

I think that they have to think about Yusuf Pathan’s position in the team too. He hasn’t done anything significant with the bat in the 50 over game and has bowled okay in the chances he has been provided. I guess Irfan will be a better all rounder for India in limited overs format. Looking at the current scenario the Indian team is long way away from being the number 1 team in the world. Probably in the current scenario we are good enough to be number 3 team but unless we improve our bowling we can’t claim to be the world’s best.

As far as the champion’s trophy goes, India will be hard pressed to beat Pakistan and Australia who have a good batting lineup and much better bowling lineup than India. I will not be surprised if we don’t make it to the semis. It all depends on how our batsmen play against the Aussie and the Pakistani bowlers.

It was one of the darkest days in cricket history. A cricket team was targetted by the terrorists which was deemed as not possible by the Pakistani politicians when India decided to pull out of the series. Pakistan cricket which was already in the doldrums after International sides refused to tour there received a great setback. There has been lots of speculation in the aftermath of the attacks regarding the security provided and stuff but the reality is that the damage has been done. It will be difficult for Pakistan to bounce back from this disaster.

The Srilankan cricketers were really lucky to have survived the attack and it was only due to the bravery shown by their bus driver they escaped with minor injuries. The Srilankan’s were one team who always wanted to travel to Pakistan and what happened to them was attrocious. Srilankan cricketers are humble and friendly. Even when they are the opponents its hard to hate them. Its really unfortunate that this has to happen to them after they had graciously accepted to tour Pakistan after India had pulled out. Six srilankan players were injured during the attacks including the captain Jayawardane and the vice captain Sangakkara. Thilan Samaraveera and Tharanga were the worst affected and they were fortunate that the bullet just hit them at an angle that it couldnt penetrate.

As said in the media cricketers are soft targets for the terrorists and this will for sure put fears in the mind of teams around the world. This actually can have far greater implications on pakistan and rest of the subcontinent. Western teams would think twice about touring even India and Srilanka after these attacks. This has been the first instance of a cricket team to be targetted directly. As Harsha said in his column in Express India ICC have to take some harsh decisions regarding the WC. They have to stand up and behave like the leaders which they havent been doing all these years.

My prayer goes to the families of the security personnel who were killed protecting the pride of their country and the bus driver who was unfortunately killed during these attacks. This is an unfortunate incident which has made sure that cricket will not be played in pakistan for quite sometime now and unless there is a miracle in the next two years the WC 2011 might not happen there too. I salute the bus driver Khalil who putting his life in line drove the Srilankan players to safety. If not for him this might have been a bigger tragedy. I also salute the Srilankan players who in spite of going through a traumatic experiance handled themselves gracefully. Hopefully we will see these humble and great cricketers well soon on the cricket field doing what they know best.


My Thoughts

My Tweets

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 367 other followers