Tag Archives: Rahul Dravid

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.

Motera wicket was disappointing

The India-Sri Lanka series touted as the race to number one rankings had a disappointing start with the first test match in Motera ending in a dull draw. The test match in Ahmadabad is all that is wrong with Indian cricket. When there have been calls to save the oldest form of the game around the world, BCCI have dished out boredom to drive the fans away from the grounds. Its seems like BCCI is only worried about the money they can make out of sponsorships and IPL and not a bit bothered about the state of pitches in India.

Sambit Bal last year wrote an article on cricinfo blasting Pakistani pitches after the Karachi game but the pitches in India are not that far behind. Sambit’s intentions may have been good by singling out pitches in Pakistan was not the right way to go. Reading the recent article by Dileep Premachandran, it seems like there is not much of a difference between the pitches in Pakistan and India. India has one of the worst percentages of results when compared to other cricketing nations.

According to the article, India has hosted 24 games in the past 60 months out of which 11 have been draws. This is a pathetic statistic for a team who is trying to become the best side in the world. With ever increasing T20 leagues in India I guess the BCCI have to take more interest in improving the quality of test cricket in India. I don’t think that anything of that sort has been even tried yet by the board. As Sourav Ganguly rightly mentioned in his column, even though Rahul Dravid and Mahela scored those brilliant hundreds the Motera pitch was a real disappointment.

No one wants to watch a game where the bowlers are just mere participants with not effect whatsoever and the batsmen are running the show. The unfortunate part is that the grounds men in India are in so much pressure to make matches last for 5 days for the BCCI to make money out of TV rights. Already we have seen paltry crowds for test matches in India and with these sorts of pitches ardent lovers of the format like me will also be driven out of the stadiums in the future.

Test cricket is still the premium form of cricket around the world and efforts should be taken to improve the quality of pitches around the world. The ICCI should crack down heavily on boards that encourage pitches like Motera for International fixtures. Kanpur (Venue for the second game which concluded last week) test was heading the same direction as Motera after the first day’s play but was saved by the result.

Selection conundrum

Dravid makes a surprise comeback to the Indian ODI squad after a two year hiatus

Dravid makes a surprise comeback to the Indian ODI squad after a two year hiatus

The team for the Tri-Series in Sri Lanka and Champions trophy has been announced and there are quite a few surprises in the final 15. First let’s concentrate on the omissions. Sehwag is yet to recover from the injury he sustained in the IPL, so he is the most high profile absentee from the squad. Rohit Sharma has been shown the door after some mediocre performances over the past year. Ravindra Jadeja also doesn’t find a spot in the team after his indifferent performance in the World T20.

The major disappointment was the non inclusion of Virat Kohli. I don’t understand the reason for the same from the selectors. He hasn’t played a single ODI for India since 2008 series against the Sri Lankans where he was very consistent and handled the M & M threat with competence. Kohli’s brilliant performance in the Emerging players tournament recently concluded in Australia has not had an effect on the selectors it seems. I hope that they don’t keep wasting a talent and give him a chance pretty soon.

Badrinath and Vijay have been dropped from the squad and I don’t know why. I guess probably an effect of the comments from Yusuf when the 30 probables were announced. Except for Dinesh Karthik, there are no Chennaites in the squad, should please Yusuf Pathan now. Badri again is being given a hard time by the selectors and there is no reason for the same. Vijay at least I agree is more suited to the longer format. Badri played a crucial knock in the 2008 series against the SL to steer India home and it just required 2 failures for the selectors to discard him. Rohit Sharma though had been playing in the squad for the past year and a half on one match winning innings in Australia. I guess Yusuf should realize where the bias is. I just hope that Badri doesn’t become another Sharath or Sriram.

Amit Mishra has been given a go after his great performance in the Emerging players trophy and suddenly Ojha doesn’t find a place in the squad. Ojha has done nothing wrong till date and has been performing brilliantly whenever he has played for the team and it’s unfortunate that the selectors are not consistent with his selection. Ojha will be disappointed and rightly so. The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Rahul Dravid in the ODI squad. He is making a comeback after a two year hiatus and it is a huge surprise.

Dravid’s comeback was always on the cards after the Indian youngsters struggled against short pitched bowling in the recently concluded World T20. This might provide the team with necessary solidity in the absence of Sehwag but I think it’s not the right move by the selectors. It’s like we took 5 steps forward in the past couple of years and this selection has pulled us two steps back. When Dhoni requested an all youth team couple of years back, everyone blasted him but after seeing the results people started backing the young team. Getting Virat Kohli in the team would have been much wiser decision I feel.

Rahul is a great player and does not need to prove anything regarding his credentials as an ODI player and I am sure he will do well. The rest of the team is almost same as the one which went to the Caribbean couple of months back. The team travels to SL to play a Tri-Series, with the third team being NZ before flying to SA to participate in the Champion’s trophy.

Let’s hope that we win both the series coming our way in the next couple of months.

Dead rubber blues

India lost yet another dead rubber and this time it was against the Black Caps. The Indian batting continued in the same merry way as the other games where the pitches were more suited to the batters. The pitch at Auckland had something for the seam bowlers and the Indian batsmen kept swinging and lost wickets at regular intervals to get bowled out for 149. The game was shortened by rain and India decided to bat first which actually surprised Daniel Vettori as he claimed that he would have bowled first if he had won the toss.

The Indian batting started aiming for 300 or something with Sehwag and Ghambir both trying to hit out, but were still able to provide a decent start. Once Ghambir departed Sehwag was joined by Raina who again continued the approach. After Raina departed playing an ugly swing across the line, Sehwag joined him pretty soon with another rash shot.

India was three down and the team needed a partnership which never happened. Jesse Ryder was brought into the attack and he took the wickets of Dhoni and Yuvraj which put the Indians completely out of the game. Rohit Sharma tried to get some respectability to the total but did not get too much help from the others in the top order.

It was a really bad performance by the Indians after dominating the series. The New Zealanders would have been happy to get the win as it would give them the much needed confidence ahead of the test series. This is the third time in last one year that India has lost the dead rubber after dominating the series till then.

The test series gets underway in Hamilton on the 18th and it will be interesting to see how the Indian batters go about their business. It will be a different team with Dravid and Laxman coming in for Raina and Rohit. I am sure that the approach will be much measured and calculated than the mindless swinging of the bat we saw in the last game. The test wickets for sure are going to have something in it for the bowlers and the Indians should respect the same. Hopefully it will be an Indian win which will make this series more memorable.

Dead rubber blues

India lost yet another dead rubber and this time it was against the Black Caps. The Indian batting continued in the same merry way as the other games where the pitches were more suited to the batters. The pitch at Auckland had something for the seam bowlers and the Indian batsmen kept swinging and lost wickets at regular intervals to get bowled out for 149. The game was shortened by rain and India decided to bat first which actually surprised Daniel Vettori as he claimed that he would have bowled first if he had won the toss.

The Indian batting started aiming for 300 or something with Sehwag and Ghambir both trying to hit out, but were still able to provide a decent start. Once Ghambir departed Sehwag was joined by Raina who again continued the approach. After Raina departed playing an ugly swing across the line, Sehwag joined him pretty soon with another rash shot.

India was three down and the team needed a partnership which never happened. Jesse Ryder was brought into the attack and he took the wickets of Dhoni and Yuvraj which put the Indians completely out of the game. Rohit Sharma tried to get some respectability to the total but did not get too much help from the others in the top order.

It was a really bad performance by the Indians after dominating the series. The New Zealanders would have been happy to get the win as it would give them the much needed confidence ahead of the test series. This is the third time in last one year that India has lost the dead rubber after dominating the series till then.

The test series gets underway in Hamilton on the 18th and it will be interesting to see how the Indian batters go about their business. It will be a different team with Dravid and Laxman coming in for Raina and Rohit. I am sure that the approach will be much measured and calculated than the mindless swinging of the bat we saw in the last game. The test wickets for sure are going to have something in it for the bowlers and the Indians should respect the same. Hopefully it will be an Indian win which will make this series more memorable.

Dhoni and Yuvraj receive ICC awards and Ganguly gets the axe

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh received top ICC honours for one day and Twenty20 performances respectively. For Yuvraj though it was a week of mixed emotions as he was dropped from the Rest of India (ROI) squad for the Irani trophy. This makes it almost certain that he will not be considered for the upcoming test series against the Australians. To be frank even Yuvraj wouldnt be that surprised about his omission from the test team.

He has been really inconsistant and in my opinion does not deserve a spot in the test team. The other omission which has again led to some controversy is of the former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. The selectors have been called as biased and unfair in the media and by the supporters of the former captain on this decision. Well to be honest everyone including the people who are complaining now knew that Ganguly would be the first one to get the axe from the so called “Fab Four”. Even though Ganguly had been the most consistant player for the past two years in tests for team India, the selectors it seems have gone based on the overall ability.

The problem for Ganguly is that he has failed in two of the three away series this year which has not helped his cause. Even though it might seem unfair as he played couple of important innings against the touring South African team earlier this year, he should have seen this coming. Rahul Dravid though has been really lucky to find a place in the Indian team after poor performances away against Australia and Srilanka and at home against the South Africans. Apart from couple of contributions here and there he has been really inconsistant over the last one year.

Calls to drop Sachin Tendulkar from the supporters of Ganguly seems overboard as the little master’s only real failure this year has been in Srilanka. He has been nominated for the best ODI player award and was instrumental in India’s performances down under. Laxman has been never in bad form and has turned in some consistant performances throughout the year. Rahul Dravid has been retained in the team due to his proven ability to win matches for India and I guess his 60 odd runs in the final innings of the test series against SL helped his cause.

Even though Ganguly’s exclusion from the team seems unfair, I feel that by no means its a bad decision. I guess it sends across a clear message to all the seniors that if they dont perform they could be the next to get the axe. India is in the process of rebuilding and they need to approach the same with caution. We cannot replace all the seniors with youngsters as we have done with our one day team. Players like Rohit, Kohli and Badrinath need to be in the presence of experiance during initial phase of their test careers. Yuvraj who was supposed to be that experianced person in the team is now finding it difficult to even hold his place in the one day team.

Sourav Ganguly could have received a better send off for his services to the Indian team but as Tony Greg said in one of his interviews “Indian players dont retire but get kicked out”.

Dhoni and Yuvraj receive ICC awards and Ganguly gets the axe

Ganguly becomes first of the "Fab Four" to get the axe

Ganguly becomes first of the Fab Four to get the axe

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh received top ICC honours for one day and Twenty20 performances respectively. For Yuvraj though it was a week of mixed emotions as he was dropped from the Rest of India (ROI) squad for the Irani trophy. This makes it almost certain that he would not be considered for the upcoming test series against the Australians. To be frank even Yuvraj wouldnt be that surprised about his omission from the test team.

He has been really inconsistant and in my opinion does not deserve a spot in the test team. The other omission which has again led to some controversy is of the former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. The selectors have been called as biased and unfair in the media and by the supporters of the former captain on this decision. Well to be honest everyone including the people who are complaining now knew that Ganguly would be the first one to get the axe from the so called “Fab Four”. Even though Ganguly had been the most consistant player for the past two years in tests for team India, the selectors it seems have gone based on the overall ability.

The problem for Ganguly is that he has failed in two of the three away series this year which has not helped his cause. Even though it might seem unfair as he played couple of important innings against the touring South African team earlier this year, he should have seen this coming. Rahul Dravid though has been really lucky to find a place in the Indian team after poor performances away against Australia and Srilanka and at home against the South Africans. Apart from couple of contributions here and there he has been really inconsistant over the last one year.

Calls to drop Sachin Tendulkar from the supporters of Ganguly seems overboard as the little master’s only real failure this year has been in Srilanka. He has been nominated for the best ODI player award and was instrumental in India’s performances down under. Laxman has been never in bad form and has turned in some consistant performances throughout the year. Rahul Dravid has been retained in the team due to his proven ability to win matches for India and I guess his 60 odd runs in the final innings of the test series against SL helped his cause.

Even though Ganguly’s exclusion from the team seems unfair, I feel that by no means its a bad decision. I guess it sends across a clear message to all the seniors that if they dont perform they could be the next to get the axe. India is in the process of rebuilding and they need to approach the same with caution. We cannot replace all the seniors with youngsters as we have done with our one day team. Players like Rohit, Kohli and Badrinath need to be in the presence of experiance during initial phase of their test careers. Yuvraj who was supposed to be that experianced person in the team is now finding it difficult to even hold his place in the one day team.

Sourav Ganguly could have received a better send off for his services to the Indian team but as Tony Greg said in one of his interviews “Indian players dont retire but get kicked out”.