My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Strauss

England captain Strauss will be a happy man now. His team has achieved what they had set out to do at the start of the series, which is to become the best team in the world. They have done it with clinical precision and throughout the first 3 games there was only one team which had the hunger to succeed. For India and Dhoni though this series is a rude awakening, nothing worked for them and losing the number 1 ranking probably was be the right kind of shock the team needed.

The only thing to look forward in the Oval test would be to see if England can complete the whitewash. India will have nothing to play for but the pride.

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Already 2-0 up in the series, England has no worries ahead of the third test at Edgbaston. For the visitors though the series turned nightmarish when Yuvraj and Harbajan also were ruled out with injuries earlier last week and later Zaheer was deemed unfit to take further part in this series. India will again be missing the services of their premier bowler in Edgbaston and it is hard to see the Indian bowling attack taking 20 wickets in the absence of Zaheer.

England though have no such worries, their bowling is functioning like a well-oiled machine. Even though they missed Chris Tremlett at Trent Bridge, Broad and Bresnen combined well to dismiss the Indian batsmen.

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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.

I have decided to group England and South Africa together as both of them have lots in common. Both the teams are yet to win the tournament and would be keen to set the record straight. England who reached the World Cup finals on three occasions would want to go one step further this time if they get another chance and South Africa would want to be in the finals for the first time.

If we look at both the teams, they haven’t had a great year in the shorter format. England reach the world cup after a 6-1 loss against the Aussies and South Africa with a hard fought 3-2 win against the Indians. Both the teams have some exciting players in the X1 and have a good balanced bowling attack. South Africa comprises of a very strong batting line up led by Smith and Amla at the top. The middle order consists of Kallis, Devilliers, Ingram and Duminy followed by Mark Boucher. So a very strong batting line up capable of raking up huge scores on flat subcontinent wickets. The bowling too is extremely potent with Dale Steyn and Morkel leading the pace attack. The spin bowling also received a great boost with the inclusion of Imran Tahir (Leg Spinner) along with Johan Botha.

That lends an excellent balance to an attack which normally is pace heavy. So I would say on papers the proteas are one of the strongest contenders for the title. They bat deep and also have an attack which can be dangerous on these wickets. So overall I would say South Africa has come with the best combination to succeed on these wickets for the first time and they would like to make the most of it. England also has a similar team to the Proteas. Pieterson and Trott give them the solidity in the middle order along with Collingwood and Morgan (If he does play). Strauss is a calm head at the top and the captain would surely want to lead from the front. The English bowling has great balance with Anderson leading the pace attack and Swann leading the tweakers.

Swann being arguably the best spinner in the world at the moment will be a huge advantage for the English. He also has featured in a full series to the subcontinent in the past which should give him an advantage to bowl in these conditions. All in all both the teams have an excellent chance to make it to the semis but it all depends on their temperament. Both these teams have had chances in the past but have not been able to grab the same and have faltered at the crucial stages. So Smith and Strauss will be mindful of the fact and would want to make this world cup memorable for their respective teams.

Disapointed Aussie captain after losing the Ashes for the second time in England

Disapointed Aussie captain after losing the Ashes for the second time in England

England won the Ashes and Australia was pushed down the rankings from the first time since 2003. Australia has been such a dominant team for the past 15 years or so that this loss would have hurt their pride in more than one way. First thing is that Ponting losses both his English Ashes assignments in 2005 and 2009 and second thing is that the Aussies drop to number 4 in the rankings. But like the cricket Australia said all cannot be blamed on the captain. This situation was already predicted by few pundits earlier last year.

Australia had lost to India and South Africa last year and scraped through to victories against SL and WI. Australia is still quite a decent team but no way as intimidating or dominant as they used to be couple of years ago. To be frank both the teams in this series were pretty ordinary. Australia’s demise in the rankings was expected. No team can recover quickly when you lose players of the caliber of Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Gilchrist, Langer etc, in such a short span of time. The biggest loss for Australia has been for sure Shane Warne. Australia since his retirement has struggled to find a decent spinner to replace him.

The Problem for the Aussies was that Stuart McGill who was supposed to walk into the squad announced his retirement immediately after Shane did his. This put a great dampener on the Aussie plans. Since then they have tried Hogg, McGain, Hauritz and Krezja all with limited success. Their batting has been okay and has held its own most of the time in the recently concluded series but the bowling did struggle a bit. Even though the Aussie bowlers finished with better stats at the end of the series they came short at the crucial moments in the series.

The Aussie problems were compounded with the failures from their main batsmen namely Hussey and Hughes. Phil Hughes was immediately replaced by Shane Watson who even though did a good job, never kicked on to a big score. Hussey though was the biggest disappointment for the Aussies. He did score a hundred in the lost cause in the final innings of the series but it came a little bit too late for his team. The other major disappointment was the injury to their premier bowler Lee who could not play in a single game. In spite of him being in good form and fit the selectors resisted playing him in the final test.

They can’t be faulted as Clarke, Johnson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle combination did a great job at Headingly. Not playing Hauritz on a turning Oval pitch shows the complete lack of confidence of the skipper on his premier spinner on this tour. The way Marcus North was turning the ball square only made everyone think what would have happened if Warne was still playing for Australia. Even though the Aussies lost lots of great names in the last 2 years the biggest of them was Shane Warne. I guess the Aussies will do reasonably well with their pace attack in the coming few years but not having a decent spinner might work against them.

Well anyways the top three teams currently are South Africa, Sri Lanka and India (In the same order) followed by Australia and England forming the top 5. The Aussies will be disappointed by their showing in the Ashes and the English will be elated on regaining the urn. There will be lots for the Aussie captain to ponder about in coming days but he does not have too much time as the Champions Trophy begins in less than a month’s time. There are rumors of Ponting being replaced as the captain of Australian team by Clarke but that might not happen.

Anyways congrats to Strauss and England on regaining the Ashes and to the South African team who have reached the top of the test rankings with consistent performances over the past couple of years. The rankings are going to be interesting as I expect musical chairs at the top spot for the next couple of years as no team looks as dominant as the Aussies were couple of years back.

England finished on 229 for the loss of 5 wickets on day 1 of the first test match in Chennai. The fact that this series is going on after the Mumbai attacks is really wonderful as this would help to shift the focus of the people in India. England had a great start to the day when Pieterson called right at the toss and decided to bat first.
Everyone knows that the key to success in India is to bat first and bat big. England did the first part right but let the advantage slip by scoring too slow and losing too many wickets.
The tourists at one stage were 164/1 and were looking good for a big first innings total but to finish on 229/5 was a poor effort. The fact that Paul Collingwood got a rough decision to be incorrectly given out by Billy Bowden did not help their cause either. While rest of the English top order looked scratchy, it looked as though Andrew Strauss was batting on a different pitch. Batting beautifully throughout the day he scored 123 before getting out caught and bowled to Amit Mishra.
Eventhough England batted poorly, nothing can be taken away from the Indian bowling on a flat batting track. As Harbajan rightly pointed out after the days play England could have easily scored 300 at the end of the day. Zaheer’s brilliant spell with the old ball and Harbajan’s twin strikes made sure that India finished up with a slight advantage on day one.
England still have Flintoff and Matt Prior in their ranks and they would be hoping for a total of 350-400. Day2 is going to be vital for England’s chances in this series. India would be hoping to get an early wicket to put pressure on the lower order. Its going to be an interesting day of test cricket.
Strauss scored a magnificent century on day 1

Strauss scored a magnificent century on day 1

England finished on 229 for the loss of 5 wickets on day 1 of the first test match in Chennai. The fact that this series is going on after the Mumbai attacks is really wonderful as this would help to shift the focus of the people in India. England had a great start to the day when Pieterson called right at the toss and decided to bat first. Everyone knows that the key to success in India is to bat first and bat big. England did the first part right but let the advantage slip by scoring too slow and losing too many wickets.

The tourists at one stage were 164/1 and were looking good for a big first innings total but to finish on 229/5 was a poor effort. The fact that Paul Collingwood got a rough decision to be incorrectly given out by Billy Bowden did not help their cause either. While rest of the English top order looked scratchy, it looked as though Andrew Strauss was batting on a different pitch. Batting beautifully throughout the day he scored 123 before getting out caught and bowled to Amit Mishra.

Eventhough England batted poorly, nothing can be taken away from the Indian bowling on a flat batting track. As Harbajan rightly pointed out after the days play England could have easily scored 300 at the end of the day. Zaheer’s brilliant spell with the old ball and Harbajan’s twin strikes made sure that India finished up with a slight advantage on day one.

England still have Flintoff and Matt Prior in their ranks and they would be hoping for a total of 350-400. Day2 is going to be vital for England’s chances in this series. India would be hoping to get an early wicket to put pressure on the lower order.  Its going to be an interesting day of test cricket.


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