India Didn't Win A Single Match Against Australia....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on March 27, 2015 at 7:30 AM||comments (0)|
An absolute blinder was required from an India player to pull the semi-final off; that didn’t happen and Australia was the deserving winner
It is always best to be practical and honest. And so it must be mentioned straightaway that while the Indians did wonderfully well in the World Cup, the simple truth is that they didn’t win a single match against the Australians on the entire tour, not in the Test series, not in the ODI tri-series that followed, not even in the practice tie before the World Cup began.
So Australia, certainly had an edge going into the World Cup semi-final, more so with the home conditions. The odds were, thus, definitely against India. It would have required an absolute blinder from someone in the Indian side to pull the semi-final off, that didn’t happen and Australia turned out deserving winners.
Given the Australian dominance, the one factor that could have helped the Indians was the opportunity to bat first. Denied the luck with the toss, and the ideal situation of being able to set a target, they found their opponents capitalising fully.
What one must realise is when a team bats first, even the contributions from the tail can sting, for every additional run means one more run to be chased down.
But when you chase and it comes down to the tail, it means the hopes have already gone. That said no team, no good team that is, relies too much on the toss, for its but a lottery.
As predicted the short ball was part of the strategy for the Indians, after all statistics and data mining clearly indicates that their pacers’ got a major percentage of their wickets with such deliveries. But did India succeed with the short-pitched bowling plans on the day? The answer would have to be yes and no. Yes, as they did get some wickets that way and no because they also went for plenty with the same lengths. Perhaps the skills of the opponents wasn’t taken into proper account while employing the strategy.
To the Indians’ credit, there was a near miraculous comeback into the game, thanks mainly to Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose sharp captaincy did the trick. But then the advantage so gained was nullified by the Aussie tail, who tore into the Indian pacers at the end.
However, my heart goes out to the three fast bowlers, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma who held centre-stage for a long while in the tournament.
I am sure the learnings would have been plenty and going by this experience, I do feel that fast bowling in India is on the right track.
Add Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the trio and I would say it’s a healthy place for the team to be in.
We cannot forget Ravichanderan Ashwin’s contribution. We didn’t see much of him during the early part of the tour but as they say class will always win. From when he came back into the Indian XI, the class has been very apparent.
While Ashwin’s fine skills are undebatable, the jury has to be still out as far the Indian batting on the day is concerned. It's rather difficult so say whether it was plain ordinary batting on view or if the poor showing with the bat was caused by high class bowling from the Australians.
In an era where the bowling is normally decimated, the old adage of bowlers wins matches, was held to be true by the likes of the two Mitchells - Starc and Johnson. The pitch was flat but no one seemed to have told Starc or Johnson about it.
The rules have been against the bowlers for a while now, but again none of it seemed to matter to the two left-armers. It didn’t matter that the Indians didn’t lose early wickets, they still had trouble dealing with the duo. Of course, it helped no end that a quality third pacer was available in Josh Hazlewood, for a third such bowler helps in keeping the pressure on even if wickets don’t fall.
By : Javagal Srinath
Source : - http://www.icc-cricket.com
Proteas Will Have To Wait For Four More Years....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on March 25, 2015 at 7:35 AM||comments (0)|
Former South Africa captain says ultimately New Zealand was the better team in the semi-final and have been the better team in the tournament thus far....
When it was clear that Australia were about to defeat New Zealand in the 2003 rugby union World Cup semi-final, then Australian scrum-half, George Gregan, was caught on camera mouthing the words “four more years” to his All Black counterpart, Byron Kelleher. That semi-final defeat would condemn New Zealand to at least a 20 year wait for their second World Cup trophy. It eventually did come but only in 2011, 24 years after their first title.
Today the Proteas left Eden Park knowing that they would have to wait another four years to lift their first World Cup trophy.
Grant Elliot was capped by South Africa at representative level in the late nineties and scored a magnificent double-hundred for South Africa Under-19s against England Under-19s in a Youth Test at Newlands. He took a leap of faith to continue his career in New Zealand in his early twenties which was validated when he was capped by his adopted country in all three formats of the game.
By his own admission his international career has been chequered but one constant throughout his career has been that of his temperament. It was this quality that earned him selection in the World Cup squad ahead of the more talented but more temperamental, Jimmy Neesham. Credit must go to the New Zealand selectors for making the hard decision and opting for temperament ahead of talent. Today he played the innings that will define his career on the biggest stage possible.
There have been comparisons between this match with the 1999 World Cup semi-final between South Africa and Australia due to the fluctuating nature of the game. The 1999 semi-final is widely regarded as the greatest One-Day International ever played and this fixture definitely pushed it close.
I felt South Africa constructed their innings superbly given the loss of the early two wickets and taking the rain into account. Du Plessis and Rossouw showed great composure in rebuilding the innings and providing the necessary platform for de Villiers and Miller. The Proteas would have been content with getting to 281 in 43 overs and would have backed themselves to defend 298 in the same amount of overs.
There has been much debate as to the effect that the rain had on the Proteas innings. I believe that it definitely halted the momentum of the innings which played into the hands of the Black Caps by allowing them to regroup. They would have backed themselves to score at a minimum of ten to the over for the final twelve overs if given the chance and would have believed a score in the region of 340 was well within their grasp. Even though New Zealand had to score at almost seven to the over they would have felt more comfortable having to maintain this rate across 43 overs as opposed to 50 overs. This in turn meant that the start McCullum gave the hosts was much harder to pull back due to the reduced nature of the innings.
In my previous column I said how important it was that the Proteas bat deep into their innings so to exploit the New Zealand fifth bowler. The rain robbed them of this opportunity to a certain extent as the fifth bowler only has to complete eight overs. The rain also created a wet outfield which altered the composition of the ball by making it a lot softer when the Proteas bowled. It was clear that the bowlers were battling with this. The elements are part and parcel of the game of cricket and the side which adapts the quickest to them usually comes out on top.
At the 1999 World Cup when Australia were in a precarious position and faced with having to win all their remaining games to progress to the semi-finals, Steve Waugh spoke about the importance of taking every half chance that presented itself. In a tight game with so much at stake neither team is going to put in a flawless performance but the Proteas missed the half chances today that counted and it ultimately cost them. Most tellingly they seemed to deviate from their pre-planned bowling strategy to McCullum by bowling poor lengths which allowed him to dictate the pace of the game.
This in turn allowed for the middle-order to play themselves in as opposed to having to chase the game from the outset.
We could further scrutinize the selection of Philander ahead of Abbott, the two missed run-outs and the miscommunication between Berhardien and Duminy but ultimately New Zealand were the better team on the day and have been the better team in the tournament thus far.
I experienced three losses in World Cup knockout games and know that the hurt will be present for some time but the team will bounce back.
New Zealand finally won a World Cup semi-final and deservedly so. Seventh time is a charm.
I wish them all the best in the final on Sunday.
By : GRAEME SMITH
Sanga & Mahela : Two Of The Greatest Depart For The Final Time Together....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on March 18, 2015 at 10:50 AM||comments (0)|
Sri Lanka’s exit brought the curtains down on Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena’s ODI careers....
Ultimately, obtaining a piece of the silverware was not to be for two of the one-day game’s greatest batsmen, with Sri Lanka’s World Cup exit also signalling Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene’s ODI farewell.
For Jayawardene, retirement beckons, while Sangakkara will continue playing the five-day game until Sri Lanka’s Test series against India in August.
For more than a decade, the pair has been a staple of the Sri Lanka line-up.
Best friends who were schoolboy rivals before making their international debuts, together they have played in World Cup finals and claimed a World T20 title together.
They have pursued a passion for charitable work and gone into business together.
Both have captained Sri Lanka and have batted 293 times together in international cricket for a total of 13,368 runs, more than any other due in cricketing history and ahead of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly with 12,400.
In Colombo in 2006, they put together a World Record stand of 624 runs, Jayawardene contributing 374 runs and Sangakkara 287.
Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene sit in the top five run-scorers in the history of ODIs, on 14,234 and 12,650 respectively.
In Test cricket, Sangakkara has scored 12,203 runs and Jayawardene 11,814, placing them fifth and seventh on the overall list.
Their partnership has been enduring both on and off the field and Sri Lanka cricket will miss them dearly.
In their three previous World Cups appearances together - in 2003, 2007 and 2011 - they saw Sri Lanka to a semi-final and two finals.
Jayawardene also played in the 1999 World Cup.
While winning the 2015 trophy would have been a fairy tale finish for the pair, Sangakkara shrugged aside the disappointment of the quarter-final defeat after the match.
“That's the way it goes. Someone has got to lose in a quarter-final,” he said.
“It could have been my last game, it could have been one of the games that I've played. I don't think that makes a huge difference or adds to the disappointment.”
Sangakkara says goodbye to the one-day game in sublime form, having scored 105* against Bangladesh, 117* against England, 104 against Australia and 124 against Scotland.
In his final match, he made a stoic 45 while his teammates crumbled around him and at the end of the match, he sat on top of the tournament run-scoring tally with 541 runs at 108.2.
Against Scotland, he became the first player to score four consecutive one-day international hundreds, while this tournament has also seen him claim the record for most World Cup dismissals.
Sangakkara has averaged just under 60 in his last 66 ODIs, having scored 11 centuries and 20 fifties, and scored three centuries, two double centuries and one triple century in his last two years of Test cricket.
Even his captain Angelo Mathews has said he “got down on one knee” and begged Sangakkara to reconsider his retirement.
The 37-year-old who has played 404 ODIs and 130 Tests for Sri Lanka since breaking into the team as a 22-year-old.
Jayawardene, born five months to the day earlier than Sangakkara, made his international debut three years earlier, playing his first Test against India in 1997.
His ODI career has featured 448 matches and 19 centuries, while his 149-match Test career included 34 tons.
Like Sangakkara, Jayawardene is leaving the one day game in excellent form, having averaged 35 in ODIs over the past two years.
In his last 10 Tests before his retirement in August, he scored one double-ton, two centuries and five fifties.
During this World Cup, he scored a crucial century when Sri Lanka was in trouble at 51-4 against Afghanistan in Dunedin.
Jayawardene and Sangakkara have shared runs and friendship, but another shared trait makes this pair stand out – their sense of humility.
The esteem they are held in by their peers was obvious after the quarter-final, when the South African players made way to allow the pair to leave the field, hugging and patting them on the back as they departed.
Neither player is being forced into retirement. For them, it is just time.
“Retiring from cricket is not about form,’ Sangakkara said after the match.
“I'm sure I can play maybe a year or two more, but like I said before, it's time and place, and I feel that the time is now and it's right.
“The World Cup, with a four-year wait in between, is the right occasion to do it.”
He signed off his one-day career in typical Sangakkara manner. Asked how he would like to be remembered in cricket, he said: “If anyone can say that they've enjoyed playing against me and playing with me, I'll be more than happy.”
Tendulkar Releases Autobiography : 'Playing It My Way...'
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on November 8, 2014 at 7:30 AM||comments (0)|
Mumbai : In a glittering event at a posh hotel here Wednesday, cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar released his much awaited autobiography "Playing It My Way" among other star cricketers.
Emcee Harsha Bhogle took the packed hall through Tendulkar's life and the evolution of Indian cricket with on-stage conversations with Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Vasu Paranjpe, and the 'fabulous four' -- Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Tendulkar himself.
The formal book release, which has been published by Hachette India, saw Tendulkar present a copy to his first coach and guru Ramakant Achrekar. The batting maestro earlier Wednesday presented the first copy to his mother Rajni before the launch.
Â“ 'Playing It My Way' is a different sort of innings for me and was in the making for the last three years. As with the game, I have been honest and sincere in putting together various aspects of my life and the book is something I hope readers will enjoy," said Tendulkar.
The book has already set the Indian record for the largest adult hardback orders on the day of release with 100,000 copies being released by the publishers. The book releases as hardback and simultaneous eBook Thursday. An audiobook version will follow early next year as will Indian language versions in Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Malayalam and Bengali.
Dravid : Mid-Tour Changes Tough On Everyone....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 23, 2014 at 7:45 AM||comments (0)|
Former India captain Rahul Dravid said the tough decisions taken by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the middle of the England tour were "tough on everyone concerned" and if he had his way he would have waited till the end of the series to change the support staff.
Dravid was a part of the disastrous 2011 England tour that India lost 0-4. He hoped that another former captain Ravi Shastri, who has been appointed the team director for the ODI series, would handle the situation well.
"You don't have problems if people want to make changes, it's part of professional sport. (But) there's still not a lot of clarity on whether this is a long term appointment or the changes we have seen are for this series, so there's a bit of confusion around that," Dravid was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.
"Sometimes from a players' perspective that can be quite hard. I hope that's something Ravi (Shastri) will handle quite well. All these players also build relationships with support staff and as players you do recognise that at some level you are actually responsible for your own success and failure," he said.
Having worked with under-fire coach Duncan Fletcher, Dravid said it will be up to the Zimbabwean to decide whether he is comfortable in continuing in the role in this "new kind of environment", wherein he will have to report to Shastri.
Besides appointing Shastri, the BCCI also roped in Sanjay Bangar, Bharat Arun and R Sridhar as assistant coaches and dropped fielding and bowling coaches Trevor Penney and Joe Dawes, who were handpicked by Fletcher.
"If you ask me, I think he's got a lot of knowledge and I know having been around the team that the team does respect him and a lot of them get along very well with him and do ask him for a lot of technical advice. There is a good rapport between him and Dhoni," said Dravid, who recently acted as team mentor ahead of the England series.
Dravid believes that both Shastri and Fletcher would work together in the best interests of the team.
"Knowing the kind of people that they are, they would not want to ensure that the players see that there is an issue between them. Like Ravi says, Duncan will still be the head coach, he will still be running the team meetings and be involved in the selection of the playing eleven. So I hope there is no issue," he said.
Dravid said both Dawes and Penney did their jobs "very professionally and tried to do the best they can. Sometimes things don't work out."
"The support staff can't bat, bowl or catch for you. That's why sometimes being in the support staff or being a coach is a no-win situation because you might be giving the guys the best possible advice and the best possible training facilities but things don't work in the field. You can still drop catches, you can still have technical issues with the bat. Coaches can't solve everything and as good players, deep down, you know that," he said.
Dravid said he has full faith in Shastri to steer the team out of this rough patch. Both Dravid and Shastri have worked together after India's first round exit from the 2007 World Cup. Dravid was the captain when Shastri was appointed the interim manager for the Bangladesh tour that followed after the World Cup.
"I thought Ravi was very good in the time that he was there with the team. He's obviously got a lot of experience that he has to offer as a player. By personality he's a very positive, outgoing, upbeat kind of person, which can really help the team. His personality can help a lot of the younger players because they do respect him and what he's done for the game."
Jayawardene Scores 54 In Last Test Innings....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 18, 2014 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
Sri Lankan cricket legend Mahela Jayawardene scored a fine 54 runs in what was his last Test knock at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground here Sunday.
Resuming the fourth day of the second and final Test against Pakistan at 49 not out, the 37-year-old added five more runs before being caught off spinner Saeed Ajmal. The former Sri Lanka captain's innings lasted 137 balls and included eight boundaries.
The right hander received a standing ovation as he made his way back to the pavilion with the Pakistani fielders applauding. Jayawardene raised his bat to acknowledge the crowd's gesture.
Playing his 149th and final Test, Jayawardene finished with 11,814 runs at an average of 49.84 with 34 centuries and 50 half-centuries and a highest score of 374 which he scored here against South Africa in 2006.
Jayawardene earlier retired from Twenty20 Internationals after Sri Lanka won the World T20 title defeating India in April in Bangladesh.
Gavaskar : Time To Take Tough Decisions....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 18, 2014 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
An infuriated Sunil Gavaskar has blasted the Indian team and said it was high time to for the management to take some tough decisions following the embarrassing 1-3 Test series loss to England.
Gavaskar was upset that the young Indian team was refusing to learn from past mistakes.
"Even till two days, I was defending the team. But you see them today, they have made the same mistakes over and over again. It means the team is not learning. Do they care about it? I don't know," Gavaskar was quoted as saying by NDTV after India suffered a 1-3 Test series loss to England Sunday at The Oval in London.
Gavaskar wondered how much rope could be given to young players before taking a tough decision.
"Most of these players have played in South Africa, New Zealand and England. How much of a rope do you give a young player? I think somewhere down the line some firm decisions have to be taken. I don't know if they will be taken," he said.
Citing the example of Australia, Gavaskar said successful teams have the ability to take tough decisions when they are down in the dumps.
"One of the reasons why Australia have clawed back to the top spot is that they take tough calls and that is the need of the hour for India," he said.
The former India captain was tongue-and-cheek in suggesting that India should stop playing Test cricket for while. He believes that nothing is going to change despite a string embarrassing defeats overseas.
"Nothing is going to change. Certainly nothing is going to change till the end of the World Cup. So there really is no point talking about it," said Gavaskar.
Gavaskar feared that the humiliation in the Tests would soon be forgotten if India did well in the ODIs. India will now take on England in an ODI series and a one-off T20. Test routing could soon be emotions of the past.
"If we do well in the one-dayers which follow in a week's time, the Test series will be forgotten and that is the tragedy of Indian cricket. The tragedy of Indian cricket is that a lot of the Test defeats are swept under the carpet.
At the end of the day, however well you do in limited overs cricket, it is Test cricket that defines you as a cricketer, defines your place in the history of the game. If you are going to have all the Test wins and all the Test losses swept under the carpet, then you are not going to make any progress," Gavaskar said.
What Can Bowlers Do If Batsmen Don't Deliver...?
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 17, 2014 at 6:25 AM||comments (0)|
India's campaign in the current series can, without fear of contradiction, be summarised as the tourists losing their way after the second Test, especially after the third.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) need to seriously ponder: why? Was a five-test series beyond the mental and physical faculties of today's Indian cricketers, who are unaccustomed to such an extended contest and could be overburdened in any case by 10 months of engagement in a year?
Are the comparative lack of a financial incentives when turning out for one's country, the unfavourable income-effort ratio in Tests, factors impeding display?
It would be harsh to criticise the bowlers. But there are some stark facts the BCCI have got to consider. Bluntly put, a bowler is generally not of international standard unless he averages below 30 runs a wicket and his strike is less than 60 balls per scalp.
Such an exponent can be adjudged as world class or an all-time great if he averages below 25 and has a strike rate of less than 50. Anything short of 20 test appearances should be regarded as insufficient data; for a conclusive view, it could even be argued that 50 caps is preferable.
Going by such a yardstick, only Ravichandran Ashwin falls into the category of "international standard" in the Indian side. He has an average of 28.78 and a strike rate of 59.6 for his 104 wickets in 20 Tests prior to the present one. No other Indian among the current lot is anywhere near being "world class."
On the second day of the fifth and final India-England Test, Ashwin's track record shone through, as he troubled the English batsmen on a good second day batting wicket. He was unfortunate in that as Ajinkya Rahane turfed a sharp but catchable chance at slip off the left-handed Alastair Cook; but he was thereafter rewarded when Gary Ballance was surprised by a bit of extra bounce and turn to hole out at silly mid-off.
Ishant Sharma had captured 174 wickets in 57 Tests up to Lord's, but at an unacceptable average of 37.04 and a strike rate of 66.2; while Bhuvneshwar Kumar, although averaging 28.18 and having a strike rate of 56.1 up to Old Trafford, is playing only his 11th Test.
Perhaps, the pick of the Indian bowlers in the last two Tests has been Varun Aaron, who is wearing the India cap in only his third Test. He has operated five mph slower than what he is capable of. This has lent him greater accuracy and enabled him to bowl much needed longer spells.
Nevertheless, at between 87-89 mph he's made the English batsmen hurry; and if he's leaked runs, a chunk of these have been off the outside edge. Indeed, he gave Cook a thorough working over after lunch, when Murali Vijay dropped a sitter at first slip before clutching a more difficult chance in the same spot to remove the England captain.
The Indian selectors may have missed a trick by leaving Umesh Yadav at home. The combined velocity of Aaron and Yadav would have had the English batsmen hopping at the crease.
Sunshine hardened the pitch and rendered it faster on the second day than the first. This not only helped the quicker bowlers Aaron and Sharma, who had Ian Bell caught behind, but also the off-spinner Ashwin.
The Indian batting has,obviously, assisted England's cause in the last three tests. At the same time, James Anderson averages 29.86 and has a strike rate of 58.4; and Stuart Broad can also be labelled as "international class", possessing as he does an average of 30.05 and a strike rate of 58.8. Significantly, they have performed over a sustained period in their careers and in harness. Between them they have played 173 tests and taken 641 wickets.
A Lot At stake For Captain, Dhoni, And Coach, Fletcher....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 15, 2014 at 1:25 AM||comments (0)|
Mahendra Dhoni's continuance as captain in Tests after next year's World Cup and the retention of Duncan Fletcher as coach after the same event are at stake as India, trailing 1-2 in the series, lock horns with England in the fifth and final cricket Test starting here Friday.
The good news is that Ishant Sharma, who bowled India to victory in the second Test, but was unavailable for selection due to a recurrence of an ankle injury in the two reverses thereafter, may be fit to do battle in the crucial encounter. He has bowled at the nets for the past two days without any visible setback.
The bad news is that the Indian tour selectors still hadn't apparently taken a final call on the non-performing spin bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, although there were signs that Stuart Binny, who played a match-saving innings in the 1st Test and provides a fourth seamer option, may have re-entered the frame.
It may be sensible to consider Stewart Binny or even a more attacking move of recalling the fast-medium bowler Mohammed Shami, who may be motivated to prove himself after being sidelined following his below par performance in the first three Tests.
Varun Aaron's extra pace fractured England fast bowler Stuart Broad's nose in the fourth Test, which is a worry for England. With Ishant's experience and hit-the-deck variety inter-twined with the swing of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (who needs two more wickets for a tally of 20 in the series) should give the English batsmen more food for thought.
The added threat of Shami, if he can rejuvenate himself, could, in fact, tilt the balance in India's favour. But this would, admittedly, be a gamble, for it would theoretically weaken the batting. But then India need to go all out for a win in order to square the series.
Dhoni has taken a few blows on his shoulders and ribs, not to mention his fingers, in the series. However, it would be surprising if he rested himself for such a make or break contest. At The Oval's easier batting conditions as compared to Old Trafford, there is no reason why he shouldn't stick to batting at No.6.
But the top five in the order before him need to redeem themselves. A stable opening gambit between Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay, who showed such excellent form in the first two Tests, would go a long way towards making life easier for the middle order batsmen.
At the same time, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, whose reputations have taken a knock, especially the latter's, need to step up, if India are to have any chance of saving the series.
India need sweeping changes....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 10, 2014 at 7:35 AM||comments (0)|
Manchester: After India's abysmal defeat in the fourth Test in less than two and a half days - by virtue of which they now trail 1-2 in the series - Indian cricket need sweeping changes.
It is all the more ironical that this should be the case for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is said to enjoy greater financial resources than the rest of the cricketing world put together.
To begin with, at the Test level, Mahendra Dhoni is an asset and a liability.
Technically, he has limitations as a batsman, but an admixture of a responsible approach and tenacity helps him to compile runs even in challenging conditions, as he proved in the first innings of this fourth Test.
He has never been and never will be a Test quality wicket-keeper. He drops too many catches, sometimes doesn't even attempt to convert chances which are his, misses stumpings and Saturday made a mess of a run out opportunity to lend a life to the hard-hitting Jos Buttler.
Wriddiman Saha is not only better with the gloves, but in Test cricket has the potential to contribute as many runs as Dhoni.
Besides, Dhoni's choice of slip fielders in this series has also left a lot to be desired.
What is most worrying, though, is his cluelessness as captain at the Test level when circumstances are not going his way. His bowling combinations and changes on the third day of the day were baffling.
If he was going to give the new ball to Pankaj Singh, why did he bowl him in the morning? If he had to use a spinner, why not give priority to Ravichandran Ashwin, who has looked more capable than Ravindra Jadeja?
The highest strata of the game demands you think on your feet in the middle, not depend solely on ideas conceived in the dressing room.
The cupboard looks suddenly bare after Virat Kohli's conspicuous failure against swing bowling, notably James Anderson, in England. But surely, a calm temperament alone cannot be a quality for Dhoni's continuation as captain.
Lord's now looks a flash in the pan. England were bound to come back hard. India did not seem to realise this. They took their feet off the pedal, and instead of remaining positive after going one up in the series went on the defensive in the next Test at Southampton, thereby surrendering the initiative.
The trio of batsmen - Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane - who were so promising in the early part of the series are now a shadow of their former selves. They could not even survive in the best batting conditions of the match.
Shockingly, the Indian batsmen have made a bowler out of a part-time spinner - Moeen Ali - who has no arm ball, no doosra, only an innocuous off-break.
The way Jadeja has batted and bowled, particularly after his showing with the willow, it would be scandal if he was retained for the fifth and final Test.
If Ishant Sharma regains fitness, will India have the courage to play him and three other specialist quicker bowlers plus Ashwin?
At the end of the day, the top five specialist batsmen have to come to the party. If they do, then the four plus one attack would be in business.
The fact is Stuart Binny, who was dropped after the second Test, looked technically sound in a match saving knock in the first. And he would probably have been among the wickets in the swing friendly atmosphere of Old Trafford.
Kallis Retires From International Cricket....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on July 3, 2014 at 3:05 AM||comments (0)|
Kallis: Ï just knew on that tour (Sri Lanka) that I was done....
Jacques Kallis has announced his retirement from international cricket, across all three formats. The South Africa batsman had quit Tests late last year and decided to call time on his limited-overs career after the recent poor one-day tour of Sri Lanka.
Kallis will, however, continue to play T20 franchise cricket for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and for Sydney Thunder in the BBL. He ends his ODI career with 11579 runs in 328 matches with 17 centuries and 86 fifties at an average of 44.36. He played 25 T20s, scoring 666 runs with five fifties. He is the only South African batsman with over 10,000 runs in Tests and ODIs. Kallis had played his final Test in December 2013 against India in Durban, finishing with 13,289 runs in 166 matches with 45 centuries, 58 fifties at an average of 55.37. His last T20 was in October 2012.
Kallis, 38, had plans of playing the 2015 World Cup and was part of South Africa's ODI plans in the build-up. However, he managed scores of just 0,1 and 4 in the three ODIs in Sri Lanka recently.
"I realised in Sri Lanka that my dream of playing in a World Cup was a bridge too far," Kallis said in a statement. "Ï just knew on that tour that I was done. The squad that was in Sri Lanka is an amazing one and I believe they have a good chance of bringing the trophy home in March.
"I would like to thank Cricket South Africa, the team, the team sponsors, my sponsors, the fans and all the people who have been involved in my career. It has been an amazing journey.
"I am not retiring from all cricket as I have a two-year contract with the Sydney Thunder and, if possible, to help the Kolkata Knight Riders defend the IPL title we won earlier this year."
Kallis' ODI future was in the balance last year when he went on a ODI hiatus for a year and nine months. He had opted out of the 2013 Champions Trophy for personal reasons and did not join the team for a limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in August and the Pakistan series in the UAE. He used the winter break to reassess his future and spoke to coach Russell Domingo about playing one more global tournament. He thus made a return for the home ODIs against Pakistan and India towards the end of 2013. However, he was well below his best since his return, scoring just one fifty in seven games.
The national selectors were planning to rest a few players for the upcoming three-match bilateral ODI series in Zimbabwe, but send a full-strength squad for the tri-series to follow. The challenge for the selectors was to build the team around Kallis and in the past, Faf du Plessis was left out to accommodate him.
"South Africa has been blessed with one of the world's greatest cricketing talents in Jacques Kallis," said CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat. "He is undeniably one of the greatest players ever to have graced our wonderful game and he has certainly been the Proteas standard-bearer of excellence for nearly two decades.
"He has played a huge part in making cricket a truly national sport of winners and, in doing so, contributed so much to the important process of nation building. He is a true professional and it has been an absolute privilege to have worked with him both as Convener of selectors and now as chief executive."
"To say that we will miss him on the playing field is stating the obvious. Each one of us from this day on will treasure the many fond memories of his awesome career."
ICC Celebrates International Women's Day....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on March 8, 2014 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
Dubai : The International Cricket Council (ICC) Saturday joined millions of people across the globe in celebrating International Women’s Day.
"International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity to reflect on the progress made in cricket in recent times, and to refocus on the exciting future ahead," ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said in a media release.
“With the first women’s match of the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 only 15 days’ away, I am pleased to say that it will be the fourth time that the men’s and women’s competitions will be played alongside each other, with the women’s semi-finals and final held on the same day and at the same venue as the men’s.
“The double-header semi-finals and finals will be broadcast live across the globe, and, as such, the talent, skill and hard work of the world’s best female players will again be enjoyed by a global television audience, another significant boost to the profile of the women’s game,” he said.
Richardson also recognised the recent appointment of New Zealand’s Kathy Cross to the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires as a significant milestone in the ICC’s Females in World Cricket Strategy.
"Kathy Cross became the first female appointed to an ICC match officials’ panel, and she is standing in World Cricket League Division 5 in Malaysia, a global men’s qualification tournament. She is an excellent role model for aspiring male and female umpires, and we hope that this will lead to more female officials in the global game.”
Australia’s Ellyse Perry, one of the highest profile stars in the game today, has won three major ICC events, including the past two ICC World Twenty20 titles. The 23-year-old was the fifth highest wicket-taker of the 2012 event with six scalps.
“International Women’s Day provides a great time to recognise the continual development of women’s cricket and the great progress the game continues to make. The game at the top level is more professional than ever and there are a great many more opportunities for young girls and women to be involved in the sport at any level," she said.
Life Comes Full Circle For Tendulkar....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on November 15, 2013 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
Mumbai, Nov 15 : Exactly 24 years to date, Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut against Pakistan, and perhaps he walked off with the bat in hand for one last time Friday in his farewell Test -- but not before playing a scintillating knock that the packed Wankhede Stadium will always remember.
It was Nov 15, 1989 that Tendulkar played his first Test as a 16-year-old against Pakistan at Karachi's National Stadium. The match is famously remembered for the teenager getting a bloodied nose, failing to negotiate a bouncer by another debutant Waqar Younis.
Thus began the legend's journey and it did not take long for him to capture the imagination of cricket buffs around the world and in the process he inspired three generations of international players.
Not many were willing to wager on a Tendulkar century in his 200th Test, even against an innocuous West Indies attack. Bookies may have altered their odds after seeing the way he batted Thursday evening and the punters, too, were willing to put their money on his getting one last hundred. But it was not to be.
Tendulkar, 40, was just 26 short of what would have been a perfect end to an illustrious chapter in world cricket when one Narsingh Deonarine, a part-time off-spinner, spoiled the party to shatter a billion hearts.
Tendulkar, on 74, was done-in by the extra bounce, but he was out to a splendid reflex-catch by first-slip Darren Sammy, who had a great day in the field snapping up five catches in the innings.
What an innings it was! Tendulkar kept the crowd on their toes with his delightful trademark driving on either side of the wicket. One could easily remember the 12 fours he hit in his 118-ball knock.
The lone West Indian who rejoiced Tendulkar's dismissal could perhaps be Deonarine, who could tell his grandchildren that he dismissed the great man in what could be his last Test innings.
The West Indians, too, appeared resigned to Tendulkar getting a hundred after the way he started farming the bowling this morning, and when he fell unannounced they were as stunned as the full house.
Tendulkar trudged his way back to the dressing room without a trace of remorse as the crowd rose to give him another standing ovation all the way back from the middle. It was time for nostalgia and a flood of memories.
Tendulkar To Retire After His 200th Test....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on October 10, 2013 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
New Delhi, Oct 10: India's cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar will bring down the curtains on his 24-year-old illustrious career with his 200th Test against the West Indies in November.
The final match of the two-Test series against the West Indies starting Nov 14 will be Tendulkar's last. The match could be hosted in Tendulkar's home town Mumbai. The first Test is slated for Nov 6.
Tendulkar, who retired from ODIs last December, said he has been living a dream for the last 24 years.
"All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years. It’s hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it’s all I have ever done since I was 11 years old," Tendulkar said in a prepared statement.
"It’s been a huge honour to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th Test Match on home soil, as I call it a day," he added.
"I thank the BCCI for everything over the years and for permitting me to move on when my heart feels it's time! I thank my family for their patience and understanding. Most of all, I thank my fans and well-wishers who through their prayers and wishes have given me the strength to go out and perform at my best," the statement added.
Tendulkar's last Twenty20 match was the Champions League T20 final where his team Mumbai Indians beat Rajasthan Royals to win the title.
BCCI president Narayaswami Srinivasan paid rich tributes to Tendulkar.
"I have been an ardent follower and admirer of Sachin Tendulkar from the days he came to play Buchi Babu in Chennai. He is without doubt the greatest cricketer India has produced. In fact, one should really say he ranks among the top of all-time great sports persons in the world," he said.
Srinivasan said Tendulkar has been a true ambassador of Indian cricket.
"No one has served Indian cricket as Sachin has. He has truly been an ambassador for India and Indian cricket. He has been an inspiration for generations of sportsmen not just cricketers. We respect his decision to retire although many of us can't imagine an Indian team without Sachin," he said.
Iceman Dhoni Breaks SL Hearts....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on July 12, 2013 at 8:50 PM||comments (0)|
Moments before mayhem....
Leave it to me, he says. I want to take this to the last over. Me against one man. One on one. I know I am better than the last man the other team can put up against me. Once again, MS Dhoni reduced a lost match into a one-on-one contest with an opposition bowler, and knocked off the 15 required in just three hits. You could see the bowler - Shaminda Eranga, 9-2-34-2 until then, wickets of Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli to his name - was intimidated the moment he saw the first one fly into the top of the top tier.
Bear in mind that this was a treacherous pitch with seam, spin and uneven bounce. Dhoni was injured, and had come back only for this match. He wasn't running as hard as he does, and wickets were falling at the other end. When Dhoni came in, the asking-rate was 3.35, but with falling wickets and turned-down singles, it hit the improbable towards the end. Dhoni, though, kept refusing singles, kept admonishing the last man Ishant Sharma for taking off for panic-stricken singles.
Ishant couldn't be blamed. The game had unravelled fast for India. They were cruising when Rohit Sharma had braved for yet another fifty despite another painful blow to his body (which makes it atleast four in two innings against Sri Lanka), despite many balls that seamed past his edge, despite the slow start. When India were 139 for 3 in the 32nd over, though, Rangana Herath delivered a grubber, and it squeezed under Rohit's bat. Things were about to change.
The pitch was still difficult to bat on as Suresh Raina soon found out. He thought he had a half-volley from Suranga Lakmal when he went for the drive, but even after pitching that full the ball seamed away appreciably and took his edge. The accurate and wily Herath saw an opening now. And burst through it. In the 38th over, his last, Herath trapped Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin - whose combined figures had been 17.5-1-65-6 - in successive deliveries. India 152 for 7.
The drama had begun. Only a few minutes earlier, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara had gone on and on - for overs it seemed - about an obstructing-the-field appeal against Dhoni. He had taken two steps down the wicket, and then realised he would have hit the other batsman if he ran straight. So he ran, nay hared on a bad hamstring, at an angle, but didn't change his direction for the remaining 20 yards. The throw hit him, and the two senior Sri Lankans would not leave the umpire's side. They knew they needed this man out as soon as possible.
For the next half hour, though, Sri Lanka would have thought they didn't need to get Dhoni out. Dhoni tried to intimidate Lakmal once during the Powerplay, but after that he began playing the percentage game. Sri Lanka knew Dhoni couldn't manipulate the strike with that hamstring, and controlled the game well. Lasith Malinga - seven overs for 54 runs until then - finally got his radar right, and got Bhuvneshwar Kumar toe before wicket with his dipping slower yorker. In the tense overs that followed, R Vinay Kumar lost his cool, and slogged and got out. India 182 for 9 after 46.2 overs.
With any other batsman than Dhoni, you would expect panic. Dhoni, though, wanted to corner just one man. He wanted to bring it down to that one man. He was also daring Sri Lanka to keep back Malinga, who had one over left, for the last. Sri Lanka didn't. Malinga bowled the 48th. Dhoni faced the whole over, looking unhurried, for just a scrambled couple.
The only man hurried was Ishant, who tried a suicidal single off the last ball of Malinga's over to keep Dhoni on strike. The ball, though, had gone straight to the fielder, and Dhoni was miffed Ishant tried such desperation. It was not becoming of someone batting with the coolest and the best batsman in ODI cricket. Ishant would do that again off the first ball of the next over. Twice Dhoni let Ishant know what he did was not right. Ishant faced another dot. Then another dot. Seventeen off nine. Dhoni was cool at the other end. He had marked out his man. He knew it wouldn't be an experienced bowler in the last over.
Two runs came off the last three balls of the 49th over, but Ishant was made to feel under no pressure. He had been told to leave it to the man who knew his way around these lanes. Then began the great show. As soon as Ishant left alone - yes, left alone - the last ball of the 49th over, Dhoni signalled to the dressing room for a new, heavier bat.
As Angelo Mathews psyched Shaminda Eranga up for the last over, Dhoni practised a few swings with two bats held together. Calculatedly he picked out one. Eranga went to his mark. This match should not have been on, but in Dhoni's book this was even odds. Eranga bowled a nervous first ball: a wide length ball, which Dhoni swung hard at. That was a nervous ball, and would have been out of the ground had Dhoni connected. Dhoni didn't.
The second ball, though, was closer to Dhoni - swing, and met that hunk on the up. And up it went. And far. And kept going. Over the top of the stands. You could see it in Eranga's eyes now. It was now going to be nigh impossible for Eranga to execute his skill. In one hit, Dhoni had brought it down to just luck for Sri Lanka. The luck was not with them. Eranga bowed length again, Dhoni went hard again, and the ball flew off the outside half of the bat, and over point.
It was over already. Eranga just ran up for the formalities, delivered another length ball, and was dispatched over extra cover. The iceman had done it again, but he hadn't had a great first half of the day as a keeper and a captain. Apart from not having been at his best with the gloves, Dhoni had also let Sri Lanka off the hook with his choice of part-time bowlers ahead of the specialist spinners, who would eventually go on to cut Sri Lanka's effort short.
Bhuvneshwar had given India his customary breakthroughs in the first spell, the scoring was difficult, but Virat Kohli and Raina provided Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne relief with their odd long hop or big wides. Their partnership took Sri Lanka to 171 for 2, but then Thirimanne made a mistake, and almost every batsman that followed. In over-aiming during that Powerplay, Sri Lanka had lost their last eight wickets for 30 runs, letting Dhoni off the hook now.
You will be justified to think of Dhoni's choice of bowlers as odd. As you would have been with his persistence against all logic with Ishant in the Champions Trophy final. Just that the results were drastically different.
By: Sidharth Monga
1983 World Cup Win Gave New Dimension To Indian Cricket: Kapil....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on June 25, 2013 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
New Delhi, June 25 : Kapil Dev relived some of the moments of the 1983 World Cup triumph as India Tuesday celebrated 30 years of its most famous win.
Kapil, who led India to the win, along with his teammates Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, the youngest man in the team, walked down memory lane recalling some of the best memories of the 1983 Prudential World Cup.
"We were just a bunch of young boys who wanted to have fun. Winning was more fun in the evening and that's what we started to look out for - how we can enjoy more. The first match itself (against West Indies) gave us a little hope. After that our aim was to make the top four. Every match became more and more serious after that," Kapil was quoted as saying by BCCI.tv.
"We felt that the 1983 World Cup changed the entire sport in our country and gave a new dimension to Indian cricket," he added.
Shastri said the fact that India had beaten the West Indies and Australia in the group stages to reach the semi-final gave them a lot of confidence.
After battering Australia by 118 runs, India booked the semi-finals berth and were off to Manchester to take on England in the semi-finals.
"The fact of the matter was that we had beaten the West Indies and Australia to reach the semi-finals. When we reached Old Trafford for our semi-final game and saw the pitch, we knew we had a very good chance," said Shastri.
England were dismissed for 213 in 60 overs. Kapil bagged 11-1-35-3; Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath picked two wickets each. Yashpal Sharma (61) and Sandip Patil (51 not out) scored fifties and India chased down the target with six wickets to spare.
The Unthinkable had happened. India had made it to the World Cup final. Off to London, off to the Lord's!
"We just said, 'let's go out there and enjoy ourselves'. There was no thought of winning or losing. We had played damn good cricket to reach the final and now let's go and enjoy," said Shastri.
Gavaskar said Kapil told the boys to make the final "a memorable one."
"That's what Kapil said, 'We have worked hard and made the final. Yes, nobody is giving us a chance but this is a huge occasion so let's go out there, give it our best'. That's exactly what we did," said Gavaskar.
Kapil said the track at the Lord's was prepared to suit the West Indies bowlers.
"There was so much grass on that wicket, I still remember it clearly in my mind. I thought, 'what the hell is this? This is not a one-day wicket. We discussed it in the team meeting and I said, 'I am sure they will cut the grass. There's no way it will be so bouncy and green for the final'. But that didn't happen," he said.
On the day of the final, Clive Lloyd won the toss and put India in to bat. Sunil Gavaskar departed early but his opening partner Krishnamachari Srikkanth unleashed his uninhibited attacking instincts on the giant Caribbean bowlers.
"The West Indies hadn't seen Cheeka (Srikkanth) before and he had the shots - the cut, the pull and hook - to counter their bowling. When it was pitched up he would smash it through the covers. So the kind of shots he played, took them by surprise. At the end of the match, his 38 was the top-score in the World Cup final," said Shastri.
Srikkanth's cameo helped India crawl to 183 in 54.4 overs but it was never going to be enough against the likes of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Vivian Richards and Clive Lloyd.
"If you look at 183 with the kind of batting line-up that West Indies had, it really should have been a walk in the park for them," he said.
Greenidge and Haynes went cheaply but Richards looked in marauding mood before Kapil covered the distance from mid-on to midwicket to catch a miscued hook from the batsman. With West Indies on 3 for 57 India were back into the game.
"After Richards' wicket it was India's turn to keep their calm and not try too many things in a flash. It was a matter of hanging in there and you never know, there might be a run-out or a stupid shot that's played. Once Clive Lloyd got out India had their nose in the front and they made sure they don't do anything stupid to lose that advantage," said Shastri.
When Mohinder Amarnath trapped Michael Holding lbw a new world order was set.
The End Of A ODI Era...
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on June 24, 2013 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
The Champions Trophy May Be Remembered With Fondness And A Touch Of Sadness; But Will It Be Missed?
It's strange how we begin to love something we were once uninterested in, just as we're about to let it go. Like the book we received as a birthday present - about a subject we would never read about - that will be thrown out during spring cleaning. Or the pair of jeans, worn once, that only takes up wardrobe space. Or even the Champions Trophy.
Cricket's most neglected and often despised tournament has taken its final bow even though most people now want it to stay. Fans. Media. Even players. Four years ago in South Africa, these same people were seeing off the tournament's penultimate edition with great relief, knowing there was only one more to come.
The most common criticism then was that it was a meaningless title - not quite a World Cup, not quite a knockout, with no place among cricket's elite competitions. What started as a tournament to help grow the game in so-called smaller countries never managed to maintain an identity. In its childhood in Dhaka and Nairobi it was an elimination event. Then it became a more complicated beast, as teenagers tend to be, and involved a series of qualifying matches that made it longer and more tedious.
Over the last two competitions, the organisers found a recipe that works. Both the 2009 and 2013 events had two groups of four teams each, followed by a semi-final and a final. In 2009 there were some complaints, but this year the Champions Trophy is being praised for the same format. It has been called slick and on-point. Perhaps the glut of 20-over competitions that have sprung up in the interim has something to do with the change in attitude but it's not the only cause.
The World Cup can become a drag because there are too many matches and too many teams. The organisers have yet to find a way to balance extending the format to teams that deserve and need exposure and limiting the scope of a tournament to give it relevance.
There is talk of the 50-over tournament getting smaller and the T20 version expanding. That would be one way of preventing the continuation of an old boys' club but until that happens, there is a reason to play the Champions Trophy (and there has been talk of the ICC reconsidering the future of the event). The Champions Trophy is a good stopgap between an event that is big enough to justify its name as a World Cup and one that remains small enough to sustain competition throughout.
That is not to say every match of this tournament has been thrilling. The semi-finals were particularly disappointing for their one-sidedness but the group stage included one tie and four other matches that ended in close margins. Perhaps as a result, interest in this Champions Trophy has been high. Eleven of the 15 matches have been sell-outs but more notably, more than three quarters of the people who went to watch games - 78% - had not attended a live cricket contest in three years.
As with any global event, the public's reaction is somewhat dependent on the participation of the home team. A multicultural society like the United Kingdom is a little different because the progress of the subcontinental sides has a large bearing on actual bums-on-seats support. Pakistan failed to live up to expectations, even though they had a touring "Stani-army" following them, but the progress of England and India to the final had a positive effect on the event as a whole. The one obviously poorly attended game was between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Cardiff, though the teams made up for that with a humdinger of a match.
Despite changeable weather, the tournament was not completely washed out by any measure. There was one no-result, which was also the case in 2009, and two rain-reduced affairs. While drizzle always gives people a reason to complain about a venue, conditions have been conducive for interesting cricket. Drier pitches at the start of the tournament assisted spinners far more than was expected, and tricky batting conditions and the rule change of two new balls ensured that no team apart from India was able to run away with a total. Lower-scoring games are usually more gripping and this tournament proved that yet again.
And then there were the off-field matters that had just the right amount of spice to keep the event in the headlines. England's ability to reverse-swing the ball and the alleged ball-tampering claims roused the technically minded, while Australia's after-dark activities had the perfect tinge of scandal for the rest. It also didn't hurt that they served as appetisers for the Ashes.
By now cricket's attention has already turned to that series. The Champions Trophy will be hauled out when India hark back to their list of achievements or when someone wants to complain about the winding nature of a World Cup in two years' time.
The way it ended - with a final that was almost washed out - will disguise that it was actually a fine event. Few would argue that India and England were the best two teams on show. The former showed off a successful transition from big names like Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag to younger talents like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan. England's aggressive bowling unit perfectly complemented their watchful batting approach. Over a full 100 overs, theirs would have been a balanced contest and provided a stern test of the skills both had displayed in the tournament. It could also have provided an accurate measure of who the best one-day side in world cricket is at the moment.
An era of one-day cricket is over. Chances are the Champions Trophy will be remembered with fondness and a touch of sadness, the sort we have when we think about a long-ago teddy bear that we decided was best left out of sight.
By: Firdose Moonda
Kirsten Sees Broader Landscape From NZ Series ....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 30, 2012 at 5:10 AM||comments (0)|
Gary Kirsten's first away tour in charge of South Africa was to New Zealand earlier this year. It was an opportunity to claim the world No. 1 ranking - which would have required a 3-0 series sweep - but Kirsten had other things to think about. For him, it was the time to entrench his philosophy away from the pressures of a prying home media and parochial fans.
The trip was the first of three major blocks of time on the road in 2012. The two to come, against England and Australia, would require a certain robustness. Kirsten used New Zealand to toughen the team up by being softer than anyone would have expected.
While they prepared for the Test series, he ran a marathon. After they won in Hamilton with days to spare, he encouraged them to enjoy New Zealand's natural wonders. The South African squad went to Lake Taupo and the Waitomo Caves. Previously they spent free time holed up in soulless hotel rooms playing video games - ask Mark Boucher and Herschelle Gibbs who once boasted that they spent 13 hours doing exactly that. Kirsten opened doors other South African management ignored.
Allan Donald was sent home before the final match, to allow him time off in what was dubbed "a heavy year of travel". It was in that same fixture that South Africa were troubled - by an injury to Jacques Kallis, the resilience of Kane Williamson and Kruger van Wyk and the weather - but it was also one where they came out strongest, not in result terms but in character.
Kirsten said so himself. He was pleased with the way the then-fringe player JP Duminy who had to step in to Kallis' place scored a century. He was equally satisfied with the coming of age of Morne Morkel who took all six New Zealand wickets by relying on control as much as aggression. "There's a real sense of team-ness," Kirsten said. "We've taken the steps we needed to be able to confront England."
New Zealand was the blank canvas. Once South Africa got to England they had intricate plans drawn and when they reached Australia those plans were coloured in. So far, that exercise has paid off despite the changes that have been made to the Test XI because the broad approach has remained the same: prepare meticulously, don't work harder than is necessary and be ready to make big plays.
Having got all of that right, they face New Zealand again; and again the opposition will be used to plan for the year ahead. "We will play 10 Test matches in 2013 and New Zealand is an important stepping stone," Kirsten said. Although a much lighter year, especially in terms of travel, South Africa have home and away (most probably in the UAE) series against Pakistan and then host India.
The No. 1 ranking will probably not be at risk of being snatched away but both teams from the sub-continent will pose a different challenge to what South Africa have handled over the last 12 months. Technically and tactically, New Zealand are not the right guinea pigs to prepare them but in terms of match practice and habit-forming, they will do as well as anyone else.
Kirsten believes those two factors are the basis for South Africa's string of victories and hopes to continue developing them in the upcoming series. "The success of our team in 2012 was that we remained humble in our play," he said. "We didn't take any situation or any team for granted. We made sure that our preparation was spot on and that when we got into Test match time, we set up solid foundations to give ourselves the best chance of success."
They view the upcoming series against New Zealand as part of a broader landscape. Being complacent will not be an option, neither will being arrogant, even though South Africa are the clear favourites. "We take every match we play representing the badge very seriously," Kirsten said. Evidence of that is in the training schedule: South Africa have five practices lined up before the match starts on January 2, many more than usual.
It may be because a series against New Zealand gives South Africa the opportunity to improve their record at home. South Africa last lost an away Test five series ago in February 2010 in Kolkata but they have lost a match at home in every one of the last five series they've played there. The previous time they went unscathed was against Bangladesh in 2008/09.
But Kirsten does not see it that way. "The guys look proudly at their away record. The success of this team is based what we do every day so whether we are home or away, doesn't matter." It's a cold, clinical explanation and one New Zealand may bear the brunt of.
By: Firdose Moonda
Time Magazine: Time Stands Frozen In Front Of Tendulkar ....
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 23, 2012 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
Mumbai, Dec 23 : Leading news magazine Time eulogised Sachin Tendulkar as one in front of whom time appeared to have stood frozen. The champion batsman announced his retirement from One-day international (ODI) cricket Sunday.
In its tribute to the Indian batting great, the news magazine said: "It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will."
"When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race an F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, (and) Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam," Time was quoted as saying on its website.
"When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to 'open' the Nehruvian economy."
Tendulkar who has scored 18,426 runs in 463 ODI matches would continue to play the Test format. He scored 49 centuries and 96 fifties in the shorter format -- and was the first batsman to score a double-century in an ODI.
Tendulkar made his debut as a 16-year-old in a Test match in Karachi Nov 15, 1989 while he played his first ODI against Pakistan in Gujranwala Dec 18, 1989.
The master blaster figured on the cover of Time magazine in May this year for the editions in the Indian subcontinent, Singapore and Australia and New Zealand after he completed a century of tons in international cricket.
Sehwag Revolutionised Test Cricket ...
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on November 23, 2012 at 2:10 PM||comments (0)|
Swashbuckling opening batsman Virender Sehwag will become India's ninth cricketer to play 100 Tests when he walks onto the field at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium Friday in the second cricket Test against England.In the 99 Test matches he has so far played, the 34-year-old amassed 8,448 runs at an average of 50.89 and a staggering strike rate of 82.45 to boot -- amazing figures for a Test batsman.
The Delhi batsman has scored 23 hundreds over the last 12 years, including four double centuries and two triple centuries with a highest of 319 scored against South Africa at Chennai in March 2008. That was his second triple ton, the first (309) being against Pakistan at Multan in 2004. The knock against the Proteas included 42 boundaries and five sixes and came at a rollicking strike rate of 104.93.
Sehwag became the first Indian to score 300 runs in an innings eclipsing V.V.S. Laxman's memorable 281 which he scored at Eden Gardens in 2001, and that March 2004 innings in Multan earned him the title of 'Sultan of Multan.'
These two big ones put the 'Nawab of Najafgarh' in elite company as one of the only four batsmen to have scored two triple centuries. The others are cricket's demi-god Don Bradman, batting legend Brian Lara and destructive West Indian Chris Gayle.
Sehwag, who made his first-class debut as a bowler who was a handy bat lower down the order, was moved to the top by skipper Sourav Ganguly at Lord's in 2002 to find a place for him in the side as he could not have fitted in the middle-order. This reluctant change came about after he became the 11th Indian to score a hundred on debut batting in the middle-order against South Africa in Bloemfontein in 2001.
In his first Test as an opener, Sehwag struck a belligerent 84 and he came to stay as an opener, though he kept saying that he would prefer to bat in the middle-order despite his resounding success as an opener.
He revolutionised the game with his approach as an opener, amassing runs at a frenetic pace. His strike rate of 82.45 is the best for any batsman who has aggregated 2000-plus runs.
Viru's performance away from home is also quite impressive, considering that the Indian batsmen have to bat on much faster and seamer-friendly pitches overseas.
In the 52 matches he has played overseas, he has amassed 3930 runs at an average of 44.65 as against 4518 runs at an average of 57.92 at home.
After scoring his first century in over two years in the Ahmedabad Test against England, one can only expect more fireworks from the explosive batsman who former India coach John Wright described as "the limited overs batsman who revolutioned Test cricket".