India’s home season

India’s long home season ended with a brilliant series win over touring Australian team. India were brilliant throughout the season and it was a dominant home performance. India also reached the top of the rankings table during the season and have taken a nice lead over the second ranked team. The team had lots of positives over the season which spanned 13 tests none more satisfying than the performances of the pacers. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami were excellent and provided timely breakthrough’s throughout the season. They both were pacy and kept their intensity whenever they were called up on by the captain. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also was brilliant in the chances he received and pocketed couple of 5 wicket hauls on wickets which assisted him. Ishant Sharma did not play a lot during the home season but he did give his all whenever he made the X1.

The spin combination of Ashwin and Jadeja were devastating throughout the home season. Ashwin was brilliant in West Indies as well when India toured last year for a 4 match test series. Jadeja though kept improving throughout the season and ended up as the number 1 bowler in the world at the end of it. The left-armer was brilliant with the ball and by the end of the season was contributing with the bat as well. The duo was also received good support from Jayanth Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav in the games they made the X1. The biggest positive for India though was the fact that they played as a team throughout and most of the wins were a thorough team efforts. There were many instances of young players stepping up to the challenge and putting in match/series defining performances. Jayanth Yadav’s maiden test hundred against England, Karun Nair’s triple hundred and Kuldeep Yadav’s 4-fer all were extremely important in the context of the match and the series.

The senior members also stepped up to the plate when required. The captain himself was brilliant throughout the season except for the Australian series. Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Saha, Ashwin, Jadeja, Lokesh Rahul all made crucial contributions throughout the season. The all-round contributions from Jadeja and Ashwin, gave Kohli the opportunity to play 5 bowlers when required. The solidity which Saha discovered during the home season also gave Kohli a great chance to experiment with the X1.

Now that the home season is done and dusted, the team would know that they are in for much tougher challenges in the coming year or so. Overseas tours are not something new for this bunch. Most of the members from this present team were part of India’s long overseas season from 2013-2015. The team already knows what to expect and would hope to be better prepared this time around. Kohli’s first challenge obviously would be to defend India’s Champions Trophy crown which would be right after the IPL. This Indian team has shown that they could compete on any type of wicket and now they would want to put in more consistent performances overseas. Things are really looking exciting for team India under the leadership of Virat Kohli and as Ashwin had mentioned in his interview, hope he can take India to the newer heights in the coming years.

Sachin Tendulkar – 21 years on, the magic still continues

Another Sachin Article I would like to re post.

My Thoughts

For Indian cricket fans that started following the game in the early 90’s it is hard to imagine an Indian team without Sachin Tendulkar. I started watching Sachin play for India when he was 18 year old and boy he was special. He was the sole reason I got hooked on to cricket then, write about cricket now and will follow cricket in the future. For a player that young he had enormous composure and maturity beyond his years. He carried the Indian batting for almost a decade until Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly made their debut in the mid-nineties.

Sachin is still the pillar of Indian middle order at 37. He has been in brilliant form over the last couple of years, broke countless records, and scored loads of runs. The most important thing for his fans is that he is still winning games for India. In spite of…

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Sachin Tendulkar – 21 years on, the magic still continues

Sachin Tendulkar has carried India's hopes for more than 2 decades - A tribute to the master

For Indian cricket fans that started following the game in the early 90’s it is hard to imagine an Indian team without Sachin Tendulkar. I started watching Sachin play for India when he was 18 year old and boy he was special. He was the sole reason I got hooked on to cricket then, write about cricket now and will follow cricket in the future. For a player that young he had enormous composure and maturity beyond his years. He carried the Indian batting for almost a decade until Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly made their debut in the mid-nineties.

Sachin is still the pillar of Indian middle order at 37. He has been in brilliant form over the last couple of years, broke countless records, and scored loads of runs. The most important thing for his fans is that he is still winning games for India. In spite of being arguably the best player of his generation, he has received quite a lot of criticism too. His game and his statistics have often been dissected, the most among his contemporaries. He has had to endure plenty of mindless comparison. Indian fans of the later generations have had different heroes to look up to but fans of my generation had just one.

It was hard following a very ordinary Indian cricket team in the early 90’s as a young boy. Sachin was our only solace and only hope during those days. The reason lots of Indian cricket fans during that time, cared more about Sachin’s achievement rather than Indian teams result can also be attributed to that fact. A Sachin great innings meant that India won or at least lost respectably. If he failed, India failed. There were no saviors in the squad then, our chances rose and died with Sachin’s wicket. The opponent knew that, Indian team knew that and so did the fans who watched the game.

Sachin carried Indian batting in spite of the debuts of Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman in the mid-nineties. It took a while for these players to establish themselves, I would say that Dravid and Ganguly did not arrive until 1999/00 and Laxman until 2001. The Sachin phenomenon is much more than just wins and losses that people care about in the current generation. He carried the hopes of millions of fans during a time when there was not much to cheer about the Indian cricket team. He made tons of runs in difficult conditions against great bowlers without any support. It’s hard to describe the impact he had on the Indian cricket fans during that time.

Now 21 years later, he still continues to enthrall his fans. Still scores tons and tons of runs. Still is one of India’s best players while playing abroad. Sachin is much more than just another cricketing great. He is an inspiration, an icon and a wonderful role model to every Indian youngster. People might have their favorites and might pick various stats to pull the great man down but for me Sachin’s impact on Indian cricket and fans is much beyond the numbers. I am proud to be born in the same era as Sachin. I am extremely happy that he is part of one of the best Indian teams ever as he deserves to be in one. Sachin for sure needs his time under the sun as he has been part of frustrating Indian losses in the past. Sachin is according to me the greatest Indian cricketer and arguably the best player of his generation in the world. I hope that he scales many more peaks before he hangs up his boots.

Please also share your thoughts on the Little Master.

No more "Paper Tigers" abroad

For a long time since I have been watching cricket India has been labeled as poor visitors(Strictly on cricketing terms :)). The famous title given to the Indian team by the media was “Tigers at home and Paper Tigers abroad”. The Indian team in the past have struggled when they toured as they took too long to get acclimatized to the conditions. When they evetually get used to the conditions it would be too late. I remember watching India tour Australia in 1991/92 and later 1999/00, hoping that there will be some resistance from the team but got really dissapointed as we lost badly on both occasions.

In 2000 when Sachin resigned as the captain of the Indian cricket team following bad performaces by both the test and one-day squads. Sourav Ganguly got appointed as the captian of the Indian team in the later part of 2000. It was really a difficult time for all captains in the world due to the match fixing scandal. The game itself needed some faith reinstalled among the fans by the players around the world. India’s first overseas win abroad after 1993 came in Bangladesh when the defeated the home team by 9 wickets. The win in itself was not much to write home about as the team was expected to defeat the latest entrant to test cricket. The Indian team under Sourav did not have a great 2001 losing all the away test series which included a 2-1 loss to Srilanka.

The end of 2001 brought about one of the greatest test series I have ever witnessed on Indian soil when India took on Australia in a three match test series. India emerged victorious by a margin of 2-1. The series will always be remembered for Harbajan’s 32 wickets and also the great partnership between Dravid and Laxman in Eden Gardens where India came back to erase a 272 runs first innings deficit to eventually win the game. That series in India, kind of sparked a turnaround for cricket in India. Australians were the best team in the world and had come to India with a proud record of 15 straight test wins. After that series India had two new stars in Laxman and Harbajan. The Indian team went to Zimbabwe with the hope to win their first test series outside sub-continent for 16 years but lost the second game after the winning the first convincingly to return with a 1-1 draw. Similar fate followed when they toured WestIndies where they again sqandered 1-0 lead to eventually lose the series 2-1.

Even though we were losing all these series the one good thing about them all was that India were winning test matches abroad if not the series. Since I started watching cricket India have never won a test match outside home except for one series in Srilanka in 1993/94. India had good wins in WestIndies and Zimbabwe and had a great world cup in 2003 reaching the finals. I would attribute most of the success prior to worldcup to the Ganguly and Wright combination. The Indian team had a great tour to England where they won the one-day series and drew the test series 1-1. Ganguly was great with the youngsters in the team and he instilled an aggressive intent in team which was lacking when we toured in the past. The Indian team were no more a pushover and also started to believe that they can do more than just play a part. After the world cup India had a good year where they went to Australia and had a great time returning with a draw in the test series. Later in 2004 Ganguly’s team won both test and one-day series in Pakistan.

The Indian team was doing great with emergance of Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni,Zaheer and Pathan. The Indian team had few problems in 2005/06 with the exit of the coah John Wright and the Captain Sourav ganguly almost at the same time. Greg Chappel took over as the coach of the Indian team and Rahul Dravid was named as the captain of the team. The team had a bad 2006(Expect for their first series win abroad since 1986 when the defeated WI 1-0) which carried over in the world cup where they lost in the first round. Since then the team led by Rahul Dravid has been fighting to spark a turnaround with Zaheer returning into the team and the emergence of Sreesanth, Munaf and RP Singh. Greg Chappel resigned after the World Cup debacle but Rahul Dravid still carries on without a coach for the team.

As I write this article the Indian team is in England winning the second test in trent bridge leading the series 1-0 going into the third test in Oval to commence on Aug 9th. The Indian team would want to come home victorious by winning the test series in England which would be their first since 1986. The Indian team has won 16 test matches abroad since 2000, a record only bettered by Australia who are sitting pretty with 26 test wins. The tag of “Paper Tigers” was given by the media in the early and late 90’s and deservedly so as the team struggled to put up even a fighting performance overseas leave alone winning a test match. The tag has been lifted since the new millenieum due to efforts of John Wright, Sourav Ganguly and currently by Rahul Dravid who are making sure that when the seniors in the team retire the Indian team is one of the best in the world. Sachin, Sourav and Rahul derserve to be a part of a good team for their services in the last decade. I hope that this year turns out to be the stepping stone to the same. The Indian team’s first goal would be the series in England and then the home series against Pakistan before the take on the Australians later this year.

I sincerely hope that the Indian team emerges victorious in all their future series and keep adding to the tally of 16. Go India!

Its all in the mind for the great player

I started playing cricket at a very young age but did not have the patience to sit through a entire cricket match on television. The first game I ever watched was a match between India and Pakistan in Sharjah in 1990. India were chasing a total of 250 odd against a strong Pakistani bowling attack and there walked in a young batsman barely 18 years old. He was none other than Sachin Tendulkar. This was my first look at the great player. I did not have too many memories of the game as it was the first game I ever watched. The only thing I remember was that India lost that game and Sachin got out trying to smash Mushtaq Ahmad for the third consecutive time in an over.

Before watching this game I always thought that Sachin Tendulkar was a model who happened to act with Kapil in the Boost ad which was very famous at that time. Sachin played a brand of cricket which was not that prevalent in the early 90’s. He was attacking and also very positive in his strokeplay when he was at the crease batting. Since that Innings in Sharjah I have closely followed Sachin’s career. I guess Sachin will agree with me that the biggest failure so far in his career has been his captaincy. He has captained India on two separate occasions and both the times it was not that great. He has been a great player and great ambassador for Indian cricket over the years.

In recent times his batting has gone downhill, even though he is still one of the major run getters in this period. Sachin’s major problem has been that he has changed his batting style which unfortunately is not his natural one. He has tried to change his batting style according to the team’s needs which is the cause for his inconsistent performance in the last few years. Sachin has always drawn parallel to another contemporary great Brian Charles Lara who retired from International cricket just a month ago after the World Cup. Lara’s success is based on the fact that he never changed his batting style no matter what his role in the team was.

Sachin on the other hand has been confused with his role in the team and has decided to be more circumspect with his batting being one of the senior members in the team. We all know that Sachin can still be the devastating one-day batsman he was couple of years back. The innings he played against Srilanka just before the World Cup further proves my point. For Sachin to get back to one-day team and make a difference he needs to get back to his strength. I remember him as a fearless young boy standing up to the likes of Waqar, Wasim, Donald, Ambrose and few other great bowlers of this era. He is one of the players who took pinch hitting to a different level, where the shots were not mere slogs but pure cricketing strokes. He has been an inspiration to countless number of youngsters who want to follow his path and become like him.

He deserves to have a send off from Indian cricket just like the way Glenn McGrath had after the World Cup. Being the great player that he is, I guess he owes it to himself. As I was writing this article, Sachin scored his 36th test century against Bangladesh in the first match of the series in chittagong. I hope that Sachin continues this form in to the rest of the season ahead against the English team and the Australians later this year. I hope he also makes a comeback into the Indian one-day team and plays the way we all know he can. For a great player like him it does not take too much to get back to his strength give his fans much more to cheer about in the last few years of his wonderful career. I have been an ardent fan of his and will continue to be the same till the end as he was the one who got me interested in this wonderful game and also inspired me to write about the same.


Tough tour for the Indians


The Indians are going on yet another tour and as usual the expectations are high. The Indian team has had a wonderful run in the shorter version of the game but fell way below the expectation in the longer format in the past 6-8 months.

The one-day series which begins tomorrow should be an interesting one. The Indian team has come into this series winning 18 of their last 25 games quite contrary to the Westindian counterparts who have had a miserable run in the shorter version of the game.The Westindian team is going through a rebuilding process with Brian Lara at the helm once again. This series is going to be very important for Lara as a captain and a player.

The Indian team on the other hand will not have too many problems for the one-day series as their team is almost a settled. The only worry for both Dravid and Chappel will be the Test series which will proceed the one-day series. The return of Sachin for the test series will be an added advantage for the tourists. His presense along with Dravid and Laxman will surely help the Indian team in the test series.

All in all the Indian team should fancy their chances of winning both the one-day and the test series convincingly. This series will give the Indians yet another chance to register a series win outside subcontinent after 20 years. Hope the series is a Hard fought one and let the best team win.