My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Test Series

Harbhajan Celebrates after a wicket

Harbhajan Celebrates after a wicket

Sehwag’s double hundred and Harbhajan’s late 4 wicket burst kept India in the hunt in the second test at Galle. Srilanka finished on 215/5 still 114 runs behind India’s first innings total of 329. Earlier today Indian were bowled out for 329 after resuming on 214/4 on the second day. Sehwag scored a brilliant double hundred (His fifth) to guide India to a competetive total as the rest of the batting struggled. Only Laxman and Ghambir were able to give some sort of support to Sehwag’s lone hand for the visitors.

When Srilanka started their second innings, they lost Vandort early caught by Rahul Dravid of the bowling on Zaheer in the first over but Sangakkara and Warnapura batted with assurance to help their team to 137/1. The hosts seemed to be cruising with none of the Indian bowlers able to make any impact. After Harbhajan picked up Warnapura for 66 he was completely a different bowler and kind of ran through the middle order leaving them on 192/5 when Dilshan got out. Captain Jayawardane along with the other Jayawardane in the team formed a small unbroken partnership of 23 to lead Srilanka to 215/5 at the end of day2.

India would still be wary of the Srilankan captain as he can turn the game in the home team’s favour. Indians would also be worried with the bowling for of their captain as he was unable to make any impact in this series yet. Indians would be hoping to dismiss Srilanka within 300 and would hope to get a slight advantage in the first innings. The pitch will for sure get more difficult to bat on in the 3rd and fourth innings and both the team would want to have as much lead as possible.

Srilankan Jubilant after defeating India at SSC

Srilankan Jubilant after defeating India at SSC

Murali and Mendis combination bowled the Indian team out inside two days on a pitch where the home team had piled up 600 runs for the loss of just 6 wickets. The Indians showed no application or patience on a pitch which was not that threatening. Murali and Mendis accounted for 19 of the 20 Indian wickets to fall where as the Indian spinners just managed 2 between them. I would agree to Manjrekar’s comments that Indians are no longer masters of spin which they used to be few years ago.

Mendis had a perfect debut as he captured 8 wickets in the match and Srilanka won by an innings and 239 runs. He was largely helped by the excellent perfromance by the great Murali, who got the ball rolling for the lankans in the first innings. The Indians put themselves under pressure as none of the top 5 converted the starts they got. Sehwag played a reckless hook shot to get himself caught at the square leg boundary to gift his wicket to the home team. It looked like the Indians were still in the Twenty20 mood while at the crease.

VVS laxman tried to save his team from further blushes by getting the score over 200 with the help of the tail in their first innings. Anil kumble will be very dissapointed with this performance as this has become some sort of a habit for the Indian team. The consistancy is something which the team lacks and both the captain and coach would be aware of the same. During the recent test series against the South Africans after matching blow for blow in the first test the team crumbled to a heavy defeat in the second test.

This will really be a hard loss to bounce back from. Srilanka are a very hard team to defeat at home and now with Murali with his tail up the Indians need to do some serious planning to tackle him. The Indians should take heart from the way they bounced back in Australia after a similar performance in Melbourne. Anil Kumble though would realise that things can only get better from here. The coach and captain should work with the players to come up with a plan to deal with the Srilankan spin twins.

Even though all the focus is on Murali and Mendis the Indian think tank should not forget Vaas who might have few surprises up his sleeve for the second test. All in all this is the moment of realization for Kumble’s men and we will know how much this defeat has hurt the team when they take the field at Galle.

Mahela Acknowledges the crowd after getting to his hundred

Mahela Acknowledges the crowd after getting to his hundred

Three hundreds from Srilankan top order put them in comand on the second day of the first test against India. Warnapura, Jayawardane and Samaraweera scored hundreds for the host as the home team piled on 337 runs on the second day. The Indian bowlers were just able to take two wickets on the day when the batsmen dominated. The Srilankan skipper would be pleased with the position his team is in right now.

Srilanka finished on a healthy 422/4 at the end of second day with Tilan Samaraweera still at the crease on 111. The Srilankan team would want to press on the advantage and score around 600 runs before asking India to bat. A score of 600 will give the Srilankan captain to attack the Indians with Murali and Mendis with enough men around the bat. The hosts at the start of the test would have exactly hoped for this senario after first innings with two good spinners in the team

The Indians though would be dissapointed with their efforts on the field as only Ishant and Harbajan managed to get a wicket each. The Indians would be hoping that the pitch stays good for batting in the coming days as they are looking at a huge Srilankan first innings total. India would need all their experiance to counter this situation. The pace at which the lankan batsmen scored their runs also gives them enough time to bowl the Indians out twice.

The second day performance of the home team has made sure that there are only two results possible in this test match. It can either be a Srilankan win or a draw. The Indians would surely be hoping for the latter. yesterday I said that the key to Indian success was removing Mahela early which they were unable to do and the Srilankan captain scored yet another century on his favorite ground to guide his team to a position of strength.

Captain will be hoping for a series win

Captain will be hoping for a series win

Indians have already had a pretty hectic 7 months and things are not going to get any better for Kumble’s team. The good thing for India is that the core of the Indian test team has been well rested and will be fresh. The Indian team have played two very tough test series this year and the one against Srilanka is not going to be any different. India has everything to play for and Sachin’s world record will add more flavour to the series.

The Mendis factor also gives this series a definite edge. Even though the seniors have denied that they are worried about the sensational spinner from the island, I am sure that there will be plans discussed to counter him in the test series. The Srilankans though would be confident as they have the definite home advantage. They have a great bowling lineup with Mendis and Murali in the spin department and Vaas leading the pace attack.

Srilanka has not lost to India in a test series at home since the 1993 series. The last time India toured Srilanka they lost 2-1 to the host. The Indian bowling though would be bolstered by the return of Zaheer Khan who had a good warm up game ahead of the series. The rest of the bowling also looks pretty good with Ishant, Munaf, Anil and Harbajan with Ojha completing the lineup. The Indian batting though looks very solid on papers with the seniors returning to the squad.

The Indian batting would again be relying heavily on the middle order comprising of the famous quartet to help them put up decent scores. The opening combination of Sehwag and Ghambir will be expected to carry their one day success to the test arena.

All in all the series looks really interesting as both the teams are evenly matched with lots of experiance on both sides. The series will be watched closely for couple of reasons,

1. To see wthether Sachin breaks the world record

2. To see how the Indians counter Murali-Mendis combination.

We just have to wait and see what happens in couple of days. I am just hoping that the series lives up to the hype. I am going for India winning 2-1.

Dhoni takes the test series off

Dhoni takes the test series off

Dhoni is one of the few cricketers in the Indian team to feature regularly in all 3 formats of the game. He has been playing non-stop cricket over the last 12 months and was sure in need of a break, a sentiment shared even by the coach of the Indian team. In the last 18 months Dhoni has been involved in 14 test matches, 56 ODI’s, 8 Twenty20 International games and 16 IPL games. Dhoni recently had mentioned during the Asia cup that back to back matches are causing player fatigue.

Even though Dhoni found support in Anil Kumble and Gary Kirsten, the BCCI was not that happy with his comments. Over the last few years players from different countries have complained about player burnout and India is the country who play most cricket every year. Australia’s famous rotation policy evolved due to this very reason.

Dhoni has now decided to pull out of the Srilankan test series a decision which is being scrutinized in the media over the past few days. Former players are providing their opinions, the seniors in the team are being approached for comments on this subject. Personally I feel that the comments by Sourav Ganguly on this subject was unnecessary. Seriously I dont see a reason for such a reaction, its Dhoni’s decision to take a break and everyone knows that he needed one. The one-day captain might have thought that taking a break from test matches where he is more dispensable might be the appropriate thing to do.

The media is after this decision because of the fact that Dhoni has decided to take the test series off instead of the one-day series which is to follow. They are also complaining that IPL is one of the major reasons for the player burnout and fatigue. Frankly for me I would rather see Dhoni take a break in tests rather than in ODI’s and Twenty20 where his presence is more important. I am sure that Dhoni has put enough thought into this decision and needs to be left alone. Everyone agrees that he needs a break and as far as I am concerned Dhoni’s decision is spot on.

India is playing a lots of one day matches in the coming 12 months and would require a fit and rested Dhoni leading them. Parthiv and Karthik are good test players and I am sure that team would not be missing Dhoni’s services that much in the test series. Dhoni has made a bold statement by skipping this series knowing the after effects of his decision. Now we have to wait and see if this precedence set by the skipper is followed by rest of the members in the future.

Prgyan Ojha and Rohit Sharma

Prgyan Ojha and Rohit Sharma

The Indian team for the upcoming Srilankan tour was selected couple of days ago and predictably the seniors were back in the side. Gautham Gambhir made it back to the test team due to his great showing in the ODI’s and Twenty20 and Pragyan Ojha was also drafted in the 16. Gambhir’s inclusion in the side was expected as he has been our most consistant player over the last 8 months or so and deserved a chance at the top of the order in tests. Rohit Sharma also made it to the test squad owing to his great performances in the one dayers but I doubt that he will make it to the final X1.

The notable absentees in the test squad were Yuraj Singh and Irfan Pathan and Harbajan Singh made it back into the team after serving a ban for slapping Sreesanth in the IPL. Quite frankly I am not that surprised or puzzled on the omission of Yuvraj as he was given a long run in the middle order after his hundred against pakistan. Yuvraj has always produced that one special innings time to time but lacks the consistancy at the test level. Irfan’s was more of a shock as he had performed creditably in the test series in Australia bagging man of the match award in the perth test match.

But overall the selectors have done a great job. The batting looks solid and the bowling attack seems decent. India possess a great top six and I would go to an extent of calling them the best in the world when it comes of. Sehwag and Gambhir will open in the first test for sure, followed by Dravid, Sachin, Ganguly and Laxman. Parthiv or Karthik will occupy the number 7 spot. The advantage for the Indians with Karthik and Parthiv is that they can also open the batting if we decide to go with 5 bowlers. Pathan’s absence might leave a long tail for India but I guess thats the risk we have to take in the absence of a genuine allrounder in the squad.

The bowling will depend on the pitch conditions and I would prefer Ojha in the place of Harbajan if we go with two spinners. Ojha was very impressive in the Asia cup as he was able to get wickets in the middle overs, a department India struggle a lot in ODI. India will go with Zaheer and Ishant if playing only two pace bowlers. Overall the test series will be a great watch as everyone will be eager to see how the seniors handle mendis after his stupendous showing in the Asia Cup. Dhoni openly admitted in the media that the Indian batsmen were clueless against the genial spinner from Srilanka after the Asia Cup final.

Dhoni will not be playing in this series giving an opportunity to either Karthik or Parthiv to showcase their talent. All in all an interesting battle is on the cards when the two team meet on the 23rd of July at the SSC.

Indian team practice at Green Park

The dismal performance by the Indians against the visiting South Africans clearly proves that the players were not ready for this battle. Unfortunately over the past few weeks IPL has been given more media coverage than the current test series. The Indian players talking about their plans about a tournament which has not yet started and which isnt an International fixture either shows their lack of interest in this ongoing test series. The South Africans on the other hand are taking this more seriously and are deservedly ahead in this series dominating both the games played till now.

BCCI’s excuse for IPL is that it will promote cricket, but where? I dont think Twenty20 tournament atleast in India needs any promotion. How many players from Kenya and Bangladesh are part of IPL?So what and where are we promoting cricket?BCCI are just trying make the most of the popularity gained by the latest version of the game in India after the WC win. BCCI has no interest to promote anything by having this tournament. BCCI as a board will become richer and the players who signed up will make money. Other than the two parties mentioned no one is gaining because of this tournament. Players have already started suggesting that this should be part of ICC’s annual schedule which is hilarious as this is not an International tournament.

This is an Indian domestic league which has international players signed up for, similar to county cricket in England. ECB isnt asking ICC to include their Twenty20 league in the International calender. If BCCI is going to have this tournament in the middle nowhere without taking the International calender into consideration then they better be prepared to miss some key players on International duties. This is getting completely out of control. When BCCI started this concept I was totally for it as the concept was completely different for cricket but now I am not able to stand it anymore.

The English players who said that they dont want to be a part of the league want their own domestic tournament adjusted to accomodate IPL. This is just getting ridiculous. Why would ECB reshedule their domestic tournament to accomodate another country’s domestic tournament? Its the players who should decide where they want to play. Which league they want to represent, no board is going to reschedule anything to accomodate a 44 day tournament. The problem is that these ameturish comments have come from players like Kevin Pieterson and Ricky Ponting.

BCCI has made sure that the players themselves are looking forward to IPL more than their International fixtures. Before the Pakistan tour was called off, there were few Australian who were dissapointed that they wouldnt be able to make it to the first edition of this league. The Indians already seem to be more interested in promoting their franchise rather than putting extra hours in practice for an International series. The series against the South Africans was very important for India as this was a follow up to a successful tour down under. A good performance by the home team would have made sure that they would be the undisputed number 2 in test cricket.

The performance in Ahmedabad Shows that we dont deserve that tag. The youngsters should realise that they can score plenty of runs or claim plenty of wickets in IPL but as Kallis rightly put it, only your performance in test cricket will be remembered. There have been lots of players who have great record in domestic cricket but the viewers will only remember the Laras, the Tendulkars or the Kumbles of cricket. Playing for the country gives a player the ultimate satisfaction and that should be the first priority for any cricketer. BCCI might make lots of money and probably the team owners will do too but they have to be careful that they dont bring a divide among the cricket fraternity. Again I stand by my statement that BCCI isnt promoting anything through IPL but just are reiterating the fact that they are the big boss of cricket.

After all the recent hype and hapoola surrounding the IPL and the Australian tour, focus is back on cricket with the India-South Africa series. In the recent times the youngsters in the Indian team have indulged in too much of trash talk after the series down under. India did well there and the series was controversial, but it should have ended once they landed on the Indian soil. There has been too much of trash talk going on in the media by few Indian players. India has a chance of becoming the number 1 team in the world but we have a long way to go. The series in Australia was just a step closer to the goal and was not the destination. We play Australia, SA, Srilanka and England this year and its going to be a tough season. Australia got the tag of world beaters with consistant performances over a decade and not by winning couple of titles.

South Africa on the other had have remained calm and composed. They havent gone overboard with their comments in the media even though there was one inappropriate one by their cricket chief. SA know that the best way to win a series is on the cricket field and not in papers. India should be happy that the test team is different from the ODI team and the seniors have taken a measured approach when dealing with the media. They all expressed their happiness over the team’s success down under but also spread the word of caution regarding any complacency.

The youngsters should realise that they need not retaliate to any comment made on them in the media. The great example to that was Ishant Sharma replying to John Buchanan’s comment advising him to put on some muscles. There was not need for the same as the former Australian coach was just expressing his opinion while praising his performance down under. Dhoni’s comments on the seniors on the wake of a test series was uncalled for as he was playing with all of them in the same. Even though everyone seems to be backing his comments, the timing of the same is the one causing concern.

Amidst all the media frenzy concerning the IPL and the player auction, the Indian team prepares for their second stern test in the last few months. The team returned with their pride intact after the first one but this will be equally important hurdle for them to cross. Anil Kumble will know that and thankfully he has the experiance of himself, Sachin, Sourav, Laxman and Dravid with him.

I hope that this series lives up to its expectation. India would want to win this series to cap off a great 4 months of cricket.

Pakistan are all set to take the test series after England finished on 121/2 on the 4th day with Ian Bell on 60 and Collingwood on 37 unbeaten at the crease when bad light stopped play.The English team arrived in Pakistan with the hopes of continuing their Ashes form but were outplayed by a rejenuated Pakistani team.

The Pakistanis were hugely benefitted by the return of Shoaib to full fitness and bowling well.Shoaib dismissed Markus Trescothick for a duck and the England captain for 13 after pakistan had piled on 636/8 with the help of a double hundred from Yousuf Khan(Previously known as Yousuf Youhana) and a hundred from Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal.Inzimam chipped in with a 97,coming back after being retired hurt.

England have lost this series on the back of their Ashes triumph defeating the world number 1 team Australia.They would be clearly dissapointed as they were totally outplayed by the pakistani team. The series showed the complete lack of preparation from the English team to play in subcontinent conditions.Now the English team can just hope that this experiance would help them to put a better show against the Indians next year.

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