Do the Indian bowlers actually care?

Ishant Sharma has been extremely poor in all forms of cricket for India over the last few years

Ishant Sharma has been extremely poor in all forms of cricket for India over the last few years

It is very disappointing when your young pace hopeful goes back to India after the team’s 4-0 drubbing in New Zealand and says to the media that he is excited to take part in IPL 7 and he was disappointed missing the last couple of seasons.  Varun Aaron is a young quick bowler who spent more time recouping from injuries than playing cricket on the field. He did make a comeback in the New Zealand tour but was really wayward, even though clocking really high speeds.

India was hammered 4-0 in the ODI series and the performances of the bowlers was really disappointing. India conceded over 6 runs per over in almost every game and put enormous pressure on the batting line up. The Indian bowling has never been brilliant but the bad part is that it has gotten worse over the last couple of years. The Indian pacers have struggled to get teams out even on pitches that are aiding fast bowling. The bowling has lacked intensity and purpose and it does not seem to be improving. The BCCI does not seem to care about the current situation and is busy making more money.

The IPL has done a lot of damage to the Indian bowling and the young bowlers don’t seem to care about their performances at the International level. Ishant Sharma after reaching 150 wickets has expressed his joy on doing the same. His averages 38 with the ball in test cricket after 50 tests and he should consider himself extremely lucky to be playing for India with such mediocre stats. The Indian team is currently struggling in New Zealand to take 10 wickets leave alone taking 20. The bowling and fielding has been mediocre and it looks like they are on the way to losing another test overseas.

The bowling issue needs to be tackled soon if India wants to be at the top of the pile in world cricket. Varun Aaron’s recent interview suggests that he is more excited playing for IPL and says that he has lots of cricket coming up before the IPL to prepare for the season. This is all that is wrong about the India bowling attack. As a fan you sometimes think if these bowlers even care about improving themselves. India would be travelling to England and then Australia later this year and it does not look good for the team at the moment. The drubbing the team is currently receiving from a team ranked 8th in the world is a huge wakeup call. If India needs to preserve these bowlers they need to keep them away from IPL and have them play lots of four day cricket. The BCCI have the finances to take care of these bowlers and keep them fresh and ready for international cricket.

It is hard to imagine India competing overseas without a decent bowling attack. The bowlers seem to not worry too much about improving themselves after making the Indian team. Sometimes you question, are they working hard to play for the country or they just want to represent the country so that they will be considered in higher pay packet during the auction for IPL? This is a question which only the Indian bowlers can answer. Hopefully BCCI will finally wake up and realize that India needs a good cricket team and the organization is there to ensure that and not just to make money.

 

Tough task ahead for team India

After a disastrous ODI series, India would be looking to put up a better show against the hosts in the upcoming test series. The Indian batting and bowling failed collectively in the ODI series to hand South Africa an easy series victory. It will be interesting to see how this young team will bounce back from the humiliation they suffered at the hands of the hosts.

South Africa hasn’t been an easy place for the touring teams over the last couple of years. Both Pakistan and Australia have been bowled out under 50 in the respective previous tours on these pitches. Steyn, Morkel and Philander have been brilliant at home and been a nightmare to the visiting teams. It will be a great test of character for the Indian young batsmen to stand up against this bowling attack on difficult pitches.

The Indian bowling too will have a great part to play in this series. Even though the focus is squarely on the young batsmen, the bowling has to deliver good performances on these wickets. The South African batsmen have shown vulnerability against good swing bowling in the past and have been bowled out for sub 100 scores both by India and Australia in the past few years. Here is where inclusion of Zaheer will play a great part. He will bring the consistency which was lacking from the Indian bowling in the ODI series. It will be interesting to see who will take the new ball along with him in the first test.

Ishant Sharma’s great performance in the final ODI might put some doubts in Dhoni’s mind. Shami seems to be a sure starter along with Zaheer and it will be between, Ishant, Bhuvneshwar and Yadav for the third seamer spot. Ashwin probably will be the lone spinner in the team and India is likely to go with 7 batsmen.

The Indian batting will always be placed under scrutiny when they travel abroad. The young batting order sans the retired greats will feel the pressure after the dismal showing in the ODI series. This is not the first time though that an Indian team has struggled in the ODI series in South Africa. In 2006, India were hammered 4-0 in the ODI series but managed to shock the hosts in the first test to go up 1-0. The Indian team has performed well in their last two yours here which might give them some confidence going into the first test on the 18th.

The opening stand will be of huge importance in the upcoming series and the new middle order of Pujara, Kohli and Rohit will have to bat with responsibility. It will be between Rayudu and Rahane for the 6th batting spot. India might even think of playing Saha as a specialist batsman at number 6 considering he has done that in the past in Australia. It will be interesting to see what combination India will field in the first test.

It will be a huge test for this young Indian team and will probably set the tone for a tough 2014 ahead. The young batsmen have lots to prove and this will be a huge step in the right direction if they can put up a good show. This tour also will determine how good the Indian bowling resources are and in the presence of Zaheer it gives the young pacemen a chance to learn a trick or two from the veteran.

This will be an interesting series and India enters the same as the underdog and rightfully so. The fact that no one expects a miracle from them might work in the favor of this young team. The ODI series is done and dusted and this is a new format and the young Indian team should approach the same with confidence. I hope that we have a very competitive series and I hope that the young Indian team put up a fighting performance in the two test series.

Probable Indian X1: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, C Pujara, V Kohli, R Sharma, Saha/Rahane/Rayudu, MS Dhoni (Capt. Wkt.), R Ashwin, Mohd Shami, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma/Umesh Yadav.

Can England overcome the Indian spin challenge?

1984/85 was the last time an English team won a test series on Indian soil. It has been a long wait and in that time India had developed into a dominant force at home. India have lost only one series at home in the last decade. But this time though the hosts are the most vulnerable. The Indian team has just lost great players in the middle order and is trying to find the ideal replacements. The bowling too is going through a transitional phase.

The time when Anil Kumble used to torment the visiting teams on turning surfaces are long gone and India are playing with two young spinners who are trying to make a mark. Ravichandran Ashwin has had a great beginning to his career and in partnership with Pragyan Ojha has done a great job in the home tests. The spin partnership will obviously be tested to the fullest against a tough English team. With all due respect to New Zealand and West Indies who toured earlier, this is probably the toughest batting line up to which the Indian spinners would bowl to.

The Indian team will be hoping that their openers fire. The middle order of Kohli, Sachin and Yuvraj will be the key against the English spinners. India will also hope to have a fit Zaheer throughout the series.

The English team too has their fair share of worries. They will be thrilled to have Kevin Pieterson back in the team to bolster the middle order. The English batting line up has struggled to play in the subcontinent on turning surfaces. Even though the Indian spinners are not in the same class as Ajmal, they would be surely a handful on the subcontinent wickets. The English team has a lot to prove and a win in India will surely be a huge step.

The English batting will rely on Cook, Trott and Pieterson to put up big totals and Swann to lead the bowling attack. England will know that batting well in India is extremely important and under these conditions countering the Indian spin attack will be a challenge.

This test series will be extremely important to both teams. This is a start of a tough home season for India and they would want to start that with a convincing win. The English team after faltering in Dubai and Sri Lanka would want to prove that they can play well in the subcontinent conditions. There is no doubt that this series will be decided as who wins the battle between the Indian spinners and the English batsman.

The series takes off tomorrow and the fans would be hoping for a tight contest. The Indian team will want to win this convincingly and the English team will want to deny the hosts the same. Let the games begin!!

Saina Nehwal wins the Denmark Open 2012

Close on the heels of becoming the first Indian shuttler to win a medal at Olympics Saina Nehwal continued her good form to win the Denmark Open 2012. The third seeded Indian won the one-sided finals 21-17, 21-8 against her German opponent Juliane Schenk.

Saina has once again proved that she is one of the greatest sportswomen India has ever produced with this brilliant victory. Congrats to Saina and hope that she continues her good run and wins many more laurels for the country.

Viswanathan Anand retains his world chess title

Vishwanathan Anand successfully defended his World championship title by defeating Boris Gelfand from Israel.

Vishwanathan Anand retained his world chess crown for the 5th straight year when he defeated Boris Gelfand in the tie breaker. Anand became the world chess champion in the year 2007 and this is the 5th straight year he has defended his title successfully. Congrats to Vishy Anand on retaining his world chess title. He has once again proved that he is one of the greatest sportsman India has ever produced.

Can Anyone stop Rafa on clay?

Preview of French Open 2012

My Thoughts

Rafael Nadal is a master on clay. Even though he is an all-round player, his dominance on clay is something unmatched in the recent years. The only time he failed to win the French title in the last 7 years is when he was beaten in the 4th round in 2009 by Robin Soderling. In recent times though Rafa has faced tough competition from Novak Djokovic on other surfaces but hasn’t been troubled by the Serbian on clay yet.

Nadal’s preparation for this year’s title defense could not have been better as he won his 7th title at Barcelona couple of days back. He is looking stronger than ever and it seems difficult to imagine anyone threatening him for the title this year. The two immediate names which come to mind again are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Robin Soderling who is the only player to have defeated Rafa at…

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Can Anyone Stop Rafa on Clay?

Rafael Nadal is a master on clay. Even though he is an all-round player, his dominance on clay is something unmatched in the recent years. The only time he failed to win the French title in the last 7 years is when he was beaten in the 4th round in 2009 by Robin Soderling. In recent times though Rafa has faced tough competition from Novak Djokovic on other surfaces but hasn’t been troubled by the Serbian on clay yet.

Nadal’s preparation for this year’s title defense could not have been better as he won his 7th title at Barcelona couple of days back. He is looking stronger than ever and it seems difficult to imagine anyone threatening him for the title this year. The two immediate names which come to mind again are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Robin Soderling who is the only player to have defeated Rafa at the French open in the last 7 years is suffering an injury and his presence is still uncertain.

Novak Djokovic has been brilliant over the last couple of years and is the current number 1 in the world. French Open is the only title missing from his resume to complete the career grand slam and he would be hoping that he can get that this year. Roger Federer who is at his last legs of his career will probably want to give the French Open another try and would hope to get the better of Nadal if he gets a chance to meet him again this year. Federer played brilliant finals last year against Rafa but could not get over the line.

Not many players have found the formula to beat Rafa at the clay court and it will be the same this year too. It will require lots of hard work and endurance to get past Rafael Nadal once again on clay. Nadal will be looking for his record 7th French Open title (Beating Bjorn Borg’s earlier record of 6 titles) and 11 Grand Slam title over all this year. He has already proven that he has the skills to compete on all surfaces as he already has a career Grand Slam to his name. He is a genuine challenger to Federer’s Grand Slam record and with age on his side no one will bet against him getting there.

This year’s championship will be interesting and it seems like it will again be a competition between the top 3. Will Nadal reign supreme once again on clay? Or will Djokovic and Federer be able to stop him? We will have to wait and see.

Article first published as Can Anyone Stop Rafa on Clay? on Technorati.