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Posts Tagged ‘yuvraj

Del Potro stunned Roger Federer to win the US Open

Del Potro stunned Roger Federer to win the US Open

Since there have been quite a few happenings in the sports world in the past week, I thought I can club all of those into one post.

Tennis – Del Porto stuns Federer, Leander does it again in doubles

The last grand slam of the year concluded yesterday when Juan Martin Del Potro stunned one and all by winning the championship. Del Potro made it to the finals after a strong win against Nadal in the semi-final but was not given too much of a chance against the world #1 Federer. The match began in the familiar fashion as Fed won the first set 6-3. But Del Potro was not the one to give up. The second set went into a tie break which the Argentinean took 7-5 to win the second set 7-6.

The third set went to Fed again with a break 6-4 and the fourth to Del Potro 7-6 (7-4) again in a tie break. This was a classic game and Del Potro for sure did not make it easy for the champion. Federer was chasing history again here at the US Open as he was trying to win his 6th consecutive title. The final set though was a bit of an anti-climax as Del Potro won it 6-2 to claim the title. This was his first grand slam victory and what a win it was beating both Federer and Nadal in consecutive games. For Federer though this was a great year, reaching four finals and winning two and losing two classic games in Australian and US. Congrats to Del Potro on winning his maiden title and hope he builds up on his win.

Kim Clijsters claimed the Women's crown on her comeback

Kim Clijsters claimed the Women's crown on her comeback

In the women’s section there was a surprise winner too. Kim Clijsters returning after two year hiatus from the game played brilliantly to win the US Open by beating C. Wozniacki who played her first finals. Clijsters who was a wild card in this year’s championship won the title after beating Serena Williams in the controversial semi-final game on Saturday. Congrats to Kim Clijsters on a brilliant return and also winning the title against all odds.

Leander and Doulghy won the Men's doubles title

Leander and Doulghy won the Men's doubles title

For India though this year’s open began very promisingly with Somdev and Sania reaching second round in singles. Even though they lost in the second round, it was a good performance from both of them in singles. Leander and Mahesh again carried the Indian hopes for a grand slam title and they did not disappoint. Leander reached the finals of both Mixed and Men’s doubles and Mahesh reached the Men’s doubles finals. Leander lost the mixed finals but played brilliantly with Dloughy to win the Men’s doubles finals beating the combination of Mahesh and Knowles. It was a fantastic game which went to the third set before Paes/Dloughy combination won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to claim the title.

This was the second title of the year for the combination as they had won the French earlier this year. Yuki Bhambri the world number 1 junior player from India though suffered an upset losing in the quarters of the junior championship. He is just 17 and I hope that he becomes a good player for India in the future.

Cricket – India win the Compaq cup, England struggling in the ODI series

Victorious Indian team with the Compaq Cup

Victorious Indian team with the Compaq Cup

India finally won a title in SL after 12 years and this was a great performance from Dhoni’s men. India stuttered their way to the title as drop catches and misfields marked their efforts in the field. India was thrashed by SL in the previous game on the same ground so a quick turnaround was needed for the visitors. Dhoni started on the right note when he called right at the toss. India batted first with Dravid and Sachin opening the innings. Dinesh Karthik was replaced by Virat Kohli for this all important finals.

Sachin and Dravid laid the foundation with a solid 95 run partnership with Sachin looking in sublime touch. Sachin later shared important partnerships with Dhoni (56) and Yuvraj (56*) on his way to yet another brilliant hundred. When he departed after scoring 138 (133) India were already on 276. With some late hitting from Yuvraj India posted an imposing 319/5 in their 50 overs.

SL started their innings with their typical flourish with Jayasuriya and Dilshan helped by some mediocre bowling by Indian pacers. The fielding also was at an all time low as the Indians constantly misfielded and it became worse when Kohli dropped Jayasuriya of the bowling of RP Singh. Even though with the introduction of the spinners India pulled things back with 3 quick wickets, the fielding did not improve much. Raina and Yuvraj bowled brilliantly in the middle overs to keep the host batsmen in check picking up a wicket each for their efforts.

The pacers though were very inconsistent, leaking runs at will to keep the SL batsmen in the hunt. It was hard to believe that the Indian batsmen folded for 168 on the same ground just a day back. But eventually SL batsmen ran out of steam when Bajji returned for his final spell and lost the game by 46 runs. Overall it was a good performance by the team but could have been better with some tight fielding. This win should give them confidence for the upcoming champions trophy in SA. Hope they rectify their mistakes and do well in the CT. Congrats to Dhoni and his men on yet another series win.

England on the other hand have been struggling against a below par Aussie line up. After winning the Ashes 2-1, they are down 4-0 against the Aussies in the ODI series. Andrew Strauss would like to restore some pride by winning couple of games at least but in the current scenario it looks like a 7-0 whitewash to the Aussies which has never been achieved before.

After 2 games both teams are tied with a win each and WI has looked better than the jaded Indian team. The Indian batting except for Dhoni and Yuvraj has struggled since the World T20. The pathetic show by the Indian top order on the World T20 seems to be continuing in the series against the WI too. If not for the brilliance of Yuvraj in the first game the Indians would have been 2-0 by now.

As Dhoni rightly pointed out after the loss in the second ODI, the Indian youngsters need to play with more responsibility. They cannot walk in to bat with the mindset of swinging their willows around. It does not work that way all the time. The Indian youngsters have also been badly scarred by what happened in T20 with the bouncer barrage by the WI and the English team. It seems like they have completely lost their plot.

I guess along with the coach they have to sit and work out a plan to counter the WI tactics of bouncing the Indian youngsters. As far as the team selection goes for the final two ODI’s, Jadeja has to definitely go and make way for either Badrinath or Vijay in the X1. Jadeja has struggled and cannot score a run if his life depended on it at the moment. I guess bringing in Vijay or Badri will give more solidity to the top order. Dhoni should be worried about the bowling as well. I know that 188 was not a great target to defend on that pitch but the bowling was not that great. Ishant has looked bad for a while now and Zaheer is still recovering from injury and was not that effective in the T20 WC.

I guess the argument that the players were tired doesn’t apply to RP Singh and Nehra who haven’t played much international cricket over the last one year. Yes they both played in the IPL but still that was just a month of cricket. Indian bowling has been toothless against the WI and the fielding shoddy. Lots of mistakes committed on the field and lots of extras by the pacers and the spinners alike. I don’t understand why Bajji and Pathan bowl so many wides and most of the times its 5 wides.

There were lots of theories as to why we lost so badly in the World T20 but mine is that the bowling wasn’t that disciplined as they should have been. If you see in the crucial game against England Bajji bowled 2 wides which went for fours in the last 2 overs which were probably the only big scoring deliveries in the last few overs. The English batsmen were struggling to score runs of Bajji but for those two wides. India eventually lost by 3 runs and those were 10 runs proved costly.

Anyways with just two games to go and the series on the line, Dhoni has some harsh decisions to take and choose the right combination from the available 16. Hopefully India manage to win the series and come back at least with their pride intact.

I have been watching cricket for 20 years. I have been following Indian cricket since that time and looking at the progress they have made its heartening. I am not going to claim that India is the best side in the world but I will for sure say that they are one of the most improved sides.

Watching Indian team during the nineties was one of the most frustrating experiances especially when they toured abroad. Indian team was very good at home beating all top sides consistantly under Azhar and then Sachin but when they toured abroad they were clueless.

During the 90’s and till Sourav took over the mantle India toured Australia twice, England twice, WI once, New Zealand twice, SA twice, Zim twice and never won a single test. I almost resigned to the fact that India cannot. I will mostly look for some good performances from induvidual players like Sachin scoring a hundred or Kumble taking a fifer something like that and be happy with that.

It was dissapointing as we were constantly pasted by Australia and SA and the Indians had no answers. The tag of poor travellers was rightly associated with the team. Ganguly took over the reigns in 2000 after the match fixing row and boy did India improve after that.

I am by no means suggesting that we are blasting teams out since then but we are a fighting unit since Ganguly took over. We have won a series in England and WI. Drawn a series in Australia, Won a test in SA, won in Perth, Won a series in Pakistan and so many others such wins. In the last 8 years are so except for few series here and there we have at least managed to win one test match everywhere we have played.

I feel that we richly deserve the No 3 tag which we currently hold. The team under Dhoni has merely carried the legacy that Sourav has left behind. I would attribute most of our current success to Sourav and Wright combination in the way they nurtured youngsters like Sehwag, Harbajan and Yuvraj who are important cogs in present Indian wheel.

Dhoni has been the perfect leader India has been looking for and even though Kumble and Dravid did their best to keep the team going Dhoni has actually moved it forward a notch. Its too early to praise Dhoni and call him great but what he has done in the last year or so cant be cast aside as fluke. Its the consistancy which has got India the No 3 ranking.

As an Indian supporter who has been following the team for 20 years now its been a wonderful journey. From a team who just made up the numbers while travelling abroad to the team who are expected to win abroad regularly. The Indian captain and coach realise that they arent the No 1 side yet and have to consistantly perform to reach the pinacle which is a good sign.

I thought the team under Sourav called themselves world beaters too soon. I am also happy for Sachin who went on numerous tours abroad without ever winning anything in the 90’s most often rescuing his team from absolute pastings. Standing alone amidst chaos. Also for the numerous other Indian greats in the Nineties like Azhar, Jadeja, Srinath etc who would be really proud of what this current Indian team has achieved.

It was very thoughtful of Dhoni to dedicate the win in New Zealand to the seniors. Contrary to what the media portrayed of Dhoni, he is very respectful of the seniors which was very much evident when he called Anil to collect the trophy when we won the series against the Aussies and also requested Ganguly to captain in the dying moments of his final test match. This humility and respect will go a long way in Dhoni having a successful career as a player and captain.

This is an article of a happy Indian fan who knows that India have improved leaps and bounds from the frustrating 90’s. I am not claiming my team to be the best in the world right now as Australia and SA deserve those positions through the consistancy they have displayed over the years but we are the most improved in world cricket by a distance.

I am really proud of this team. They might not win everything but they will for sure compete.

Harbajan claims 6-63 as India crush New Zealand to win the first test by 10 wickets

Harbajan claims 6-63 as India crush New Zealand to win the first test by 10 wickets

India hammers New Zealand to win their first test on Kiwiland after 33 years. It was a clinical performance from this Indian team as they thrashed the hosts by 10 wickets. Gautam Ghambir hit the winning runs as India reached the target of 39 runs in just 5.2 overs. Daniel Vettori and the New Zealand team will be aware that they have been beaten by the better team.

The pitch was really flat and New Zealand began the fourth day on 75/3 with Ross Taylor and Flynn at the crease. The Indian bowlers persisted hard and kept the balls in the right areas to induce false strokes from the Kiwi batsmen. Munaf removed Taylor for 4 to leave New Zealand 4 down and then it was Bajji show all the way. Harbajan demolished the Kiwi middle and lower order to leave them 199/8 with Brendon Mccullum stranded at one end with Ian O’Brien to join him.

Harbajan took his first fifer against the Kiwis and his first here in New Zealand. It was a great performance from Bajji considering that the pitch wasn’t suitable to spin bowling. The wicket was pretty flat and it was the variations which Harbajan had which caused the home batsmen to make mistakes. There was a frustrating partnership between Mccullum and O’Brien which took the Kiwis to 275 but once it was broken their innings folded up pretty quickly on 279. Mccullum was the last man out for 84 caught by Laxman of Yuvraj to leave the Indians to get 39 runs to win the game.

This was a great win by the Indians considering the pre-tour reports where it was said that the Indians would struggle in New Zealand. It seems like India will win this series if they play to their potential. Sachin Tendulkar received the man of the match award for his sublime 160 in the first innings which helped India to gain a 240 run lead over the Kiwis. It was a total team effort and rightly acknowledged by the skipper in the post match interview.

This is yet another feather in the cap for Dhoni after the T20 world cup and CB series in Australia. It will be better if India manage to win the test series. The teams meet again in a few days in Napier for the second test match and I would expect India to play an unchanged team. The Kiwis will be hoping to put up a better performance next time around as they would not want to lose this series.

Three half centuries from the top order gave India a slender advantage in the first test match against New Zealand in Hamilton. The Indians began the day 250 runs behind the Kiwi total and soon lost Sehwag to a brilliant fielding from Franklin. Sehwag and Ghambir had a slight misunderstanding which left the former way short of his crease. Rahul Dravid joined Ghambir in the middle with the score on 37/1 and forged a good partnership to take India to 108/1 at lunch.

After lunch the Dravid-Ghambir combination took India to 142 when Gautam Ghambir was caught behind of Martin for 72. It was a good innings from Ghambir but he played one shot too many. Sachin Tendulkar joined Dravid with the score on 142/2 and took India to 177 when Dravid was bowled of a beauty from Ian O’ Brian for 66 leaving the visitors 177/3. Laxman and Sachin took India to tea.

After tea India lost Laxman for 30 with the score on 238. Laxman was scratchy throughout his knock of 30 and was dropped once of a difficult chance in the boundary by Ian O’ Brian. Yuvraj and Sachin took India to stumps with the visitors just 1 run behind the New Zealand total. Sachin accelerated at the end of the day when the new ball was taken to remain 70 not out with his 42nd hundred in sight. He is currently joined by Yuvraj who is unbeaten on 8 and would like to push the lead beyond hundred tomorrow.

The first session again will be really important and the Indians would like to keeps wickets in hand. The pitch has something for the seam bowlers and was constantly encouraging them throughout the day. Daniel Vettori will be happy with the bowler’s performance as they were able to keep the Indians to just 249 runs for the day. The best bowler for the hosts was Chris Martin who finished with 2 wickets and Ian O’ Brian who took the wicket of a set Rahul Dravid. Kyle Mills was disappointing and Vettori was not effective. Ryder bowled a few overs but was not that threatening.

Day 3 will determine which team has the upper hand as the game is slightly in India’s favor. Couple of wickets in the first session will give the hosts a chance to get back into the game. It will be interesting to see the approach of the Indians tomorrow as they were really subdued on day 2.

The first test begins tonight and the Indians will have some selection headaches. Dhoni and his team have had a fantastic one year in ODI’s but the same cannot be said in the traditional format of the game. Indian performance in tests last year has been patchy. The year 2008 began with India losing to Australia in the controversial Sydney game and followed that up with a fantastic win in Perth. The next series India played was against the South Africans at home which they drew 1-1.

The team under Kumble was very inconsistent in that series too. They had the highs like in Perth and lows such as the 3 day defeat in Ahmadabad. The Srilankan series also saw the Indians performing inconsistently and lose 2-1 to the home side. The year ended on a high note with the wins against the Australians (2-0) and against the English (1-0) under Dhoni’s captaincy.

Even though the year ended well, the performance of the team in test cricket was rather inconsistent overall last year. Now India plays New Zealand at the start of 2009 after winning the one day series convincingly. This is an important and most significant series for the Indian team in a long time. The scars of the 2003 series still fresh in the minds of the players and the fans needs to be erased. The team’s quest to become No 1 in all forms of the game can be majorly hurt if they lose here in New Zealand.

New Zealand though will be happy to be underdogs and let Dhoni face all the pressure. Daniel Vettori will be thinking that no one will blame them if they lose to the No 3 side in the world and a win will give them a huge push up in the rankings. Dhoni will know that this series very important for his team and his captaincy.

This Indian team though will be confident and would want to turn in some consistent performances in this series. Dhoni will know that if they play up to their potential then they should win this comfortably. The Indians though have few selection headaches before the start of the play tonight. The first one will be that of a batsman. It will be between Yuvraj and Vijay.

Yuvraj though will be the first choice but looking at his performance on the only pitch which aided seam movement is not that encouraging. M Vijay though made a solid 90 odd for the NZ state side in a domestic game. So the choice will be interesting but I feel that Yuvraj will be still selected for the first game. The second selection will also be an interesting one between Kulkarni and Balaji. Munaf probably will not be in the running for the third seamer spot after his inconsistent performance in the ODI’s.

Kulkarni had a good spell in the domestic game in NZ where he picked up 3 wickets and Balaji also turned in decent performance in the game he played. So this is also going to be an interesting selection for the team management. I am thinking they might go with Balaji for the first game or probably even go with Munaf to see how he goes. We have to wait till the morning of the play to find out the same.

All in all rain permitting its going to be an interesting contest. I hope that we get a full game without any rain interruptions and may the best team win. I am just fed up of seeing high scoring draws, so hopefully this is not one of them.

What a performance from the little master, 163 from 133 balls was a phenomenal effort. Considering that people were gunning for his throat in the One day format, this was a special performance. Sachin answered his critics through his willow rather than on papers. That’s something which separates this great player from the others. His humility and his ability to keep his feet firmly on the ground have made him the great player that he is.

 

Coming back to the game itself, it was a batting paradise at christchurch and it seemed at the end that no score was safe. India would be really happy that in the end they got enough to win the game. In the absence of Daniel Vettori, Mccullum won the toss and invited India to bat, a decision which he would have regretted. India started with Sehwag and Tendulkar. Sehwag played an atrocious stroke to get bowled for 3 which brought in Gautam Ghambir to join Sachin in the middle.

 

Sachin Tendulkar though launched a brilliant counterattack after Sehwag’s exit which kept the Kiwis on the back foot. When things were going smoothly for the visitors Ghambir decided to run the ball to third man only to guide it into the hands of Andrew Mcglashan to leave India 2 down. Yuvraj then walked in to join the little master and what followed in the next 10-15 overs was an absolute carnage and something which the Kiwis did not have answer to.

 

The ground was too small for Yuvraj as he dealt mostly in boundaries during his knock of 87. Sachin and Yuvraj just hammered the New Zealand bowlers to submission. When Yuvraj was finally out for 87 India were already past 200. It was an ideal platform for Dhoni and the rest of the batting order. Dhoni had a lucky reprieve when Andrew Mcglashan missed an easy stumping of the bowling of Patel. Dhoni and Sachin continued the hitting and by the time Sachin retired due to injury for 163 India were already past 330 with 5 overs to go.

 

Suresh Raina then joined the Indian captain in the middle and helped India to reach 392/4 in 50 overs. This was the highest ever ODI score in NZ and the second highest for India.

 

The Indian bowlers though did not find the short boundaries to their liking. The New Zealand opening combination of Jesse Ryder and Brendon Mccullum got off to a flier scoring at almost 8 runs/over. The fielders also did not help India’s cause as they grassed two simple chances offered by both the openers. The first wicket fell at last with the New Zealand score on 165 when Brendon Mccullum was run out by Raina/Dhoni combination.

 

New Zealand though lost their way after that wicket in spite of Ryder’s brilliant hundred to lose 6 wickets for 50 odd runs. India though were unable to get rid of a tail who lead by Kyle Mills launched a brilliant fight back which put enormous pressure on the Indians. The Indian bowlers did not handle the situation well and Munaf was terribly disappointing. Dhoni looked visibly upset at the way Munaf was going about his bowling. The umpire finally ended Munaf’s misery when he took him off for bowling two over the waist deliveries in the same over.

 

India finally bowled the hosts out for 334, 58 runs short of the target. Even though the final score line suggests a comfortable win for India, Dhoni will not be happy with the way his team bowled and fielded. The game could have been much shorter if the Indians had hung on to the catches offered by the openers earlier in the innings. India would like to iron out the flaws before the next game and would hope to wrap up the series 3-0.

Sachin on his way to 61 in the second ODI at the westpac stadium

Sachin on his way to 61 in the second ODI at the westpac stadium

India were 188/4 in 28.4 overs when the rain stopped play for the final time in the second one day international in Wellington. There were three stoppages of play within the 28.4 overs bowled by the Kiwis. The game began as a 50 overs contest, reduced to 44 after the first break and then to 34 after the second before being called off.

 

The Indians were really well placed to set a difficult target to the Kiwis. The visitors were scoring at 6.55 runs/over when the rain halted the play with the captain Dhoni and Raina at the crease. The Indians once again started briskly with Sehwag and Sachin putting on 76 for the first wicket. Sehwag was out after making a whirlwind 52. Gautam Ghambir Joined Sachin at the crease.

 

Once Sehwag was out Sachin cut loose and India were motoring along at 7 runs/over when the rain halted the play for the first time. The score during the first interruption was 130/1 in 19 overs. The hosts pulled things back after the resumption with the wickets of Sachin for 61, Ghambir for 20 and yuvraj for 0. But the problem for the Kiwis was that the Indians were still scoring way over 6 runs/over.

 

It seems to be the strategy of the Indian think tank that they keep the run rate up all the time and one of the two batsmen at the crease always goes for it and the other forms the anchor. Since all the ODI games seem to get interrupted by rain the strategy seems worth the try and for now seems to be working for the Indians.

 

New Zealand bowling except for their captain again seemed to lack in direction and consistency and Vettori will not be happy with the same. This is the second game in the running they have allowed to get the Indians of to a flier. The Indian batting line up is aggressive and is not dependent on Sachin as they used to be few years back.The only way to contain the Indian batting line up is getting wickets at regular intervals and getting rid of Sehwag early.

 

Dhoni will be really disappointed as this might have been another huge chase for the hosts and could have been a victory for the Indians. Now they have to wait for the third game to try taking the lead to make is 2-0 which will make sure that the Indians cannot lose the series. The Kiwis need to find a way to restrict or get rid of Sehwag early to have a chance at keeping the target to manageable proportions.

 

The rain has been really frustrating and it seems like the players have to play all the games with the Duckworth Lewis in the mind all the time. Hopefully we can see at least one full 50 over contest in the coming three games.

Five years ago when India won the Natwest finals against England, we had unearthed two batting stars in Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif. All of us thought that those two along with Virender Sehwag would form the crux of Indian batting line up in the future. Almost six years after the Natwest final, Kaif is no longer part of the Indian team, Yuvraj is still inconsistant and Sehwag’s one day average keeps diminishing with every innings he plays.

The Indian team though have found few batsmen for the future in Gambhir, Uthappa, Rohit and the captain himself Dhoni. India’s future after Sachin, Dravid, Sourav and Laxman looks really uncertain. Sachin who is still a part of the one day scheme of things is trying his best to help the youngsters in the team with his valuable inputs and that should do them a world of good. Yuvraj and Sehwag being the two most experianced members in the batting line up after Sachin, should take more responsibilty in guiding these youngsters and making sure that they dont fall out like a few have in the past few years.

When Kaif played that wonderful innings against England in the Natwest trophy he was considered to be a captaincy material and was expected to be a part of the team for a long time. Currently he is not even in the reckoning. The youngsters need to realise to be on the top, the performances need to be consistant over a period of time. I still remember Vijay Bharadwaj, who was man of the match in a series in kenya few years ago and suddenly dissapeared from the scene. We can see so many such instances in Indian cricket over the past few years.

Now that IPL has made sure that these youngsters have become overnight heroes. There is lots of money involved in the game these days and its easy to lose focus of the job in hand. When you consider Ishant Sharma who has had just few matches under his belt being auctioned at $950,000 at IPL, you cant help but wonder is this good for these youngsters. When you have players come into international cricket and have few successful games the hype in India is so much that they become overnight stars and dont know how to handle the same. The reason why Sachin, Dravid and Laxman have been so successful over a period of time is due to the fact that they have both their feet firmly grounded inspite of all the hype and hapoola surrounding the game these days.

With so much money involed in cricket these days its easy for these youngsters to lose focus on the game itself. Thats what we saw with Irfan, Sehwag, Yuvraj and few others who had to be dropped from the team to make them realise that you cant be in the team if you are not performing. I guess India has great talent coming through in both batting and bowling and we need to make sure that the IPL’s and the ICL’s dont ruin it for us. The players are currently made to believe that they are greater than what they are and it will be better for them to realise that what matters the most the their performances on the cricket field.

Ten years down, no one is going to remember how much you were auctioned for in IPL. The reason we kept getting great batsmen over a period of time was due to the fact that, playing cricket was their main focus. Now a days, you just need to be a part of one series win and you dont have to play cricket anymore. I will be very interested in seeing in couple years time, which of these youngsters make it through to become the next Sachin or Laxman or Dravid of Indian cricket.

I have been a fan of Indian cricket and I am very excited looking at these youngsters performing so well in Australia. I just hope that this continues and these youngsters go from strength to Strength rather than being weighed down by this recent media frenzy and the money involved. I want India to be a cricket team which is respected throughout the world for their performances on the cricket field rathen than being the financial powerhouse which they are right now. Cricket is India has become more of a business than a sport which was the case 10-15 years back. Hopefully the game survives and will be still be remembered for your exploits on the cricket ground.


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