Tag Archives: postaweek2011

There are no cracks on this wall

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 missing the mark he had done enough and a legend was born. 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 extraordinary patience 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 to balance the ODI squad.

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. It is unfortunate that in spite of all his achievements his position in the team is still questioned. Rahul though has now made an inspired comeback to form. The brilliant hundred in West Indies was followed by two more in England and is our key player once again on overseas tours. He announced his retirement from the shorter forms of the game after the ODI series in England. His performances in the ODI were amazing considering that he was written off as a test player in earlier part of his career.

The West Indies tour and the subsequent England tour have proven that the youngsters are not ready to replace the legends, so Rahul’s decision augurs well for the team. Rahul has been a great role model and a brilliant player over the years for India and I hope that he has a wonderful last few years in the Indian test side. He has given us wonderful memories through his batting and it will be sad when he eventually decides to hang up his boots. I wish that he has wonderful end to his career and hopefully will have few more great years in international cricket for team India.

Chennai 1999 – Sachin’s gem and a standing ovation

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.

Is it lack of fitness, attitude or Lack of hard work?

Recently while lecturing at the cricket club of India, India’s legendary fast bowler Kapil Dev said that Indian fast bowlers lack the attitude and fitness. It’s an age old debate which has been going on forever and in spite of having a steady supply of bowlers in the recent years we haven’t found a single decent partner for Zaheer in the test team. There have been various debates and discussions over this matter in the past and none of them have conclusively come up with any plausible explanation for this scenario.

Whenever a bowler makes his debut for India, it seems like he comes with an expiration date. He bowls fast and is fit for a year and then his speed drops and his accuracy deserts him and finally loses his spot in the team. What causes this decline? Is it fitness and attitude, like Kapil said in his lecture or is it general unwillingness to do hard work. I feel that it’s the combination of all three. There has been a cry over too much cricket all the time but even then we see cricketers hardly missing the Champions League and IPL unless they are unfit to play.

Please click here for the full article

Ajeesh wins “Upcoming” singer of 2010 award

Airtel Super Singer 2008 winner Ajeesh won “Upcoming Singer” award in the Mirchi music awards. Ajeesh who sang the song “Iduvarai” from Goa along with Andrea won this award last week. The pair had also won the best duet award for the same song earlier and this is for sure a proud moment for Ajeesh. Ajeesh won the last serious competition I watched on television so it was great to see him win an award on his very first song.

Ajeesh is an extremely talented singer and I hope that he sings more hit songs in the future and wins many more awards.

India needs to persist with the youth

Finally a disastrous tour has come to an end and this was probably India’s worst overseas tour in a long time. The only silver lining on the entire tour was the performance of the young players.

The ODI series threw up some good candidates for the future and it was promising to watch these youngsters perform in adverse conditions. Rahane, Patel, Kohli, Raina and Jadeja did enough to warrant a consistent run at least in the ODI squad.

Click here to read the full story.

India’s quest for maiden tour win continues

Yet to win a game on this tour, team India takes on England in the third ODI at the Oval tomorrow. The Indian bowling came apart in the second ODI earlier this week defending a good target in the rain affected game. The batting though would give the Indian team some hope coming into the third game. England would be extremely confident as their batsmen hit the straps when mattered and chased down a good score with minimum of fuss.

England captain’s return to form will be a huge boost for the hosts. The bowling of Swann would also be a huge positive for the home team. The one aspect in which they have struggled in the last couple of games is their pace bowling. The Indian youngsters have managed to go after the pace trio or Anderson, Dernbach and Broad. Bresnan has also found it difficult to keep the young Indian openers quite. For India though the issue with the bowling needs to be sorted out.

Please click here to reacd the full article

India’s bowling conundrum

A demoralizing and humiliating 4-0 whitewash, India’s first such loss overseas since their 3-0 loss to Australia in 1999. The team which had made a huge headway over the past couple of years collectively came down crashing against a team which was much more organized. The Indian bowling has always been a cause for concern.

The bowling attack sans Zaheer has always struggled and this series was another example for the same. The failure of the batsmen did not help their cause either.

The spinners are struggling; the fast men are not consistent enough. Everyone knew that if India had to stay at the top of the rankings they need to develop a good bowling attack. India has failed to do the same and it showed in the current series.

Click here to read the full article