Tag Archives: Sachin

Heavy weights clash at Wankhede

The two strongest teams in this year’s competition take on each other at Mumbai. Delhi Daredevils have been strengthened by the addition of Kevin Pieterson and Mahela Jayawardane and look a very strong outfit. Mumbai Indianshave a brilliant bowling side but without Sachin at the top of the order their batting relies heavily on Rohit Sharma to guide them which will be a huge set back against a good Delhi bowling attack. It will be interesting to see if Sachin will take the fieldtomorrow for Mumbai Indians as his presence for sure gives them lots of stability in the batting.

Wankhede stadium has always had good bounce for both spinners and pacers. It has always been a true wicket when good batsmen can play shots on the up and the bowlers will get some movement under lights. Both the teams have somegood pacers and they will get lots of pace and bounce from the wicket. The average score might be in the range of 150-160 and anything more than that will be a winning total.

Team News/composition

Will Sachin play? This is the question on everyone’s mind at the moment. Mumbai Indians batting has generally been inconsistent while he is not been there at the top of the order.Delhi Daredevils have had a good start to the season and have emerged as one of the strongest teams of IPL V. They have an explosive batting and bowling lineup and with Kevin Pieterson and Jayawardane in the middle order theyhave got the necessary experience in the middle order.
Both the teams have excellent bowling attacks and it will be M Morkel versus Malinga and whoever wins the battle between the spearheads might win the contest.

Both Delhi and Mumbai will want to go to the top of the pile with a win in Wankhede. The teams are very well matched in all departments with Delhi holding a slight advantage in the batting. The bowling units of both the teamsare extremely strong. Mumbai defeated Delhi in both the games last season and the wrecker in chief was that man Lasith Malinga. It will be interesting to see how the new batting lineup will handle the threat of the Sri Lankan. Mumbai Indians will also wantsome consistency in the batting as their reliance on Rohit Sharma to pull them out of the woods has been quite frequent this season. Ambati Rayudu and TL Suman (If Sachin does not play) will want to get going for the hosts.

Delhi Daredevils: NV Ojha, V Sehwag, KP Pieterson, DPMD Jayawardane, RE Van Der Merwe, Y Venugopal Rao, Y Nagar, IK Pathan, M Morkel, U Yadav, S Nadeem

Mumbai Indians: RE Levi, TL Suman/SR Tendulkar, RG Sharma, AT Rayudu, KA Pollard, KD Karthik, JEC Franklin, Harbajan Singh, SL Malinga, PP Ojha, MM Patel

Team Quotes:

“It’s fantastic, I’m sure any team in the IPL would love to have him in their team. It’s great for Mumbai Indians that he is with us. He is great in all four overs that he bowls up front or [at the] death. He is a vital elementin our side.”

Franklin stresses on the importance of Malinga to the Mumbai Indians side.

“He has been the backbone of our team’s bowling attack for the last three matches. He brings the team to a position from where it is easier for us to bowl.”

Nadeem speaks about the importance of Morkel to the Delhi side.

Change is unavoidable but needs to be planned

As Dhoni said after India’s loss at Perth, the seniors need to be phased out. The Indian selectors during the golden Dhoni-Kirsten period did not try too many middle order candidates and sudden influx of young players isn’t going to help the situation. India needs to start by giving Rahane and Rohit Sharma a chance in the final test. The series is already lost and this will be a great chance to try out these youngsters.

The phasing out should be carefully planned. There are reports that VVS Laxman might retire after this series so this will be ideal time to test out Rohit Sharma at number 5

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West Indies Tour – Time to test the bench strength

The Indian selectors were forced to sort of send an A team to West Indies under Suresh Raina as most of the senior players decided to either rest or missed out due to injury. The biggest offenders were Sehwag and Ghambir as they were already aware of their injuries but still decided to participate in the IPL. Sachin and Yuvraj also requested the selectors to be omitted from the squad to the West Indies. The funniest part is that these same players decided to play through the IPL even though they were exhausted after an emotional World Cup triumph. An international series treated with such scant respect is something hard to imagine.

Even though the seniors miss out from the series, this for sure gives us an opportunity to test out our bench strength. Suresh Raina who will be captaining the side will be aware that this isn’t going to be an easy series. No matter which team turns up for this series, India are expected to win both the test and ODI series comfortably against a weak West Indies side. This will be Duncan Fletcher’s first series as Indian coach and he will get the firsthand account of India’s bench strength. For the youngsters though this will be a great opportunity to showcase their talent at the international arena.

Players like Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, and Shikar Dhawan would for sure get an extended run in the 5 match series and they would hope to cement their places in the ODI squad. The ODI team tough would probably suffer the least as we still have Raina, Rohit, Parthiv Patel and Kohli in the team who has played quite a few ODI’s for India. The bowling also has lots of experience in the presence of Bajji, Munaf, Praveen and Ishant along with Ashwin and Mishra. So the ODI team in all probability should do reasonably well but the major issues will be with the test squad which is missing three major players in the top of the order.

The test team will mark the debut of Abhinav Mukund, the dashing opener from Tamil Nadu who has a brilliant domestic record. He will join Murali Vijay at the top of the order. Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and captain Dhoni will have to probably guide the middle order which might consist of Kohli/Badri/Raina in the mix. The bowling though will be at its full strength in the presence of Zaheer, Sreesanth, Ishant, Munaf and Bajji. The selectors have done a decent job with the team selection considering that they were left with no option.

The ODI series begins tomorrow and it gives a depleted WI team a great opportunity to challenge an under strength Indian team. The series for sure will be competitive and Raina will surely want a better series as captain than the one he had in Zimbabwe last year. The series will be important for few youngsters who would want to impress with some good performances. This series also gives us fans a peek into the future, a future without Sachin/Dravid and Laxman in the squad. This will also give us a chance to look at the options we have when the greats eventually hand up their boots. The series starts tomorrow with the one-off T20 game, which will be followed by 5 ODI games. The test series begins on the 20th of June for which Dravid, Dhoni, Zaheer and Laxman will join the team. An interesting series in the offing and in spite of the big names missing from the squad, team India should win both the series comfortably. Good luck to Raina and hopefully he can complete the ODI series with a win under his belt.

Strauss and Sachin light up Bengaluru

Phew!! What a game it was? A tie, only 4th in the world cup and it was an exciting game. Dhoni won the toss and as expected decided to bat first on a flat track. India got off to a flier with Sachin and Sehwag. The Indian top order looked in great touch again as India scored runs at a fair clip without losing wickets. Sachin Tendulkar scored yet another hundred, his 47th in ODI’s to guide India to a mammoth 338.

Sachin received ample support from Sehwag and Ghambir. It was a brilliant innings by the master. He paced his innings to perfection and made sure that the scoring rate never dropped. Initially he took a back seat while allowing Sehwag to take the charge. When Sehwag was dismissed Sachin upped his scoring rate to make sure the run rate was never compromised. Yuvi and Dhoni took India past 300 but once they were dismissed, India lost wickets at a heap to be bowled out for 338.

England began their chase in the right earnest as they kept their rate above 7 an over till a brilliant catch from Munaf ended Pieterson’s innings. Strauss though continued to dominate the Indian bowling; the introduction of spin had no impact on the English captain. Chawla dismissed Trott for 16 leaving England on 111/2. Ian Bell joined Strauss and kept the run rate going with sensible batting. They picked their gaps effectively as Dhoni was running out of options. The biggest turning point of the match came when Yuvi struck Bell right in front and the appeal was turned down. Dhoni after insistence from the bowler decided to refer the decision.

The replays showed that the ball was hitting in line and was crashing on to middle stump. Everyone including Bell knew that it was out but since the batsman was more than 2.5 meters forward from the stumps, the umpire in the middle (Billy Bowden) reinstated his decision. This shocked everyone including the English players in the middle. The rule did not make sense as the ball was hitting the stumps half way up and probably cost the game for India in the long run. Bell though continued his batting along with Strauss and almost batted India out of the game until Dhoni brought back Zaheer for one final time.

Zaheer though bowled brilliantly answering his captain’s call by nipping out 3 wickets in quick time, leaving England reeling. The 3 wickets included Andrew Strauss who played one of the best innings in a world cup scoring 158, his highest. Strauss never allowed the Indian bowlers to dictate to him and was very cool and collected in accumulating the runs. Bajji too joined the party as a wild slog from Prior found Raina at mid on. The Indian team now looked poised to win the game. With England needing 29 from two overs and Bresnan and Swann in the middle, Dhoni tossed the ball to Chawla. The English lower order weren’t going to give up easily as they crashed the Indian leggie for 15 runs in the over leaving 14 more to get in the last. Chawla though dismissed Bresnan with the final ball of his over.

Shahzad joined Swan in the middle and hammered a 6 of the 3rd ball of the Munaf over to help England tie the game. It was a great game of cricket but I would say that in the end Strauss would have been disappointed and Dhoni relieved. The Indian captain though did not hide his frustration at the end of the game as he said that the bowling needs to improve. He also added that the batting cannot score 350 in all the games. It was a brilliant game with two great hundreds and I felt that neither of them deserved to be on the losing side. So a tie was probably a fair result. The Indian think tank needs to figure out the ideal bowling combination for their next game against the Dutch which can be a potential banana skin game for the hosts.

India needs to regroup after the first test disaster

To call India’s performance in the first test against South Africa a disaster would be an understatement. That’s how bad it was. India entered this series as number 1 side in the world, but judging by what transpired over the 5 days in Centurion, the team looked far from being the best side in the world. I agree that losing the toss on the first day was a recipe for disaster but it wasn’t a 136 all out pitch for sure. The pitch had some bounce and SA bowlers were exploiting it quite well but a batting unit as experienced as India is expected to counter them.

The Indian batting looked clueless and except for Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni and Harbajan looked ordinary. The first innings batting collapse meant that India needed to show some fight with the ball and try to restrict South Africa to a reasonable first innings total but it was not to be. The bowling was very poor to say the least, never looked like taking any wickets on a pitch which eased out a little bit. The fast bowlers were unable to provide the initial breakthrough and it was too much to expect Harbajan to get the wickets on a flat second day pitch.

Even though the pitch was flat, the bowlers still had some bounce to work with, but the Indian bowlers looked listless. The problem for Dhoni was that not only his bowlers were ineffective but the runs were coming at a fair clip for the South Africans. The South African batsmen were scoring at almost 5 runs per over which meant that they could declare sooner than the Indians would have wanted them to. The only reason the Indians managed to pick up couple of wickets at the end was due to the fact that the home team was throwing their bats around for quick runs.

It was a great game for Kallis as he scored his first double ton in test cricket and De Villiers scored fastest test hundred for South Africa. Once South Africa took a 484 run first innings lead, the Indians were just hoping for a miracle.

The batting in the second innings though showed some fight as the top order finally came to the party. Sachin Tendulkar once again showed why he is a class apart from his team mates as he looked comfortable against a confident bowling attack and scored his 50th test century. It was brilliant innings under pressure as he tried his best to save the test for his team. Dhoni, Sehwag, Ghambir and Dravid batted well too, but the lead was too much for them to overcome. As loss by an innings will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Indian team.

So what can the team do to reverse the trend? First things first Zaheer has to be back in the team. His experience and skill will add much needed potency to the pace attack. With Zaheer being fit and available, that should be taken care of for the second test. The second most important thing would be getting Pujara in the place of Raina. Raina unfortunately does not look cutout for test cricket but Pujara does. I think the experiment with Raina in the middle order should end. When Harbajan Singh can bat better than your designated number 6 then for sure the team has an issue with that position in the order. So that change has to happen immediately.

With just few more days left for the second test to commence, the Indian team does not have too much time to regroup. I don’t think they can drastically improve from what we say few days back in Centurion. The only silver lining for the team is the fight the batting put up in the second innings but the concern with the bowling will still remain. I hope that the bowlers put up a better performance at Durban to give India a better chance of coming back into the series. It will be for sure an interesting thing to see, how the team responds to the loss in the first test. As the best side in the world they have a point to prove and another loss will only raise further doubts regarding the current rankings.

Dhoni’s safari, his biggest challenge yet

Dhoni (right) and Kirsten (Left) know that this will be a make of break series for the Indian test team

We are just a week away from India’s first test against South Africa at Centurion and Dhoni is about to face his biggest challenge as a captain. Since he took over as the Indian skipper in 2008, he has been only on three overseas tours and two of them have been in the subcontinent. Whatever the world says, Dhoni does have an impressive resume as a captain. He hasn’t lost a test series and has lost very few games as a captain of the Indian team.

India does not have any practice game ahead of the first test which is a worry but the BCCI did the right thing by sending the test specialists ahead of the schedule to get the feel of the conditions. The Indian coach Gary Kirsten and the bowling coach Eric Simmons being South Africans might be the trump cards India need. Their combined knowledge of the conditions there might help the Indian bowlers and the batsmen to prepare for the South African challenge. So does India realistically have a chance to topple South Africa in their home turf? I think they do.

When India visited South Africa in 2006 they were expected to be rolled over and after a 4-0 drubbing in the ODI series it did not seem otherwise. India on the contrary rolled over the hosts in the first test and South Africa had to dig deep to come out of that hole. South Africa finally won the series 2-1 and if not for the poor batting on the 4th day of the final test, the result would have been otherwise. That series showed that India can compete on those pitches and looking at the current team they can in fact do more than just compete this time. The biggest advantage for the visitors this time is their pace attack. In 2006 it was just Zaheer and Sreesanth, the third pace option (VRV Singh) wasn’t that effective which was a huge setback with the lack of all round option in the team. This time though we have three in form pacers in the squad, Sreesanth and Zaheer are back with Ishant as the third seamer.

If the tracks are pace friendly these three can trouble any batting team. Ishant bowling brilliantly against New Zealand in the third test should give the Indian team management loads of confidence ahead of the much important series. The biggest worry for Dhoni though will be the spinners. Harbajan’s form with the ball will be a huge worry for the team management and he bowling well in tandem with the pacers for me will decide the series. I am not sure if Ojha will get any chances in the series but he did not look that threatening either in the home series against the Kiwis. Even though the SA series is all about the fast men, spinners are equally important as well to keep the pressure up.

The Indian batting though hasn’t changed that much since the 2006 tour. The core of the team still remains with Sehwag, Sachin, Laxman and Dravid still in the team with the welcome additions of Ghambir and Raina/Pujara. The Ghambir/Sehwag opening combination will be very important for the team against the South African new ball pair of Steyn and Morkel. I am not sure who their third pacer would be but the new ball bowlers from the home team will attack the Indian openers. India has loads of experience at 3, 4 and 5 followed by the edgy Raina at number 6.

Sourav Ganguly did a brilliant job at number 6 in India’s previous tour and after his retirement the team management has failed to find an able replacement for that spot. After trying Yuvraj unsuccessfully for few games, the management has now kept faith on young Suresh Raina. They probably expect his enormous ODI experience to finally show through in tests as well. Raina though had a disastrous home series against New Zealand and his frailty against the short pitched stuff will surely be exploited by the South African fast bowlers. He needs to figure out a way to counter the barrage. If he fails to do so, I am thinking that Dhoni has to seriously consider replacing him with much more technically sound Pujara. The other important batting spot will be the captain himself at number 7. He needs to shed his poor form and perform consistently for the team with the bat at that position and of course his leadership on the field will be very important.

The Indians will be entering this series as the best side in the world and a win would give them tremendous boost and confidence. Dhoni and Kirsten will be aware that in case of a slip up, their rankings will be questioned again. They are playing a team who are second in the rankings and have been fantastic over a sustained period of time. They are a hard team to beat anywhere, especially at home. Their pace attack will be a threat and their batting led by Amla and Kallis will be hard to dislodge. The Indians will be very much aware that they will face much sterner test of character than the just concluded home series against the Kiwis. Dhoni I guess has all the ammunitions this time to turn this series onto a memorable one for the Indians. If they manage to win the series they will for sure be undisputed number 1 team in the world and I hope that Dhoni and his men put up a great performance in this series.

Sri Lankan tour – No surprises in the test squad

After the brilliant win over Sri Lanka last week in the Asia cup finals, India now will face up to the same team in a 3 test series. The Indian squad for the series was selected on Saturday and the team was very much on the expected lines. The selectors did not go for any new names except for couple of surprises thrown in.

As expected Dravid and Laxman return to the squad in the middle order and so does Sachin. With Ghambir and Sehwag settled at the top of the order, it just leaves one vacant spot in the middle order at number 6 which is still unclaimed. Even though Yuvraj has occupied that spot over the last couple of series, he has hardly made an impact to warrant an immediate selection in the test team. There were few more names thrown in before the selection like Pujara, Badri etc but the selectors have gone with Raina who has had a brilliant year in the shorter formats.

Yet another disappointment for Pujara as the youngster has been piling on the runs in the domestic as well as on the A tours. I hope that he gets a chance soon. Vijay retains his spot as the backup opener, even though Dhawan and Mukund are right on his heals with brilliant performances on the A tour. Dhoni remains the skipper and the number one keeper for India on this tour. Dhoni’s back up though left everyone surprised as Saha was selected out of the blue.

Karthik has been Dhoni’s backup for a long time now and considering his experience one would have expected him to join the team to Sri Lanka but was not to be. Karthik will be really disappointed as he was pretty good with the bat in the Asia cup, winning the man of the match in the finals. The bowling too lacked any surprises as India went with the experience of Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth in the pace department and Harbajan, Mishra and Ojha as the spinners.

Sreesanth and Ishant get a call back after both of them were overlooked for the shorter formats. This begs the question as to why these two did not get picked for the A tour to England or to Zimbabwe for that matter. Both these bowlers haven’t had any competitive cricket for a while and getting some games on the A tour would have helped them to get some confidence back. BCCI’s planning is lot left to be desired as they would have known way before that these two have very good chance of partnering Zaheer in the upcoming test series.

All in all I feel that this is a decent team with the experienced hands returning to their favorite format. I hope that Dhoni and his men put up a great performance and win the series which has been eluding us for 17 years now. As Dravid said India will not worry about Mendis anymore as he seems to have been worked out by the Indians. Still the batting needs to be careful as Mendis and Murali in Sri Lanka will be more threatening than their exploits earlier in India. Hope for a great contest and a win to the Indian team to maintain their status as number one team in the world.